A Planet down the Rabbit Hole, TOS: S1E15 “Shore Leave”

Captain Kirk takes the Enterprise crew to an ‘uninhabited’ planet for a well-earned rest, but the relaxation is cut short when strange characters inexplicably appear.  Dr. McCoy sees a white rabbit with Alice from Wonderland chasing after it, Captain Kirk faces off with one of his old Starfleet Academy rivals, and Sulu gets to play with guns.  Meanwhile, Spock can’t seem to determine what is draining so much power from the ship.  Bewildering as it is, the crew members were having fun with everything…until Dr. McCoy is stabbed by a knight in shining armour, and the games become all too real.  After some panic, and not much action on the part of the crew, a mysterious stranger appears to conveniently explain the situation.  The planet is a recreational site of some sort, able to replicate whatever fantasy is in one’s mind using a factory below the surface.

This was a simple story: Kirk and his friends were looking for fun, they found it, and everyone had a good time.  It is even possible that the whole planet was made to look like a paradise because that is what the Enterprise crew desired in the first place.  But the cursory plot hides the implications of this amenity in the same way the surface of the mysterious planet hid its powerful technology.  Machinery that can create anything the mind conceives in an instant, and it is only used for recreation?  Even if everyone’s intentions remain innocent, it’s worth considering what another alien race might believe to be ‘fun’.  Captain Kirk didn’t even question the strange apparitions, even though we have seen him question uncanny replicas of Earth origin in other episodes.  Somehow, everything is fine as long as Kirk is having fun.  A crew so easily distracted presents something of a security risk, and they should have been questioning the planet from the start.  Although there was no harm done in the end, the lesson was clear: be careful what you wish for.

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