Irrational Thought Police, TOS: S2E7 “Catspaw”

When the fog gathers, the witches cackle, and the air grows cold under the full moonlight, our tenuous grasp on rational thought gives way to self-preserving fear.  This is the time of year when the boundaries between the spiritual and physical worlds were said to be at their thinnest.  This is Halloween!  Although the spiritual rituals celebrating the ethereal thinness have taken place on Earth for thousands of years, Kirk and crew were surprised to find a planet of spooky motifs farther along in the galaxy.

The Enterprise returns to the planet Pyris VII to retrieve a landing party, but only one member responds.  Once he beams on-board, the unknown extra dies instantly, and an ominous voice threatens the ship with a curse.  Far from being deterred by such intimidation, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy delve headfirst onto the planet to investigate.  Perhaps they should have heeded their fears, because the planet haunted them the minute they landed.  Three ‘witches’ warn of more curses, and implored the crew to go back.  Fortunately, Spock is not discouraged at all, even when McCoy comments on how these undetectable phenomenon feel real.  A castle, black cat, and mysterious fog all culminate into the galaxy’s most atmospheric Halloween planet.

As the trio become trapped further into this nightmarish situation, they meet Korob and Sylvia, a pair of aliens who recently immigrated to the planet.  The pair admit to testing their human captives using some form of ‘magic’.  It was only through stubborn resolve that the Starfleet officers are able to defeat them, pitting relentless logic against forces they cannot understand.  With an increasing number of crewmembers falling under the mind control spell of their captors, it would have been understandable for the officers to become paralysed with fear, but Spock’s logic and Kirk’s determination never seem to falter.  They are so immune to the aliens’ wiles, that Kirk becomes close enough to Sylvia to discover the secret of her powers and overcome them.

Fear is a state of mind opposite and opposed to rational thought.  Only by holding onto the mind’s ability to reason will one be able to overcome fear, panic, anger, and other more primitive emotions evolved to protect us from immediate danger.  When Sylvia becomes blinded by rage at Captain Kirk’s betrayal, and perhaps also the overload of new emotions she had no experience in controlling, her irrational behavior lead to her downfall.  Our basic instincts aren’t always the most conducive to our longevity.  So, the next time things go bump in the night, try to keep your wits and survive.  Happy Halloween!

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