The Human Spectacle, TOS: S2E25 “Bread and Circuses”

In the darkest periods of human history, we consigned some people to be sources of entertainment.  The more barbaric of these times, when the Roman empire forced enslaved people to fight for their amusement, is long past.  The original Star Trek seemed to love imagining alternate histories for Earth, however implausible they would be on … More The Human Spectacle, TOS: S2E25 “Bread and Circuses”

A Shift in Power, TOS: S2E21 “Patterns of Force”

If “A Piece of the Action” was a cursory view of cultural contamination, this episode’s adventure is a fully realized infection of the worst disease in philosophy.  Much like the mafia planet, the citizens of planet Ekos were introduced to an outside viewpoint by a Starfleet bungle.  This time, a historian and cultural observer John … More A Shift in Power, TOS: S2E21 “Patterns of Force”

Brain Drain, TOS: S2E20 “Return to Tomorrow”

Kirk and Spock seem to have no shortage of mind-altering adventures, which is reasonable considering one of the final frontiers still beyond our understanding is the mind.  If space offers anomalies and aggressive aliens, the human body provides complex mystery and questionable theories.  Brushing up against this frontier, Kirk, Spock, and Lt. Cmdr. Mulhall respond … More Brain Drain, TOS: S2E20 “Return to Tomorrow”

People of the Book, TOS: S2E17 “A Piece of the Action”

A holy book defines a culture.  It provides a basis for what a society values and what it condemns.  These ideals also shape how the stories are told, as the listener uses his or her cultural lens to discern the morals hidden in the tale.  There are many alien races in the Star Trek universe … More People of the Book, TOS: S2E17 “A Piece of the Action”

A Mind for Mercy, TOS: S2E16 “The Gamesters of Triskelion”

We cannot become intelligent beings if we don’t value life. A simpleton lacks empathy, but sensitive, compassionate, and well-rounded people can see themselves in the other. An important step in maturity is the ability to recognize others have needs outside of ourselves. On a larger scale, a certain amount of moral growth prompted our ancestors … More A Mind for Mercy, TOS: S2E16 “The Gamesters of Triskelion”

The Invisible Hand of God, TOS: S2E2 “Who Mourns for Adonis?”

In a seemingly empty part of space, the Enterprise is suddenly held hostage by a giant hand.  Held at its mercy, nothing seems to break Kirk’s team free from this oddly-shaped force field.  They are soon introduced to their captor, a god-like being called Apollo, who exerts complete control over the ship and crew.  In … More The Invisible Hand of God, TOS: S2E2 “Who Mourns for Adonis?”

Traditional Liberation, TOS: S2E1 “Amok Time”

When Spock experiences the pon farr, a period of intense physical and psychological stress preceding Vulcan mating, he must journey back to his planet to marry his fiancé or he will die. The accompanying ceremony is elaborate, culturally significant, and ancient. The ritual also allows Spock’s potential mate to challenge the offer and choose another husband. In this rare … More Traditional Liberation, TOS: S2E1 “Amok Time”

Antimatter Containment, TOS: S1E27 “The Alternative Factor”

In this somewhat underwhelming episode of The Original Series, the Enterprise crew encounters a strange man named Lazarus, who seems to blink into existence.  After some on-board shenanigans…a phantom dilithium thief, injuries on the man’s face that disappear and reappear… the crew learns that Lazarus has a counterpart in another dimension.  This ‘anti-matter’ dimension is … More Antimatter Containment, TOS: S1E27 “The Alternative Factor”

The Will to Break Free, TOS: S1E21 “The Return of the Archons”

When the Enterprise arrives at the planet Beta III to investigate the disappearance of the USS Archon, only Lt. Sulu returned from the original landing party.  If this wasn’t enough to concern the crew, Sulu was acting strangely, as if in a dreamy trance.  Kirk, Spock, and the extras beam down to the planet for … More The Will to Break Free, TOS: S1E21 “The Return of the Archons”