Overall Ep :
First Aired :
1 Dec 1967
Season Ep :
Main Cast :
Guest Cast :
One of the shots of the Enterprise in space is a mirror image, with the ship's registry number shown backwards. This is fixed in the remastered episode.
The whole mission of the Enterprise would appear to be in gross violation of the prime Directive. The Capellans are clearly a pre-warp civilisation, and as Kirk and McCoy described it in "Bread and Circuses", this should mean "No identification of self or mission. No interference with the social development of said planet. No references to space, or the fact that there are other worlds, or more advanced civilisations." Not only is agreeing a mining deal with them against this, the officers directly interfere with Capellan laws and customs, even to the extent of essentially choosing the next two leaders of the planet in their favour! True that's not the actual intent, but there were many points along the way where Kirk could have done things differently to remain within Capellan custom; not touch Eleen in the first place, leave her behind when he made his escape, etc. That he didn't was purely down to his own sense of ethics and desire to get what the Federation wanted off the Capellans.
Whilst the appearance of the Klingon D-7 cruiser is certainly a much better special effect than the coloured blob seen before, it creates a potential problem for the episode. Kras describes his ship as "A small scout ship" - yet the D-7 is a large cruiser, on a par with the Enterprise itself. However, there is a reasonable explanation for this - If Kras had told Kirk a cruiser was in orbit, the Captain would likely have beamed straight back up to the Enterprise. By lying and claiming that it was a small scout ship he keeps Kirk on the surface and, at least in theory, gives his ship the best chance of dealing with the Enterprise. Unfortunately for him it didn't quite work out that way!
Great Moment :
McCoy and Kirk being smug after having the baby named after them.
Body Count :
One redshirt, one Klingon and at least eight Capellans seen to die, plus at least one Capellan off screen.
There really is a star called Capella, it's 43 light years from Earth.
Chekov claims that the saying "Fool me once, shame on you - fool me twice, shame on me!" is Russian; such rather dubious claims would go on to become a hallmark of the character, but this is the first time he ever does it.
This is the first time Sulu's cool "fold out scanner" is seen in use.
The Enterprise is at Capella IV to negotiate with the inhabitants for access to Topeline, a valuable mineral. The Capellans are large, warlike, but relatively primitive people whose culture is bound by various strict laws of behaviour. McCoy, familiar with the Capellans after he spent some months on their world, briefs the officers on their customs. Kirk points out that the Klingons are also known to have contact with the Capellans, complicating matters.
The officers beam down and greet a party of Capellans, but when a Klingon walks forward to greet them a security officer reacts by drawing his phaser. The man is instantly killed by one of the Capellans for offering violence to a guest, leaving Kirk dismayed.
The Capellans demand the weapons of the Enterprise crew, who hand them over. They proceed into a tent to establish relations, enjoying some food. McCoy advises Kirk not to touch a Capellan woman, even accidentally, as such an action would be considered rude and demand a violent respnse from her closest male relative. Kirk obeys the advice, much to the disappointment of the Capellan relative who had been looking forward to an entertaining fight.
Kirk and the Klingon, Kras, meet with Akaar, the "Teer" - leader - of the Capellans. With McCoy's help the Federation officers are able to score some points over their competition, and Akaar seems to favour dealing with them. However, his rivals disagree since the Klingons appear warlike, much as they are. Maab is especially distrustful of the Federation, and challenges Akaar. A fight breaks out and Maab kills Akaar, winning the leadership of the tribes. Kirk takes this in stride, recognising that by the standards of the Capellans what Maab has done is legal and reasonable. Kras asks Maab to kill the Federation officers but Maab declines, noting that Kirk had acted with bravery during the fighting whilst he had seen fear in Kras's eyes.
Maab orders Akaar's wife Eleen killed in order to avoid the birth of her child, who may be a future rival as Akaar's heir. When he shoves Eleen she falls against a burning torch and hurts her arm, prompting Kirk and McCoy to help her. Unfortunately this violates the rule about touching women, and Eleen and the Capellans are highly insulted. Maab orders them all imprisoned together.
In orbit, Scotty is in command of the ship. They pick up a distress signal from the SS Deirdre, and although they are worried about what may be happening down on the surface they have little choice but to leave orbit to head for the ship. Arriving at the coordinates, they find nothing there. Suspicious, Scotty replays the distress call - and realises that the call was addressed to the Enterprise specifically by name. Since a civilian ship would have no way of knowing that that specific Starship was nearby, the call must be bogus. He heads back for Capella IV, but the ship quickly picks up another distress call, this time from the USS Carolina. Although the call appears perfectly genuine Scotty dismisses it out of hand, refusing to believe that it is genuine. As the ship approaches Capella, however, the sensors pick up a Klingon ship waiting for them.
Back on the planet, Kirk, Spock and McCoy quickly manage an escape, taking Eleen along with them. McCoy insists on touching her during his examination and treatment, despite her protests, leading her to slap his face - only for McCoy to slap her right back. His demonstration of strength actually seems to convince her to respect him, and she allows him to treat her. McCoy judges that she might give birth at any moment, worrying as he is not well versed in Capellan anatomy and so can offer only basic help. They find a cave to hold up in and Spock and Kirk prepare to defend against the pursuing Capellans, fashioning primitive bows and arrows as McCoy assists Eleen. Since the bow has never been invented on the planet, they hope that the weapon might give them a considerable advantage.
As Maab and his men approach, Kirk and Spock use their communicators to create a sonic frequency that will cause a resonance in some overhanging rocks, collapsing them onto the Capellans. The trick works, killing some of the men. However, Kras seizes the chance to grab a phaser from one of the men and kill him with it. Back in the cave McCoy helps Eleen deliver the baby, only to have her bonk him over the head with a rock and escape. She makes her way to Maab, surrendering and claiming that she killed the baby and the humans whilst they slept.
Kras demands to see Kirk's dead body, refusing to trust Eleen's word - unfortunately, this is a terrible insult to Eleen whose word as the widow of a Teer is above reproach, even as she is due to be executed. A Capellan tries to kill Kras but he vapourises him with the phaser. At that moment Kirk and Spock attack again with their bows. Kras is injured, and starts firing with the phaser. Maab deliberately sacrifices himself, stepping out into the open to allow Kras to fire on him in order to allow another Capellan to get a chance to throw his weapon. It works, and Kras is killed.
Back on the ship, Scotty takes the Enterprise directly at the Klingon ship - essentially playing chicken with them. The Klingons blink first, and the ship proceeds through to the planet and beams a security detail down to end any further conflict. McCoy reunites Eleen with her baby; as the son of a Teer he is in line to rule, and Eleen will act as Regent until he is of age - a highly favourable outcome for the Federation, given how she has bonded with the officers. She names her son Leonard James Akaar, and agrees to the mining deal they had hoped for.
A decent episode all in all, rather similar to TNG's "Code of Honor" in that the Enterprise must deal with a primitive culture by operating within their rather different laws and customs.
The main weakness is in the fact that the Capellan customs are rather conveniently constructed to place obstacles into the plot where they are needed, and then discard then when they are not. For example, Maab can simply kill Akaar and become leader, implying that it's a "strongest rules" sort of deal. Yet at the end we're told that Leonard James is the rightful ruler, as Akaar's heir. But if Akaar was deposed according to Capellan custom and law, then isn't Maab the rightful ruler and thus his
heir that should be ruling? I suppose we might presume that he had no heirs and so the title reverted back to Akaar's line... but even then, Eleen is regent and leader... so can't some Capellan male come along and challenge her
to a duel? Or is it the case that what Maab did was simply a coup, and everyone went along out of political expediency? Because if that's the case, then all these rules and customs of the Capellans really don't add up to much after all, do they? Still, it is nice to see an alien species that has different customs and values rather than being basically Human with minor cosmetic differences. That said, on a purely frivolous note, oh my GOD could these people dress any more weirdly? The silly hats are my personal favourite costume element!
Outside of that, there is some good stuff here. I always find it a joy when Scotty gets to be in command of the Enterprise. He's a hard man - not at all a thug, but the kind of man who can take a job that needs nerves of steel and see it through without blinking. He often gets into these kind of confrontational situations when he's in charge and he almost always lays it down - "Get out of my way or be pushed out of my way." That kind of smiling jovial surface with granite beneath is typically Scottish, and Doohan really makes it show through in his performance.
The remastered version gives us the usual improved exterior views of the Enterprise and Capella IV. There is also a little more detail on a bridge screen tactical display and an improved vapourisation effect when one of the Capellans is phasered. The Klingon ship, which had been a simple coloured blob on the screen previously, is now a standard D-7 cruiser.