Is There in Truth no Beauty?
Overall Ep :
First Aired :
18 Oct 1968
Season Ep :
Main Cast :
Guest Cast :
After Kirk talks to Kollos about the mind meld with Spock, there's a shot where his hair is parted on the wrong side. The makers chose to mirror-image the film for some strange reason.
During Marvick's fight in Engineering, a crewman slams into the gray housing in the middle of the deck. If you watch closely, you can see that the whole thing shifts slightly when he hits it.
Great Moment :
Spock as Kollos. Lenoard Nimoy once again does a great job of an alien in Spock's body.
Body Count :
One - Marvick, who dies as a result of seeing Kollos.
This episode contains the first use of the Vulcan philosophy of IDIC.
Kollos' travel box was designed by Matt Jeffries.
The idea of a blind Human using a sensor system to "see" would reappear in much modified form in TNG as Geordi La Forge and his VISOR.
The episode title is from a poem by the 17th century Englishman George Herbert, from his poem Jordan (I) - "Who sayes that fictions onely and false hair, Become a verse? Is there in truth no beauty? Is all good structure in a winding stair? May no lines passe, except they do their dutie, Not to a true, but painted chair?"
The Enterprise is transporting the Medusan ambassador Kollos back to its homeworld. The Medusans are superb navigators thanks to their unique mental abilities; however, they are so tremendously ugly that the mere sight of a Medusan is thought to be enough to drive any person completely insane. Vulcans are able to look at a Medusan with the aid of a protective visor, but even this protection is insufficient for a Human. As a result, Kollos is travelling inside a protective case which he only opens under selected circumstances.
Kollos beams aboard with his assistants Larry Marvick and Dr. Miranda Jones. Marvick was one of the designers of the Enterprise, much to Scotty's pleasure, whilst Dr. Jones is a powerful Human telepath who is able to communicate with the Medusans. She has undergone Vulcan training which allows her to look at a Medusan without becoming insane; her mission is to help the Medusans to become navigators aboard Federation Starships, with Marvick adapting the controls for their use.
During the voyage Marvick confesses his love for Jones and begs her to leave Kollos to live with him, but she rebuffs his approach. Jealous, Marvick attempts to kill Kollos but the ambassador opens his casing, revealing himself to Marvick and sending him insane. Marvick takes control of the Enterprise, sending it beyond the energy barrier at the galactic rim before he dies of shock.
With the Enterprise stranded in uncharted space with no way to plot a course back, Kirk decides to let Kollos use his navigational abilities to try and find a way back across the barrier. He orders Spock to meld with Kollos so that the first officer can pilot the ship under his direction; Dr. Jones objects to the plan, claiming that she alone can contact the Medusan. McCoy, having been observing Jones throughout the mission, reveals that she is in fact able to look at a Medusan not because of any mental training but because she is in fact completely blind; she wears a sensor net on her clothing to enable her to walk around normally, but would be unable to pilot the Enterprise with this technology.
Kirk, thinking that Jones would be jealous of Spock's superior mental abilities to the extent that she might interfere with his mind meld, attempts to distract her whilst Spock pilots the ship back. The attempt is successful, but at one point Spock accidentally looks at Kollos without his visor and is driven mad. Although Jones is still bitterly jealous of Spock, Kirk convinces her to use her own mental abilities to heal his mind. Through the meld she in turn gains the ability to contact Kollos telepathically, enabling her to continue with the mission after she departs the Enterprise.
This is another of those episodes with some good ideas but also some rather silly ones. The very idea that something could be so ugly that simply looking at it will drive you mad is absurd. And annoyingly, this could have been far more easily justified if it had not been the sight
of Kollos that drove people mad, but rather some effect of his telepathy; say that Medusans constantly broadcast their thoughts telepathically as a matter of course, and that their minds were so powerful that nobody else could stand it or something. That would have been a far more credible approach, and it would barely require any change in the proceedings - Kollos' box would be a telepathic shield rather than just a visual one, and Spock's visor could be replaced with some sort of telepathic filter. In a way I can see why they went with ugliness, they're trying to make a point about relative standards of beauty and such, but it just pushes credibility a little too far for my taste.
Then again, the innate navigational skills of the Medusans are a bit of a push. Navigating in space isn't that hard - even in the present day the math to do it has been around for a long time, and in the Trek age of massively powerful engines and computers there's really not a lot that a Medusan should be able to add to the process. One might argue that navigating at warp is a lot more complicated, and though I really don't see why it would be I can buy into that. And although the dialogue makes it clear that the Enterprise has left
the galaxy, odd navigation issues might be a lot more believable if the ship was actually stranded within
the galactic barrier. That's certainly what the FX looks like onscreen anyway.
It's also hard to believe that Dr. Jones is quite so jealous as is made out here. They're seriously suggesting that this woman would be prepared to see the entire ship lost, including herself, rather than let somebody else solve the problem? And later, that she would let Spock die rather than help him? How many people do you think would really react that way? Yet Kirk never even asks her about letting Spock handle things, he just deceives her as a matter of course. Very un-gentlemanly of him, I must say.