The Cloud Minders
Overall Ep :
First Aired :
28 Feb 1969
Season Ep :
Main Cast :
Guest Cast :
Just after the opening credits, Kirk says a line without moving his lips.
The nice image of the surface of Ardana is actually a picture of the Arabian peninsula taken from an Apollo spacecraft.
Jeff Corey, who plays Plasus, was one of Leonard Nimoy's acting teachers.
Stratos was literally a cardboard cutout hung from the ceiling on a wire.
In need of Zenite to stop a plague, Kirk travels to the planet Ardana, home of Strator - an entire city floating in the sky, the greatest example of sustained anti-gravity in the galaxy. When the material he needs is stolen by mine workers, Kirk finds himself plunged into a civil dispute. The elite who live in Stratos rule over a lower slave class which is confined to the mines; the miners are beginning to rebel against their living conditions, sabotaging the city in small ways in protest.
Kirk wants to intervene, hoping to resolve the crisis so that he can get hold of his supplies, but the planets ruler, Plasus, is adamant that he not interfere in local politics. When Kirk's officers discover that pollution in the mines is causing the workers to become increasingly violent, the ship manufactures masks to block the effect. However, the leader of the workers, Vanna, refuses to believe him and he is abducted and held hostage. Overcoming his captors, Kirk deliberately traps himself and Vanna in the mines so that she can witness the effects of the poison. She becomes a believer, and agrees to provide Kirk with the zenite he needs. Although Plasus is still not pleased with the situation he reluctantly agrees not to press charges against Kirk for his interference, and the starship departs.
Although a pretty good basic idea, this ep isn't really interesing. It's nice to gain some knowledge of how Federation politics work; to judge from this episode the Federation is a very loose alliance, with little in common between planets. If Ardana can treat a large section of its population as it does without their consent, Federation membership at this time can surely carry few restrictions and citizenship few personal rights. Gene is said to have thought of the Federation as being largely like the UN, and this episode certainly shows something more like that pattern than the US-style Federation we're used to in TNG and beyond.
I'm not a fan of the idea that the miner's violent behaviour is a result of being poisoned. It's too simplistic an answer - it would have been more interesting if their actions had been consciously chosen as a result of social conditions, since that would let the episode play with themes of when and what type of violent action citizens are justified in using against their own society if it is unjust.
And not to harp on it or anything, but could that mask design be