Stardate: 4842.6 (2268)
Original Air Date: October 4, 1968
Writer: Margaret Armen
Director: Jud Taylor
“I am Kirok!!”
Kirk, Spock, and Bones beam down to an idyllic planet rife with pine trees, a lake, honeysuckle, and orange blossoms –it appears to be exactly akin to earth only half a galaxy away. Suddenly, the crewmen spot a strange object composed of alloy and featuring a complex language scribed upon it. Who could have constructed such an obelisk? This planet known as Amerind (only in the script, not in the episode), has primitive tribes who seem to live peacefully alongside the banks of the water. The tribes carry a mixture of “Navajo, Mohican, and Delaware” characteristics. However, we soon learn that a massive asteroid is en route to destroy this planet, and the Enterprise crew have only thirty minutes on the surface before needing to depart and hopefully deflect the asteroid. However, while inspecting the obelisk, Kirk accidentally falls inside and he is promptly shocked by a bolt of electricity which causes amnesia.
Meanwhile, the asteroid continues to barrel toward the planet so Spock and Bones beam back aboard the Enterprise in an effort to block the asteroid at maximum warp speed. Kirk then awakens and befriends the native tribe as they deliberate over what to do with Kirk. Is he a god? Can he be trusted? Kirk’s memory has been erased but he recalls coming to this planet from the sky. Kirk even mispronounces his own name as “Kirok.” However, he earns the tribe’s respect by saving the life of a young boy who nearly drowned. Kirk is then named the tribe’s medicine chief, a sacred role which is allowed to enter the temple (obelisk) during strange weather phenomenon. In this role, Kirk replaces Salish (Rudy Solari), the former medicine chief, and as a result Kirk is then betrothed to the elder’s daughter, Miramanee (Sabrina Scharff) but this sparks a feud with Salish.
As time passes, Kirk falls in love with Miramanee as they discuss having children, but Kirk is plagued by dreams of impending doom. The sky then darkens and the wind howls as the asteroid draws near, unbeknownst to Kirk. The tribal elders, still believing Kirk is a god, request that he enter the temple in order to return the planet to its normal state. However, Kirk is unable to open the temple so the tribe rises up and attacks Kirk and Miramanee. While they lie injured, Spock, Bones, and Nurse Chapel beam down for a rescue attempt (despite Spock at the helm, the Enterprise was unable to subdue the asteroid). With time running out before the asteroid is set to strike, Spock conducts a Vulcan Mind Meld on Kirk in order to rejuvenate his memory.
Then, Spock discovers the truth of the obelisk –the writing on the side of the obelisk is actually a series of musical notes. The obelisk itself is revealed to be a marker left behind by a superior ancient race known as “The Preservers,” a group which once seeded various humanoid peoples on planets throughout the galaxy so they might avert extinction. By playing the right tonal notes, the crew is able to gain entry and activates the obelisk which serves as a gigantic deflector mechanism for passing asteroids. After it succeeds, Kirk returns to Miramanee as she tragically dies in his arms. She reminisces of her dream to bear him many sons and pledges to love him always.
My Thoughts on “The Paradise Syndrome”
Why did the Enterprise crew beam down to this planet knowing an asteroid was scheduled to strike? What was the point of the landing mission? Why not deflect the asteroid prior to beaming down to the planet’s surface? At any rate, despite some choppy technicalities, like odd voiceovers and yet another earth-like planet populated with convenient natives, I thought this was a terrific installment, much better than I had anticipated. In particular, I found myself drawn to the ancient race of “Preservers.” Who are they? Are they related to the Old Ones described in the Season 1 classic “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” Or perhaps the ancient builders of Sigma Draconis VI in the infamous Season 3 episode “Spock’s Brain?” And also, why do they communicate via musical tones? This notion of a universal musical language will appear again in Star Trek, most recently in an episode of Strange New Worlds.
There is also an element of Rousseauian romanticism in this episode, as Kirk’s fantastical nostalgia for living a simpler, more blissful life comes into conflict with his weighty obligations to Starfleet. In a way, it reminded me of Captain Pike’s escapist dream in “The Cage.” The stress of daily modern life can easily lead to the trap of romanticizing the “noble savage.” However, Arcadia remains always just out of reach. Even erasing Kirk’s memory does not free him from subconscious dreams of the ugly truth. Regardless of his secret yearning for innocence, simplicity, and the false allure of a blissfully ignorant life, Kirk’s love for Miramanee seems genuine as she dies in his arms. Add this to the list of Kirk’s greatest romances, including Edith Keeler in “The City on the Edge of Forever” or Shahna in “The Gamesters of Triskelion.”
This was the second Star Trek episode written by Margaret Armen originally called “The Paleface.” In the original script, Miramanee had a child with Kirk.
Director Jud Taylor (1932-2008) directed a total of five Season 3 episodes, more than any other Season 3 director.
Star Trek Trivia:
- Dr. McCoy references the “Tahiti Syndrome” –a 20th century diagnosable condition for overworked leaders like Captain Kirk who fantasize about living a simpler life.
- The outdoor scenes in this episode were shot at Upper Franklin Canyon Reservoir, a locale that was featured in many classic Westerns, but perhaps it is most famous as the fishing hole in The Andy Griffith Show.
- This episode was about $15,000 over budget.
- This episode features the final score composed by Gerald Fried for the show.
- Matt Jeffries designed the obelisk, which was made out of plexiglass. Mr. Jeffries was also the designer of most of the Star Trek sets and ships.
- Several months pass during this episode’s timeline, making it one of the longest time lapses in the Star Trek series (for example, Spock notes that it will take 59 days for the Enterprise to return to Amerind with the asteroid in tow).
- Sabrina Scharf, who played Miramanee, was a former Playboy Bunny in the 1960s and she appeared in several notable movies, including Easy Rider (1969). She later became a Los Angeles attorney and, as of the time of this writing, she still works in real estate in Los Angeles, CA.
- The tribal chief in this episode is identified only in the script as “Goro.” He is played by Richard Hale.
- The question of Kirk’s child and his memory of Miramanee is revisited in the fan produced program “Star Trek Continues: The White Iris.”
I liked how Kirk’s memory of Miramanee and his unborn child was resolved in Star Trek Cintinues: The White Iris.
Thank you for your review and trivia.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Thanks mike! I did not realize that about the white iris.
LikeLiked by 1 person
You’re welcome. Edith Keeler too. And another whom I won’t name for the sake of avoiding spoilers. Your reviews will get round to that one in due time.
LikeLiked by 2 people
I loved how Star Trek Continues addressed Kirk’s past loves and the idea of a child with Miramanee. It’s been so long since I saw this episode, I forgot the music language in SNW would have been based off this episode.
LikeLiked by 2 people