Top 10 Episodes: Star Trek: The Original Series Season 2
After a few minor growing pains in season 1, season 2 was where TOS really hit their stride. Almost every episode (save “Metamorphosis” and “I, Mudd” – unless you’re a Harry Mudd fan) could have made the Top 10, as each episode is filled with great performances and solid storylines. Kirk busts out an (occasionally seen) alternate green uniform, and Pavel Checkov joins the crew for the first time. Often filling in for Sulu (as George Takei was pursuing film roles), Chekov fit in brilliantly and you almost can’t picture the show ever being without him. Home to classics like “Amok Time” and “The Trouble With Tribbles”, here are the Top 10 Episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series – Season 2.
10. The Deadly Years
Simple explanation? The landing party beams down to a planet and contract some kind of strain that makes the team age at an alarming rate – save for Chekov.
The makeup department worked overtime on this episode as we see an extremely aged version of Kirk, Spock, Bones and Scotty. (And Lieutenant Galway, before her unfortunate demise. And she wasn’t even wearing a red shirt!) The performances underneath all that makeup were great, especially Shatner. Some of the mannerisms he used as “aged Kirk” were right on the money. The competency hearing in the briefing room is a highlight. (Poor Scotty looks like he’s passed right out.)
The scenario of having the senior staff (pun intended) out of commission leaving an inexperienced Commodore in command during a crisis against the Romulans sets up an outstanding save-the-day moment for Kirk. Great episode.
9. The Ultimate Computer
A computer genius trying to recapture past glory introduces an automation system that would make it completely unnecessary for a starship to need a crew – or a Captain.
The classic argument of man versus machine is discussed at length in this episode, especially during a great scene between Kirk and McCoy as they walk the corridors of a near-empty Enterprise. Kirk has many fine moments, especially near the end as once again an episode comes down to Kirk vs. a computer.
If the voice of the M5 interface sounds familiar to you, that’s because its none other than Scotty himself, James Doohan. The actor had a knack voices, and was used many times as other characters throughout the series.
8. The Trouble With Tribbles
Like the furry little Tribbles themselves, how could anyone not like “The Trouble With Tribbles”?
A classic in every sense of the word and an episode that showed “Star Trek” could definitely tackle comedy. Kirk’s complete loathing of Mr. Baris and his concerns is fantastic, as is a scene between him and Scotty in the briefing room after a full-on bar fight took place on the space station. Speaking of Scotty, his scene in the bar with Chekov and another officer (who was often one of Shatner’s stand-in’s) with the Klingons is top notch. One doesn’t need much of a trained eye to notice that Captain Koloth is the same man who played Trelane from season 1’s “The Squire of Gothos.”
An episode that will leave you smiling (if not purely AT the cast for their cheesy final fade-to-black-while-all-sharing-a-laugh moment), this one is a gem.
7. A Piece of the Action
Kirk and Spock become a pair of “wise guys” and the result is outstanding.
The Enterprise is in search of a ship that went missing years ago and come across a planet that seems to have based its entire society on a book left behind that deals with 1920’s gangsters from Chicago. A little hokey? Yes. Kirk telling “Sawbones” to knock it off and Scotty messing up the proper way to say “cement overshoes”? Spectacular.
“A Piece of the Action” is an extremely fun episode to watch, and the entire cast (as well as the guest cast) put in a great performance. The scene below is classic Captain Kirk as he makes up a completely false card game to distract his captors.
I’d love to try to play “Fizzbin” one day.
6. Journey to Babel
Oh, the conundrum. Does Spock command the Enterprise in a crisis or relegate himself to sickbay to give a blood transfusion to his dying, disapproving father?
“Journey to Babel” is a big one for Spock as we also meet his parents for the first time. Not to be outdone, Kirk is busy trying to keep order among several delegates on board the Enterprise, as well as tussling with an “Andorian” in the corridors.
This may be the first time we meet Sarek, Spock’s father, but not the first time we’ve seen the actor Mark Lenard. He was first on the show back in season 1 as a Romulan in “Balance of Terror.” (I doubt Lenard dared to think his character Sarek would still be around after 20 years.) Also, McCoy’s breaking of the “fourth wall” is one of the best final scenes throughout the entire series.
5. The Doomsday Machine
Basically there is a massive weapon floating through space destroying anything in its path.
William Windom is outstanding throughout this episode, bringing pity, conflict and sacrifice to the character of Commodore Decker.
Having the Commodore’s own crew lost to “that thing”, he is hellbent on one thing: revenge. Using his rank (and the rule book), Decker takes control of the Enterprise from Spock and strands Kirk and his landing party on his former ship in pursuit of justice.
The tension created in the scene between Decker and Spock on the bridge of the Enterprise is palpable, and McCoy’s disgust at the whole situation is so good it’s humorous. Also a shining moment is the climax, complete with a countdown, failing technology and lives at stake. The music playing during that moment, as well as Decker’s earlier retelling of events and Kirk’s assessment of what is going on is perfect. What is also perfect? The hand-to-hand combat between Decker and the security officer. They just don’t choreograph fights like that anymore.
“Star Trek” goes Halloween in this one and that’s not even a generalization as even the characters themselves make several references to All Hallow’s Eve.
Now before you think it gets a little too campy, let’s stop there. It is a legitimately good story with the only real weak spot being the reveal of the alien’s true appearance in the final scene. That aside though, this episode is filled with great moments, great music, and some great feline acting. Beautiful set decoration throughout as well. Having practically hypnotized crew members like Sulu and Scotty act as henchmen was a solid idea, and some of the conversations Kirk and Spock have in the dungeon as they are chained up are extremely compelling. You can’t help but feel for Korob, as Sylvia gets more and more power hungry.
How about that header the stunt man playing Jackson takes at the top of the episode??
3. Friday’s Child
Kirk and Co. arrive at the planet Capella IV to negotiate for mining rights, only to find the Klingons got there first and want the same thing.
The tall, combative and intimidating Capellans are an enticing people. McCoy’s relationship with Eleen, a woman who is about to give birth to a Capellan successor any minute, is fantastic. He tries so hard to get her to WANT the child she’s about to have, and her solution to that problem leads to a great misunderstanding between McCoy and Kirk & Spock. Scotty gets to show off his flair for command yet again (as is the case many times throughout the series when Kirk and Spock are part of a landing party), and yet again he shows why he is the logical choice. You have to get up pret-t-ty early in the morning to pull one over ‘ol Scotty! Featuring several good fighting sequences and great humor, this is a true beauty from Season 2.
2. Amok Time
Anyone who knows “The Original Series” knows this is the one where Kirk and Spock fight “to the death”, and it is also home to one of the few times we ever get to see Spock smile.
A fantastic episode from start to finish and a real spotlight for Spock, “Amok Time” is one of the best. Kirk and Spock’s friendship is front and center as we see how far one will go for the other, and we also see that there is more to McCoy than meets the eye. As it was throughout the series, the music is fantastic, especially when our three heroes first beam down to Vulcan.
We’ve seen Stonn before – he played a Romulan in the first season episode “Balance of Terror”. Also, watch T’Pau when she returns Spock’s Vulcan salute – in a story told by Leonard Nimoy – she had a hard time doing it with just the one hand and had to set her fingers in place with her other hand before it came up into the camera’s view.
1. Mirror, Mirror
Seeing Spock with a wicked goatee is almost reason enough for this to be the best episode of Season 2.
The wardrobe and set decoration departments must have had a field day with this one. Altering our humble crew and ship to turn them into a gritty, edgy group of people who are part of the Empire (as opposed to the Federation). Murder, sex and Agony Booth’s are all the norm in this world. Body guards. Factions. Sulu with a nasty scar. Everything is so much more dangerous in this world, and it’s fun to watch! Seeing different versions of the heroes we come to know is always a treat, and when this episode ends, you almost miss that other universe.
We never see the mirror universe again in TOS….but that one episode lays the groundwork for a return more than twenty years later in Deep Space Nine. And then again in Enterprise.