Top 10 Episodes: Star Trek: The Original Series Season 3
Ah, season 3 of The Original Series.
After fighting so hard to get the show to return for a third season, once it was announced that it was going to be given the “graveyard” time slot (Friday nights at 10 pm) the wheels started to fall off pretty quickly. Budgets were cut, producers left, scripts suffered. The end result was a collection of some of the weakest episodes the series would ever air, and the eventual cancellation of the show. Among all that turmoil however, there were still some episodes that managed to shine. Here are the Top 10 Episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series – Season 3.
10. The Mark of Gideon
A vastly overpopulated planet (to the point where citizens are constantly rubbing elbows with the person next to them) is in need of a sickness and they capture Captain Kirk in hopes of getting one. How convenient that he finds himself on an exact duplicate of the Enterprise (if the planet is so crowded, where did they find the space to build it?) with a lone companion: Odona. Meanwhile, Spock is left dealing with the extremely frustrating planetary leaders in hopes of finding their missing captain. You wouldn’t think that a few digits rearranged in the beam down coordinates would be missed that easily, but I must admit I didn’t notice either the first time I watched it. (Then again, I was probably under 10 years old. Also, pretty sure there would be some redundancies to prevent that kind of thing from happening, but whatever.) Watching Spock try and remain as diplomatic as possible with the maddening Ambassador Hodin is a highlight.
9. Wink of an Eye
The Enterprise comes across a group of people from a society that exist at a higher rate of acceleration than the rest of us. Hoping to repopulate their species they capture some fertile Enterprise crew members to bring them to their “level”, while leaving the rest of the crew in a cryogenic freeze for storage until they are needed. Not a bad concept, even though at times the science of it and syncing up what’s been sped up and what is still in real-time is a little off. Deela is quite an enticing antagonist, and watching Spock as he intentionally accelerates in sickbay while McCoy and Nurse Chapel look on is good. Poor Compton – he never had a chance.
8. All Our Yesterdays
Kirk, Spock and McCoy get separated in a planet’s past, as their sun is on the verge of going supernova. This is a pretty entertaining episode, with not a bad concept (just don’t think about the timeline ramifications of sending an entire population into it’s own past). Spock has a wide variety of emotions, from lust and love to pure anger towards McCoy, which makes for an intense scene. Naturally the only person Spock and McCoy come across in a barren arctic climate is a gorgeous woman dressed in some pretty scantily clad furs. The actor who played Mr. Atoz (the librarian) also appeared on the series back in season 2 in “Bread and Circuses”. Very clever of the writers of giving a librarian a name like A to Z.
7. The Savage Curtain
A tried and true concept – which is stronger, good or evil?
Yes, the rock-like creature is kinda cheesy (great voice though), and yes the idea of Abraham Lincoln visiting the Enterprise is a little out there. But the moments on the surface of the planet, the reminiscing & sharing of stories (as well as philosophies once Surak joins the party) is quite interesting, I find. This is the first time the revered Klingon Kahless is introduced to us (his character gets more history in subsequent series spin-offs) and Colonel Green sure comes off as an untrustworthy son-of-a-gun. Not the strongest of plots, but in a struggling season it is better than most.
6. Elaan of Troyius
Elaan may come off as super annoying, but stick with this episode as it picks up considerably once the Klingons get involved. The music is perfect during the battle near the end, and that sequence also features a camera angle from the back of the bridge that is rarely seen. Pretty sure Kirk would have fallen for Elaan one way or another even without touching her tears. (The idea that they can take the stones directly from her necklace and just basically stick them in the engines to save the day is a bit of a stretch, but hey. This is why we love the show.)
5. Spectre of the Gun
Star Trek goes western.
Kirk and company are sent by a being “back in time” to re-create the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, with our heroes playing the doomed cowboys. On the surface, it looks pretty weak. But watching the crew work to find a solution to this particular jam is pretty satisfying, and this is a big one for Chekov. How many times does a character both fall in love and die in the same episode? The actors playing the lawmen (the Earps and Doc Holliday) did a great job of bringing the intimidation factor. With regards to the sparseness; the budget was slashed pretty hard for season 3 resulting in a lot less set dressing. They even address the lack of setting within episode, concluding that there was just enough in place to play out the scenario. Which actually works. The western flair to the music worked well, and the final standoff is logical. Naturally.
4. The Enterprise Incident
Home of the non-existent “Vulcan Death Grip”, Kirk and Spock go undercover to steal a Romulan cloaking device. Kirk’s erratic behavior to keep up appearances is solid, and we get to see what Shatner looks like had he been cast as a pointy-eared character. Spock’s slow wooing of the Romulan commander is interesting to watch, and love how in a crunch Scotty can somehow manage to integrate completely alien technology into the Enterprise’s systems without a hitch.
3. That Which Survives
I think this is a pretty underrated episode.
Kirk and his landing party are stranded on a planet being hunted down by a “woman” named Losira, and the Enterprise is trying to race back after being hurled across the galaxy to save them. Losira isn’t restricted to the planet however, as she also appears on the Enterprise and wreaks havoc. The tension this episode creates is well deserved as Kirk and co. try to figure out a way to defend themselves against Losira, and the music adds to those feelings perfectly. The highlight of the episode though is when Scotty is in the bowels of the ship trying to make repairs before it’s too late and the ship self-destructs. The back and forth between himself and Spock is perfect, and once again the music is an excellent accent to what’s happening on the screen.
Back to the planet for a second – is it just me or does Sulu get verbally smacked down every time he opens his mouth? Ease up on the guy, people!
2. Day of the Dove
The Enterprise becomes a battleground between Kirk’s crew and the Klingons, under the control of an entity that feeds off hostility. (Let’s just ignore the special effect used to create the alien. It was 1968 for crying out loud.)
Now, this may sound a little hokey, but it actually sets the stage for some pretty interesting character interaction, as much of the time they are not quite themselves. Another side effect of this alien’s influence? Sword fights. And a lot of them. Apparently this alien wants its victims to cause as much damage as possible without actually killing anyone, so they can get patched up (with new healing powers at an alarming rate, thanks to the floating ball of light) and then get right back to the fight. So it replaced all the phasers on the ship with swords. (It’s safe to say Scotty absolutely loves his sword.) McCoy’s tirade on the bridge to Kirk and Spock is so good it’s borderline comical. (That facial twitch DeForest Kelley (whether it be intentional or not) puts in at the end is pure gold.)
1. The Tholian Web
Hands down the best of what season 3 had to offer, and that’s pretty interesting since Kirk is in it for only a fraction of the show!
Watching Spock deal with the weight of command and dealing with the decisions he as to make is compelling, especially with McCoy there to question him nearly every step of the way. Kirk’s video message to his two best friends is pretty touching, and makes for some good humor when he brings it up at the end of the show. How about those Tholians? A pretty cool idea creating a “web” around the Enterprise. Also, love Scotty’s enthusiasm towards a remedy that involves drinking.