It’s time for…Star Trek Saturdays #38!!!
This week’s episode is “The Apple” and it has some really strong McCoy moments and some pretty great suspense, even if the ending doesn’t quite hold up.
We begin with the landing party of Kirk, Spock, Chekov, McCoy and some others beaming down to the planet Gamma Trianguli IV for exploration and analysis. The surface is completely jungle-like and Spock registers with his tricorder that the planetwide temperature is 76 degrees.
However nice it seems, the planet proves to be dangerous. One of the crewmen gets shot and killed by a pod plant that shoots poisonous darts. Kirk contacts Scotty, who’s been left in charge on the bridge. Scotty says that the antimatter pods are acting strange and the planet’s electromagnetic field seems slightly abnormal. Spock records that artificially produced vibrations are emanating throughout.
Kirk orders the other redshirts to sweep the area, but to beware anything that looks humanoid. Kirk sees something moving and decides to lead the party on to the nearest village.
As they journey along, Spock finds a very thin rock that explodes. Scotty radios Kirk to say that because of whatever the planet is doing, the antimatter pods are completely dead and the ship can’t move. McCoy analyzes one of the plant darts and finds it’s loaded with poison.
Then, noticing that a pod plant is preparing to shoot Kirk, Spock steps in and takes the bullets himself, falling unconscious. Seeing this, Kirk decides it’s too dangerous and orders to be beamed up. But Scotty tells him that the ship’s power is being drained and that the transporter is inoperable.
Spock regains consciousness due to the poison not affecting his Vulcan physiology. Then, a storm starts and another redshirt is vaporized by lightning. The others run for cover. Meanwhile, one of the other officers has found a village and tries to tell Kirk what he’s seen, but his communicator shorts out.
Kirk rallies the others forward and they meet up with the crewmen, only to see him step on an exploding rock and die. Angry at three deaths on his watch, Kirk begins berating himself, despite Spock and McCoy telling him that he couldn’t have foreseen any of this.
Just then, Spock notices the humanoid chasing them from earlier has come back. Kirk punches him in the face, but the man starts to cry out. Perplexed, Kirk and co. learn that the man is called Akuta (Keith Arkles) and that he is “the eyes of Vaal” and the leader of the “children of Vaal.” He’s also wearing a copious amount of redface so there’s that.
Yeah, the makeup and appearance of the natives is-kinda cringe-worthy. That said, what we learn about them–namely, that because of Laal, they’re truly immortal but don’t no other realities of life–that it’s a lot easier to excuse them as much as they might’ve been.
Max Erlich and Gene L. Coon wrote this episode and it’s remarkably how well they wring fresh tension out of this setting of a thousand serials. Again, the pulpy spirit the show has comes to the fore.
Joseph Pevney directs once again and he’s simply the best, using the jungle sets to full effect. He’s quite good at conveying the terror of the steamy jungles.
Everyone in the cast is also on board with the story and it works. Kelley is incredible and his action and speech foreshadows the explicit humanism of The Next Generation. As a righteously angry Kirk, Shatner is tremendous. And with his repeated, relentless chatting up of a female crew member, Walter Koenig makes Chekov into a riot.
Also, this priceless exchange between Chekov and McCoy:
“This place is so lovely. Just like back home in Russia.”
“Don’t you mean the Garden of Eden?”
“The Garden of Eden was just outside Moscow.”
Thanks to Memory Alpha, the official Star Trek wiki for the pics and episode information, as well as Amazon Instant for hosting the show. We’ll see you next time and until then, live long and prosper.