Well, I was hoping for a continuation of last episode’s space battles and strategic chess game of war. Within five minutes, McCoy encounters the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. So it’s going to be like that.
The away party is scouting out an Earth-like planet for them to have a bit of R&R on, and coincidentally, this is the first time this show was shot on location instead of a sound stage with rocks made of paper. The planet looks remarkably like southern California, although there are no animals or insects of any kind. I could argue that animals are crucial for plants to be able to spread their seeds and thrive, but you know me. I’m not one to complain.
Kirk beams down to find McCoy tripping out, trying to explain how he was just asked for the time by an anthropomorphic rabbit. A moment later, the two find Sulu happily shooting an antique revolver at a lake. When they ask him where he got the gun, Sulu explains he just “found it.” Kirk hangs on to it, not trusting Sulu to go trying to kill the various bodies of water they come across. I heard the original airing of this show came with a PSA reminding kids not to play with guns you find under rocks. After all, you don’t know where they’ve been.
It becomes clear pretty quickly that the planet is manifesting people’s fantasies for relaxing purposes. For example, Kirk sees a woman from his past whom he apparently had a thing for (remarkable, I know), and Finnegan, an obnoxious Irishman he knew at Starfleet Academy whom he’s always really wanted to punch. It’s strange, the creators of this show seem to think all Irish people are leprachauns, because all Finnegan does is bounce around, running through green fields and calling out Kirk in the most stereotypical way imaginable. Harmless enough I guess. Just because an Irish character appears to be an overgrown leprachaun doesn’t mean the writers were racist.
Then Sulu gets attacked by a samurai. Because all Japanese people want to fight with samurai. I’m really glad Uhura wasn’t in this episode, because she’d probably just find a plate a fried chicken and then run into some ghosts.
A few other crew members run into illusions of their own, like meeting Don Juan and a tiger. McCoy spends a while flirting with a crewmember named Angela, who doesn’t seem to mind that McCoy is like forty years older than her. She finds a princess dress hanging on some tree branches, and naturally she puts it on. She and McCoy are having fun pretending to be a knight and a princess when a real knight appears and gores McCoy with his lance.
Why does the planet seem to think that everyone’s fantasy is to get attacked and killed?
After a lengthy fight scene between Kirk and Finnegan, where Kirk chases his old tormentor all the way to the desert, gets his shirt torn, and finally beats him up while Spock and Sulu do all the work of actually trying to figure out what’s going on. It comes up so often, I need to come up with a short-hand way of saying “Kirk gets his shirt ripped.” Kirkrip? There was a Kirkrip.
At last the aliens running the planet from underground come out to greet the Enterprise crew, along with a not-dead McCoy, happily walking with a cabaret dancer on each arm. So either McCoy’s fantasy was to be murdered by a knight on horseback, or Kirk is just really bad at telling when people are unconscious. They clear up the misunderstanding with the aliens, and Kirk authorizes the crew to beam down for some shore leave on the fantasy planet. Then he goes off to have imaginary sex with his fantasy girl.
Once again, it seems the writers have really done a 180 since they first visited Talos IV, where fantasy worlds are now cool and not hollow at all. I know this is all leading up to the creation of the holodeck, where virtual reality is not only recommended, it’s the crew’s main source of relaxation. Mixed messages!