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Return of the Archons

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The Return of the Archons

TOS Season 1, Episode 21

TELEPLAY BY

Boris Sobelman

STORY BY

Gene Roddenberry

DIRECTED BY

Joseph Pevney

First Aired Feb 9, 1967

Stardate 3156.2

Investigating the disappearance of the U.S.S. Archon 100 years earlier, Kirk discovers the entire culture on planet Beta III is controlled by a group of 'lawgivers' known as "The Body" who are, in turn, controlled by the omniscient Landru.

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There's one thing I really don't about this episode. Landru states that the people are peaceful and everything is tranquil and that is what he is striving for. But earlier on, we saw that when the clock strikes, the festival starts, in which absolutely nothing is tranquil or peaceful. I would have made sense if they always acted in that blank contentment, but the festival made no sense.

I give it a 6.

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^

Well I guess that whole festival simply served as some sort of mechanism that allowed them to "let off some steam". You can't force people into peace and tranquility all the time - they need to let their negative emotions out from time to time. Of course, that really contradicts Landru's statement that everything is oh-so-peaceful on his world.

What I love about this episode is that it's yet another "Kirk babbles and computer dies" episode. I adore these, usually. :laugh: What I don't love that much about the episode is the fact that it's also a "Kirk interferes with culture because he thinks he has to free its people" episode (TOS has quite a few of those). There already was an underground movement, sure... there already was resistance towards Landru - but does this give Kirk the right to interfere? Hmm.

The episode gets a 7 from me, I love the insane grin on McCoy's face. LOL.

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Lots of fun for Kirk and company as they try to find out what happened to a Starfleet vessel many years earlier. Kinda creepy, but that 'red hour' orgy thing is an eye opener and makes for an interesting ep. :thumbup:

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Yeah. In a family show they couldn't show the people in the street stripping off and having indiscriminate sex, which is the only thing that would make sense for letting off steam. People that controlled don't fall in love, and for the culture to continue for 6000 years they obviously need to reproduce. However, the biggest plothole was, how come Sulu was "absorbed into the body" just by the lawgiver pointing his staff at him, while McCoy, Kirk and Spock were taken to that chamber?

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This is one of my favourite episodes of TOS, it's a great story. All that I don't get is, when Sulu was about to get absorbed by the guy in the cloak, why didn't he just leg it? Have you seen how slow they move? Nevermind though I guess! I'll give this an 8.

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This has always been an odd episode for me, but I do find it interesting. The Apple is much the same as this but on a more primitive scale. Certainly there is debate for whether the prime directive should have been followed. The new comics did a JJ take on this story but I don't think it was as good (they actually found the wreckage of the Archon and it was an NX class ship). 

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Yeah, I read the IDW take on the story; it actually made more sense making Beta III some kind of 'forgotten' colony of humans (hence the familiar outfits and streets, etc).   But I still love the original story too.

The cold war condemnation of 'soulless' communism is very apparent (duh, right?  This was 1967), but for me this is an episode made more of moments than as a masterpiece of science fiction television.   Some of the things about it I enjoyed:

*  Sulu's 'possession' by Landru; I wish Takei had more of these 'out-of-his-mind' moments (This Side of Paradise, Wolf in the Fold) because he is so GOOD in them.  It was also nice to see him at this relatively early stage of the show commanding a landing party (even if it went a bit caca).   His line, "It's paradise, my friend... paradise" is genuinely unsettling...

thereturnofarchons_047.jpg

*  The lawgivers; they are creepy as all hell.  Love their 'hollow tube' weapons; another one of this episode's little weird unexplained enigmas.

*  The crowds converging on Kirk and company; it has a quasi-zombie movie feel to it.   Even if they were easily felled by a phaser on stun, it's still creepy.  Kind of makes sense that director Boris Sagal went on to direct the 1971 post-apocalypse cult favorite, "The Omega Man" (which also had a weird cult led by creepy, robe-wearing fanatics...).

*  The bizarre production design; the costumes look like an episode of "Bonanza" but then you have those robed 'lawgivers' and other surreal elements which make the whole thing look like a nightmare.

*  "Festival!  FESTIVAL!!"  The red hour rocks....

*  The creepy-as-hell guy (named "Milar" and played by Lev Mailer, according to IMDB) who greets Kirk and the landing party when they first arrive.    He always freaked me out as a kid; his unnatural pallor (at least on my parent's TV set) and his restraining order-worthy smile just made ever cell in my body shudder when I was a kid.  As an adult, that effect has only subsided a little bit...

thereturnofarchons_096.jpg

*  Spock decking the guard the "old fashioned way".... nice to see that Spock can do more than just neck-pinch.

*  McCoy's possession by Landru.  As upsetting as Sulu's.  Loved his cry of "You are NOT of the body!  You're NOT!"   

*  Landru's electronic 'ghost'.... also unsettling.  Adds to the overall surreal nightmarish quality of this episode.

*  And unless I'm mistaken (?) this was Kirk's first 'god-computer' kill.  More would follow in "The Apple", "The Changeling," "I, Mudd" (a group effort really), "The Ultimate Computer" and (technically) "That Which Survives" (which Spock and a redshirt actually fired upon, but Kirk figured it out...). 

Maybe not one of TOS' best, but for spooking me to my sneakers as a kid?  I give it a fondly remembered 7. 

 

 

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According to Marc Cushman in These Are the Voyages, Spock was supposed  to neck-pinch that guard, but the director got the blocking wrong, so Leonard Nimoy wasn't in the right position to neck-pinch him and had to punch him instead.  Shatner supposedly ad-libbed that "Isn't that a little old-fashioned" line, which I totally loved.

This episode is creepy and atmospheric, and even though it wouldn't make most people's "best" lists, I think it's still a good one.

And I agree with Sehlat about Sulu; I thought Takei was good every time they gave him something to actually DO, and I'm sorry we didn't get more Sulu.  Chekov never did much for me, so it would have been fine with me if Takei had gotten pretty much all of Chekov's lines...

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According to Marc Cushman in These Are the Voyages, Spock was supposed  to neck-pinch that guard, but the director got the blocking wrong, so Leonard Nimoy wasn't in the right position to neck-pinch him and had to punch him instead.  Shatner supposedly ad-libbed that "Isn't that a little old-fashioned" line, which I totally loved.

This episode is creepy and atmospheric, and even though it wouldn't make most people's "best" lists, I think it's still a good one.

And I agree with Sehlat about Sulu; I thought Takei was good every time they gave him something to actually DO, and I'm sorry we didn't get more Sulu.  Chekov never did much for me, so it would have been fine with me if Takei had gotten pretty much all of Chekov's lines...

I hear you; I was never a Chekov fan either.   His accent was just ridiculous; I've known plenty of Russians in my time and none ever sounded like that.  And yes, I wish Takei had some of those S2 moments as well (he was off filming "The Green Berets" during much of that season... a shame, as TGB was little more than a bad propaganda movie for the US war in Vietnam). 

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*  And unless I'm mistaken (?) this was Kirk's first 'god-computer' kill.  More would follow in "The Apple", "The Changeling," "I, Mudd" (a group effort really), "The Ultimate Computer" and (technically) "That Which Survives" (which Spock and a redshirt actually fired upon, but Kirk figured it out...). 

Maybe not one of TOS' best, but for spooking me to my sneakers as a kid?  I give it a fondly remembered 7. 

 

 

Add A Taste of Armageddon to that list, even though it's not a living computer, by destroying it, Kirk helped a stagnant situation (a long war) that was never going to get better. 

I just watched this again today. As I said before it's an episode that not a lot of fans pay attention to but really should. 

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