Star Trek: The Original Series (1968) – Return to Tomorrow and Patterns of Force

Captain’s log: stardate 4768.3

Return to Tomorrow is one of those episodes that never really seem to hold my attention. Written by John T. Dugan, this story first aired on 9 February, 1968.

The one thing is does have is Kirk’s (William Shatner) awesome “Risk is our business” speech. It has become iconic and emblematic of the entire series.

A voice reaches the Enterprise from across the starry void, belonging to Sargon, a being of energy only. It is coming from a long dead planet, and Kirk, Spock (Leonard Nimoy), McCoy (DeForest Kelley) and astro-biologist Ann Mulhall (Diana Muldaur who guest stars twice in the original series before coming on board as Doctor Pulaski for The Next Generation) are transported deep beneath the surface where Sargon, and his few remaining fellows ask the Federation crew for help.

They need the bodies of Kirk, Mulhall and Spock to help create robotic life forms so that they may live on. They tell a story of how once, millennia ago, they seeded many words, including Earth, or so they claim.

The trio agree to the temporary possession of their bodies, while McCoy monitors them, but soon, the energy forms decide a robotic encasing for their minds would do them a disservice, they plan on keeping the warm, feeling bodies they have taken over.

Now despite the fact that I am not the biggest fan of the story, the dialogue in this episode between the characters is top-notch. Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty (James Doohan) are all in fine form, and the transporter discussion is a lot of fun.

This episode for me, is very much about the character beats and moments instead of the story. It is enjoyable to see Nimoy and Shatner behaving as other characters, especially given Spock’s possessor’s devious motives. He’s sly, evil, laughs, and is incredibly manipulative.

In fact both Spock’s and Mulhall’s inhabitants are devious, and begin to view the crew as an inconvenience, almost like insects. But will they redeem themselves will the crew regain their captain and other officers?

It’s not that it isn’t an entertaining episode, it’s fun, enjoyable, but its one of those stories that I tend to forget about. It doesn’t stand out for me. It’s by no means terrible, like I said, I love the dialogue and character beats, it just doesn’t pop like other stories.

And, honestly, this time through, I think I enjoyed it more than I have before, perhaps its growing on me.


Captain’s log: stardate unknown.

Patters of Force was written by John Meredyth Lucas and saw Kirk and company taking on the Nazis when it was broadcast on 16 February, 1968.

The Enterprise arrives in orbit around the planet Ekos searching for a Federation cultural observer, and one of Kirk’s former professors, John Gill (David Brian). They are shocked to discover that the entire culture seems to be mimic Nazi Germany of the 1940s.

Kirk and Spock beam down to investigate and are stunned to learn that Gill is being hailed as the Fuhrer. When they are captured and beaten, they escape with the help of the Zeon resistance.

Working with the Resistance, and a defector, Kirk and Spock come up with a plan to reach Gill and find out what is going on, but things aren’t all that they seem, even as a Final Solution is being put into place.

With countless lives hanging in the balance, Kirk and his stalwart companions will have to come up with an extreme solution. Hopefully their gamble will work, and they can stop the revised Reich from rising again.

One of the best parts of the episode is watching Kirk and Spock disguise themselves in uniform and then working as a film crew making a documentary. Of course when McCoy beams down dressed as a colonel and complaining about the boots, pure gold.

Unfortunately the fascism, and treatment of prisoners, not to mention the genocidal plans of the planet were a reality for far too many and for far too long. It’s horrifying to think that such a thing may be rising again in today’s day and age.

By showing the culture and the nature that the Nazi government and military endorsed, the episode creates a dialogue about the nature of man, and our behaviour towards one another, and power corrupting.

It ends up being a fairly solid episode and you can see the writers have really started to cater and play to the relationships of the characters.

Next week, the Human Adventure continues…





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