Star Trek: The Original Series (1968) – Plato’s Stepchildren and Wink of an Eye

Captain’s log: stardate 5784.2

Plato’s Stepchildren first screened on 22 November, 1968 and was written by Meyer Dolinsky.

The episode is of historical note because of the first American broadcast interracial kiss when Captain Kirk (William Shatner) kisses Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols). Beyond that, the story is rather basic.

The Enterprise is summoned to a planet to help resolve a medical emergency. While their, McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Kirk learn that this race was present on Earth during the time of Plato (seems we’ve hear something along this storyline before).

Over the centuries they’ve lost the ability to fight off infection, but have developed incredible mental powers. These powers are brought to bear to torture and harass the crew of the Enterprise in order to make McCoy agree to stay and assist them in anyway they may need.

Kirk, Spock, Uhura and Nurse Chapel (Majel Barrett) are turned into playthings for the Platonians. Spock, Kirk, and the much put upon Platonian, Alexander (Michael Dunn) may be able to come with a way to free the Enterprise, and put a stop to the torture.

As a child when I first encountered the episode, I definitely saw the Platonians as a full out enemy, even then, I knew that torture and abuse were wrong. Seeing characters I loved, thought of as friends, suffering in such a way, incensed me.

Seeing these characters who simply delight in the powers they exert, you want them to be stopped. I remember seeing our heroes stop the Platonians, and I delighted in it.

Michael Dunn’s Alexander has always appealed to me. He’s smart, funny, honest, and when I was a child, my growth spurt came later, so I was fairly short, and I could totally relate to him. Alexander proved he was more than what he thought was, and Kirk’s message of equality no matter appearance resonated with me.

The most bothersome thing for me, now, about the episode is that McCoy is willing to agree to stay to save his friends, but he’s not instrumental in stopping the Platonians. This could have been a strong McCoy story, but instead, it’s up to Kirk and Spock to come up with the answer.

They do of course come up with the answer and in fact are able to give everyone in the landing party similar powers to confront their keepers.

It’s a fairly enjoyable episode, I just wish McCoy had more to do in this episode.

TOS3x10j

Captain’s log: stardate 5710.5

Gene L. Coon under the pen name Lee Cronin came up with the story for Wink of an Eye that was then converted to a teleplay by Arthur Heinemann. Airing on 29 November, 1968, the story follows a group of aliens who come aboard the Enterprise and abduct our stalwart captain.

They are able to do so, because they live at an accelerated speed, unseen by the starship crew. Their plan is to use the Enterprise for cryogenic storage for their people. Their accelerated existence has led to a degenerative disease that promises to lead to extinction, and the arrival of the Enterprise at their homeworld of Scalos provides them with the opportunity to save their species.

Their abduction of Kirk is meant to explain to the captain their plan, and their need of it, they also deliver him the news that now that he is living in accelerated time, that he won’t ever be able to return to his own time.

He is able to leave a message for Spock, but will the Science Officer be able to decipher it in time – will he be able to aid the Scalosians and find a way to return his captain to his proper time? It shouldn’t be a spoiler to say yes. Of course, Kirk will have had his hand in his own rescue, because that’s the way the stories go.

This is an episode that I have only seen a handful of times, but is an idea that I have always loved, and perhaps this is where that thought came from. The concept that we are sharing space and time (after a fashion) with someone, or something we can’t see, but they are coexisting with us always fires my imagination.

I don’t think the different time speeds are exactly right, with the slow motion movement of the crew while Kirk wanders around at hyper-speed he’d probably live a whole lifetime before he was able to send his message to the crew. And what about the phaser shot he fires? Shouldn’t that damage his ship when it hits the wall?

It’s a difficult concept to make work, but that doesn’t make the episode any less enjoyable.

I love that Scotty (James Doohan) gets to do the introductory log, I feel that he and supporting characters like Sulu (George Takei), Uhura, and Chekov (Walter Koenig) were never given enough to do. It’s unfortunate, but despite that their characters have endured and become iconic.

Next week, the Human Adventure continues…

toswink

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