Star Trek: The Original Series (1969) – The Lights of Zetar and Requiem for Methuselah

Captain’s log: stardate 5725.3

Poor Scotty (James Doohan). Unless your name is James T. Kirk (William Shatner), it seems your love life aboard the Enterprise is lacklustre at best and doomed at its worst.

Scotty learns that in The Lights of Zetar. Written by Shari Lewis and Jeremy Tarcher, this episode first aired on 31 January, 1969.

The Enterprise is on its way to Memory Alpha (essentially a giant library) to install new equipment which Scotty, the ship’s chief engineer has been working on, alongside Mira Romaine (Jan Shutan). Over the course of their work together the two have become close, and romantically entwined.

Unfortunately, a sentient space storm has damaged Memory Alpha, wiping out the staff, and seemingly possessing Romaine.

Much like a lot of third season episodes, I don’t this one as well as I know the previous seasons, and it bothers me that despite featuring Scotty’s love life, he is not the focus of the story.

Kirk and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) are the ones that figure out what is going on, while Scott is left to hand wringing. And while Scotty’s love life may be few and far between, he would never desert his post the way he does in this episode. It seems completely out of character for him.

The way the lights try to communicate through beings, with that strange noise has always been a little unnerving, and that is one thing I definitely recall from my childhood. That freaked me out.

I don’t remember seeing the episode often, but that is one thing I do recall, the weird light and the strange voices coming out of their throat.

Romaine is an interesting character but really doesn’t seem to understand how Starfleet works, and yet, she’s a lieutenant. She always seems argumentative, and while that’s okay now and then, it’s hardly the way to consistently speak to your superior officer.

As the episode progresses the cloud of lights follows and interferes with the Enterprise, while at the same time co-existing within Mira. Kirk, Spock, and finally McCoy (DeForest Kelley) are given something to do, as they interact and figure out what is happening, all while Scotty looks lovelorn, and continues to shirk his duty.

The revelations of what the lights are is done pretty well, and Kirk fights to save his ship, and Scotty’s sweetie.

And in the end, Romaine is saved, and Scotty comments on how they have all the time in the world, and yet, she’s never mentioned again…

toszetar

Captain’s log: stardate 5843.7

Requiem for Methuselah first aired on 14 February, 1969 and was written by Jerome Bixby.

Kirk, Spock, McCoy (DeForest Kelley) and company find themselves caught in a trap when they beam down to a supposedly uninhabited planet to recover minerals designed to battle Rigellian fever that has broken out aboard ship.

It seems the planet isn’t as empty as they thought.

They come across a fellow Earther, Flint (James Daly), who is a recluse, relying only on his ward, Rayna (Louise Sorel), who of course catches Kirk’s eye.

Flint begins machinations to keep our heroic trio trapped, as well as the intrepid crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. As Kirk, and his friends learn more about Flint, and the contradictions that seem to surround him, they learn his true identity.

Kirk is open about his pursuit of Rayna, which is odd considering how his crew is suffering in orbit, and the story itself has overtones of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, or for a more sci-fi setting, The Forbidden Planet.

It’s definitely one of the stronger episodes of the third season, even if Kirk seems out of character in his pursuit of Rayna, completely forgoing the needs of his ship. Of course, one could argue that he was only doing that to get a reaction out of Flint, but I just think it’s poor storytelling.

Flint, for all of that, is a well-realised character and holds his own against the other actors in the series.

Of course, our heroes find a resolution to the events (in a very silly confrontation – personally I can’t believe Kirk for all his philandering behaves this way), saving their comrades, and learning the truth about Flint and Rayna. I do like the McCoy/Spock moment at the end of the episode, and what the Science Officer does for his Captain, but some of the character beats feel a little astray.

There are five more original voyages to take, before we move on to the next series, but, rest assured, the Human Adventure continues…

requiem for methuselah mini enterprise

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