Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Return of the Archons

* (1 star out of 5)

What if instead of living normally, then attending church every week, you lived all the time in your Sunday Best but went batshit when the clock struck six?

That's the poorly conceived and executed story of 'The Return of the Archons'. The title refers to the starship Archon which crashed here 100 years ago, but the only impact it left on the society or the story was a crater somewhere, so don't bother asking. If I had to sift through many episodes like this, 'Star Trek' wouldn't be worth two years, let alone five years or the whole of my life. Let other reviewers oppose me elsewhere.
Welcome to Beta III, where the Puritans rule. Here's your tricornered hat. Oh, good, you're just in time: It's Festival! Like flipping a switch, when The Red Hour strikes, the populace goes mad all night long. Screaming, smashing windows, sticks and stones breaking bones, perhaps a smidgen of name calling.

In 'Clone High' parlance "They're rioting at a college level!"

The old dudes are exempt, but the Lawgivers of Landru require everyone else to pillage (and it is more than implied) rape and murder. Charming.

Local victim Tula's father Rager (ironic name for a man seemingly incapable of anger) makes no attempt to rescue her from assault on the other side of his boarding house door. He says it is Landru's will. It is for the Good of the Body. And Rager's the bravest, most moral guy on this world.

O.K., so it's a stiff, weird indictment of oppressive religion. (Or possibly socialism?) Monks carry hollow tube weapons with nothing inside to make them work. Is that a metaphor for something? Cause nobody explains it.

A hologram in a gold sheet makes spooky noises and seizes control of people. Including McCoy. McCoy, when absorbed, makes a most convincing creepy cultist- praising Landru and smiling blankly. "He knows and he watches."

Who is this L'Andrew you ask? Well, I'm glad you asked and are reading at all anymore. Landru (sometimes pronounced like laundry) is the 6000 year old computer simulation that runs this Crap Factory. It's malfunctioned? Or is working exactly as some sadistic dead programmer intended? Or as Captain Kirk believes: it is "soulless"? Nobody knows for sure or makes any effort to find out, but Kirk talks it into obliterating itself. Society is freed!

We are told that Sociologist Lindstrom stayed behind to help the world recover. Recovery is already indicated by domestic disputes and fist fights. Uh,... yay?

Roger Korby's dilemma is echoed here: it seems you can't put yourself into a computer without losing your darn soul. Also some parallel to the societal stagnation of Miri's world, I guess. This is the first we hear of Starfleet's "Prime Directive" of non-interference, and it is only mentioned because our "heroes" break it in order to "improve" a place they make no attempt to understand.

After the Red Hour this episode drags along at a GLACIAL pace. Senseless violence shouldn't be the highlight of your story. Nothing to recommend.

Sometimes I think just by talking nonsense to my computer I could get it to perish. But it's a Mac. So it never does!

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