**** (4 stars out of 5)
Props to 'Psycho' writer Robert Bloch for this sordid tale. It stands up very well, and remains quite unsettling, just like the villains herein. As ever, I'm handing out spoilers like candy, so yum it up.
The crew locates famed medical archaeologist Roger Korby, missing for five years on frozen planet Exo III. He's the fiance of Nurse Christine Chapel... but, oh, how he's changed. And he's made some new friends!
I never noticed this before: overjoyed that Chris has found Roger at last, Uhura squeezes her arm and they kiss. The third season episode 'Plato's Stepchildren' is always praised for having the first interracial kiss on TV. Then what do you call THIS? It's a genuine moment of affection, and I probably missed it because I was looking at Spock in the foreground. I was clearly gay for Spock.
Todays 'DEAD IN RED': Security men Rayburn and Matthews, who get it in the neck and fall head over heels, respectively, thanks to Lurky Creepenstein... I mean Ruk.
How could men survive all these years? Especially in these sunless styrofoam caverns, measureless to man?
Here comes Korby's assistant Brown to demonstrate no feelings whatsoever about his erstwhile saviors or their sudden deaths... and when he draws on Kirk and is phasered, Brown is revealed to be... a RO-BUTT!
Mister Roger has other plastic pals in his neighborhood: too-protective Ruk and too-underdressed Andrea. (In the future, blouses are no longer required. Only suspenders.) Chapel immediately concludes from Korby's evasive mumbling about realistic flesh-tones, warmth, and pulse that Andrea is the extra-helpful sort of Girl Android Friday.
"Do you think I could love a machine?" Korby asks in wounded tones.
Chapel glares. "Did you?"
Roger never answers, but whips up a Captain Kirk double to covertly take over the ship and start up a mechanized civilization, starting with the poor bastards on Midos V.
The real Kirk thinks Korby's android proliferation plan smacks of "the promises of Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Hitler, Ferris, or Maltuvis." Ferris Bueller, it seems, rose to power after Earth's Eugenics Wars. It was a period of history marked by slogans, shenanigans, & parade float song-making.
Roger Korby offers the prospect of human consciousness transferred into ageless bodies, programmed for the better, and fear replaced with joy. But it seems no one is tempted to exchange feelings for flywheels, or touch for transistors. It has all gone horribly wrong, and Roger immolates himself and his gun-toting geisha.
Clever-clogs Ray Kurzweil offers a more optimistic take on such matters in the book 'The Singularity is Near- When Humans Transcend Biology'. If I read it right (and I'm sure I didn't) exponentially improving technology from all fields might make Korby's mind-transfers (uploading human neural pattern and consciousness into machines) a reality around 2045.
Keep your digital servo-motors crossed... but hold on to what matters most.