*** (3 stars out of 5)
Would you take "The Apple" from this man?
Don't everybody leave at once.
Visit now Gamma Trianguli VI, the world of Vaal, where farmer Spock believes "Husbandry would be quite efficacious." He's not the only one gushing- despite the blood red skies everyone seems to find this place transcendentally lovely. Chekov thinks it's just like the Garden of Eden... which was just outside Moscow.
They must not be getting out much. It looks like astroturf and rubber plants on a sound stage to me. Also, did I mention BLOOD RED SKY?? Am I by myself here... that's creepy, right?
It's no Omicron Ceti III. When a plant goes 'boing' here you don't get mellow, you get dead.
Also, something is draining the ship's energy. "We're losing potency in our antimatter pods," says the chief engineer. (It happens to every guy from time to time, Scotty, nothing to be ashamed of.)
With security guards dropping like fruit flies, Chekov puts the moves on 'frightened' Yeoman Landon. This girl is one tough cookie (and when attacked later kind of kick-y), so I have my doubts about her actually being scared. As Spock tells us "Fragile, good cleavage"- oh, he meant the exploding rocks.
"A Garden of Eden... with land mines."
The final straw is one of the eleven poison straws that puncture Spock. They discover they can't beam up, but fortunately Spock just shrugs it off.
Kirk is grouchy with worry.
"Trying to get yourself killed? Do you know how much Starfleet has invested in you?"
Sudden "lightning" totally disintegrates a red shirt called Kaplan. Red shirt Mallory killed by a land mine rock.
"No one has ever stated that Starfleet duty was particularly safe." Spock points out. Oh, ya think? Sheesh.
Kirk punches a bush-lurking native called Akuta, the Eyes of Vaal, Leader of the Feeders of Vaal. (He's also the cyborg "ears" of Vaal since the Dim Time. Vaal's nose and throat guy is booked solid.) This Feeder-Leader has never been punched. He and the other feeders are sweet and peaceful, with unsettling Oompa-Loompa tans.
They believe all good comes from Vaal, (a stone snake head enclosed in a forcefield), the ancient and powerful. Vaal relies on them to bring it pies.
"You insist on applying human standards to non-human cultures. I remind you that humans are only a tiny minority in this galaxy." Good words, Spock, although most of the places we've been so far have been full of human-types.
McCoy argues the absolute right to freedom and growth, Spock argues their right to choose a system which has kept them happy and healthy for over 10,000 years.
Scotty's dropping out of the sky on fire, while the landing party sits around having an awkward discussion about, without using the word, sex. Landon wants to know how it's done, Spock assumes the machine would instruct them, and McCoy would like to see that. So to speak.
Chekov and Landon make out in the moonlight under that romantic sky and give a pair of locals ideas. But that sort of shenanigans is an invitation to be hit by lightning in these parts! Akuta is given a new assignment... to kill the strangers when the sun returns.
To save the natives from stagnation, Kirk will take his chances with the Non-Interference Directive.
They make the feeders starve Vaal, then Scotty finishes it off with the ship's phasers. (I have to give them self-defense here, not merely arrogance, after all, Vaal was trying to kill all 400 of them first.)
Kill the tyrant computer, free the locals. It's become a familiar refrain, but it's a lively tale and I enjoy the characters. I can see it from Spock's angle... and Bones' too. Kirk's convinced that with Federation help The Vaalians will like freedom and love.
And now they have no choice.