Monday, October 31, 2011

The Paradise Syndrome

*** (3 stars out of 5)

Asteroid threatens Native American World!
Captain Kirk loses mind, marries!
Film at 7.

Despite Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Planet Development we've heard so much about, our well-travelled crew are somehow startled to see another planet a lot like Earth. It's no coincidence: we learn today that Earth vegetation and culture were transplanted by advanced aliens called 'The Preservers'. The Preservers borrowed races they felt were going extinct and seeded them in safer places. (Nobody's met these Preservers- did they go somewhere safer? And if so... uh oh.)

Anyway, here's a culture of peaceful Navajo, Mohican, & Delaware people. Their Preserver artifact, a strange obelisk, swallows Kirk and zaps him in the head, resulting in space amnesia. Spock and McCoy cannot find him, but must depart to divert the approaching giant asteroid.

Emerging from the obelisk temple, Kirk is mistaken for a god by the priestess Miramanee. He does vaguely remember being from the sky, and he can breathe life into a drowned boy. The god thing does look likely... so the Elder gives Salish's medicine chief job to the newcomer, who they name Kirok. The job comes with a traditional marriage to the priestess. Miramanee is altogether too happy about that. Poor Salish's dead father also selfishly denied him the hereditary secret of the temple... and how it is used to keep the skies from darkening.

While keeping the skies from darkening, Spock's phaser blasts of the asteroid burn out the power relays. On mere impulse power it will take 59 days to return to Miramanee's world.

Spock studies the Preserver language for two months without much sleep.

Kirok and Miramanee use that time to play kiss tag.

He dreams of his sky lodge, Miramanee gets preggers. Kirk's sideburns grow into rectangles instead of triangles, but still no beard. Futuristic depilatory? Did free electrolysis come with the space amnesia?

Kirok can make a lamp and plan irrigation, but when the wind picks up he can't deliver on the "rouse the temple spirit" part of the job. Disgruntled and afraid, the tribe stones Miramanee and, to a lesser extent, Kirok. Spock restores Jim to himself with the Vulcan mind fusion.

The temple opens with the tonal qualities of "(chirp) kirk to enterprise"? That's just a horrible coincidence.

Once inside, they use the Preserver deflector to turn away the asteroid. The world is saved, but Miramanee dies. Sad stuff.

According to wikipedia, Professor Daniel Bernardi criticized the portrayal of the Indians, particularly citing Miramanee as simple-minded. I would point out that she is no dumber than Shahna or Drusila. I'm pretty sure it's not as much about whites being innately smarter as about Captain Kirk having a "type".

"The Paradise Syndrome" seems to refer to how wonderful everything was before people could zip from star to star, instantly have food out of machines, and keep all their teeth until their death as a centenarian. How perfect: disease and superstition held us back, nobody knew CPR, and half of marriages ended in somebody being stoned. And not the good kind.

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