Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Devil in the Dark

From Wikipedia:

"The Devil in the Dark" is a first-season episode Star Trek: The Original Series which first aired on March 9, 1967. It was repeated on June 15, 1967. It is episode #25, production #26, and was written by Gene L. Coon and directed by Joseph Pevney. William Shatner writes in his memoirs that "The Devil in the Dark" was his favorite original Star Trek episode.[1] From Shatner's perspective, this episode was "exciting, thought-provoking and intelligent, it contained all of the ingredients that made up our very best Star Treks".[2]

Overview: Captain Kirk and Mister Spock face off with a deadly subterranean beast.


This one isn't my own personal favorite - I mean, it's probably in my top five - but it's may very well be the best episode of the series. Everything works together on this one. Everything is Star Trek, none of that early season awkwardness. And tons of highlights.

"The Devil in the Dark" shows some of the mundane workings of our Federation future in the form of an industrial mining colony besieged by an utterly incomprehensible alien life form. That is, as a non-humanoid, non-carbon based being, the Horta is probably the most realistic alien any Enterprise crew ever faces, far more realistic, in a sort of Carl Sagan way, than all those forehead aliens that got so popular during and after the Next Generation days. Given the creature's uniqueness, and the danger it presents to the mining operation, the episode makes excellent use of one of the more interesting conflicts in all of sci fi, science versus security, firmly placing it alongside some of the best films, novels, and short stories the genre has to offer.

But this one's a character piece, as well. Doctor McCoy agonizes over treating a life form about which he has absolutely no knowledge, giving rise to his great line, "I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer." Scotty works his technical magic, using odds and ends around the ship to temporarily repair an out-of-date power plant in the mine. Spock's mind meld with the wounded and desperate Horta during the episode's climax is heart wrenching.

Maybe this is my favorite. It's as near to perfect as Star Trek can get. Go check it out.

"The children!"