First thing that happens is we see Sulu and O'Neil running down the street in an old-timey looking town wearing quaint costumes. *Love the boots!*. The guys are scared because they are being chased by some extremely slow-moving kooks in hooded robes, who carry long tubes which are some sort of weapon. To my eyes it looks like Sulu and O'Neil have nothing to worry about: they could easily outrun these slowpokes, but for some reason they stop in a doorway and Sulu calls the ship for an emergency pick-up. O'Neil gets anxious waiting to be beamed up and he runs off. Sulu stands his ground and of course gets zapped by one of the hooded creeps seconds before he is beamed up.
Kirk and McCoy greet Sulu in the transporter room, and Sulu is weirdly happy. The zap to the brain he took changed his personality. Now he's all blissful, and blabs on about how life on the planet is "paradise". Kirk, who famously has a grudge to settle with paradise, decides to beam down with a bunch of guys.
[NOTE: NONE OF WHOM GET KILLED! There is not one gratuitous redshirt death in this episode! Isn't that fantastic!? Maybe it's because they wear the local costumes instead of the unlucky red shirts, who knows?]
Kirk also brings Spock, of course, who to my eyes has no business being there since he can not pass as one of the locals. Spock alone wears a preposterous short hooded cape to conceal his ears, and ends up sticking out like a sore thumb anyway. But, hey, you know how Kirk is about Spock. Guy's gotta be there.
They watch a guy walk serenely by. The guy greets them all politely and strolls on.
"Odd." Spock says, disquieted by the fact that people are polite to him for once.
[NOTE: Look who's talking!]
Another bold local fellow walks up and engages our guys in a bit of chit-chat, and notices right away that they must be from out of town, and not because Spock looks so strange, but only because Kirk doesn't seem to realize that the festival time, AKA the "red hour", is nigh.
We soon find out what festival is. At the stroke of six o'clock, everybody goes berserk and starts looting, raping, pillaging, and generally running amok. Women scream, men shout, and there don't seem to be any children about. Maybe that's why we have to have this raping business: the population numbers need a boost. One woman hurls herself bodily at Kirk and plants a big, hungry, wet kiss on him. Poor Jim! Why does this kind of thing always happen to him? A local guy takes it upon himself to rescue Kirk by pulling the slut off of him and raping the girl himself.
[NOTE: Kirk doesn't bother to try and save the woman. She's nothing to him. He did not invite that woman's attention. But then, he rarely *does* actually ever invite a woman's attention. Women are always flinging themselves at him but he hardly ever flings himself their way.]
Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and a small army of lesser characters (one of the largest landing parties ever) do what any normal, red-blooded 23rd century man would do under these circumstances: they run like rabbits for the nearest shelter to hide until the orgy is over.
[NOTE: Seriously, they're all, "Good LORD! The women are ripping their clothes off and fucking anything in pants! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!"]
They duck into a boarding house and run right into a trio of old guys who, like them, have not gone nutso. One nasty old guy complains to the others that these young men "should be in festival" instead of standing around fully dressed talking reasonably. To my eyes it looks like their cover is virtually blown by now, but our guys are given a room with some bunkbeds where they can hole up for a while. Hmm. I guess the innkeeper figures that maybe they are a gaggle of faggots who just want to celebrate festival their own way. Those bunkbeds...LOL. I wonder how they settled the question of who got to be on top.
[NOTE: Spock slept on top. Kirk didn't even get a bed. I guess he slept on the floor.]
Flash ahead a few hours. It's dawn, and Kirk goes to the window to look out at the street below, where the locals are still busily rioting, and raping, and fun stuff like that. He seems to be having second thoughts about sitting this dance out.
OK, back to our mission, which is twofold: ONE find out what the heck happened to the people of the Starship Archon over 100 years ago, and TWO, fetch our boy O'Neil back from whatever wallow of debauchery he happened to find himself in last night.
So far we have already learned two things:
1) Some guys have *all* the fun!
2) Sometimes it's no fun to be Captain.
[NOTE: At least, *officially*. Come to think of it, we have no evidence that Kirk slept at all. Maybe he didn't sit this dance out.]
[NOTE: One question that is never answered: Did Sulu go berserk during the red hour? He was absorbed by the time the red hour struck, so he should have. Strangely, nobody says anything about it. I guess nobody had any, um, complaints.]
Anyhoo, Kirk wakes up his landing party after the locals snap out of their inexplicable frenzy, and he immediately starts shaking the sleepy little town up in a whole new way, as is his wont.
Kirk gets into a conversation with the old guys he talked to before, and realizing that Kirk and company never participated in the festival at all, they logically ask, "Are you...Archons?"
Kirk plays coy. "What if we are?"
Suddenly, two of the creepy hooded guys come in with the nasty old guy (the big tattletale!), and they kill one of the nice old guys by shooting some kind of sparkle-powder at him out of their tubes. It's not clear why he's killed, so Kirk asks "Why'd you kill that man?"
The hooded creeps tell him he is "out of order".
[Warning: Klassic Kirkism about to Kommence]
Realizing that there are two very tall, very forbidding, apparently unreasonable, *homicidal* ~men with weapons~ standing right in front of him, Kirk decides to try to piss them off. When they order him to come with them, he refuses.
Real smart, Kirk!
Amazingly, instead of kicking the crap out of Kirk which is what he was obviously angling for, the two spooky hooded guys instead are stunned into passivity. They are wholly unprepared to deal with outright defiance. While they hesitate, completely discombobulated, Kirk and gang run for it.
The friendly old guy left alive befriends them. He leads them to a secret hideaway where they can talk things over in private. Unfortunately "Landru" sniffs them out, and knocks them all out with a super-sonic out-knocking-thing.
Cut to commercial.
OK, we are back, and boy-howdy, do we have a headache! We find ourselves incarcerated in a groovy dungeon kind of place where Kirk and Spock seem to feel right at home. They check the layout, and seem to be planning how they will redecorate, when in comes McCoy, fresh from the absorption chamber, where he has been given the star treatment. His personality was erased in high style as befits a gentleman of his class and breeding. None of this common one-shot-with-the-tube-thingy for the likes of him, no! For him, it's a big deal!
And he's not the only one. Now they come for Kirk. Kirk trips lightly along with his captors, merrily trotting off to the torture chamber as if he hasn't a care in the world.
Hot Dog! Kirk in bondage time! But this isn't just any Kirk in bondage time! This time is different! This time, he's fully dressed, and oddly, stays that way! Amazing! Nobody from the Enterprise dies, and Kirk stays fully dressed! This is a truly groundbreaking episode.
At least Kirk is in bondage (again) thank goodness. He's in restraints up against the wall, fully dressed, and perfectly calm, looking his cloaked torturer right in the eye as if to say, "Well? Let's get this party started!"
Next thing you know they are coming for Spock. Spock also cooperates like a dear little lamb, meekly going along with his armed guards without the slightest sign of resistance.
[NOTE: What do they do, put Valium in the water around here?]
He is happily greeted by a freshly tortured Kirk, who is smiling, gleeful and glowing. Spock is not surprised. Torture has that effect on Kirk, he's funny that way.
After Kirk goes out, we get the big Spock in bondage scene. Hot Dog! Spock in bondage! Don't move a muscle! I'm running to get my camera!
Now it's revealed that the torturer guy is actually a good guy who is on their side. He tells Spock that Kirk is not really absorbed, he's playacting. He advises Spock to follow suit, and gives Spock their weapons back.
[NOTE: Huh? Why give SPOCK the weapons? I guess they don't realize that Kirk is the Captain. Or maybe they do realize that Spock is Kirk's Daddy.]
When Spock is returned to the holding cell, he and Kirk go with their friendly old guy and one of their lucky unshirted redshirts for a pow-wow. Alas, McCoy smells a rat and he raises an alarm. Kirk clocks McCoy to shut him up. Two guards rush in to see what is the hubbub and Kirk and Spock very efficiently take them out, like you'd expect that they would.
[NOTE: Why couldn't they have done that before?]
Anyhoo, it's time for the big showdown. Kirk has been given his communicator back and he uses it to call the ship. Scotty informs him that the Enterprise is in immanent danger and that they'd better do something.
Galvanized by this desperate plea for action (and by the fact that we have only five minutes left in the show), Kirk and Spock don the guard's hooded robes and follow one of their friends to Landru's lair.
Blah blah blah, long story short: Landru turns out to be nothing but a computer who is controlling everybody. Since it has a force field they can't simply shoot it with their phasers like they did in Taste Of Armageddon, so Kirk talks it to death, like he did with Nomad in The Changling.
[NOTE: I guess talking a computer into destroying itself is like riding a bike - once you have learned it, you never forget how.]
Speaking of the controversial ethical problem posed, it's very simple: Landru the computer was trying to destroy the Enterprise. They couldn't fly away and they couldn't fight, so the only way to save the ship and all hands aboard was to talk the computer to death. Simple self-defense. Case closed.
At the end, we learn that Kirk has left some advisors behind to help the people of Beta 3 to establish a proper, normal, *human* style of government. Now they can pillage and rape all the time, instead of only on Sunday. Kirk is thrilled to learn that they hit the ground running and are already all at each other's throats. Of course, Kirk likes fighting and pain n stuff, so that's exactly the reaction you'd expect from somebody like him.
Spock is not surprised by Kirk's reaction. He knows Kirk toooooo well!
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