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Star Trek: Return to Tomorrow

Thalassa: "'Beloved.' What will that word mean to a machine?"
Sargon: "Our thoughts will intertwine."

Another outing with God-Like Aliens. Even so, I'm fond of this one.

Probably because I've always enjoyed Nimoy doing such a great job as the diabolical, seductive Henoch. And it's fun watching Sargon, Thalassa and Henoch acting out the story of Adam, Eve and the serpent. They got tossed out of Eden in the end, too. Sargon and Thalassa wound up floating in space together, their thoughts intertwining. Too bad that android thing didn't work out.

This episode also included a second oft-used Star Trek theme: aliens in human bodies tempted by the carnal. Although the emphasis was on Thalassa, the first thing Henoch did when he transferred into Spock's body was hit on Christine. And I wish we'd gotten more Henoch/Christine scenes. Did he take a moment to seduce her while he was outwitting Sargon and tempting Thalassa? Would Christine have allowed it for the opportunity to pretend she was with Spock? She might have been a wee bit tempted, but I doubt she would have gone through with it. Especially when she was so thrilled that their thoughts actually got to intertwine.

Okay, there was also a third oft-used Star Trek sixties theme: that nuclear winter is inevitable and we'll destroy ourselves. Sargon's race, whose planet name and race we never learned, went out with something even more cataclysmic than a nuclear holocaust. And Sargon suggested that humans were descendants of his people, and even mentioned Adam and Eve (probably so that we'd notice the story parallel). Mulhall refuted it, but Spock said it might explain Vulcan prehistory. That might explain why Spock was able to tolerate hosting Henoch for so much longer than the others.

Although that "most compatible bodies" bull? Come on. As McCoy pointedly pointed out, it was pretty suspicious that the aliens wanted to control the bodies of Kirk and Spock. Why not possess three extraneous yeomen instead? Sargon thought Kirk's body was excellent (a somewhat smirkworthy exchange), but Henoch correctly opined that he got the best one. Tactically, Sargon should have opted for Spock's body. But if he had, it would have nixed most of the episode's drama.

This episode guest starred Diana Muldaur (Ann Mulhall/Thalassa), who returned as another character later in the series and as Dr. Pulaski for the second season of Next Generation. I always thought she and Shatner had some convincing romantic chemistry. But with my honey Patrick Stewart? Not so much.

Thalassa thought she could keep Mulhall's body and no one would know. No one would notice that Mulhall's voice was in permanent reverb?

Ben says...

I really wanted to do this review by simply playing the sound clip of the sweeping grandeur portion of the Star Trek soundtrack and look off into the middle distance pondering the greatness of Sargon's people reduced to dust by time and folly. After a long pause I would read from Shelley’s Ozymandias: "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

Unfortunately, I couldn't find the sound clip, and the middle distance from where I am sitting is dominated by an office dart board featuring a chimpanzee in a business suit. So plan B.

For an episode that contained some critical pieces of background "universe building" (the whole humans and humanoids were seeded across the universe) and the first appearance by the redoubtable Diana Muldaur on Star Trek (ironically trying to become a "toaster" herself during the episode), I have to admit that I was most struck by incredibly generic title. Where was this title also used?:

a) a 1948 sci-fi serial featuring an attack by giant grasshoppers,
b) a failed early eighties series about a woman who was both a teacher and a psychic,
c) a long running daytime drama best known as where Kevin Bacon got his start,
d) an ambiguous note from the Ukrainian gardener who failed to finish cutting my lawn earlier this week,
e) all of the above.

That chimpanzee really is interesting to stare at...

Back to Billie for bits and pieces:

— Stardate 4768.3. I don't believe we got the name of Sargon's planet, but it was in as yet unexplored space. (Unexplored by Starfleet, that is.)

— James Doohan did the voice of Sargon (uncredited). I always thought it was James Doohan when I was young, but I was never quite sure until now. I love the internet.

— Injections every hour and only Christine can administer them? She doesn't sleep?

— As far as exotic names on Star Trek go, 'Thalassa' may be my favorite.


Sargon: "One day, our minds became so powerful we dared think of ourselves as gods."

Kirk: "You won't be working with them. You'll be working with us. Our bodies. They'll be inside us, and we'll be..."
McCoy: "It all seems indecent to me."

Kirk: "Risk. Risk is our business. That's what this starship is all about. [emphatically] That's why we're aboard her."
If there were a video collection of Kirk's inspirational speeches, this one would be at the top of the list. They could use them as a recruitment tool for Starfleet.

McCoy: "He's dead."
And it was Jim this time.

McCoy: "I will not peddle flesh. I am a physician."
Thalassa: "A physician? In contrast to what we are, you are a prancing, savage medicine man!"

Christine: "Mister Spock's consciousness was placed in me. (wistful smile) We shared consciousness together."
Ah. Their thoughts intertwined. (As you have probably guessed, that line of Sargon's has always made me laugh.)

Three out of four falsely labeled hypos. Or maybe it's three out of four intertwining thoughts,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. 'Thalassa' is (ancient) Greek for 'sea', by the way.

    My favourite quote by far was 'your probe has touched me, Mr Spock.' Teehee.

  2. I am with you there, Juliette! Cue adolescent snigger.

    This really is a lovely story and so refreshing to have an ethical alien! Whilst Spock's alter ego was fun to watch (and he really looks like the Devil's imp when he grins), the love story between Sargon and Thalassa is beautiful.

    I also enjoyed the non-stereotypical representation of the female scientist; she wasn't just a google-eyed numbskull making eyes at Kirk; she was calm and intelligent which was a nice change.

  3. Eric McCormick (Will from "Will & Grace") did the complete "Risk is our business" speech in the film "Free Enterprise," doing all of Shatner's speech patterns and eye movements, as well as his body language (the hand movements as he says, "...like your great-great-great grandfather did...") PERFECTLY!!

    And William Shatner is in "FE" as well, having fun poking holes in his image, as only Shatner can ("...I want to produce a version of 'Julius Caesar,' with ME playing all the parts!")...

  4. I see Sargon and immediately think of the home computer chess game series that was on my Commodore 64, and I'm pretty sure, older IBMs, Apple IIs, and Atari computers as well!

    They do use these same story elements a lot as you point out, Billie, but it does work well more often than not, and it's quite good here. I'm not big on biblical references personally, but it does set a well known backdrop, and it does work well here.

    Nimoy is so good in the dual role! I literally just watched Black Sunday (1960) last night as the DVD arrived and Barbara Steele was both the main villainess and the protagonist's love interest and she sells it well too, especially her intense eyes as the long dead witch, so it's interesting timing that I get to this one right now.


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