Star Trek: For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky

"Is truth not truth for all?"

In the sixties, you could get away with introducing a fatal illness and a marriage and have it all resolved like it never happened by the end of the episode. Today, it would be introduced a lot more slowly and believably and would extend through several episodes as an arc.

But this is still a good episode. I liked how McCoy's illness was handled. If Christine hadn't called Kirk to Sick Bay, McCoy probably would have kept his illness to himself until he dropped. I also liked how Kirk and Spock both showed their concern in such an understated way; it was sweet as well as subtle. Although when McCoy chose to stay on Yonada, Kirk and Spock were so put out that they didn't even say goodbye, good luck, and congratulations on your upcoming wedding.

The love story was a bit harder for me to swallow, though. Natira was propositioning McCoy five minutes after she met him. Maybe it was just that she'd never seen a stranger before? She also wasn't thrown at all when he told her he was dying. Although it was actually rather nice that Kirk said they could arrange to be in the neighborhood when Yonada arrives at its final destination. Are McCoy and Natira still married, after all? Did they even have a chance to canoodle? He just took off. Wasn't that a bit unfair to her? Is abandonment grounds for divorce on Yonada?

The part of this episode that I like best is the idea of a generational ship whose people forgot who they were and what they were living in. (Maybe I liked it because it's the plot of another Heinlein novel, Orphans of the Sky.) There was only a brief mention of the Prime Directive, but this particular situation could have made for a fascinating Federation court case. How many people were living in Yonada? Were there birth control restrictions? What have they been eating and breathing for ten thousand years? This is an episode that would have benefited quite a bit from a bigger budget.

Either the Yonada computer went nuts, or the Fabrini chose to keep their people in ignorance. That didn't make sense to me, although the ultimate result was pretty cool. Blind faith in their "religion" that really wasn't a religion and forced ignorance about their world could have destroyed the last of the Fabrini as well as billions on Daran 5. McCoy was also simply accepting his disease and approaching death. When Natira concluded that her religion was false, it saved the day. When McCoy decided to go actively search for a cure for his disease, it was found (okay, a bit too conveniently) in the next room. I liked the message that you can't just accept what you're told.


Spock and Kirk figured out who these people were and where they came from pretty quickly. But how did they know Fabrini writing at all if their sun went nova ten thousand years ago? Were the Fabrini space travelers that left evidence of their culture elsewhere? If so, wouldn't they have used warp drive and settled on other planets instead of sending a generational ship into space?

I'm happy that Star Trek got a third season because if it hadn't, no syndication, and it might never have caught on. But the budget restrictions forced them into way too many callbacks – this time, to "The Paradise Syndrome" with the obelisks and panels with mysterious writing, the big white Bible from "A Piece of the Action," and the dystopia and controlling computer from "Return of the Archons." The asteroid looked like the colony planet in last week's episode, but with an orange sky and without pink plumes. I was also wondering how an asteroid managed to have an atmosphere. It would have made more sense if the atmosphere was only inside Yonada. But then the title of the episode wouldn't have made sense at all.

Ben says...

This is actually the second longest title for any television series episode. The longest was the famous "Orly Welcomes the Return of the Panhandle Pussycats and Their Friends the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders" from the short-lived Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo.

That said, there were a number of alternate titles considered:

For this episode is long perhaps as long as its title and I struggled to stay awake.

Seriously, this was the first episode where, on rewatching, I actually felt myself nodding off just a bit. Not notably terrible, just... meh. I think it might have been the theme of the episode which was influenced by the discussion of "Spaceship Earth" (the ecological concept, not the Epcot ride) which was floating about during this period. The occupants of Yonada were happily living their lives and completely unaware that this was leading them toward certain destruction because they didn't grasp the nature of their world. It's a kind of superficial and tangential message. This isn't surprising to me as I have found comparatively little environmental awareness in the old series (as opposed to awareness of issues of race or political oppression or war or even gender), and my suspicion is that this episode is a little flat because the issues didn't resonate for Roddenberry.

For I am on a spaceship and feeling under the weather so why not get married.

Two things: 1) Bones, come on man, you don't marry the alien hottie! Look at Kirk or Spock, or even Chekov. You have a starship, the ultimate love 'em and leave 'em setup. There is no chance of awkwardly bumping into her at the movies with her new boyfriend, or the temptation to drunk dial her after a few too many mint juleps. 2) Let me add, if you have to have brain surgery to install a lethal brain buzzer in order to love 'em, you might want skip right ahead to leave 'em.

I will stop now:

For this review is long and I have to take out the garbage.

Back to Billie for bits and pieces:

— Stardate 5476.3. The asteroid ship Yonada, which was on a collision course with Daran 5.

— "For the World is Hollow, and I Have Touched the Sky." Man, that's one long episode title. Xenopolycythemia. Man, that's one long disease name.

— I'm assuming that it was 120 degrees Fahrenheit, not centigrade?

— Jon Lormer, the elderly man in pink and orange who died while gasping out the episode title, was also in "The Cage" and "Return of the Archons."

— James Doohan did the voice of the Oracle, of course.

— The Yonadans, with their brightly colored plaids and flowered nighties, had perhaps the worst taste in clothing than anyone since the Capellan fluorescent fake fur and horse tails in "Friday's Child." And the soldiers wore hats much like the Keebler elf vinyl cootie catchers in "A Taste of Armageddon."


— Although Natira had a really cool green high priestess dress, topped with huge hair and terrific eye make-up. Unfortunately, her affected accent made me cringe. I was surprised to learn that she was British, because I thought that was what she was going for. Maybe she was trying to un-British her accent. Did anyone else on Yonada have an accent?

Quotes:

Chapel: "A lot can happen in a year. Please, give yourself every minute."

McCoy: "He's dead."

McCoy: "But we're strangers to each other."
Natira: "But is not that the nature of men and women? That the pleasure is in the learning of each other?"
Yeah, right. Strangers getting engaged five minutes after they meet? That always works out well.

Three out of four mysterious obelisks recycled from another episode,

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

3 comments:

Mark said...

"Strangers getting engaged five minutes after they meet?"

Maybe that was a commentary on how pathetic the Yonadan males are, the Natira would be so quick to snap up McCoy.

differently wired said...

I discovered this one as a teenage girl and I was so happy that finally McCoy got the girl. And it was love at first sight for her too! I also get why he stayed; if I was dying, I would want to finally have a bit of sweetness in my life. I also get why he left her; his place is on the ship. Awww.... soft and dreamy episode, this one.

Unknown said...

It would have been cool had they tied this into the storyline of the last movie so McCoy could have had a happily ever after