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Star Trek The Animated Series: The Eye of the Beholder

Mikey Heinrich and Billie Doux discuss The Animated Series episode, "The Eye of the Beholder."

Mikey Heinrich: The Enterprise has been dispatched to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the crew of a starship, and Kirk is shocked – SHOCKED, I tell you – at the idea of a starship captain disobeying orders to do what he thinks best to save his crew. Shocked.

The rest of the briefing team just kind of lets him have that one, which is more restraint than Kirk really deserves, if we're being honest.

And so our core trio decide to do the exact same thing the previous captain did with no internal reflection whatsoever, and beam down to their last coordinates. There they find the Valley of Amusing Monsters Only Available in Animation.

Not wanting to straight up kill the giant red shrimp/dragon that paddles amiably toward them, Kirk instead orders Spock and McCoy to stun the creature, which results in it sinking below the surface of the water where logically we can only assume that it drowns, since it seems to breathe air. So... yay? Please use this as the starting point for your essay on Starfleet combat ethics.

Next up we have what appears to be a screaming rock monster who is obviously a gigantic drama queen. They converge their phasers on its throat and it goes full Norma Desmond in its death(?) throes. If you don't speak rock monster, its final monologue is a touching reflection on the fragility of life and a lament of how Timmy will have to be a brave little soldier this Christmas and that mama will always love him from rock monster heaven. Presented for your consideration.

After a few more monster hi-jinx, we finally get to the beholders in question, and they're what appear to be giant pink slugs who don't look entirely unlike Snuffalupagus. They are as far ahead of humans intellectually as humans are from ants, and they seem to propel themselves by having vigorous sex with the ground as they pass over it.

Honestly, go look at the footage and tell me that's not what's happening.

So, yes, it's one of those "how would humans like it if some higher species treated us like we treat animals" setups so beloved of science fiction. It does however have the honors of being the only one I recall being solved through child abduction, as the whole thing gets resolved when Kirk steals a baby.

Also, we once again get confirmation that everyone else in the universe is James Doohan and Majel Barrett.

All things considered, it's a lot of fun if a little meandering. I enjoyed the monsters.

What do you all think?

Billie Doux: Mikey, I loved your description of the initial monster encounters. Let's beam down and immediately kill an indiginous life form, shall we? And then let's kill another one! I thought the "We don't lift the tail off. We dig the doctor out" was funny. So was the abduction by three extremely large red telepathic shrimp. Did Spock actually say that he found the shrimp strangely attractive?

It took too long to get to the zoo part, didn't it? Kirk, Spock and McCoy spent a long time wandering around nearly killing things and remarking on how impossible the climate variations were. And wouldn't aliens that advanced have figured out our guys were intelligent beings, though? What did they think the communicators and tricorders were?

One more unrelated question. Was Kirk's hair suddenly red, or was it just me?

Mikey: It was not just you. Kirk had definitely popped out to get auburn highlights between stories.

Yeah, that's really the main flaw of the episode. It seems designed to be "about" the whole alien zoo concept, but it takes forever to actually get to that. And along the way Spock did indeed confess to finding them attractive, which I can only hope inspired a lot of Vulcan/slug slashfic.

The tail thing is definitely exhibit A in my "Rock Monster is a huge drama queen" argument. If the tail was that heavy then it would absolutely have crushed McCoy, UNLESS the monster didn't want to kill him and gently laid it on top of McCoy as it gave us its Oscarbait death scene. Seriously, do NOT date the rock monster. So much drama.

Billie: With episodes like these, I always find myself thinking about what could have made it better. Wandering around killing the native fauna (or was it escaped fauna from the zoo? I was unclear about that) was such a waste of time. Expanding the zoo story and what the red shrimp aliens were all about could have been fun.

Rating? I could go with two out of four recycled plots. Or possibly two out of four rock monster drama queens.

Mikey: That's a hell of a good question, and ever occurred to me... Where DID the other monsters come from? Were they also space travelers? Did the rock monster come from the planet of drama queens?

Now I have to rewatch to look for context clues.

I'll go with five out of ten inadvertent child abductions. I did really enjoy the carnival of monsters.

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