Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Star Trek: Is There in Truth No Beauty?

Episode: "Is There in Truth No Beauty?"
Series: Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 3, Episode 5
Original Air Date: October 18, 1968
via Memory Beta
There's something about a story in which Spock smiles.  The Enterprise's half-Vulcan First Officer so rarely breaks his stoic demeanor that the episodes in which he does tend to be memorable, even if it is just because he's being possessed by an alien ambassador.

In this week's tale, our heroes are providing transport to Kollos, an intellectually superior being of the Medusan race.  Medusans are apparently so ugly as to drive a humanoid insane at sight.  There's no mention of serpentine hair but the allusion to Greek mythology is plain enough.  Most people cannot view Kollos at all so he is kept inside a box.  The Vulcan mental discipline protects Spock but even he must wear a protective visor.

In Kollos's entourage are Larry Mavrick (David Frankham), one of the designers of the Enterprise, and Dr. Miranda Jones (Diana Muldaur), Kollos's telepathic and, we eventually learn, blind assistant.  A love triangle quickly becomes apparent.  Mavrick is in love with Miranda but can't compete with the latter's devotion to Kollos.  Mavrick's jealousy drives him to murder Kollos but he is thwarted in the attempt when the Medusan senses him and emerges from the box, driving Mavrick mad.  Mavrick dies, but not before gaining control of the ship and sending it disastrously off course.

Kollos and Spock form a mind link in order to get the ship back to familiar space.  This is the magic moment when we get to see Spock smile as Kollos delights in the novelty of humanoid form.  A story that inspires more than its fair share of eye rolling saves itself as Spock/Kollos waxes poetic: "This thing you call language though, most remarkable.  You depend on it for so very much. But is any one of you really its master?"

*****
via Memory Alpha

David Frankham was born February 16, 1926 in Gillingham, Kent, England.  After serving in India and Malaya during World War II, he worked at the BBC in various capacities.  He moved to Hollywood in 1955 to pursue an acting career.

Much of Frankham's work was in television.  In addition to Trek, he had apprearances on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., The Beverly Hillbillies and The Waltons.  Big screen gigs included Return of the Fly, Ten Who Dared and Master of the World.  His most famous role is the voice of the cat in One Hundred and One Dalmations.

14 comments:

  1. I'm certainly ot a master of the language, but I do enjoy any play on words and witty use of language. Thanks for sharing this...not a Star Trek Trekkie

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    1. I am not a master, either - but a humble servant.

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  2. Past few episodes have increasingly touched upon mental illness, how it may be induced by trap-door mishaps, Melvin Belli, or the odd Medusan. I get the feeling Roddenberry may have decided to include behavioral disorders in the "the final frontier". Certainly it was an age of anxiety and the subject needed to be addressed. This episode concluded with Spock's hope, "that our differences combine to create meaning and beauty." That's a future I think we'd do well to explore.

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    1. So much of this series is about confronting "the other." I'm an early '70s vintage so I obviously have no memory of the late '60s but the theme makes sense in light of an era shaped by the civil rights movement and military quagmires in Asia. We have progressed as a society, I think, but I think we've still got quite a long way to go with mental illness, in particular.

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  3. I must have seen this one because it sounds very familiar.
    Anything with Spock is good for me !
    Has Autumn come to your home yet ?

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Fall is definitely here. We had leaves turning as early as August but I don't think we've quite reached peak foliage season yet.

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  4. I always liked this episode, but if you would have bet me a million dollars, I'd have sworn the title was "Is There No Truth In Beauty?" (Makes less sense than the original quote... but that's what my eye always scanned it as!)

    Eyeshade-Spock was Daft Punk before there was Daft Punk. :-)

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    1. I had to double-check to be sure I had it right...

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  5. That's got to be pretty ugly. Like Vogon poetry.

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  6. I wanted so badly to have Diana Muldaur's sensory dress! Back then, it was the most amazing dress when compared to everyday paisley and mini.

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    1. Kudos to the costume department on that one!

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  7. I wish I had Vulcan mental discipline. That'd be all right, I think.

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