Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Star Trek: Elaan of Troyius

Episode: "Elaan of Troyius"
Series: Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 3, Episode 13
Original Air Date: December 20, 1968
via Memory Alpha
As I was firing up Star Trek this week, My Wife laughed and asked how many episodes I have left.  Now, with "Elaan of Troyius" behind me, I'm down to eleven.  That merit badge is so close I can smell it.

The episode's title is a play on Helen of Troy, the wife of Agamemnon whose abduction led to the Trojan War, aka "the face that launch'd a thousand ships."  Elaan is a princess on the planet Elas.  She has been promised in marriage to a member of the royal family on Troyius, with whom the Elasians are at war.  The Enterprise is providing the transportation for this diplomatic maneuver.  Elaan is a beautiful but strong-willed and demanding passenger.  She threatens to execute half the crew before Captain Kirk finds her softer side.

Meanwhile, there's a Klingon ship hanging around.  The star system lies on the border between Federation and Klingon space.  The Klingons seem inordinately interested in the proceedings for reasons our heroes don't initially understand.  Turns out, one of Elaan's guards is a saboteur and spy for the Klingons, too.

The clever answer to the Klingon question lies in a wedding present: a necklace of "common stones" given to Elaan by her betrothed.  Wouldn't you know, the stones are crude dilithium crystals, the fuel required for a warp drive.  Obviously, the Klingons would be very interested in any planet where such treasures are common.

*****
via Smell the Coffee
France Nuyen (Elaan) was born France Nguyen Van Nga on July 31, 1939 in Marseille, France.  Her father was Vietnamese, her mother French of Roma ancestry.  At age 16, while working as a seamstress, she was discovered on the beach by a Life magazine photographer.  Three years later, she was on the cover.

Modeling catapulted her to an acting career.  She made her film debut in South Pacific in 1958.  The same year, she had the lead in a stage production, The World of Suzie Wong, opposite one William Shatner.  Other films included Satan Never Sleeps, A Girl Named Tamiko and, 31 years later, The Joy Luck Club.  In addition to Trek, she made television guest appearances on Kung Fu and Columbo and had a regular cast role on the last two seasons of St. Elsewhere.

Nuyen has done more important work in her second career.  In 1986, she earned a master's degree in clinical psychology.  She then worked as a psychological counselor for abused women and children.

28 comments:

  1. Oh my, is this the episode in which France Nuyen's tears made guys loopy for her? I needed no tears to marvel at the character she portrayed. At the time, I was studying diplomatic --read financially propitious-- marriages arranged among European monarchies during the late middle ages. The story furnished some hint of the fierce dedication these people had to their homelands.

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    1. Good memory on the tears. In truth, I found Kirk falling for her easier to believe than her sudden emotional shift towards him. That shift was a little too abrupt to ring true.

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  2. What do merit badges smell like? Hmm... I may have some packed away somewhere...

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  3. You're almost out of episodes Squid-Man! France Nuyen is gorgeous and is a wonderful example of how beautiful mixed race children can be.

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    1. No doubt, we would all benefit from a deeper gene pool.

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  4. Oh My Goodness. What a talented actress and I think one of the most beautiful women in the world.
    So interesting about her second career. I saw a interview (?) and always felt like she would be a interesting person to sit down with and have a coffee and talk.
    I have enjoyed all of Amy Tan's books and the Joy Luck Club is one of my favorite books and movies. Because of her writing I have never looked at another left over piece of rice the same way.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Hers has certainly been an unusual career path.

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  5. I remember that episode. She is beautiful and obviously smart too.

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    1. She projects a lot of strength in the character of Elaan, too.

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  6. 11 more episodes... I hope you get your merit badge! Love hearing your thoughts on the series. :)
    ~Jess

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  7. Beautiful woman. That's cool about how many episodes you have left. I love knowing I've seen every episode of a particular show. I can say that about a few of them.

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    1. I know I've seen every Next Generation episode.

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  8. France Nguyen Van Nga was really strikingly beautiful. I love the black and white photo.

    You stir up memories of episodes I've seen but could have never dredged up alone. Thank you! You're one of my favorites.

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    1. Thanks, Cherdo! You're one of my favorites, too.

      That b&w photo is a great shot, isn't it?

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  9. Excellent episode, mainly because she was so intriguing. She was honor bound to the end. One classy lady.

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  10. Are you going to give yourself the merit badge? :)

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    1. No, I have to wait until the next Squid Scout meeting. The Grand Cuttlefish will lead my troop, Shoal #478.9w in the singing of the traditional hymn, composed by Frank Zappa, arranged for chorus by Burt Bacharach and Leonard Nimoy.

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    2. Sounds like it'll be a splash.

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