Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Star Trek: All Our Yesterdays

Episode: "All Our Yesterdays"
Series: Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 3, Episode 23
Original Air Date: March 14, 1969
via Memory Beta
As I approach the end of my journey with Star Trek's original series, one undeniable truth has become apparent: a good many of the better episodes are Spock episodes.  "All Our Yesterdays" is one of the best I've watched in a while, not easy for me to admit as it's a time travel story and I generally don't like Trek's time travel stories.  But any story where we get to see past Spock's Vulcan stoicism is a treat.  In "All Our Yesterdays," he falls in love.

Our heroes - Kirk, Bones and Spock, that is - arrive at Sarpeidon to save its population from a supernova.  Funny thing, though: everyone's already gone apart from the librarian Mr. Atoz and his clone assistants.  All of the planet's inhabitants have used Atoz's Atavachron to travel to a time period in the world's past in order to spare themselves from extinction.  In their own toying with the device, Kirk travels to one era while Spock and McCoy end up in another.

Spock and the doctor find themselves in an ice age where they encounter a beautiful woman, Zarabeth, who provides them shelter.  Zarabeth was exiled to this time by a tyrant.  She believes the Atavachron only works in one temporal direction and therefore, her new friends are trapped with her as well.

Spock's reaction to the predicament is dramatic.  He lashes out at McCoy and struggles to resist Zarabeth's advances.  Emotion has prevailed over logic and astonishingly, the half-Vulcan is faced with a rare burden, at least for him: uncertainty.

Pretty good stuff, particularly by third season standards.  Unfortunately, the reason given for Spock's failings detracts a bit from the story.  Having traveled back 5,000 years in history, he is reverting to the more savage and violent nature of his Vulcan ancestors of that time period.  The explanation doesn't sit well with me.  No matter the time in which he finds himself, Spock is still Spock, surely influenced more by his own life experience than some societal reality drifting across the cosmos.  I think the simpler explanation would have been better: even Spock has his limits.  The future appears bleak.  One of his only two companions for eternity is a man with whom he has a trying relationship.  The other is a woman both desirable and willing, yet logic dictates that he must deny himself her charms. Understandably, he cracks.  In this, the original series's penultimate tale, we finally get to see the human Spock with all of his earthly flaws.

via Memory Alpha
Mariette Hartley (Zarabeth) was born June 21, 1940 in Weston, Connecticut.  She was born into an intellectually prominent and highly troubled family.  Her maternal grandfather, John B. Watson, established the psychological school of behaviorism.  His theories were applied literally in the life of the family and Hartley cites this is a source of great dysfunction.

Like so many I've featured here, Hartley's acting career began on the stage.  Her first film role came in 1962's Ride the High Country.  Other early big screen gigs included the lead in Drums of Africa and a supporting role in Hitchcock's Marnie.  Her television credits are extensive.  In addition to many guest appearances, she's had regular roles on The Travels of Jamie McPheeters and Goodnight, Beantown.  More recently, she has had a recurring role on Law & Order: SVU.  She still gets stage work to this day.  In 2014, she performed Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter.  In 1978, she won an Emmy for her work on The Incredible Hulk.

In recent years, Hartley has written and spoken extensively on issues of mental illness, discussing her father's suicide and her own struggles with bipolar disorder.


  1. I think I remember this one. I remember Spock being in love at some point.

    1. In "This Side of Paradise," he falls for Leila, though he is under the influence of a drug at the time. I prefer this story. It feels like a more genuine glimpse behind the curtain.

  2. Replies
    1. Who? You've thoroughly confused me.

      Thanks for stopping by, though, and for following, John! I shall be happy to return the favor.

    2. Margariette I ment to type.....automatic spell check dammmmm you!

  3. I share your enjoyment with this episode and intend to watch it again --for the first time since it aired-- after this comment. What fixes it in my memory is Mariette Hartley's exceptionally beautiful and calming speaking voice.

    1. Watched it this evening and finally got the embedded joke: Atoz, Mr. A-to-Z , a one-volume encyclopedia. What a clever name for a librarian! You have again led me to the solution of an enigma. Thanks, Squid!

    2. Clever, isn't it? I didn't realize it either until I read about the joke on Memory Alpha.

      Atoz is performed by Ian Wolfe who played a memorable role in one of my favorite Cheers episodes: "One for the Book."

  4. I know I must have seen this one as it seems familiar but..... !
    Squid the end is in sight, great job so far.

    cheers, parsnip

  5. Mariette Hartley is stunning in this episode, but yeah it's a typically bad third season episode

  6. If you had to line up all the Star Trek characters and their episodes, I totally think Spock's contributions are far superior. And why not? He's not fully human - that's a step in the right direction. We all know human limitations...they're such a drag!

    1. Spock is one of the great icons of American television. No doubt about it. I'll write about him more as I wrap things up but in short, I agree with you.