Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Star Trek--"The Apple"

‘The Apple” is one stale episode. There is absolutely nothing new in it whatsoever. There is a primitive culture run by a computer. The Enterprise is being drained of power, so the landing party cannot beam out. Kirk decides while they are stranded to completely ruin the native’s society in violation of the Prime Directive because he cannot stand religious influence on a people. Spock protests; he is ignored. At least this time kirk did not talk the computer to death.

What I just described is half “Return of the Archons” and half “Who Mourns for Adonias?” As absolute proof, note two bits were lifted nearly identical from those episodes into this one. the first was kirk’s expressed desire to destroy Vaal because worshipping it is stagnating society. Spock says not to because the natives have found a way that works for them and Kirk ought not to disrupt it. His human sense of moral values does not necessarily apply to an alien culture. Irk ignores him, has Vaal destroyed, and leaves the natives without the only way of life they have know because that is what he decided is best. All that argument is identical to the argument between Kirk and spock in “Return of the Archons.“ You would think Spock would have learned by now. The scene where the Enterprise’s phasors destroy Vaal is reused from “Who mourns for Adonais?”

The Garden of Eden meme is attempted valiantly, but weak. No explanation is giving for why Vaal was built. The natives just know he has always been the same as adam and eve knew God had always been. This planet is incredibly dangerous, not a paradise. For outsiders, at any rate. The natives are simpletons who know nothing about love or sex until they see Chekov macking on a yeoman. Vaal does get angry when it realizes the natives now have advanced knowledge, but it is Kirk as the serpent who expels them from paradise by destroying Vaal, not God. It is all boringly cliché.

In spite of numerous allusions to God and the Garden of Eden, Vaal is obviously more a reference to Baal, a deity worshipped through out Israel, particularly under the reign of Ahab. The Israelites built a temple to Baal similar to Vaal in “The Apple” until Jehu became King of Israel and ended Baal worship. Baal was said to control the environment the same as Vaal as long as he was worshiped and offered proper sacrifices. The Israelites returned to worshiping Yahweh after Baal’s expulsion, so any similarities end there.

One interesting bit; this is the episode that really shows how dangerous it is to be a red shirt. All four red shirt die horribly in this episode. One is killed by a pod plant, one by an exploding rock, one is struck by lightning, and the fourth is fatally beaned on the noggin. Definitely not a good day to beam down wearing a red shirt.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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