TREK-A-DAY: The Paradise Syndrome
EPISODE FIFTY-SEVEN: The Paradise Syndrome
Hooo boy. What happens when Kirk and Co. find themselves on another planet that looks an awful lot like Earth (aside from yet another character incredulously mentioning “What are the odds of another planet that looks just like Earth?”…VERY HIGH. Like, every few weeks high.) and find Native Americans living there?
The only logical thing…Kirk falls in love with one of their women AND is declared a god.
In this remarkably ‘less-insensitive-than-Avatar-but-only-just’ episode, we get all sorts of culturally touchy adventures as Kirk loses his memory, becomes hailed as a god, gets married, runs through the woods a bit, gets his new wife pregnant, then gets mind-melded back into consciousness just in time to see his new wife die from being stoned to death for marrying a false god.
Ultimately, this episode serves as yet another explanation as to why there are so many humaniods (there’s a race of observers that abduct cultures in danger of being absorbed or destroyed and transplant them to other planets, hence all the humanoids.) We also get some bizarre Kirk moments, particularly when they give Shatner a voice-over internal monologue that he gets to pantomime over (“I’ve found paradise!” he hugs himself…awful)
The hills are alive with the sound of WTF
It’s full of ridiculous coincidences (“Kirk to Enterprise” is the exact sonic frequency to open a passage into the obelisk that is also an anti-meteor shield…and Jacob lives there with Ben Linus).
There is exactly one redeeming quality to this gong show of an episode, and that is that it plays on Kirk’s deepest fear/desire as established waaaaaaay back in The Naked Time; that by becoming a starship captain, he has given up any hope of love or companionship. He finds it here, it is paradise for him and he is actually happy. It’s short lived, of course, but a nice call back. He is on the planet for some time (shown by his growing of sideburns!) and we get yet another Original Series analogue for The Next Generation‘s The Inner Light where Picard lives out a lifetime in an coma of sorts. It’s neat seeing the kind of life these characters could have…it’s just a shame it has to be wrapped in so much weirdness.