Episode number: 8th episode aired, 12th episode produced
Written by: Adrian Spies
Directed by: Vincent McEevety, who directed five more Treks, including Balance of Terror Captain’s Log: An old Earth-style distress beacon light years from Earth draws the Enterprise to investigate. They discover a planet that looks EXACTLY like the Earth, a fact that will in no way be important at any point in this episode or the entire history of Star Trek. Seriously – there is an exact duplicate of the planet Earth out there, and people are barely even curious about it.
Kirk and a landing party – Bones, Spock, Yeoman Rand and two redshirts – beam down to discover the ruins of a city that looks like it was from the 60s. Or from City on the Edge of Forever, since they use the same lot in that episode. Everything seems to be deserted; Kirk checks out an old, rusted tricycle. The place appears to have been going to ruin for 300 years.
But then a lunatic covered in purple lesions comes running out to get the tricycle and attacks the landing party. There’s a scuffle, and then the guy dies like he was gunned down in a BART station. But it turns out he died of natural causes – he aged centuries in moments, Bones says (or so he claims for the eventual tribunal).
The group hears a noise in a nearby building. They rush in like a SWAT team (one of my favorite little bits in this episode) and discover a young girl hiding in the closet. She appears to be 13 and Kirk begins IMMEDIATELY macking on her. In the beginning of what is surely one of the most uncomfortable relationships in television history, the captain of the Enterprise and this little girl bond. He learns that she is Miri, and she’s an ‘onlie.’ Onlies are children, and grups are adults; some time ago the grups all went nuts and became violent and murderous and died out. They all had that same disease that the crazy guy had, one which starts as small purple lesions.
Spock is too creeped out by watching the captain put the moves on the girl from True Grit, so he and the redshirts investigate the city. They hear some children chanting and then get pelted with rocks from the buildings above them; the kids know the city too well and slip away before Starfleet Security Officer Stacy Koon can dish out some Enterprising justice on their asses.
Miri and Kirk are getting ready to trade mix tapes when Spock comes back and says that they couldn’t find the kids. Miri takes Kirk (by the hand!) and says she’ll lead him to the Onlies.
What no one could have imagined is that the Onlies are led by none other than Michael J Pollard. In case you think that he’s the weirdest looking Onlie, take heart – the entire tribe of ragamuffins seems to be made up of the least cute kids in the world, especially future AIDS Quilt Member John Megna – Dill from To Kill a Mockingbird. Little man has a head like a horse’s after a run-in with a taffy puller.
Anyway, the Onlies are chilling out, annoyed that Miri is hanging with the new grups when they realize that Kirk is in the street and on his way to their hideout. They take positions, and Kirk and Miri walk in. The Onlies start doing some kind of Lord of the Flies dance, but that’s interrupted when another Lesionnaire busts in. Apparently this kid’s name is Abner Louima because Kirk fucking phasers him out of existence while the Onlies take off (although he once again pleads ‘incredibly sped up metabolism’!).
It turns out that the landing party has picked up the space herpes and are all becoming Lesionnaires. They adourn to a local hospital where, over the course of some talky scenes, they come to the following conclusions:
– The disease is the result of a failed life extension project
– Children are immune… until puberty, when they go purple and get all grup and crunk.
– It turns out that the life extension half worked – all of the kids of this planet are aging at the rate of one month per century, which means they’re all three hundred years old. Suddenly Kirk’s Lolita love is legal! Creepy, but legal.
– The redshirts are not dead, but they’re completely missing from the episode from here until the very end. Just gone, like they’re on walkabout or something.
The bad news is that everybody but Spock has this stuff (because Spock has DIFFERENT SALTS) and even he’s a carrier, so he can’t go back to the ship. They need to have medical supplies beamed down so Spock and Bones can work on a cure. Meanwhile, Kirk keeps Miri busy by singing ‘Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon’ to her and teaching her what awaits her as an adult – he makes her wipe down tables and later, sharpen his pencils. While that sounds like I’m using a double entendre, he actually makes her sharpen his pencils.
But things can’t stay good for long. The Onlies sneak into the hospital and steal all the communicators so the landing party can’t get in touch with the Enterprise. This is bad news, since nobody on the Enterprise will think to send a team down in space suits to investigate once the Captain, First Officer, Chief Medical Officer and Towering Bouffant Babe Officer go totally off the grid… FOR THREE DAYS.
Just imagine that you’re whoever is in charge on the Enterprise – Scotty? Sulu? It’s not Uhura, because she’s missing and that creepy ‘I just smelled a fart’ faced guy Farrell (who was helmsman the other day) is sitting in her chair – and you’re just twiddling your thumbs while your top three officers are planetside, infected with a deadly disease and then out of touch for half a week. Are you organizing a kegger in the shuttle bay? Did you turn sickbay into a brothel so you can pay back your Starfleet Academy loans? Did you just declare it a totally chill long weekend and kick back with a bunch of TV shows on record tape?
Anyway, things are getting desperate on Earth 2. Everybody (except Spock and the missing but not dead redshirts) is covered in lesions. Rand is growing them ON her pantyhose. And nobody’s changed their clothes in five or six days, so you know it simply has to fucking stink down there. Oh, and they’re all going crazy and stuff from the Lesionnaire’s Disease. This causes Rand to snap and start crying; Kirk chases her out to the hall to comfort her and they have A Moment. “I always try to get you to look at my legs, Captain,” she says. The length of her miniskirt indicates she’s always trying to get him to look at her ovaries, but whatever – the important thing is that Miri is looking on and gets totally jealous.
She busts back out to the Onlies and they hatch up a plan to kidnap Rand. They execute the plan just as McCoy and Spock think they may have a vaccine to the disease (I’m no doctor, but don’t you get a vaccination do you don’t get a disease? Shouldn’t they be looking for a cure?), but without the communicators they can’t use the ship’s computers to run the right tests – the vaccine could be the savior or it could be death.
Kirk shakes Miri around and shows her that she’s hitting puberty as well – she has lesions on her arms. He convinces her to show him where the Onlies are, and he comes into a crowded school room filled with ugly, dirty, stupid children and a bound Yeoman Rand. Meow. On the board behind the Onlies seems to be chalk drawing depicting…. the Vietnam War?!?!
The Onlies get real menacing, and they try to do Kirk in like Piggy, but he manages to break free of the clubs and fists of a bunch of six year olds and delivers an impassioned speech, which is always what works with kids. Don’t they see that they’re acting JUST LIKE THE GRUPS? Don’t you understand this, Youth Generation Of The 60s? You’re like, Miri, man. And she’s just like the grups.
Meanwhile, McCoy, who has space herpes all over his face, decides to just stick himself with the needle and hope for the best. He’s old anyway. And it works! The vaccine knocks him on his ass, but weird music plays on the soundtrack and his lesions disappear. Kirk shows up with the kids in tow – with seven hours to spare until everybody dies! – and all is well. Then they leave the kids on the planet and go to the next episode. The end.
Review: While a good episode, Miri brings out the nitpicker in me. Why have a planet look JUST LIKE Earth and then never do anything with that concept? They couldn’t explain Earth-like architecture any other way? What’s the point of the kids being 300? They never seemed to learn anything, and three centuries after the grups died they’re still playing games where teachers are bad guy. I’ve been out of school for only 17 years (holy shit I’m old) but I’ve already gotten over my bad feelings for my teachers. Give me 280 more years and I’ll forget they ever existed. And finally there’s the stupid lack of motivation on the part of the Enterprise. I don’t know why the landing party has SEVEN DAYS to live – that’s just way too long.
But other than that, I really enjoyed the episode. The Lesionnaires look creepy, and with Kim Darby and Michael J Pollard around, the acting is a little better than you usually get (although still more histrionic than we would ever accept on TV today). And the warning to the Flower Power generation, while blazingly obvious, is pretty spot on. And Kirk was right – those fuckers grew up to be just as bad as their parents.
Kirkin’ Out: The episode posits that Kirk is such a mack daddy he doesn’t even realize when he’s macking – Bones has to inform him that Miri has a crush on him. But Kirk’s best moment is when, after taking a beat-down from the Onlies, he picks Horseface Megna off a teacher’s desk and slams his ass on the ground. Take that, fucknuts!
Spockmarks: As everybody is flipping out in the final hours, Spock is totally calm and cool, but he gives away some of his anxieties when he says “I am a carrier. Whatever happens, I can’t go back to the ship…and I do want to go back to the ship, Captain.”
Redshirt: What a tease. Two redshirts on duty, they have no role in the episode and then they don’t even die. You get a couple of dead adolescents though, if that’s any consolation..
Dilithium Bullshit: The whole life extension scheme – which uses a virus to keep cells alive – sounds fishy. But it’s the nonsense of a duplicate Earth that is the most bullshitty, dumb thing on display this week.
Support Staff of the Week: Dr. McCoy takes the crown this time. His crazy eyes as he shoots himself up are priceless.
Continerdity: This was the first episode to shoot outdoors. Kirk calls Starfleet Command ‘Space Central.’ McCoy’s portable biocomputer will show up again.
Set Phasers to Quote: “No blah blah blah!” – Kirk
Three and a half Positive Baby Clint Howards Out of Five
Star Trekkin’ – Introduction
Star Trekkin’ Day 1 – Where No Man Has Gone Before
Star Trekkin’ Day 2 – The Man Trap
Star Trekkin’ Day 3 – Charlie X
Star Trekkin’ Day 4 – The Naked Time
Star Trekkin’ Day 5 – The Enemy Within
Star Trekkin’ Day 6 – Mudd’s Women
Star Trekkin’ Day 7 – What Are Little Girls Made Of?