Episode number: 15th episode aired, 18th episode produced
Written by: Theodore Sturgeon, the greatest scifi writer to ever share a name with a fish, and also the writer of the classic Amok Time.
Directed by: Prolific TV director Robert Sparr, who also directed two episodes of the Batman series.
Captain’s Log: In what is almost certainly the first pivotal moment in the series for Kirk/Spock shippers, the Captain is sitting in his chair complaining of a back ache. Someone begins giving him a vigorous massage and at first he thinks it’s Spock. He’s telling Spock how to do it – ‘Lower. Harder. Faster. With your mouth’ and then he sees that the Vulcan first officer is standing way too far away to be administering any TLC to his back. It turns out that it’s… the hot new yeoman! And Kirk is horrified.
Welcome to the USS Enterprise, three months out since their last port of call. The crew is starting to go loopy and get space crazy; luckily they’ve found a beautiful, seemingly lifeless planet in their path. Bones and Sulu beam down to double check that the place is indeed completely empty, and it all seems kosher until Bones sees a very late White Rabbit run across his path, followed by a young girl in a blue dress.
Undeterred by his physician’s seeming venture through the looking glass, Kirk okays landing parties to start beaming down. Spock doesn’t want to go; he says that Vulcans rest by actually resting, not by fucking around on alien planets, which is actually super sensible. I covet the weekends where I can actually just sit in front of the TV or read a book as opposed to run around doing errands and watching endless episodes of Star Trek so you motherfuckers have something to pass the time with at the office. Kirk is bemused by Spock, but he himself also refuses to beam down, feeling that he’s just too important to the ship. Spock raises an eyebrow and then tells the captain that there’s this one crewman who has been exhibiting serious symptoms of stress and fatigue and that this guy’s numbers are all down but he doesn’t want to beam down for R&R. Kirk is like, ‘Mofo best relax,’ and Spock says ‘I got you, human dipshit!’ See, he was talking about Kirk all that time.
Down on the planet the woman who almost got married last week is chilling out with a delightfully ethnic crewmember (seriously, has there EVER been another show with such a racial diversity among the guest stars?), checking out the molecules of the plants or something, and she tells him he works too much. When a woman whose fiancee died last week tells you that you’re too serious, you should really heed the warnings.
Meanwhile, Kirk and the Touchy Yeoman beam down. They run into Bones and Kirk sees that McCoy hasn’t been hitting the booze after all, or if he has the booze isn’t making him hallucinate. There’s a set of giant rabbit paw prints in the mud. The two follow the prints, and then they come across a set of girl footprints. Kirk decides to split up, and I’ll give you one guess which set of prints he chooses to follow. With McCoy running after Bunnicula, Kirk hunts the little girl in the blue dress. But what he finds is… a gunshot!
It turns out that Sulu has found an antique Earth gun. It also turns out that Sulu is into antique Earth guns. ‘You’ll shoot your eye out, kid,’ Kirk intones as he confiscates the gun from the guy who was just shooting it at random into the distance. Meanwhile, an old style TV antenna watches ominously.
Kirk continues following the footprints of the young girl and is suddenly surprised by a figure from out of his past, Finnegan, an upperclassmen who bullied him at the Starfleet Academy. Finnegan, who is dressed in some kind of tin foil, seems to have stepped directly off the Lucky Charms box… as well as having ingested all of the sugary contents, since he’s hopped up on something. And even weirder, Finnegan hasn’t aged a day since the Academy and Kirk’s sporting a toupee already.
The two begin brawling, as men are wont to do, when there’s a woman’s scream. Kirk sadly disengages from the arms of his old enemy and investigates; it turns out that Touchy Yeoman was day dreaming about Don Juan and he showed up and got touchy with her. Her tunic is all ripped and she’s obviously just getting over a sexual assault, so Bones takes the opportunity to start macking on her. Psychologically this makes sense – she’s all vulnerable and shit, and he’s old and certainly smells like some kind of rancid chewing tobacco.
Bones and Touchy Yeoman wander through the forest and all of a sudden she sees a princess outfit, which is like so totally coincidental because they were just talking about princesses. She puts it on while Bones pretends not to look and files the whole thing in his spank holodeck.
Now things start getting weirder. The widow and the Ensign Ethnicity are attacked by a tiger. Sulu is suddenly beset by a samurai. And Kirk, looking for Don Juan, wanders off into the desert and runs into his old flame, Ruth. He says that she looks exactly the same as she did when he was schtupping her, fifteen years ago. If that’s the truth then Kirk had a thing for older ladies, since Ruth appears to be 35, minimum. But like a well put together 35, you know what I mean? You’d hit that, especially when you were a college kid. Not quite Mrs. Robinson, but smashable.
Anyway, as all of this stuff is going on the communicators, phasers and even the Enterprise are being drained of energy. Spock figures out that this drain is coming from the planet itself, and when he sees that there’s only enough power on the Enterprise to beam one person down (and no one back up), he beams himself down so that whatever happens he can be at the side of his captain. Shippers, here’s moment #2! So romantic!
All of these thoughts coming to life soon take on a dark tone, as Bones conjures up a knight on horseback. The old country doctor takes a lance to the chest and is killed. Dead! Kirk and Spock show up at the scene and they try to shoot the charging knight with their phasers, but they’re out of juice. Kirk realizes he has that firearm, and he shoots the knight dead… but it turns out the knight was never alive. Motherfucker is made of wax! Or more specifically the same molecules that make up the plants on this planet. And maybe everything else.
And then all of a sudden stock footage of a fighter plane appears. It turns out that Ensign Ethnicity had just been thinking about stock footage; while everybody is pretending to look into the sky, Bones’ corpse disappears. It doesn’t take much longer for people to figure out that whatever they think of appears, but this triggers Kirk to think about Finnegan, and the cacklingly grotesque Irish caricature reappears.
Now begins a fight that takes up about 70% of the episode’s running time. Finnegan and Kirk duke it out seemingly endlessly, getting sweaty and bloody and tearing their clothes up. Finally Kirk realizes that he’s loving this fight and that he’s totally getting his jollies from grinding Finnegan’s Mick stereotype face into the dirt. At that point the fight ends and Spock shows up and then they get chased by the samurai and the stock footage plane. The two men run away from the footage, which is firing at them, all the while just about holding hands. Like seriously, their hands are all over each other, making this the shipper trifecta for the episode.
Spock and Kirk meet up with the rest of the crew and Kirk demands that everybody just stop thinking (this order may explain the entire third season of this show). This prompts the alien overlord of Planet Shore Leave to show up and be all apologetic, but also condescending. ‘This planet will give you whatever you want,’ he says, ‘but you’re all far too stupid to use it right. Way to blow it, guys.’
He brings out McCoy, who is escorted by two Las Vegas showgirls. This actually makes Touchy Yeoman jealous, and this is the greatest moment of McCoy’s life. He was never dead; everything that’s manufactured here is temporary. The alien tells Kirk that the Enterprise can use the planet for R&R, but to be careful and then he makes Kirk sign a 25 page indemnity form. And then he initials a bunch of mimeographed copies, gets it Notary Publiced and takes a urine sample.
Everybody starts beaming down and Kirk is about to go back to the ship when he suddenly catches sight of Ruth. Kirk cancels his transporter journey and then it’s all boom chikka bow wow…
Review: An interesting episode, conceptually, Shore Leave is undone by the show’s budget. In the modern CGI era where TV shows cost upwards of a million bucks an hour or more, we might have seen other, cooler things being brought to life; as it is the film crew opted to spray paint red streaks on trees and rocks to make them more ‘alien,’ so stock footage and outfits from studio storage were the best they could do.
With that said, the episode does drop the ball because only Kirk and Sulu get fantasies that really reflect their personalities, and even Sulu’s is anemic at best. A gun and a samurai? I guess it continues his ‘swashbuckling’ self image. But what about Bones? And Spock only summons one thing – a second tiger when talking about Ensign Ethnicity being attacked by a tiger. It would have been cool to have had Spock being forced to deal with his mom or something Finnegan-esque from his childhood.
Kirkin’ Out: The fight between Kirk and Finnegan may be the ultimate Kirk hand-to-hand brawl. Judo chops, rolling in the dirt, bloody lips, torn shirts – it’s all here.
Spockmarks: I really like Spock’s Vulcan Mind Trick, which he uses to get Captain Kirk down to the planet. He’s just so casual about totally outthinking Kirk.
Redshirt: Bones appears to take the loss, but actually nobody dies.
Dilithium Bullshit: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” said Arthur C Clarke, and this whole episode is predicated on that concept. Of course the sufficiently advanced technology that can create anything that you think of must use giant TV aeriels to read your mind..
Support Staff of the Week: Sulu shows his intense Starfleet training in his initial reaction to finding an antique gun. Instead of calling in his captain or his co-crew, he just starts shooting it willy nilly.
Continerdity: In Where No Man Has Gone Before we learned that Kirk was quite the nerd in Starfleet Academy. Here we see that he was the kind of nerd with serious tormentors. This is the sort of thing that seems to have been taken out of the JJ Abrams Star Trek, by the way – it’s hard to imagine that Kirk getting endlessly teased and beaten by the blarney filled Finnegan. This episode also features extensive use of Vasquez Rocks, which would soon become famous as the site of the battle between Kirk and the Gorn in The Arena. Sulu is shown to be not only a botanist in his spare time but also an antique gun enthusiast. The almost-married woman from last week shows up again, but she wasn’t originally written as the same person. When the actress showed up on set someone realized they couldn’t just give her a new name. They were comfortable forgetting her backstory (although to be fair, this was shot weeks and weeks after Balance of Terror, it’s just the vagaries of NBC’s schedule that put them back to back. This could have just as easily aired beforethat episode).
Set Phasers to Quote: “My dear girl, I’m a doctor. When I peek, it is in the line of duty.” – Dr. McCoy
Two 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?
Star Trekkin’ Day 8 – Miri
Star Trekkin’ Day 9 – Dagger of the Mind
Star Trekkin’ Day 10 – The Corbomite Maneuver
Star Trekkin’ Day 12 – The Menagerie Part 2
Star Trekkin’ Day 13 – The Conscience of the King