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The Lights of Zetar

Here's Scotty's turn to go all googly over the guest star, and he does a fine job of it. Infatuation is enchanting for a little while, but it can overstay its welcome, and does here. But Doohan is so genuine and believeable that it provides a nice diversion from the utter lack of a story.

Technically, I think this can be called a remake of "Return To Tomorrow" only without the character. Again we have the proverbial remnants of a dead civilization wandering the galaxy "for a millennium" looking for the right host, and they just happen to find it in this week's guest star. And what do our boys do? They pop it into a hyperbaric chamber and kill it. Poof. Gone. Just like that. Pretty heartless of them -- and out of character to not at least wonder if they were doing the right thing.

It's actually a paint-by-numbers episode, and looks a lot like a preview of Voyager and Enterprise. There's the unidentified jeopardy, the human entry point within our crew, the jeopardy, the chase, the quick fix, and the lame Joking Hour afterward. I think the writers really tried, but here's the weird thing: despite all of the detailed background provided for Mira (what is it about that name?), Tarcher and Lewis managed to avoid giving her any character whatsoever. Despite being a bit prickly in sickbay (a promising character trait), and new to deep space (an interesting proposition), and perhaps not feeling as loving toward Scotty as he feels toward her (fine dramatic ground), we know nothing that really matters about her. We have no idea what motivates her, what makes her feel, what makes her unique. They've written in a parallel with her father (who was an engineer, blink and you'll miss the reference), but never done anything with it. With so much raw material, it's almost impossible to do so little with it. That's a pretty major, if dubious, accomplishment. And despite the fact that Scotty loves her (much more plausibly, it should be noted, than McCoy last loved), we can find no reason to care for her at all. It's as if the romantic aspect was added in the hopes of drawing us in. Well, boing.

It starts off so well, with an amazing teaser which establishes the ground rules nicely, and ends with an interesting -- albeit predictable -- problem. But all of the marvelous setup is wasted when the planet turns out to be a dead end, the mystery turns out to be a dead end, the sparklies turn out to be a dead end (with no personality), and the romance turns out to be a dead end. The quick fix is unmotivated (just how did they figure out that high pressure would kill the aliens?) and poorly executed. Just where did all this stuff about losing her identity to the aliens come from all of a sudden (an earlier draft of the script, perhaps)?

One saving grace is that at least this episode did not stray into aliens in bad costumes on a planet, or arbitrary organ kidnapping, or heavy-handed preaching, or other terrible concepts which are littered throughout the third season. That makes it much marginally less offensive than some of what we've been subjected to. But it doesn't change the fact the some people shouldn't write Trek. Some people shouldn't write sci-fi. Some people should stick to puppets.

Rating: Middle-Lower (5)

Comments

Spot on. There was a lot of promise in Mira Romaine's character, that was zoomed over in the 'Painting by numbers.' I noticed that hairstyle wise, some of the 60's style cues were beginning to show in our characters. The forced joke at the end smacks of GL Coon, but I guess Freddy F. liked the ending levity as well. Thanks for another great review.

Posted September 11, 2014 4:51 PM by Tom B