Thursday, February 14, 2019

Plato's Stepchildren

Content Warning: There are seasons of torture and sexual assault in this episode. Some TV stations won't even play it due to the nature of the scenes.

TOS Season 3 Episode 10
Air Date: November 22nd, 1968


The Enterprise receives a distress call from a planet that the sensors shows has no intelligent life on it. When they beam down they discover that there is a small civilization of less then 50 people. They are greeted by one, a little person named Alexander who explains that they were from a planet that was destroyed when it went supernova. They spent some time on Earth where they met Plato but left when the Greek empire fell. They found their way to this planet where they have lived ever since.

They learn that the reason for the distress call was because the leader Parmen had suffered a scratch that got infected and they needed a doctor. It turns out they don't age and most are well over 2000 years old. They learn that they also have telekinetic powers that formed only after arriving on the planet.

After McCoy saves Parmen's life and Parmen asks (well more demands) that McCoy stay with them as their doctor. McCoy refuses and we learn the true power Parmen and his people possess. Most of the episodes shows Kirk and Spock being controlled as puppet. They can even make them speak and make Spock lose control over his emotions.

During the interludes where they are not being controlled, they learn from Alex that he is the only one without powers and that they gained their powers about 6 months after arriving on the planet. Spock and McCoy determined a chemical in the food source gave them the power and were able to narrow it down based on examining Alex and seeing what chemical he didn't have in his blood that Parmen did. It turns out Alex was treated as the Jester since he couldn't fight back. He suffered thousands of years of abuse at the hands of his people.

Once they discover the chemical, McCoy injects Kirk and Spock with a double dose hoping it would let them fight back. It turns out it works and Kirk becomes more powerful then Parmen. Once Parmen realizes he is powerless against Kirk he starts begging for his life and that he is sorry for what he did, something that most people with bad morals and lots of power do when they lose the power. Kirk shows mercy but warns him that they can reproduce this power any time they want. They also take Alex with them.


This episode was both very good and very bad. The scenes where Kirk and Spock were being played as puppets was so bad it was barely watchable. But the content of the episode itself made it worth it. It dealt with prejudices such as Alex's dwarfism and how society treats little people. It showed how someone with absolute power tends to abuse it at some point.

The episode also had a scene where Kirk was forced to kiss Uhura when both were used as puppets. It was one of the first interracial kisses on American TV and it did create some controversy.


"Oh, Platonians. I'm sure you've never head of us. Our native star is Sahndara. Millennia ago, just before it went nova, we managed to escape. Our leader liked Plato's ideas - Plato, Platonius. See? In fact our present philosopher king, Parmen, sometimes calls us Plato's children, although we sometimes think of ourselves more as Plato's stepchildren." - Alexander

"Alexander, are there other Platonians like you?" - Kirk
"What do you mean like me?" - Alexander
"Who don't have the psychokinetic ability." - Kirk
"I thought you were talking about my size, because they make fun of me for my size. But, um, to answer your question,  I'm the only one who doesn't have it. I was brought here as the court buffoon. That's why I'm everybody's slave, and I have to be at ten places at once, and I never do anything right." - Alexander

"You're half dead, all of you! You've been dead for centuries. We may disappear tomorrow, but at last we're living now, and you can't stand that, can you? You're half crazy because there's nothing inside - nothing! - and you have to torture us to convince yourselves you're superior." - Kirk

"That's the first time anybody ever thought of my life before his own." - Alexander

"I'm thinking. I'm thinking of all the times on the Enterprise when I was scared to death and I would see you so busy at your command, and I would hear your voice from all parts of the ship, and my fears would fade. And now they're making me tremble, but I'm not afraid. I am not... afraid." - Uhura

"You think that's what I want, become one of them, become my own enemy, just lie around like a big blob of nothing and have things done for me? I want to move around for myself! If I'm going to laugh or cry, I want to do it for myself! You can keep your precious power! All I ask is one thing. If you do make it out of here, take me with you!" - Alexander

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