Review 38 - Episode 39
The One with the Parallel Universe
Yet another season 2 episode that is considered something of a classic. It's strange that this season has either the best episodes ever made for TOS or the worst. I think over the piece, season 1 may come out with a higher mark simply because there are more average episodes.
Simple concept time: What if a transporter accident sent you to an alternate universe where every one is "evil"? That's what happens here. There's plenty to like in this episode, with only a few things jarring, but nothing serious.
The best thing about it is that EVERYBODY has a chance to shine here. Kirk as always takes the main role, trying to work out exactly how this universe works and stopping the Enterprise firing on the Halkans. He's got some great scenes with the alternates and there's a quiet strength to him on the bridge as everyone about him goes OTT. His scenes with Marlena have good chemistry and I also like the nod to continuity with the mention of Chris Pike.
Spock steals the show though, with his goatee and his demeanour. He is almost our Spock, but the casual way he tortures Kyle (who is really the 8th Beatle at this point) and softly threatens Kirk is excellent. It was also great to see him in all out attack mode, taking on 4 people at a time. Of course, he ends up becoming more like the Spock we know at the very end and his compassion has far reaching consequences in DS9's mirror universes.
Bones has a quiet role, helping Scotty, but his compassion for Spock, which nearly gets him killed and marooned, is a nice touch. He simply must heal, regardless of who it is. Uhura has her best role in a long time, looking sexy in her alternate universe outfit and casually seducing Sulu to distract him, then defending herself with a blade. Sulu is brilliantly OTT, a huge scar on his face and utter evil in his eyes. It's interesting that certain characters are far more aggressively evil than others. Chekov is also good, trying to kill Kirk and then being tortured. Only Scotty really gets his usual stock scenes, but at least he gets a great conversation with Kirk when he calls him Jim, the only time in Trek history.
Wow, I've been waffling. Right, the bad things. It doesn't really make much sense that they would beam aboard in their alternates uniforms? I understand why they did it, to make it more visually dramatic and the questions it would otherwise raise, but you just have to accept it. Also, it's a bit lucky that Spock must have beamed the evil crew back at the same time Kirk and co were beaming back. And finally, the Tantalus field is one these randomly powerful alien objects that pop up in Trek and makes no sense of how it works or was fitted in his cabin. It comes across as a bit unnecessary when you have everything else going on.
Great episode and one that will have various follow ups in later series.
Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 115/190