118 TOS Tomorrow is Yesterday, 119 The Return of the Archons

Welcome everyone to Star Trekkin’

This is my personal journey to thrash through the entirety of the Star Trek Catalogue (well… ‘cept Enterprise. ‘Cos I’m an elitist prick…)

It feels like we’re getting close to a milestone in this adventure; looking at the episodes in relation to the seasons we’re nearing the end of TOS’ first. That’s close to 30 episodes I’ve managed to digest, dissect, mock and adore. Given that there are plenty of new series that have filled my time (hello Got, TWD, FTWD, Gotham, BCS and anything else I’ve watched that can be acronym-ed up like a governmental department of foisting, fluff and general tit-assery) whilst at home with my lovely other half, and that a shit load of my time has been spent being a massive brewing/gaming nerd-ster of the highest order of self degradation (with the mighty Bif, of course), I’m quite proud of the fact that I’m still plundering the depths of one of the greatest science fiction stories, and universes, of all time and that, well, it still feels that way…
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…anyways. We’re not there yet and before we throw any form of festivity let’s get on with blazing through these episodes.

First up we have :

118 TOS Tomorrow is Yesterday

What’s this episode all about then? Well it’s a pretty stock ‘oh no we’ve travelled back in time and fiddled with the space time continuum and all of existence is in jeapordy for every form of existence’ affair. There’s the accidental abduction of a 1960’s earth pilot (above), the debate as to whether to return him, the twist in the decision, a bit of fighting, some witty one liners and well…

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It’s cool but it ain’t a prime example of what I’ve found so magnificent in the original series thus far- hell look at the picture above, Kirk and Mr Pilot’s faces say ‘we agree with you Dwalin’. Which is a shame because…

119 TOS The Return of the Archons

IS FUCKING INCREDIBLE!

This is the episode in which, I believe, the seeds of the Borg were sewn… which, you know, is just about the best story arc/race of the whole Trekkiverse so, as far as I’m concerned, this episode is winning already.

BUT…. and this is a big but… there’s something a little more, human about this episode than anything the Borg manage. Well… kind of anyway.

The basic gist is there’s this planet that was previously full of a war-like, depraved society; some dude (his name, Landru, cool name) came along and saved them though and taught them how to live well. An integral aspect of this living well malarkey is it’s basis on something termed the good.

The good is one of those things that gets me a little bit excited, Why is that? Is it because I have a predilection for living my life in servitude to what I deem is the most moralistic foundation of being; tirelessly seeking to fashion myself as a new messiah and saviour of the human race… OBVIOUSLY!!!

I jest, I jest… no, the good is not a term that is strictly related to the notion of morality. It is a higher concept of what it really means to be a good existor, a being that is of the world but by extension of it’sconsciousness is of itself, and of a plane beyond both itself and the fundamental relationship between itself and the world; the plane of being of others and for others.

An example of such philosophical notions of the ‘good’; Plato thought the good good was akin to the sun in that it was the demonstration of all existence, the illuminator of the world and the dragger of the concept of forms into the realm of humanity… that’s obviously not an allegory that merely encompasses morality… to me anyway. Shoot me down philo scholars if I’m wrong.

Right, let’s return to the gist of the story; fast forward a bunch of years and we open on Sulu and some crew member dressed up in, admittedly, rather fetching costumes. They’re kinda western, kinda Jacobean, things and. Well. I like ’em…
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The two crew members are dashing around what looks like a medieval/western frontier town and are being pursued by some dudes who are on the creepyside. Dressed in robes, cowls over heads and weird rods in their hands.

It turns out this is a bad moment for Sulu and crew member… a very bad moment. They get zapped with this rod thing, crew member gets forgotten about from here on out (guessing deaded like a very dead thing) and Sulu get’s turned into what, for all intents and purposes, is a crazy-singular-minded-mega-happy-peace-love-harmony-devoid-of-individual-being-and-spark-occult-based-loon. Seriously. My powers of description are failing me in being able to convey just how wiped out of living his smiling face indicates he is; LOOK!
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This fabulous bit of acting (well done George Takai) is solidifed with such great lines as “all is one”, “peace to you” and “ALL IS ONE UNDER LANDRU. THE BODY IS ONE AND THE BODY IS GOOD”… ok, that last line is a bit of a made up one from me- utterances are made throughout the episode to such effect though, I just amalgamated them to, you know, make a point about where this episode is going in as quick a way as possible so I could get to typing things like:
OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD; THIS EPISODE IS FUCKING AWESOME!

Seriously; right now we’re getting comments on cultism, utopian society, dictatorship within utopian society, what ‘the good’ is, what morality is, human individuality, human creativity, sacrifice of self, conservatism, liberalism and… MOSHING!

Wait I hear you cry, Moshing?

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Well, back to story; Kirk, Spock, McCoy and A.N Other beam down to the planet to find out what’s happened to Sulu (because, of course they have) and the first thing they come into contact with is something called ‘the festival’; this thing is basically some kind of mass 24 hour mosh pit. People fighting, shoving, tearing… ok, it’s not a mosh as it also comes with a big sideline of ultra-violent crime and bad, bad, shit is inferred. But my point remains; there’s some kind of comment in here about structured violence. Violence with no real outcome… I just can’t quite figure out what the point Trek is making, though.

It has the hallmark of ‘the purge’; the humans needing some time to unleash their darkest primacy to be able to deal with not being dicks to each other day in day out. The problem is that doesn’t necessarily gel with the outcome of the story completely. This leaves another option of it being something that is enforced to demonstrate what the other way of living (the way before Landru) might be; a way to ensure control is continually exerted as (if you hadn’t guessed by now there’s some kind of weird mind control exerted by Landru goin’ on). This also works, but, again not a perfect fit… there’s more theorising that can be done. That’s a good thing people…. a good thing.

It’s difficult for me to call an end to writing about this episode; every minute seems to throw out more startlingly good concepts to ponder over and the finally, whilst being cheesily 60’s with bad effects, is everything you want out of the show’s climax… I will, however, decide to focus on only one more thing about this episode and that is it’s theme of mysticism.

There are a few folks on the planet that have wanted to overthrow Landru; they really don’t like the ‘nothingness’ of existence under him and want something more, well, visceral. They cling to a ‘prophecy’ that the Archons will return to the planet and will be their saviours; they will deliver them from the totalitarian state of tabula rasa and deliver them into a time of self-creation.

When Kirk and the gang land they are seen as Archons; being that the Archons in actuality were just another crew that had landed in a starship before.

So where does this leave us with the notion of prophecy and mysticism; these guys were clearly right, more Archons came, for sure. They had clung on to this notion in blind faith; was this because the previous Archons had said ‘dont worry folks, more will come’ or is it because a native rebel uttered similar stirrings? Was this a statement to placate, inspire or was it merely an accurate prediction which other individuals have morphed into a ‘prophecy’ out of an enduring need to cling to something external to their being to bring them to salvation?

Who knows… what we can surmise, however, is that the outcome in every eventuality was the same. Blind faith and an unwillingness to act on ones own volition in relation to this faith… what kind of comment is this? Is it a reflection on the herd mentality of much of our own societies. Is it comment on the complete indoctrination of totalitarianism that even rebels are serving a purpose of obsequiousness; servile in action, and proffering of thoughts that spread such externals of subservience ? Is there a support of the view of many that a saviours will return and that, in the meantime, humans can only get one with stuff without rocking the boat otherwise they might offend the almighty powers that seep in and through the world without categorically making themselves known? Should we give blood?

…And I’ll stop there as I fear if I continue I’m very likely going to step into a place where I:

a) disappear into my posterior in a flurry of hyperbolic pretension

b) offend a bunch of people

So to pull things back into a happy, happy, place I’ll end by instructing you to get your asses into watching this episode and end by saying:

4OK, SPACESHIPS, SHOOTY SHOOTY, METAL, BEER… BREW BREW BREW. OOO a shiny new dwarf figure with a huge axe and lots of areas for the painting of orc blood… coffffffeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
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SIGMUND FREUD IS JUDGING THOSE THAT DON’T THINK THE OUTFITS IN THE RETURN OF THE ARCHONS ARE NIFTY … (I must find this magnetic dress-up Freud!)

ps: I realise at no stage did I qualify my remark from the beginning of the discussion about ‘Return of the Archons’ being where the seeds of the Borg were sewn… I’m not going to either for fear of spoilers. Go watch the episode and you’ll catch my point.

 

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