It’s not easy to summarize this episode: there’s an intelligent part on what it takes to make a human being, there’s yet another Kirk duplicate as in The Enemy Within, Kirk is abducted for some vague reasons, there’s a love story with nurse Chapel (Majel Barrett) who had recently confessed his love for Spock (in The Naked Time), but here she seems in love with his ex-boyfriend Dr. Korby, and we even get the excitement of a couple of dead red shirts!
Let’s start from the plot. The USS Enterprise goes to the planet EXO III to search for traces of the scientist Roger Korby and his working group with which there has been no contact at all in five years. Kirk descends on the planet after Uhura manages to get in touch with Korby and is accompanied by nurse Chapel, the scientist’s (ex?) girlfriend, and by a couple of red shirts, Rayburn (Budd Albright) and Matthews (Vince Deadrick), who soon die as it always happens to these extras. When Kirk and the nurse reach Korby, they find him in the company of the beautiful Andrea (Sherry Jackson), to which Chapel doesn’t react in a particularly friendly way (I wonder why…). Things get out of hand when it’s quickly found out that another Korby collaborator, Ruk (Ted Cassidy, no less than the Lurch of The Addams family), has killed the two crew members of the Enterprise and that Korby is responsible for that. And eventually we discover that both Ruk and Andrea are androids, the only things left of an ancient civilization (where have I heard this story already?).
To make it brief, it turns out later that Korby is just an android in which the scientist transferred his consciousness years ago, before his body stopped functioning. And this is the intelligent part of the episode: can we consider this version of Korby as a human being? He feels superior to the human he was before, but at the same time he claims to be the same individual he was. It’s clear to us that he lost “a little” humanity in the transition from his body to that of the android: he’s cold, without emotions, and he plans a future in which the whole of humanity will be replaced by indestructible androids. Kirk rebels with all of himself to this idea and in the end the situation is resolved in a somewhat clumsy way with the destruction of all the androids and the departure of the Enterprise with a reduced crew (poor red shirts…).
It seems to me that the theme to be developed was clear, the nature of humanity, but unfortunately the realization is anything but satisfactory. Moreover, the behavior of the androids seems similar to that of the Vulcans, so the question of what it takes to make a human being overlaps with the example provided by Spock of a being devoid of emotions. In short, I think that The Schizoid Man, sixth episode of the second season of The Next Generation, provides us with more food for thought than this rickety What Are Little Girls Made of?. Ciao!
PS: can anybody explain to me why does the title put so much emphasis on the figure of Andrea? She’s the little girl, right? It’s confusing…
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