In This side of Paradise, the USS Enterprise heads to a rural colony on a planet that has recently been subjected to radiations which are lethal to humans called Berthold rays. No one responds to the communication attempts, so Kirk is convinced that he can’t find survivors. Surprisingly, once on the surface, all the 150 colonists are there, happy and perfectly healthy, the only living beings on the planet along with some flora. Their leader is Elias Sandoval (Frank Overton) and today’s blonde love interest is Leila (Jill Ireland), who however in an unexpected twist is in love with Spock rather than with the usual Kirk! There are also strange big flowers scattered everywhere… and soon we understand that the spores of these flowers have entered the bodies of the colonists and made them very happy people, they live in Paradise!
The rhythm of this episode is quite soporific, but I don’t say it with a negative connotation. There’s plenty of time to enjoy Spock in love and happy, which gives rise to countless comic scenes because neither Kirk nor McCoy are used to seeing the half Vulcan showing emotions. Also, there are a few remarkable scenes of Kirk left alone on the ship with the rest of the crew enjoying the rural life of Omicron Ceti III: the captain remains on his ship until the end!
And finally, the solution to the problem is also clever: in order to free the crew members and the settlers from the influence of the spores, it’s necessary to bring out strong and negative emotions, such as anger. And that’s how, with a series of imaginative insults, to say the least, Kirk brings back to himself Spock by triggering a fistfight of two stuntmen made evident by the implacably high definition of the Bluray. Together, the two use some technobabble to cure the rest of the infected people.
Thus, this episode reiterates the point already made in The Enemy Within: all the emotions are needed in order to live our lives. Without strong emotions like anger, we wouldn’t be able to face challenges, we wouldn’t feel the need to explore space, to develop technologies and progress… we could be happy, as in Paradise, but we wouldn’t evolve, we wouldn’t be, as Kirk would say , humans (and Spock would certainly raise an eyebrow in disapproval).
Here’s another great episode! This first season of the original series is full of those! And Spock has a second name, but apparently we wouldn’t be able to pronounce it… Ciao!
PS: at the beginning of the episode, Spock makes the following sexist comment that made me laugh a lot: “I’ve never understood female capacity to avoid direct answer to any question.” In cases such as this one, it’s so obvious that more than fifty years have passed since the episode was written and filmed!
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