And after having seen Spock in love (This Side Of Paradise), here’s Spock making a mind meld with a rock! Although this premise doesn’t look exciting at all, The Devil In The Dark is in fact another beautiful episode, something which has ceased to surprise me by now.
The USS Enterprise heads to a planet rich in minerals where after many decades of mining activities without anything to report, dozens of people have recently died in mysterious circumstances. What’s going on? It seems that a phaser-resistant creature is killing the miners one by one. Initially, therefore, the plan is simple: find the creature and eliminate it. Kirk thinks that this is the only possible solution, the leader of the colony Vanderberg (Ken Lynch) too, and Spock seems to be the only one admitting the possibility of a non-violent solution.
It takes a while, but in the end they come to terms with the ancient creature, a horta, a silicon-based life form. Basically, a living rock who looks like a sort of moving giant brain-pizza. I laughed a lot at McCoy’s line “I’m a doctor, not a brick layer!” when Kirk orders him to cure the injured horta. The doctor is always the funny one…
In short, here’s another intelligently written episode. Not only is the bloody solution brilliantly avoided, but our heroes also find a way to bring hortas and humans together in a mutually beneficial way. After all, the poor creature was only a mother defending her nest full of eggs that the humans were destroying, albeit unknowingly.
Perhaps not the most original story, but not banal either: violence is not the most intelligent response to violence, that’s what Roddenberry says here, reiterating the pacifist message which has always been a central theme of Star Trek. Moreover, there are also occasions to laugh, for instance when Spock says that he appreciates interacting with the horta, who’s logical and non-violent, especially after so much time spent with his human colleagues. And of course when the half Vulcan continues to take Kirk’s compliments as insults since the captain attributes him human qualities. Ciao!
PS: here there are tons of red shirts, even if the victims are mostly miners and only one member of the Enterprise crew, a nameless man of the team of Lieutenant Commander Giotto (Barry Russo).
Previous episode: This Side Of Paradise
Next episode: Errand Of Mercy