The second season didn’t end in the best way, with an episode that barely qualifies as part of the Star Trek universe (Assignment: Earth). I’m sorry to say that the third season began with another huge misstep. I didn’t like Spock’s Brain at all! It is repetitive as it recycles a number of themes already covered in the first two seasons of the series, it contains a bit of vintage sexism that had been absent in most of the previous recent episodes of the original series, and it has a premise which is not credible at all which is developed in an even less credible way…
Here’s the plot: the USS Enterprise is approached by a magnificent and highly advanced ion-powered spacecraft, and a girl dressed as a… space prostitute (Marj Dusay) transports herself on the bridge, makes everyone unconscious and, however improbable it may seem, steals Spock’s brain. Dr. McCoy keeps him alive with an apparatus in the infirmary and then controls his body with a remote control as if it were a children’s toy. Ok, this couldn’t have been worse. Can Spock live without a brain? Really? Who thought that it might be a good idea? Apparently, the idea came to screenwriter Lee Cronin, fake name of Gene L. Coon, who built his entire career with Star Trek (and unfortunately met an untimely death in 1973). And to think that he also wrote excellent episodes such as Space Seed and Errand of Mercy! But this time he failed.
As if that were not enough, the main theme of the episode is once again that of a population on a planet living controlled by a computer (in this case dependent on a real brain) and the final solution leads to the release of said population who shall learn to enjoy freedom. Where had we seen it before? Well, at least in a couple of occasions: The Return of the Archons and The Apple! Here comes again the celebration of freedom which is absolutely great, but it begins to feel tiresome to see it repeated in so many episodes.
And then… how to take it seriously when the poor actors are forced to talk about how to retrieve the stolen brain of Spock? And with so many sexist jokes about the fact that a society made entirely of females couldn’t possibly build such technologically advanced structures? And when there are a number of actors on screen playing primitive men wearing the usual ridiculous wigs and fake beards?
I wish I could forget this episode altogether, let’s see if the third season properly starts with the second attempt! Ciao!
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Next episode: The Enterprise Incident