All Our Yesterdays (the title comes from a a dialogue in Shakespeare’s Macbeth) is the penultimate episode of the third and final season of Star Trek, and it’s undoubtedly one of the best episodes of the entire series. It’s based on an intriguing idea which is perfectly developed, it’s fast-paced, there are a lot of well-made sets, the finale is great, and it makes the most of the three protagonists of the series Kirk, Spock and McCoy! I’m so relieved, as lately the average quality of the episodes had dropped considerably!
Here’s the plot, although my advice would be to watch this episode which is truly a gem of Star Trek: The Original Series. The Enterprise arrives on a planet orbiting a star that’s about to go nova to find out what happened to the population. The ship sensors don’t indicate any life sign, only a source of energy in a huge building. The aforementioned trio goes there and the place turns out to be a kind of library. There’s someone alive too: Atoz (Ian Wolfe, an actor with a lot of experience on his shoulders that I had already seen in Rebel Without a Cause, 1955), the library manager helped by various clones of himself. This may seem like an unimportant detail, but this idea makes the library scenes very dynamic!
It turns out that the library is an exceptional one: it contains all the places in which the inhabitants of the planet have taken refuge. How? Well, the library is actually an archive of the planet’s past, and everyone has simply gone back in time, each one to his or her favorite era. The problem is that Kirk, Spock and McCoy find out this in the worst possible way: they end up in the past themselves in two different eras. The captain goes to some kind of Middle Ages, and the other two end up in the middle of an ice age.
Not only will our heroes have to hurry back to the present (the planet is about to disintegrate), but they will also have to find each other! In the meantime Spock and McCoy know the beautiful, and of course scantily dressed despite the ongoing ice age, Zarabeth (Marlette Hartley), while Kirk has to deal with a treacherous lawyer played by Kermit Murdock.
As said, this is a wonderful episode. It transmits very well the sense of urgency due to the countdown before the star going nova, a countdown that despite being one of the many cliches of the Star Trek universe here doesn’t seem forced. And then there’s tension from start to finish both with Kirk who has to get out of prison and with the conflict between McCoy and a primitive and emotional Spock who loses control over the beautiful Zarabeth.
This is one of the few episodes of the entire series whose rhythm has nothing to envy to the most recent incarnations of Star Trek. It really doesn’t stop for a moment, there are no fillers, the basic idea is ingenious (maybe it comes from somewhere? I don’t know!)… in short, I was pleasantly surprised to find this gem so close to the end of the whole series. On the other hand, it’s a bit sad that a series with such a high potential in full display here got canceled shortly thereafter. Luckily we then had The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and all the rest, although some decades later! Ciao!
PS: the librarian’s name is Atoz, that is A to Z, nice pun!
Previous episode: The Savage Curtain
Next episode: Turnabout Intruder
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