Mark Watches ‘Star Trek’: S03E08 – For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky

In the eighth episode of third season of Star Trek, THIS SHOWED SUCH PROMISE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek

Seriously, there are two incredible premises at the heart of this episode (whose title also made me very eager to see what this show could do), and the ending… well, to say it’s disappointing isn’t quite right. It’s almost absurdly unresolved, and the potential shown to us at the beginning of the episode is rendered moot by the storytelling standards that the writers stick to.

Truthfully, if Star Trek was allowed to tell any manner of serialized narratives, I could see McCoy’s struggle with mortality and loneliness being one of the best things the show had ever done. Even what little we see of it here is brilliant. It’s haunting, it’s sad, and it’s done respectfully. Even though I didn’t necessarily buy Natira and McCoy’s romance – I rarely am into stories about instant love like this – I understood the context for it. I understood why McCoy was making the choice to stay behind on Yonada, and I understood why he wanted to pursue companionship for the first time in the show. In that sense, this felt a little like “The Paradise Syndrome,” but with none of the… well, disaster. (Actually, now that I think about it, they’re identical in other ways. An asteroid heading to a highly populated planet, a priestess marrying a main cast member, dogmatic religions, etc.)

Given how well most of this story was executed, I just wanted more. I adored DeForest Kelly’s acting here, which was remarkably subtle considering the subject matter. I am going to be forever devastated by that scene where Spock shows genuine affection for Bones with a single hand on the shoulder. HOW IS THAT MOMENT AT ALL FAIR??? And what about Bones’s quiet sadness as he realizes his friends just left and no one said goodbye and that was going to be the last time he saw them? HAHAHA WOW, I’M FINE, YOU’RE FINE, EVERYONE IS FINE.

The same goes for the story of Natira’s devotion to the faith that she was raised in. This is a fine example of how science fiction can address matters of the real world without being offensive in the process. Dogmatic belief can be a repressive thing to experience, and “For the World is Hollow” explores what that means for someone who has never had an outside perspective to challenge her belief. I was glad, then, that the writers didn’t ignore that the Prime Directive completely restricted the crew’s actions, since it seemed pretty clear that they couldn’t dismantle an entire religion just because they wanted to. But when Spock and Kirk discuss it, it’s made out to be so much complicated than a mere interference, you know? Given the choice between violating the Prime Directive or being legally compelled to destroy the entire asteroid, both Spock and Kirk realize it’s better for them to infiltrate the ship and risk upsetting the natural order to save lives.

So where does that take Natira? As she grows closer to McCoy (over the course of a few hours, which is shockingly not the least believable part of this episode), she’s less and less likely to believe Spock and Kirk. She lashes out at them, and it’s completely understandable that she does so! Without any evidence to the contrary, she has no reason to doubt her religion’s purpose.

While I think the happy ending to this episode actually works in favor of the narrative of hope, it’s also where this all falls apart spectacularly. In McCoy’s case, his entire journey of acceptance and peace is upending by a literal last-minute solution: the Yonadans had a cure to his disease the whole time! This is not just a terrible plot solution, but seriously, just one scene earlier, McCoy was telling Natira that he was going to devote the rest of his life to finding a cure. Even in that one scene, we get potential for McCoy’s character and the promise of development, and then that goddamn resolution steals that away from him, too!

But holy shit, I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE ORACLE OR ANYTHING. Why the fuck did the Creators – the original Fabrini who made this ship – hide the purpose of said ship??? Why create an Oracle computer that torments its followers for slipping out of line? Why wouldn’t you tell your descendants precisely where they’re headed and what their purpose was? In their initial state at the beginning of this episode, we see how they’re living in with this sense of peace and tranquility that’s wrapped up in a MANDATED PHYSICAL SUBSERVIENCE TO A COMPUTER THAT CAN ELECTROCUTE THEM TO DEATH. Is that the world the Fabrini wanted on their new planet? Like, nothing about this arrangement would even remotely prepare them to live on a new world. So what gives? Why create this mystery and then wholly abandon it by the end of the episode? That means the antagonist in “For the World is Hollow” is… the Fabrini. They’re they ones who set up this whole oppressive structure! They doomed their own people to fail, despite wanting them to succeed???

It hurts my brain to even think about it. So I’ll choose to think about Spock reaching out to Bones with affection, and everything will be okay. (No, it won’t, OH GOD MY EMOTIONS.)

The video for “For the World is Hollow” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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