The Paradise Syndrome
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2012)|
|"The Paradise Syndrome"|
|Star Trek: The Original Series episode|
Kirk examines the alien symbols on a strange obelisk.
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||Jud Taylor|
|Written by||Margaret Armen|
|Featured music||Gerald Fried|
|Cinematography by||Jerry Finnerman|
|Original air date||October 4, 1968|
"The Paradise Syndrome" is a third season episode of the original science fiction television series Star Trek, and was broadcast October 4, 1968. It is episode #58, production #58, written by Margaret Armen and directed by Jud Taylor.
In this episode, an alien device on a primitive planet erases Captain Kirk's memory, and he begins a new life with the planet's indigenous people.
On stardate 4842.6, the Federation starship USS Enterprise arrives at an earthlike planet while en route to deflect an asteroid that is heading to the world on a collision course. With little time to spare before intercepting the asteroid, Captain Kirk beams to the surface along with First Officer Spock and Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy, for a half-hour investigation. There they find the land breathtaking with thick pine forests and a sparkling blue lake.
The team then comes across an ancient obelisk of unknown origin. The structure is made of a mysterious metal that resists sensor scans and is covered with strange writing. They also discover a group of primitive humanoids living nearby whose customs and appearances closely resemble North American Natives; more specifically as Spock describes, is a mixture of Mohegan, Navajo, and Delaware tribes.
The team returns to the obelisk and Kirk goes to relay their findings to the ship. As he flips open his communicator and says "Kirk to Enterprise", something about the action trips a trap door at the base of the structure and he falls inside. The strange machinery housed within zaps him with a bolt of energy and knocks him unconscious. The trap door quickly seals shut leaving Spock and McCoy unable to find their Captain. With too little time to conduct a search, the two return to the ship which quickly leaves orbit in an attempt to intercept the asteroid and deflect it off its destructive course.
Meanwhile, Kirk awakens with amnesia having no idea who he is or what his equipment does. He finds a way out of the obelisk and is discovered by a group of native women who are leaving an offering at the "temple". Among them is Miramanee, the chief's daughter and tribal priestess. They immediately mistake him for a god and bring him to their village, but the tribal elders are doubtful of Kirk's "divinity" and demand that he prove himself.
At that moment, a boy is rushed to the village who has fallen into the lake and is not breathing. Salish, the village medicine chief, pronounces the child dead, but Kirk rushes over to help and recalling his first aid skill of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, he revives the child. The elders look on in awe and believe Kirk has performed a resurrection and proving that he is indeed a god. The elders force Salish to give up his position as a healer and he angrily concedes his emblems. The elders ask Kirk his name; he tries to remember, but it comes out "Kirok". They accept this as his name and make him the new medicine chief as Salish jealously walks away.
Back in space, Spock orders the Enterprise to intercept the asteroid at a dangerous warp speed. Arriving at the asteroid, he attempts to push the huge rock to a benign course using tractor beams in conjunction with the warp drive but to no effect. He then orchestrates a series of phaser blasts, but the beams only manage to blast chunks of rock loose. In an act of final desperation, Spock orders a full bombardment with all phasers but the resulting energy demand damages the warp drive and the asteroid remains on its lethal course.
Chief Engineer Scott then announces that he cannot repair the warp drive without putting into a starbase. Having failed to stop the asteroid, Spock orders the Enterprise to return to the planet on its auxiliary impulse power; which will take them just short of two months to get back to the planet with the asteroid four hours behind them all the way.
Back on the planet, Salish's anger for Kirk grows. Tradition holds that the medicine chief and the tribal priestess must always be husband and wife. Now that Kirk is medicine chief, Miramanee must marry him instead. She is clearly attracted to Kirk over and above traditional duty and Salish is disgruntled over this and argues violently with her. Kirk accepts Miramanee's offer to "settle" with him, and asks her to pick the day of "joining" where they will be married. She chooses the next day. Not remembering the imminent doom of the asteroid, Kirk agrees.
On his way to the joining he is attacked by Salish who cuts his hand. Salish gloats "Behold a god who bleeds!", and denounces him before the rest of the tribe. The rest however, still believe Kirk to be a deity. Some weeks or months after the joining ceremony, Miramanee reveals that she is pregnant. Kirk tells her he's very happy, but is unable to shake off his dreams of "the strange lodge which moves through the sky". He feels that is where he truly belongs.
Meanwhile, over the two-month journey back to the planet, Spock works on the translation of the obelisk's symbols. He theorizes the obelisk may have been placed on the planet as an "asteroid deflector" built by the ancient Preservers who are believed to have seeded the galaxy with humans, particularly groups that may have been in danger of dying out thousands of years ago. The asteroid deflector was designed to protect them in a high-risk star system. Spock concludes that the device has ceased to work properly. Spock determines that the only hope of saving the planet is to somehow activate the deflector. He eventually realizes that the symbols aren't words but musical notes; a possible activation code of some kind.
As the asteroid approaches, the planet's sky begins to darken and the weather begins to pick up force that blasts the terrain with fierce winds. The elders tell Kirk he must go to the "temple" and stop the storm before "the ground begins to tremble". Kirk makes his way to the obelisk, but doesn't remember how to get inside. He pounds his fists against the sides shouting, "I am Kirok! I have come! I am Kirok!", but nothing happens.
Salish witnesses Kirk's failure to get into the "temple" and turns the tribe against him. With his encouragement, they begin stoning Kirk. Keeping her faith in Kirk, Miramanee throws herself in the line of fire to stop the attack, but she is mortally injured. Just then, Spock and McCoy beam in, which frightens the villagers away. McCoy rushes over to Kirk to treat his injuries, discovers he has no recollection of who they are and calls for Nurse Chapel to beam down and assist. Spock uses a Vulcan mind meld to reach Kirk's mind while McCoy checks on Miramanee.
Kirk becomes himself again and flicks his communicator open to contact the ship. As soon as it makes a noise and Kirk says "Kirk to Enterprise," the door to the obelisk is opened. Kirk and Spock goes inside and repair the deflector beam. The device targets the asteroid and successfully diverts it away from the planet just minutes before collision. The storm quickly subsides, and later in the lodge where Kirk and Miramanee had lived, McCoy tells Kirk she suffered internal injuries and will not survive. Moments later, Miramanee dies in Kirk's arms.
According to author, professor, and director of the cinema department at San Francisco State University, Daniel Leonard Bernardi in his book, Star Trek and History: Race-ing Toward a White Future: ""The Paradise Syndrome" stereotypes Native-Americans as noble savages and whites as "normal" and even divine [...] Miramanee cannot figure out how to pull Kirk's shirt off, as she cannot find any lacing. She is portrayed as simpleminded, not that bright. This is not the case with Kirk. Moments before, he has fashioned a lamp from an old piece of pottery and saved a boy by using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Despite his amnesia, he is shown as naturally superior [...] When the Indians realize that Kirk is not a god, they stone both him and Miramanee (it's the Indians who are violent in this version of the noble savage stereotype). Spock and McCoy eventually intervene, but only Kirk survives. In this take on a standard white/red miscegenation narrative, the native girl dies so that Kirk, the white male hero, isn't shown unheroically and immorally leaving her and their unborn baby behind."
40th Anniversary remastering 
This episode was remastered in 2006 and first aired February 24, 2007 as part of the remastered Original Series. It was preceded a week earlier by "Amok Time" and followed two weeks later by "Wolf in the Fold". Aside from remastered video and audio, and the all-CGI animation of the USS Enterprise that is standard among the revisions, specific changes to this episode also include:
- The planet has been given a face lift and appears more realistic.
- The energy beams that zap Captain Kirk have been revised with animated arcs of lightning.
- The yellow beam used to deflect the asteroid (which has been made more realistic) from the Enterprise and its attempt to destroy it with phasers have been revised.
- First syndication cuts in the remastered version entirely eliminate the subplot of Miramanee's pregnancy. The subplot is now shown in syndication. The scenes are also present in the DVD issue.
- The deflector beam from the temple was altered, and reflective lighting added (when broadcast, the blue beam was mistakenly changed to red, but this was corrected when the episode was released on DVD). In current syndication, the blue beam is present.
- The elders' shouts of "Kee-rok!" became a running gag in comments during films shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- The obelisk and Preserver aliens depicted in this episode would later become key plot points in the "Shatnerverse" series of Star Trek novels, written by William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens.
- Bernardi, Daniel Leonard. Star Trek and History: Race-ing Toward a White Future. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1998. Pgs. 44, 49.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: "The Paradise Syndrome"|
- "The Paradise Syndrome" at StarTrek.com
- "The Paradise Syndrome" at the Internet Movie Database
- "The Paradise Syndrome" at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- "The Paradise Syndrome" at TV.com
- "The Paradise Syndrome" Review at TrekMovie.com