The Return of the Archons
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|"The Return of the Archons"|
|Star Trek: The Original Series episode|
The landing party arrives on Beta III.
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Joseph Pevney|
|Teleplay by||Boris Sobelman|
|Story by||Gene Roddenberry|
|Featured music||Alexander Courage|
|Cinematography by||Jerry Finnerman|
|Original air date||February 9, 1967|
"The Return of the Archons" is a first season episode of the original science fiction television series Star Trek. It is episode #21, and was first aired February 9, 1967. It was repeated by NBC on July 27, 1967. The screenplay was written by Boris Sobelman, based on a story by Gene Roddenberry, and directed by Joseph Pevney. This episode contains Star Trek's first reference to the Prime Directive.
In the plot, the crew of the USS Enterprise encounters a world controlled by an unseen leader.
Only Lt. Sulu comes back from the first landing party, exhibiting strange behavior, and Kirk beams down with another party to investigate. They find the inhabitants of Beta III (who seem to be modeled after 19th-century Earth) are a very static culture, with little or no individual expression or creativity. The entire culture is ruled over by cloaked and cowled "lawgivers", controlled by a reclusive dictator known as Landru. The only time the people "let loose" is at the striking of "The Red Hour" (at 6:00pm), starting "Festival": a period of violence, destruction and sexual aggressiveness which apparently is the only time Landru does not exercise control over them.
Kirk's landing party beams down just before the festival, and they seek shelter from the mobs at a nearby boarding house. Landru seems to be "all-seeing" and "all-knowing" with spies everywhere, one of whom turns in the party when he does not recognize them as members of "The Body": the telepathic collective being, symbiotic with Landru, that most of the inhabitants belong to.
Kirk and his team are eventually rendered unconscious by ultrasonic waves and captured. However, Reger, the owner of the house, is a resistance member and offers protection to Kirk and his team. Reger reveals that Landru "absorbs" selected people into The Body, which was the fate of the Archon's crew, and will also be the fate of the Enterprise's landing party. The Enterprise itself is now stuck in a decaying orbit as intense heat beams prevent it from using its engines.
Kirk and First Officer Spock discover that the reclusive Landru is actually a computer sealed inside an ancient chamber, created 6,000 years ago by a Betian scientist and philosopher. The original Landru only wished to create a way to help his failing society achieve peace. The computer that bore his name was the solution - but it performed its job soullessly and ruthlessly.
Kirk and Spock manage to convince the machine that running the planet as it has been is wrong and the people are being kept as uncreative slaves. They manage to convince the machine that it has violated its own prime directive. The machine realizes its mistake and self-destructs, thus freeing the people of Beta III. Kirk agrees to leave Federation advisors and educators on the planet to help the civilization advance, free of Landru's dominance.
40th Anniversary remastering 
This episode was remastered in 2006 and aired December 8, 2007 as part of the remastered Original Series. It was preceded a week earlier by the remastered version of "The Alternative Factor" and followed a week later by the remastered version of "A Taste of Armageddon". 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 Beta III has been given a more realistic appearance and some dramatic orbiting shots of the Enterprise were established.
Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode a 'B' rating, describing the episode as having a "loose, unpolished feeling" and lacking "the force of the series' best storylines", but praised the story's ambition.
- "The Return of the Archons". MemoryAlpha. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
- Handlen, Zack (27 March 2009). ""The Return Of The Archons" / "A Taste Of Armageddon"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 28 May 2009.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: "The Return of the Archons"|
- "The Return of the Archons" at StarTrek.com
- "The Return of the Archons" at the Internet Movie Database
- "The Return of the Archons" at TV.com
- "The Return of the Archons" at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- "The Return of the Archons" Review of the remastered version at TrekMovie.com