For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky
|"For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky"|
|Star Trek: The Original Series episode|
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||Tony Leader|
|Written by||Rik Vollaerts|
|Featured music||George Duning|
|Cinematography by||Al Francis|
|Original air date||November 8, 1968|
"For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" is the eighth episode of the third season of the original science fiction television series, Star Trek. It was aired by NBC on November 8, 1968 and was written by Rik Vollaerts, and directed by Tony Leader (legal name: Anton Morris Leader).
The Enterprise is targeted by ballistic missiles, but they easily destroy the primitive weapons, tracing their point of origin to a large asteroid called Yonada. They find Yonada is on course to collide with the heavily-populated planet Daran V within a solar year, which would be catastrophic. They scan the asteroid and find it has a breathable internal atmosphere. Captain Kirk, First Officer Spock, and Dr. McCoy transport over to investigate. They discover that Yonada is populated by a highly religious society of humanoids that worship their Oracle. The High Priestess, Natira, orders the capture of the three and takes them to the Oracle. Kirk attempts to explain that they have come in peace to stop Yonada's pending impact, but the Oracle threatens them with severe punishment if they are found to be enemies, and sends an electric shock that knocks the three men unconscious.
When they wake, they find themselves in a prison. An old man approaches them, having heard of their arrival, and tells him that he has seen the outside of the asteroid, stating "...for the world is hollow and I have touched the sky". Suddenly the old man goes into shock and dies, and McCoy identifies a subdermal device responsible for causing the shock. Natira arrives, explaining that the Oracle punished the man for speaking the "forbidden words". They learn that all those on Yonada have been implanted with obedience devices. Reminding them again of the punishment for disobedience, Natira allows the three to explore the asteroid. McCoy stays with Natira, as the two are beginning to develop a relationship, while Kirk and Spock discover the asteroid is really a generation ship housing millions of beings of the Fabrini race; the ship was launched over 10,000 years prior to escape the destruction of their world by a supernova, but this knowledge has been lost to the current residents, unaware of the nature of their world. Kirk and Spock attempt to figure out who the Oracle is, but are caught again when Natira privately prays to the Oracle about taking a vow of marriage with McCoy. The Oracle states it would allow the marriage, but only if Kirk and Spock leave Yonada, and that McCoy is implanted with an obedience device. McCoy insists they leave, revealing his terminal condition to them, even knowing that Starfleet will likely destroy the generation ship before it can strike Daran V.
McCoy and Natira marry, and Natira allows him to look at the "Book of the People", a sacred text. McCoy discovers the book contains a large amount of information on Fabrini technology and other star systems, and attempts to contact the Enterprise to share this information. The Oracle detects this communication, activates the obedience device, and terminates the communication. Kirk and Spock transport back to Yonada to find McCoy unconscious. Spock operates on McCoy to remove the device, while Kirk tries to explain the truth to Natira. Natira starts to believe Kirk but the Oracle actives her device, nearly killing her. McCoy, awake, works to remove her device while Kirk and Spock now seek the Oracle, assured it is an automated system. They are able to bypass the Oracle's defense, shutting down the computer, while retrieving the Book of the People and further discovering the navigational controls for the generation ship. They are able to correct Yonada's course to avoid collision with Daran V and to a new homeworld which they will arrive at within the year. Further, while scanning the formerly concealed database, they find a cure for McCoy's condition among other technology advances. McCoy, after a successful operation, says goodbye to Natira, hoping to see her again once Yonada arrives at its new homeworld.
Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode an 'B-' rating, describing it as having potential, but being hampered by a script that fails to act on that: "we have Kirk and Spock unraveling the mystery by the halfway mark, and then spending the rest of the episode on clean-up duty. You know McCoy is coming back, you know he'll be cured, and you know that the computer will be defeated. About the only question is whether or not Natira will make it to the end credits, and happily, she does—which means McCoy, unlike Kirk, isn't a widower."
Star Trek novelist Dayton Ward wrote,
"For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" is a decent idea, in and of itself. The idea of a generational ship encased in an asteroid is well worth exploring. After all, variations on the concept were already a staple of science fiction long before Star Trek came along. My biggest problem is why someone—the Fabrini—felt it necessary to conceal the truth behind the "worldship" from its population. Wouldn't it make more sense for the generations of Yonadans to be informed as to their purpose, and be working and training the next generation(s) to be ready for when the ship arrives at its destination? Instead, they're wandering the halls, apparently doing little more than tossing Frisbees and getting the occasional spanking from the Oracle. ... The episode is typical of the third season: Long on talk, light on action, adequate yet hardly spectacular in execution.
David Alan Mack, also a Star Trek novelist, remarks on the episode's
peculiar similarity to "The Paradise Syndrome", which aired only five weeks prior. Both episodes involve the Enterprise being tasked with altering the trajectory of an asteroid headed toward a populated Class M planet, discovering a displaced culture with a love of peculiar obelisks, and one of our series regulars getting married to the culture's high priestess. In fact, these episodes are so similar that they reused the effects shot of the asteroid from The Paradise Syndrome as a stand-in for the asteroid-disguised generation ship Yonada.
Mack writes that he "simply didn't buy the romance between McCoy and Natira," but otherwise liked the characterizations:
The episode's performances are quite good, all things considered. William Shatner's scenery chewing is kept in check, and DeForest Kelley brings a quiet dignity to his portrayal of McCoy facing his own imminent demise. The argument between McCoy and Nurse Christine Chapel (Majel Barrett) feels genuine and heartfelt, and Leonard Nimoy brings the perfect degree of quiet compassion to the moment when Spock, having learned of McCoy's illness, reaches out to steady his wounded friend, and McCoy reacts with understated surprise at Spock's sudden display of concern. In fact, that scene is the best one in the entire episode, because it captures the dynamics of the three principals' friendship in a single, eloquently dramatized moment.
Samuel Walters called it "a surprisingly effective episode about blind faith in rules and dogma, as well as a touching love story," with the qualification that the story "does a good job of providing character growth for McCoy. Had the episode not succumbed to an easy solution to his predicament—purely because these episodes need their characters to remain, essentially, the same—then this could have been a profound, moving narrative." A negative review by Michelle Erica Green focused on plot illogic: "Why are the men wearing shiny plaid suits and carrying swords when wrongdoers can be punished for their crimes by a computer? Why are the women wearing provocative gowns when only the priestess is allowed to choose her own mate?"
Game creator Jon Van Caneghem used the plot of this as the basis for his first computer game, Might and Magic Book One: The Secret of the Inner Sanctum.
- Handlen, Zack (January 8, 2010). ""Day Of The Dove"/"For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 7, 2010.
- Ward, Dayton. "Star Trek Re-watch: "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky"". Tor.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- Mack, David Alan. "Star Trek Re-watch: "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky"". Tor.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- Walters, Samuel (November 9, 2008). "3.08 - For the World is Hollow". Dauntless Media: Reviews and Analysis of Modern Media. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- Green, Michelle Erica (September 29, 2006). "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky". Trek Today. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
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