The Rewatch 18: The Return of the Archons

Series: Star Trek (The Original Series)
Episode: 1.21 The Return of the Archons (2-9-67)
Rating: 4/5
Redshirt Status: 0/22

Notable Guest Stars:
Harry Townes – Reger. Character actor on many shows in the 1960s.
Torin Thatcher –
Marplon. Stage and screen actor who appeared Hamlet along side Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh.
Charles Macaulay-
Landru.  He would appear on several Star Trek episodes.

Review:

This episode is basically The Purge, Star Trek style.  The Enterprise, while looking for the whereabouts where a ship has gone missing found themselves exploring a planet that is early 1900s in development.  They are telepathically controlled by Landru, a computer who attempts to make a better world.  They have a festival every so often where all hell breaks loose ala The Purge.  Apparently as you age, the aggression isn’t as strong, and you can avoid the ‘festival’.

For once, Kirk doesn’t send all the senior officers down at once, instead sending Sulu and a junior officer to investigate further.  When Sulu comes back acting odd, he then decides to send a larger party down including himself, Spock and Dr. McCoy.  Scotty is left in charge of the ship while they are gone.

According to the wiki page for this episode, it was criticized for being against organized religion, although I don’t really see that unless you see organized religion as cults.  I see this more about a totalitarianism.  We have a government/leader who controls every aspect of the people’s lives.  Kirk’s philosophy that individualism is important to survival is what wins the day when the computer doesn’t quite get and blows up.  That being said, they do use some religious style words like “Are you in the body”.

The episode overall was good and had a good balance of characters and their tasks. The costume department did a good job with the outfits.

Interesting Notes:

  • Directed by Joseph Pevney
  • Written by Gene Roddenberry
  • Introduction of the Prime Directive, although its not really followed.
  • There are some obvious goofs in this episode, particularly the black out windows in the lodging house.

Pros:

  •    Introduction to some of Star Trek lore
  • Costumes and outdoor sets

Cons:

  • The portrayal of the characters on the planet.  Often, they are seen cowering in fear.  They are rebels on their planet, so I expected fear a little more subtle.  Its almost like they are meant to look like children almost and to show an alternative to the bravery of Kirk and Spock (et al).