Director: Jud Taylor
Writer: Margaret Armen
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Jeff Corey, Diana Ewing, Charlene Polite, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Kirk Raymone, Jimmy Fields, Ed Long, Fred Williamson, Garth Pillsbury, and Harv Selsby
Composer: Fred Steiner
Air Date: 2/28/1969
Production #: 60043-74
The Enterprise crew travels to Ardana in order harvest zenite, a rare mineral that can cure a botanical plague afflicting the inhabitants of Merak II. Upon arrival, Kirk and Spock become invested in a perpetual struggle between the enlightened but physically inactive people of Stratos—a cloud city—and the Disruptors, a dissident group attempting to force equality between the Troglyte miners and those who benefit from their labor.
“The Cloud Minders” offers an insightful commentary on how unfounded prejudice can lead to hideous cultural divides. Star Trek fans may therefore wish to view this episode, though it should be noted that many shortcuts are taken while resolving a tremendously complex social problem.
Having failed to negotiate with Plasus (Jeff Corey) and Vanna (Charlene Polite), the leaders of an aristocratic society and revolutionary movement respectively, Kirk must devise an unorthodox solution to the class warfare raging on Ardana’s surface. By “abducting” Plasus and exposing him to the zenite gas in its unfiltered form, the captain gets to make his case for equal treatment while circumventing the Prime Directive. Though Kirk’s sudden transformation into a retarded savage is marred by an abrupt execution, the cave sequence should nonetheless be commended for showcasing the captain’s ingenuity when faced with no-win scenarios.
In “Amok Time,” Spock hesitates before describing Vulcan mating practices to Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy—two of his closest and most personal friends; therefore, viewers may question why Leonard Nimoy’s character would reveal the secrets of pon farr to Droxine (Diana Ewing) almost immediately after meeting her. Perhaps if the romantic subplot involving Droxine and the Vulcan first officer had been further developed, then Spock’s decision to share his private life with a near stranger might have been made more “logical” from a narrative standpoint.
Similar to H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine, “The Cloud Minders” employs a science fiction premise upon which to explore the divisions that separate members of the working class from their elitist counterparts. In this case, a situation is presented wherein constant exposure to a mentally arresting compound, not inherent genetic differences, is responsible for the intellectual retardation experienced by the Troglytes. By explaining differences in social progress through an environmental as opposed to evolutionary factor, this episode allows for a conflict spanning thousands of years to be resolved within a matter of hours; however, despite suffering from an oversimplified conclusion, “The Cloud Minders” contains a perfect example of science fiction serving as a vehicle for penetrating social commentary.
A thought-provoking episode, “The Cloud Minders” may appeal to Star Trek fans willing to overlook Spock’s uncharacteristic response to Droxine’s inquiries of a sexual nature. For those who prefer intelligent commentary over mind-numbing space battles, this one will not disappoint.
Overall Quality: 7/10
If you enjoyed this post, please click the follow button or enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.