Director: Jud Taylor
Writer: Margaret Armen
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Sabrina Scharf, Rudy Solari, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Richard Hale, Majel Barrett, Naomi Pollack, John Lindesmith, Peter Virgo Jr., and Lamont Laird
Composer: Gerald Fried
Air Date: 10/4/1968
Production #: 60043-58
After traveling with Spock and McCoy to the planet Amerind, Captain Kirk encounters an obelisk that, when activated, plunges him through a trap door and erases every memory prior to that point. Hoping to prevent a devastating asteroid collision, Spock is forced to abandon Kirk for the time being. Upon returning to the planet two months later, however, the Enterprise crew succeeds in locating Kirk, along with his now pregnant wife Miramanee (Sabrina Scharf).
Despite operating on the flawed premise that Kirk, Spock, and McCoy would interrupt a critical mission simply to perform a casual investigation of Amerind’s surface, “The Paradise Syndrome” overcomes any plot contrivances with a touching love story. Notably, this episode offers a unique glimpse into a side of Kirk’s personality that may appeal to Star Trek fans of a sensitive inclination.
By inflicting its central character with temporary amnesia, “The Paradise Syndrome” gives Kirk the opportunity to live an idyllic existence free of the burdens that stem from his usual command duties. The captain’s longing for a peaceful life is further accentuated by Gerald Fried’s simple but effective composition, which draws attention to the poignancy of Kirk’s relationship with Miramanee and her people. William Shatner’s performance in the final scene should also be commended for allowing viewers to empathize with the gravity of Kirk’s loss; however, several hammy outbursts in previous sequences may detract from any subject matter of an emotional nature.
Initially, the audience is informed that the fate of an entire civilization depends on the swiftness with which Spock can implement his command decisions. That being said, Margaret Armen’s narrative often plods along at an insufferable pace and therefore fails to generate the tension necessary to complement themes of impending doom.
As indicated earlier, “The Paradise Syndrome” seems to suggest that Kirk’s desire to command a starship is surpassed only by his dream of leading a simple life alongside a woman as pure and virtuous as Miramanee (Edith Keeler from “The City on the Edge of Forever” also filled such a role, though Kirk’s reaction to her death may fail to resonate with fans due to the abrupt conclusion that follows it—much in contrast to the lingering pain that Kirk is shown to experience upon witnessing Miramanee in her dying moments). On a side note, this concept would later be explored—albeit less effectively so—in Star Trek: Generations, with Kirk once again sacrificing a personal paradise in favor of more noble pursuits.
While the presence of Native Americans on yet another parallel Earth planet is only briefly explained, “The Paradise Syndrome” provides a compelling romance subplot to compensate for any questionable science fiction aspects. Additionally remarkable is a heartfelt display from Kirk in the concluding sequence, which redeems Shatner from his ridiculous acting during earlier encounters with the Amerind people.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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