Director: Herb Kenwith
Writers: Jeremy Tarcher and Shari Lewis
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Jan Shutan, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Majel Barrett, John Winston, and Libby Erwin
Composer: Alexander Courage
Air Date: 1/31/1969
Production #: 60043-73
While transporting Lieutenant Mira Romaine (Jan Shutan) to the Federation’s central library on Memory Alpha, the Enterprise happens upon an energy source moving at warp speed. After affecting the bridge crew in a bizarre and seemingly random fashion, the phenomenon—determined by Spock to be of artificial as opposed to natural origin—takes possession of Mira’s body.
A mediocre installment, “The Lights of Zetar” contains no philosophical insight to compensate for the mostly uneventful plot on which it operates. Star Trek fans may nevertheless find Scotty’s childlike infatuation with Mira to be mildly entertaining, if somewhat odd.
Following her initial encounter with the Zetarians, Lieutenant Romaine makes an effort to communicate with the bridge crew; however, only incomprehensible sounds of a guttural nature are produced. This effect is made quite disturbing by the warped quality that defines it, thus resulting in a decidedly ominous—albeit indirect—introduction to the Zetarian people.
By giving the chief engineer a love interest, “The Lights of Zetar” allows for many cute and amusing sequences wherein Scotty fawns over the newly assigned lieutenant as if smitten by his first crush. That being said, Scotty’s unprofessional decision to abandon his post in order to visit Mira in sick bay can only be described as uncharacteristic (perhaps such an action would have been more humorous if reserved for the tag scene, at which point the Enterprise no longer appears to be on emergency status).
Also worth criticizing, Captain Kirk’s unsuccessful attempts to elude the alien light cluster fail to generate a satisfactory level of tension. While the Zetarians’ possession of Lieutenant Romaine is certainly a problem that requires solving, the surrounding narrative provides very little action to accentuate this minor conflict.
“The Lights of Zetar” alludes to the concept of extinct aliens living vicariously through others, yet such a premise never culminates in profound or lasting implications given the relative brevity with which it is explored.
Although “The Lights of Zetar” should be commended for developing Scotty’s character, this episode offers virtually no substance that would appeal to Star Trek fans of an intellectual disposition. A number of crude but disquieting sound effects may, however, captivate the interest of those who prefer surreal horror over spacefaring science fiction.
Overall Quality: 5/10
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