Director: Marvin Chomsky
Writer: Jean Lisette Aroeste
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Mariette Hartley, Ian Wolfe, Kermit Murdock, Ed Bakey, James Doohan, Anna Karen, Al Cavens, Stan Barrett, and Johnny Haymer
Composer: George Duning
Air Date: 3/14/1969
Production #: 60043-78
In order to warn the people of Sarpeidon about an imminent supernova, Captain Kirk goes with Spock and McCoy to the planet’s surface; however, all inhabitants have already been evacuated save for an eccentric librarian known as Mr. Atoz (Ian Wolfe). Prompted by a female scream, Kirk enters a time rift generated by the atavachron—a device by which the Sarpeidon residents have escaped into the past—and arrives in a society parallel to Early Modern Europe, whereupon he is arrested and charged with witchcraft. While Kirk compels the Prosecutor (Kermit Murdock)—also from the future—to assist him, Spock and McCoy find themselves stranded in Sarpeidon’s ice age, with only a political prisoner named Zarabeth (Mariette Hartley) to keep them company.
A remarkable character study, “All Our Yesterdays” earns its reputation as one of the greatest Star Trek episodes ever made. Exceptionally worth praising are Spock’s intimate exchanges with Zarabeth, which serve to challenge common perceptions of Leonard Nimoy’s character as a cold, insensitive computer devoid of warmth or personality.
By seamlessly blending two distinct time travel narratives, “All Our Yesterdays” draws attention to the unique problem-solving methods and emotional responses of all three main characters upon being separated from one another (or more accurately, when Spock and McCoy are forced to work apart from Captain Kirk). On one hand, Spock quickly becomes agitated and assumes a defeatist mindset when informed that a return trip to his own time period would be quite impossible—a surprising reaction made credible due to an explanation about the Vulcan species’ barbaric past influencing Spock in a primitive and unpredictable manner. McCoy, in contrast, retains the determination one may expect of a seasoned Starfleet officer and attempts to motivate Spock through any means necessary, including a heated confrontation regarding Zarabeth’s obvious but understandable efforts to manipulate the Vulcan scientist.
The captain’s predicament will also appeal to Star Trek fans, especially those who admire Kirk’s fascinating solutions to no-win scenarios. Notably, the prospect of execution via stake-burning never deters the Enterprise captain from persuading a conflicted prosecutor to lend a helping hand, specifically by releasing Kirk from jail and leading him to the time portal through which he originally traveled.
Although a clever plot twist concerning regression to one’s ancestors might explain why an otherwise logical character behaves without inhibition, additional narrative clues indicate that Spock had always harbored powerful feelings despite failing to act on them—a thesis supported by many previous episodes. Prior to this point in the Star Trek canon, however, Spock’s passionate displays had been attributed almost exclusively to his human heritage and not repressed Vulcan instinct as “All Our Yesterdays” would seem to imply. In light of this revelation, Star Trek fans will surely find ironic the fact that only Dr. McCoy—an “illogical” human if ever there was one—can restore Spock to his former self after Zarabeth’s charm takes hold over him.
The penultimate Star Trek episode, “All Our Yesterdays” overshadows the mediocre and occasionally ridiculous content included in season three’s lineup of entries. A romantic subplot involving Spock and Zarabeth in particular will satisfy science fiction fans of a sensitive disposition, whereas Kirk’s impending judgment by the Inquisition reinforces the sense of urgency underlying Jean Lisette Aroeste’s narrative.
Overall Quality: 10/10
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