Monday, December 3, 2007

"The Return of the Archons"

The original Star Trek was before my time, so I'm not surprised I've never heard of this particular episode. I'm not sure whether to be momentarily piqued and intrigued or have a fit of the giggles. Here's a synopsis of "The Return of the Archons":

The U.S.S. Enterprise is investigating Beta III, where the U.S.S. Archon disappeared over 100 years before.

When the landing party exhibits strange behavior, Kirk sends another party down to investigate. They find the culture on Beta III is quiescent, with no creative tendencies. The entire culture is controlled by a group of 'lawgivers' known as "The Body" which is, in turn, controlled by the omniscient Landru. The inhabitants change from normal, peaceful people to a violent mob at the coming of the Red Hour. This 'Festival' is the society's only outlet for the tyrannical hold that Landru has over them at all other times.

Meanwhile, the U.S.S. Enterprise is being pulled from its orbit, its crew to be absorbed into the Body. This, they discover, is what happened to the U.S.S. Archon, so many years before.

Archon survivors have formed an underground of sorts to fight the Body, and they help Kirk and Spock reach Landru. Landru turns out to be an incredibly complex computer built by Landru, a scientist who lived 6,000 years before, who wanted to guide his people into a peaceful, civilized progress.

Landru had affected the computer with his scientific thoughts and memories, but not his wisdom. For centuries the computer, 'Landru,' has been interpreting his suggestions to the point that no one is allowed independent thought. Kirk tells the computer that instead of helping to nurture the culture of Beta III, it has harmed it. Landru destroys itself, leaving the Betans to work toward the sort of culture Landru had wanted so many centuries before. With the promise of Federation help on the way, Kirk and his crew beam back to the U.S.S. Enterprise.

More here.


  1. I remember that episode. I saw it when it first aired about a million years ago. I think I'll have to re-watch it over itunes movies or see if my local video store has it. Quite a good number of Star Trek episodes had Gnostic themes, some of the episodes from Deep Space 9 come to mind at the moment.

    Re. Mother Marsha+

  2. Rev. M. Marsha+,

    I hadn't really considered Star Trek from a Gnostic point of view (even after the USS Archon episode), but now that you say that, I do recognize various ideas and themes as I remember certain episodes and story lines. Thanks for the thoughts! :)