The U.S.S. Enterprise arrives at the planet Beta III in the C-111 system where the USS Archon was reported lost nearly 100 years earlier. Lt. Sulu is the only member of the landing party who beams up from the planet's surface, and exhibits strange behavior. Kirk beams down with another party to investigate. They find the inhabitants living in a static, 19th-century Earth-style culture, with little or no individual expression or creativity. The entire culture is ruled over by cloaked and cowled "Lawgivers", controlled by a reclusive dictator known as Landru. The landing party has arrived at the start of "Festival", a period of violence, destruction, and sexual aggressiveness which apparently is the only time Landru does not exercise control over the Betan populace.
Kirk's landing party seeks shelter from the mob at a boarding house owned by Reger, A friend of Reger's suspects that the visitors are "not of the Body" (the whole of Betan society), and summons Lawgivers. The Lawgivers kill Reger's friend, Tamar, for resisting the "will of Landru". When the landing party refuses to do as the Lawgivers say, the Lawgivers become immobile and Reger leads the Enterprise landing team to a hiding place. Reger reveals that Landru "pulled the Archons down from the skies". Contacting the ship, Kirk learns that heat beams from the planet are attacking the Enterprise, which must use all its power for its shields. Its orbit is deteriorating and it will crash in 12 hours unless the beams are turned off.
A projection of Landru appears in the hiding place, and Kirk and his team are rendered unconscious by ultrasonic waves and captured. The landing party is imprisoned in a dungeon, and Dr. Leonard McCoy is "absorbed into the Body" and placed under Landru's mental control. Kirk is taken to a chamber full of high technology, where he is to be "absorbed". But Marphon, one of the priests of Landru who is immune to Landru's control, rescues him and Spock. Returning to the dungeon, Reger and Marphon tell how Landru saved their society from war and anarchy 6,000 years ago and reduced the planet's technology to a simpler level.
McCoy summons the Lawgivers to "absorb" Kirk and Spock, who subdue them and don their robes. Marplon takes Kirk and Spock to the Hall of Audiences, where priests commune with Landru. A projection of Landru appears and threatens Kirk, Spock, and all Betans who saw the landing party with death. Kirk and Spock use their phasers to blast through the wall and expose the truth: the reclusive Landru is actually a computer and Landru who built the machine had died 6,000 years ago. The computer neutralizes their phasers. Kirk argues with the machine, telling it that it has destroyed the creativity of the people—killing "the Body". Concluding that the computer's prime directive is to destroy evil, Kirk forces the computer to self-destruct, freeing the people of Beta III.
The heat beams stop, and the Enterprise is saved. Kirk agrees to leave Federation advisors and educators on the planet to help the civilization advance, free of Landru's dominance.
Errors and ExplanationsEdit
The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic TrekkersEdit
- Reger understanding the context of McCoy's use of the word shot. Either Reger learnt the medical definition of shot from Landru, or - more likely - he is intelligent enough to work it out.
- Spock clubbing a Lawgiver with his fist, instead of using a neck pinch. Spock probably couldn’t reach the neck of the Lawgiver because of the cloak.
- Scotty knowing how to use engine power to supplement the shields, despite the Enterprise D crew being surprised when Barclay did it in The Nth Degree. Perhaps Scotty's method is not officially approved by Starfleet.
- Landru’s failure to neutralise phasers. This might not be possible with a wall in the way.
- Keith Alan Morgan on Thursday, April 15, 1999 - 5:51 am: Why does Kirk resist the ultra-sonics longer than the others? He may have a natural tolerance.
- John A. Lang on Friday, November 22, 2002 - 5:06 pm: When Kirk sees Landru for the first time, Landru states that there is no crime on the planet. No crime?! I guess rioting, looting, arson, rape, disorderly conduct and such aren't considered crimes here! During Kirk's last encounter with Landru, Kirk blows a hole in the wall. After that, Landru neutralizes the phasers. After that, Kirk asks Landru more questions. Suddenly, the Lawgivers show up and Kirk points his phaser at them. How will he stun them? The phasers were neutralized! Apparently, Kirk (and the writers) forgot that event had occured! kerriem on Friday, November 22, 2002 - 5:44 pm: John A., go back and check the basic plot elements of this ep again, eh? :) Before something can be considered a crime, there have to be laws against it. Rape etc is to Landru and his followers simply a matter of 'Festival', or letting the people work off their baser impulses. As morally indefensible as this might be...there's no law being violated, quite the contrary, ergo no crime being committed!
- BobL on Wednesday, December 12, 2007 - 11:34 am: Did this civilization have electricity or not? In one shot of the town, electric power lines are clearly visible in the distance, yet I saw no evidence anywhere of power being used by the townspeople? Alan Hamilton (Alan) on Saturday, December 15, 2007 - 11:35 pm: Even if the populace didn't get electricity, Landru wasn't steam powered. Maybe Landru used solar panels or hydro-electricity, and kept it for himself as a means of control.
Internet Movie DatabaseEdit
- When the landing party ducks into Tamar's house during the festival, it is broad daylight. However a few minutes later when Tamar shows them to their room it is completely dark outside. Either more than a few minutes elapsed between the two shots, or the sun sets quickly on Beta III.
- During Kirk's final star-log entry, we cut from a shot of the view-screen to an opposite viewpoint and see Kirk standing in front of the helm, whereas in the previous shot he wasn't there. He was probably out of shot on the side of the bridge, and move to the helm station while the shot changed.
- Kirk's 6-man party is put in a holding cell where they can be taken out, one at a time, to a select chamber for absorption into Landru's society via a special machine, but earlier Sulu was absorbed out on the street merely with a close blast from a pipe-staff by a robed lawgiver. Sulu was too surprised to resist the effect from the pipe-staff, but those in the cell are aware of the effect, and would put up sufficient resistance to require the stronger machine. [N 1]
- After McCoy, Lt. Hadley, Kirk and Spock are taken to the select room to be absorbed into Landru's society (with McCoy and Hadley taken and returned together for no known reason), the lawgivers inexplicably stop taking any more of Kirk's group, leaving Lindstrom and Lt. Leslie unabsorbed. Perhaps the machine can only be used for so long before requiring temporary deactivation.
- After Sulu had been absorbed and transported to the Enterprise, he gets momentarily angry (even though absorbed!) at Lindstrom and declares that the absorption was his fault because they knew they were Archons due to the clothes they were wearing. This selection of clothing isn't explained at all and must refer to a scene that had been cut. The style of clothing must have been sufficently different from those worn by the local population to raise the suspicions of the Lawsgivers.
- ↑ Listed under Equipment Oddities in the Nitpicker's Guide.
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