As my husband and I are going through our second full watch of Star Trek as a couple, I thought it would be fun to report on the highlights along the way. So I decided to copy the same format as Charlene at Bookish Whimsy, who is going through her first-ever run of Star Trek and sharing her favorite five episodes for each season. To compare, see her top 5 favorite episodes of season three of The Original Series.
I thought season two was bad… but season 3 was full of some clunkers. HOWEVER, the episodes that were decent I think were more decent than those in season two, and when selecting my favorites I ended up with a list of 6, so it wasn’t all bad. Also, there were some episodes that I think actually had real potential, and if they had been done like in Deep Space Nine they could have been awesome, but they just fell flat or took a turn for the dumb. I’m particularly thinking of The Mark of Gideon and Requiem for Methuselah. Also, I had distinctly remembered Spock’s Brain (this season’s first episode) as being the worst ever of the series, and I was so wrong. Was it good? No, but there were much worse.
So first off I’ll go ahead and mention my sixth favorite and runner-up for this list was The Tholian Web. I thought I should mention it because it’s popular. There were a few more that I liked a little more, however. Also, I also struggled with this order a lot, so it may not reflect my feelings everyday, but nonetheless, I did the best I could.
5. For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky
I will voice my biggest gripe about this episode (my second biggest grip is the awful costumes, FYI) up front: McCoy gets MARRIED in this episode and then ABANDONS his wife! And she’s OK with it! And there’s also awful instalove here (doesn’t just happen in YA books), but even that’s better than abandoning your spouse! What did I like? The premise, mostly, about a traveling planet (really, a ship) where the people don’t know exactly what their purpose is as they follow arbitrary rules set for them. And unlike many of the episodes this season, it wasn’t poorly executed, other than this whole abandonment thing.
I think the Klingons are a lot more interesting in TOS than they are in the subsequent series (with the exception of, very specifically, the Augment episodes of Enterprise), and this is a good episode showcasing them, probably my favorite TOS episode featuring them. An alien force that feeds off of hatred causes the Klingons and the crew of the Enterprise to act violently towards one another, and once they realize what is happening, they must fight against it.
I think this is another one I like more for the premise than anything, and thankfully the execution wasn’t terrible. On this planet there is a group of people who live on ground and work in the mines, and then there are the privileged who get to live in the city on the clouds. This is probably one of the best TOS episode for the portrayal of women, even if there are skimpy outfits, because Vanna is strong and ambitious and nobody’s love interest (even if she is stubborn for not listening to Kirk when she should have, I can’t blame her for being skeptical), and while Droxine is really into Spock (who has some uncharacteristic dialogue in this episode with no explanation as to why) and naive, she has a really nice arc in this episode and sees reason when her father does not. There are several Star Trek episodes throughout the various series that touch on the issue of the separation of classes and I think this is a pretty good one for the time period.
At the beginning of the episode, it seems Kirk has lost his mind flying into Romulan space, then we come to find out he did so under Starfleet orders. Spock plays a huge role in distracting a woman Romulan officer while Kirk gets what he needs from the ship, which proves to be an easy task because she is fascinated by him, and dare I say, he might be by her as well. However, he stays clear-headed in his typical Spock way, but the psychology of their interaction, as well as the general sneakiness going on while Kirk is on his mission, definitely makes this episode a stand-out for season three.
I don’t even remember this episode from my first watch of the show, but I was pretty into it this time. First off, I found the concept really interesting of a planet that sends people back in time when their existence is about to end, and also that they are capable of time jumping but not space travel! Also, the fact that when Spock went back 5000 years in his past that he started to act like a Vulcan from 5000 years ago was really interesting! It was a sad ending but I still loved the last line from Spock when he says: “Yes, it did happen. But that was 5000 years ago.” I also think it’s funny that both this episode and the popular YA novel of the same novel borrowed the title from Shakespeare AND have time travel plots!
Season three was an interesting season for Spock and McCoy. Of course, there has been friction between the two all through the series, and the dynamic continues into the movies, but there were several episodes of season three where they were forced to work together, like “The Paradise Syndrome,” “The Tholian Web,” “The Empath,” and “All Our Yesterdays.” After “The Tholian Web,” in fact, I feel like their relationship changed and become less hostile toward one another and that they started to respect each other more. I also felt like we got to see more facets of Spock this season, where he seems more open to people groups that seem different from him on the surface (“The Way to Eden”) and shows more interest in women for a typical season (“The Enterprise Incident,” “The Cloud Minders,” and “All Our Yesterdays”).
So we’re moving on to The Next Generation next, though my husband did bring out The Animated Series DVDs out first. Most people don’t count it and I just wasn’t ready to go through it again yet. We’re also actually watching the shows in the order they were aired, meaning that after the first few seasons of TNG we’ll start mixing in some Deep Space Nine episodes as well. But until then, we’ve got to endure the not-so-great beginning of The Next Generation.
If you’ve seen season three of Star Trek’s original series, which episodes are your favorite?
There are some interesting ideas here but yep, the execution is often really, really poor. Spock’s Brain though is so terrible I can’t help but enjoy it. It is just so serious!
It’s been a while since I have watched this season but I would agree with those top two.
Can you imagine playing a drinking game with this episode, where you took a shot every time someone said brain? You’d end up crazy drunk.
Some very interesting choices! Obviously I agree with your top two picks as being excellent episodes, but your other three picks are also great episodes that I enjoyed. McCoy in your #5 pick (that title is too long to type out – but I do love how evocative it is!) did annoy me, and that probably was a reason why I didn’t pick it for my top 5. And now I’m tempted to rewatch Spock’s Brain and see if I like it more for how campy it is. LOL
Did you like the animated series btw? I plan to watch it after I finish with all the Star Trek and I hope to love it!
The animated series is… different. I remember only actually liking one episode, which not surprisingly, was about Tribbles. It was definitely 70s cartoon campy. I think my husband likes it better than I do though. And who knows, maybe I would like it better now because of my low expectations.
I will admit I haven’t seen all of TOS. I didn’t even know there were three season. oops! But TNG was always my show. I do think it’s interesting that you saw some expansion of Spock’s character in this season. People love Spock and I’ve never seen him as that interesting of a character. Now I know where to go look for it 🙂
p.s. The animated series scared me as a kid. I think that’s why I never liked TOS.
LOL. I think if I watched the animated series as a kid it might scare me off and cause some friction between me and the original series as well!
Season three has a lot of clunkers, so maybe you’ll want to start out with or simply stick with my favorite episodes of the season for the Spock moments. The Tholian Web (my runner-up) would work as well.