57 "Elaan of Troyius"

(airdate: December 20, 1968)

Writer: John Meredyth Lucas
Director: John Meredyth Lucas

Elaan: Frances Nuyen

Ambassador Petri: Jay Robinson

Kryton: Tony Young

Stardate: 4372.5

Captain's Log: The Enterprise is transporting a high-ranking official, Elaan, the Dohlman of Elas, to the planet Troyius, where she will be married to the ruler of Troyius in order to facilitate peace between their two warring planets. The Troyians have sent along an ambassador to instruct the Dohlman in Troyian customs, but she is unwilling to learn, as she does not approve of the arranged marriage. After she attempts to murder the ambassador, the duty passes to Kirk, who tries to teach her manners. Meanwhile, Elaan's chief bodyguard, Kryton, is jealous of the fact that Elaan is to be married, so he makes contact with the Klingons, who tell him how to sabotage the ship's dilithium crystals. Scotty discovers the sabotage before the ship can be destroyed, but a Klingon warship is harassing the Enterprise, which now only has impulse power. However, it turns out that dilithium crystals are common on Troyius, and Elaan is wearing a necklace of them that was given to her by the Troyian ambassador. Scott is able to use the crystals to repower the Enterprise and thus drive away the Klingons.

Whoops!: The title is a pun on "Helen of Troy", except that this story doesn't actually have any parallels with the Greek myth. The Spartan Helen, King Menelaus's wife, was abducted by the Trojan Paris, which led to the Trojan War when the Greeks went to get her back. She wasn't married off as a way to create peace. So what's the point of the pun?
     If Kryton really is in love with Elaan, why is he willing to kill her? She'd die too when the Enterprise exploded. Did the Klingons promise to beam them off the ship first? Or is this a case of "if I can't have her, no one will"?
     Not exactly a mistake, but the nameplate outside Uhura's quarters just says "Lt. Uhura". (Compare with the nameplates of other crewmembers, which provide full names and the location of the quarters.)

Classic Lines: Kirk: "It's been my experience that the prejudices people feel about each other disappear when they get to know each other."

Cringe Lines: "Mr. Spock, the women on your planet are logical. That's the only planet in this galaxy that can make that claim."
     Kirk: "If I touch you again, Your Glory, it'll be to administer an ancient Earth custom called a spanking, a form of punishment administered to spoiled brats." And then later, Elaan being seductive: "Captain, that ancient Earth custom called spanking, what is it?"

Technobabble: Colladium trioxide in algobarium solution is not an antidote to Elasian tears.

Don't Wear a Red Shirt: Elaan slaps Kirk, so Kirk slaps her back. Ambassador Petri is stabbed (non-fatally) in the back by the Dohlman. Ensign Watson in Engineering has his neck broken by Elaan's bodyguard, Kryton. Kryton vaporizes himself with a security guard's phaser rather than submit to a Vulcan mind meld.

Alien Love: Elaan chooses Kirk and puts him under her spell via a chemical contained in her tears, which Kirk unknowingly touches. This leads to lots of passionate kissing and caresses, although apparently Kirk's love for the Enterprise is stronger than his love for Elaan.

Library Computer: The Tellun star system is a system with two inhabited planets: the inner planet Elas, and the outer planet Troyius. [The dialogue suggests these are the only two planets in the system, but we don't know that for certain.] The Tellun system was near the Federation-Klingon border, and both the Federation and the Klingons claimed jurisdiction over the system.
     Troyius was an inhabited, bright blue planet [standard Earth-like planet in the remastered version], home to the Troyians, a humanoid species with pale green skin and (at least based on the one member of the species that we see) pale blonde hair with orange stripes. They appear to be a somewhat civilized race, at least by Human standards; however, they are at war with their neighboring planet, Elas. The Troyians and the Elasians have reached the technological point of mutual destruction between the two planets, so in order to broker a peace the two planets agreed to marry the Dohlman of Elas to the ruler of Troyius. This was a top-secret diplomatic mission which the Enterprise was assigned to. Troyius is a planet rich in dilithium crystals - which they call "radans" - although the Federation was unaware of this until the events of stardate 4372.5. Dilithium is common on Troyius, but the Troyians still use the stones as decorations in things like necklaces. The Dohlman was given a royal necklace containing dilithium crystals; this necklace was said to bring the wearer luck.
     Elas was an inhabited, Earth-like planet, home to the Elasians. The Elasians were human-like, with dark hair and elaborate armor, including (on the males) giant shoulders, fancy arms, and bare legs. [It's described as armor, but it looks very soft and pliable.] The Elasians were a warrior people; the Federation team who first encountered the Elasians described the men as "vicious and arrogant". However, despite seeming to be more primitive than the Troyians, the Elasians had still developed nuclear capabilities, and ships that used nuclear propulsion. The Elasian guards we see here carry a small hand weapon in a pouch on the sleeve of their outfit.
     Elasian women excreted a chemical in their tears that, when coming into contact with the skin of a male, caused that male to be completely enthralled by that woman; the effect reportedly never wears off. [We're only told that men are affected; it would probably make sense for Elasian women to have a natural immunity to the effects of the tears of other women. No word on how the tears would affect a non-Elasian woman, however.] McCoy described the effect as similar to an infection. He believed he'd found an antidote to the Elasian tears (although we never see him use it). The antidote was not colladium trioxide in algobarium solution.
     The Dohlman of Elas was a member of the Elasian royal family, although they still answered to the Elasian council of nobles. The Dohlman was addressed as "your Glory", and it was expected that others kneel in their presence (although this Dohlman, Elaan, waved this requirement aboard the Enterprise for the duration of her trip). Permission had to be granted by the Dohlman in order to enter, to leave, and to speak in their presence.
     Elaan was the current Dohlman of Elas, with black tight braids framing her face, prominent eye makeup, and several elaborate outfits. [It looks like they're going for an ancient Egyptian vibe here.] She carried a small knife in a sheath on her left arm. She was to be married to the Troyian ruler as a gesture of peace, but she despised the very idea and refused to learn Troyian customs - even going so far as to stab the Troyian ambassador, Petri, when he attempted to teach her. Elaan was imperious and petulant, although she took a liking to Captain Kirk, enthralling him with her tears. She initially said that she wanted Kirk to destroy Troyius with the Enterprise so that she no longer had to go through with the marriage; she promised Kirk rule of the system in exchange for his help. Ultimately, however, she fulfilled her obligation and beamed down to Troyius to become the ruler's wife. Elaan stayed in Uhura's quarters for the duration of her time aboard the Enterprise.
     Kryton was the chief bodyguard of Elaan. He came from a noble family. According to Elaan, he had been in love with her and been very unhappy when the Dohlman was promised to the Troyians; this may have led to his decision to contact the Klingons, who told him how to sabotage the Enterprise. Kryton thus rigged the matter-antimatter pods to explode when the ship tried to use them. He also fused the dilithium crystal converter, ruining the crystals. When Kryton was found in the engineering section of the ship, he committed suicide by vaporizing himself rather than submitting to interrogation.
     Petri was the Troyian ambassador aboard the Enterprise. He was rather mild-mannered, although not without a sense of pride, and he endeavored to teach Elaan Troyian customs. He found the Elasians distasteful, with a particular dislike for the Dohlman, but he was willing to do his duty. He was stabbed in the back by Elaan during the trip from Elas to Troyius for entering her quarters without permission, although he survived the attack.
     The Klingons are still using a [D7-class] warship. The Klingon warship can fire green disruptor blasts from the wingtips. [Where we would now consider the warp nacelles to be. Although this is in fact the third appearance of the Klingon battlecruiser by airdate, it was the first filmed.] We also see here the emblem of the Klingon Empire, consisting of three points arranged in a triangular formation, so that each point points to what would be the vertex of an isoceles triangle, resting on a circular background. The right point is significantly longer than the other two points. [This is rotated 90° clockwise from what we now consider to be the "proper" orientation of this symbol.] The top point appears to be black, the bottom point a light bluish-green, and the right point red, while the circular background is yellow.
     A Klingon transmitter looks similar to a standard Federation communicator, albeit more angularly-shaped and a bright gold color.
     The Enterprise's dilithium chamber is housed in the center of the engineering section (the short, broad apparatus in the engineering area in the center of the floor). The crystals can be removed via a housing that rises vertically from the chamber. The Enterprise has only limited power resources without dilithium crystals, powering impulse engines and minor shielding but no warp drive or weapons. The shape of a dilithium crystal affects the flow of energy through it, with irregular shapes leading to unpredictable effects.
     The Federation high commissioner planned on attending the royal wedding on Troyius.
     Uhura's quarters are across the hall from the Botany Section of the Life Sciences Department.
     This is the first time in which McCoy asks Spock, "Are you out of your Vulcan mind?" [See also Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and the 2009 film.]

Final Analysis: "I will not go to Troyius, I will not be mated to a Troyian, and I will not be humiliated. And I will not be given to a green pig as a bribe to stop a war!" A story that's aged rather badly, and not just because it seems to be a sincere version of The Taming of the Shrew. Casting Frances Nuyen in theory is a laudable move, but in practice it looks like they're also trying to tap into the "Dragon Lady" stereotype, as Elaan is imperious and angry as well as sensual and mysterious. But even if you can excuse that, the main problem is that it frequently feels like this is meant to actually be a comedy of manners - but if so, it's a comedy with all the humor removed. (We'd blame the director for missing the point, but in this case John Meredyth Lucas is directing his own script.) The end result is an uncertain tone matched with some decidedly dated politics.

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Page originally created: September 8, 2018
Page last updated: September 8, 2018

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