(airdate: October 18, 1968)
Writer: Jean Lisette Aroeste
Director: Ralph Senensky
Dr. Miranda Jones: Diana Muldaur
Larry Marvick: David Frankham
Captain's Log: The Enterprise is transporting the Medusan ambassador, Kollos, to the Medusan homeworld, along with two humans: Larry Marvick, a designer of the Enterprise, and Dr. Miranda Jones, a human telepath who will be the first person to establish a mindlink with a Medusan. The appearance of a Medusan can cause a human to go mad, so great care is taken to ensure that no one see Ambassador Kollos's natural form. However, Marvick is in love with Miranda, and his despair at the idea of Miranda living the rest of her life with the Medusans leads him to try to kill Kollos. The sight of Kollos drives him mad though, so he heads to Engineering and sends the Enterprise out of the galaxy, before collapsing and dying. The Medusans are known as skilled navigators, so Spock proposes that he form a mindlink with the ambassador, so that their powers combined can navigate and pilot the ship back. They are successful, but Spock accidentally looks at the unshielded Kollos, driving him insane. However, Miranda is able to reach into Spock's mind and bring him back to sanity.
Whoops!: For some reason this title is difficult for people to get right: "Is There No Truth In Beauty?" seems to be the most common incorrect version, but we've seen others. (The name itself is a quotation from a poem by George Herbert, "Jordan (I)".)
Why does Kirk know that there's something wrong with Ambassador Kollos, after Marvick tries to kill him? What alerted him? Is there an alarm on Kollos's door or something?
The opening captain's log says they're taking Kollos and company to the Medusan homeworld, while dialogue between Spock and Miranda says they're heading to a Medusan vessel. [The original version opts for showing the homeworld at the end, while the remastered version goes with the vessel instead.] And why is Kirk still in the transporter room at the end of the episode while Kollos is beamed away, given that Spock wears the protective visor during transport? [This was allegedly a shot added in (or moved to later) during the editing process without director Ralph Senensky's knowledge; he was not happy to discover its presence in the finished product.]
Lots of nitpicks: at the end of the dinner scene, Kirk drains his glass, but the next shot shows it with liquid still inside. There's also a flipped reaction shot of Kirk at approximately 34 minutes, after he learns Kollos has chosen to join with Spock instead of Miranda. (It's pretty obvious because of Kirk's distinctive hairstyle.) And during a scene where Spock-Kollos is helming the ship, there's a gold-shirted helmsman there instead.
Classic Lines: Miranda, after Kirk presents her with a rose: "I suppose it has thorns." Kirk: "I never met a rose that didn't."
Don't Wear a Red Shirt: Marvick, after having seen Kollos and gone mad, slugs a yellow-shirted ensign in the face on his way to Engineering. Then he knocks around two engineering ensigns as well as Scotty while he's there, before kicking a security guard trying to restrain him. The temporarily insane Spock also punches a couple security guards on the bridge.
Alien Love: Larry Marvick has fairly intense feelings for Miranda, but she doesn't reciprocate them, so like every calm level-headed person Larry goes to murder Miranda's boss so that she and Larry can be together. It doesn't go well. Kirk also does some romancing of Miranda, but that's more to keep her distracted while Spock goes to mindlink with Ambassador Kollos. That doesn't really go well either.
Library Computer: The Medusans are a race of formless beings, able to combine with other Medusans. (Kollos-as-Spock comments on how humans are separated from each other via physical form.) Their homeworld appeared to be an Earth-like planet. [In the original version, at least; the remastered version shows us a Medusan vessel instead (due to the script confusion mentioned in Whoops!), which has a large spherical front with a cylinder attached to the back and warp nacelles on either side.] Their sensory input is very different from that of a humanoid's. Their thoughts are reportedly "sublime", but their appearance is apparently so "hideous" that when a human looks upon a Medusan in its natural state, it drives them completely insane. [The episode wants to make a commentary on the nature of beauty versus ugliness, but from an in-universe point-of-view it's probably better to assume that there's something about how the Medusans look that makes them impossible for a human mind to comprehend, rather than that they're just really ugly.] This natural state is accompanied by a brilliant green light and flashes of strange shapes and patterns. Their ambassador to the Federation is named Kollos. He finds the effect of using a transporter somewhat unsettling. He resides in a hexagonal box, with the ability to open it from the inside. This box is sufficient to shield Kollos from the humans on the ship, although notably Kirk has the corridors cleared of personnel while Kollos is being moved through the ship, just in case. Spock can wear a special red-tinted visor while viewing Kollos; this visor has proven to be effective for Vulcans, preventing them from going mad. Spock also wears the visor while transporting Kollos. [The idea seems to be that there's a chance of seeing the natural form of Kollos mid-transport, so better safe than sorry.] The Enterprise is transporting Kollos, along with Dr. Miranda Jones and Larry Marvick, from an unnamed Earth-like planet to the Medusan homeworld/a Medusan vessel [delete according to preferred version].
The Medusans are also a telepathic race; this is how they communicate with other species. However, prior to Spock and then Miranda Jones, no one had ever successfully mindlinked with a Medusan before. The Medusans were known as highly skilled navigators, having developed the science to a fine art. One of the goals of the Federation was to develop instruments for the Medusans to use on starships, once a means of "forming a corporate intelligence" with them had been learned.
Dr. Miranda Jones was a psychologist and a beautiful young woman with long dark hair. Although human, she had never been to Earth; however, she had spent four years on Vulcan studying their mental discipline. This was because she was a telepath from birth, and thus needed the training in order to shut out both others' thoughts and emotions as well as her own. Miranda was also blind; she wore an elaborate, highly sophisticated sensor web over her clothes. This web resembled a gauze dress covered in jewels. It could help her maneuver, accurately measure distances, and even detect the rate of someone's heartbeat, but it didn't truly allow her to "see". [This sounds a lot like Geordi's VISOR on Star Trek: The Next Generation, though his is obviously a lot more compact.] Because she was a telepath, Miranda didn't particularly enjoy the company of other humans, as she was always struggling to prevent their emotions from washing over her; in particular, she found pity to be her least favorite emotion. These traits therefore made her an ideal candidate to mindlink with Ambassdor Kollos. However, she had a streak of protective jealousy regarding this assignment, and the fact that the assignment had originally been offered to Spock rankled her on some level. Nevertheless, Spock was pleased for her [well, as pleased as a Vulcan gets] and noted that her telepathic competence might be greater than his own. She had learned the Vulcan technique of mind-linking [mind meld], and she was able to use it to bring Spock back to sanity after he accidentally looked at the unshielded Ambassador Kollos.
Larry Marvick was a middle-aged man with light brown hair. He was one of the designers of the Enterprise, and was interested in a way in designing navigational instruments that Medusans could use aboard a starship. He was also in love with Miranda, although she didn't return his affections. These feelings drove him to attempt the murder of Kollos, but when he saw Kollos's true form he went mad, taking over the Enterprise and sending it at high warp out of the galaxy. He then collapsed and died, his heart, lungs, and brain simply giving up, as if he couldn't live with what he had seen.
The place where Marvick sent the Enterprise was a uncharted area of space outside of the galaxy, filled with etheral purple, pink, red, and yellow cloud-like formations. [Spock says when Marvick pushed the ship to warp 9.5, they entered a "space-time continuum", which honestly could mean anything. However, they reuse the images of the galactic barrier, which suggests they've passed beyond the galactic barrier into the intergalactic void, rather than that they're in a new dimension or something.] There are no clear reference points, so they can't just turn around and head back. However, due to the Medusans' navigational skill, Kollos can mindlink with Spock so that the two of them combined can navigate and pilot the ship back. They do this and are successful, returning to almost exactly the point from where they left the galaxy.
The Vulcan IDIC is a symbol consisting of a hollowed-out circle with a triangle coming in from the bottom right, pointing to the center of the hollow circle, which is a small gemstone. This symbol is the most revered of all Vulcan symbols, and Spock wears it to the dinner for Miranda to honor her. It represents the glory of creation in its infinite diversity, and the ways differences combine to create beauty and meaning. [Somewhat infamously, the IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations) was a source of on-set tension between Shatner and Nimoy versus Gene Roddenberry, as they felt Roddenberry had included the scene in order to hawk the pin through his mail-order catalog Lincoln Enterprises - and if you know anything about Roddenberry and especially his feelings regarding the third season of Star Trek, this is indeed the most likely explanation. But due to this conflict, the scene was rewritten, so that we don't really find out what an IDIC is here; the acronym isn't explained on screen until the Animated Series episode "The Infinite Vulcan". (Although the Lincoln Enterprises catalog also describes what it means.) And honestly, divorced from the money-making aspect the basic concept of the IDIC is a nice idea.]
Spock has read Lord Byron ("She Walks in Beauty") and Shakespeare's The Tempest.
Antarean brandy is a dark blue in color.
Scotty's dress uniform now includes a kilt, a plaid, and a sporran. [The black-and white tartan is indeed a Scott tartan, although it seems to be Sir Walter Scott's personal tartan, rather than one of the Clan Scott dress tartans.]
The Enterprise has a botanical garden aboard. Kirk tells Miranda it's his favorite place on the ship.
Final Analysis: "Ugly. What is ugly? Who is to say whether Kollos is too ugly to bear or too beautiful to bear?" Some truly outstanding direction and some great performances, particularly from Diana Muldaur. It's a little too slow and heavy-handed to be considered a true classic, but nevertheless it's quite effective.
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Page originally created: May 25, 2018
Page last updated: February 9, 2019