73 "The Lights of Zetar"

(airdate: January 31, 1969)

Writer: Jeremy Tarcher and Shari Lewis [yes, that Shari Lewis]
Director: Herb Kenwith

Lt. Mira Romaine: Jan Shutan

Stardate: 5725.3

Captain's Log: The Enterprise is en route to the library facility of Memory Alpha when it encounters a strange set of lights in space that paralyzes the crew - particularly affecting one Lt. Mira Romaine. The lights then travel to the Memory Alpha facility and kill everyone there, along with severely damaging the facility's memory core. The lights move on but then turn back toward the Enterprise - it seems they're interested in Lt. Romaine, given her unusual sensitivity to the lights, which allowed them to begin to change her to make her more like them. The lights invade the Enterprise and take over Lt. Romaine, where they reveal that they are all that's left of the lifeforms that once inhabited the planet Zetar. Now that they've found a suitable host in Lt. Romaine, they're not going to let her go. However, Spock deduces that, as the Zetarians are used to living in deep space, high pressure will destroy them, so Lt. Romaine is placed in a pressure chamber and the pressure is increased until the Zetarians are destroyed, leaving Lt. Romaine unharmed.

Whoops!: Scotty spends a large portion of the episode wearing a sciences patch (the double-circle one) instead of his usual spiral operations patch.

Cringe Lines: Kirk describing Scotty in his log: "When a man of Scotty's years falls in love, the loneliness of his life is suddenly revealed to him. His whole heart once throbbed only to the ship's engines; he could talk only to the ship. Now he can see nothing but the woman."
     Everyone (well, except Scotty) refers to Mira as "the girl" rather than her actual name.

Alien Love: Scotty falls head over heels in love with Lt. Mira Romaine, who despite being possessed by Zetarians still ends up as probably Scotty's healthiest on-screen romance. (Compare with "Who Mourns for Adonais?" and "Wolf in the Fold".)

Library Computer: Memory Alpha is a planetoid "set up by the Federation as a central library containing the total cultural history and scientific knowledge of all planetary Federation members." The planetoid is rust-red in color [dirt brown in the remastered version], and the facility itself is home to a varying number of scholars, researchers, and scientists. Memory Alpha's database includes a memory core and a central brain. The facility has no protective shields, as Memory Alpha is open to all and so no shields were deemed necessary. The Zetarian attack on Memory Alpha left all personnel dead (including a number of humans, a couple Andorians, and an unidentified alien with a prominent brow ridge), the complex's central brain damaged, and the memory core burned out; Spock worried that the loss to the galaxy might be irretrievable.
     The Zetarians in their present form resemble a large set of shimmering blue, red, and white lights. They read on sensors initially as a sort of space storm, but Spock was able to distinguish ten powerful, distinct life forms inside the lights. The Zetarians were originally humanoid life forms, but roughly a thousand years ago, when they knew their planet Zetar was dying, they prepared to leave. However, a disaster struck down the Zetarians right before they were ready to leave, and so instead they sent the force of a hundred of their minds into space to survive. [The Zetarians talk of a hundred, but Spock only detects ten distinct life forms in the Zetarian force, so either the other ninety are comparatively weak or they've bonded together somehow.] The Zetarians have been looking for a suitable host for the last millennium. They're able to attack people using brainwaves, paralyzing specific parts of their brain (such as speech centers or motor control) and in some cases destroying those centers of the brain, killing the victim. In extreme cases [such as when the Zetarians are attempting to take over a suitable host] they can cause distortion of all neural systems, leading to severe brain hemorrhaging and death. The Zetarians claim that they have no wish to kill people, but that resisting the Zetarians causes people to die. The Zetarians are able to target specific ship functions, including sensors and [presumably] the transporter, and they can move faster than the speed of light. The Zetarians are able to not only target Lt. Mira Romaine and make her talk in some weird growling-like language, but also to alter her brain wave pattern to make it closer to their own. This also appears to grant Romaine the ability to see what the Zetarians see or are planning [it gets described as seeing the future, but it's not clear that's actually what's happening], and it means that when they're attacked she's affected (e.g., when the ship fires phasers at the Zetarians). Under near-full possession by the Zetarians, the host's face cycles through a number of bright glowing colors. A high pressure environment [around 35 atmospheres or so] is fatal to the Zetarians.
     Lt. Mira Romaine is a human with long dark hair and pale blue eyes, dressed in sciences blue. She was born on Martian Colony 3 to Lydia Romaine (now deceased) and Jacques Romaine, who was a chief engineer in Starfleet but is now retired. Mira showed no signs of telepathic or empathic abilities, but did show an extremely flexible and pliant response to new learning situations. She was on board the Enterprise to supervise the transfer of newly-designed equipment to Memory Alpha; this was her first assignment and her first deep space trip. She's a very combative person, unwilling to show much deference to superior officers without understanding why she's doing something. She seems quite taken with Mr. Scott.
     A Steinman analysis is a medical analysis that appears to be draw up a physical profile of a person, including their fingerprints, voice analysis, and brain circuitry pattern (BCP), which was recorded via a hyperencephalogram. An individual's BCP is as consistent as their fingerprints.
     The Enterprise has an anti-gravity chamber in the medical lab. [This looks very similar, but not quite identical, to the decompression chamber seen in "Space Seed"; perhaps there's been an upgrade.]
     No phenomenon of nature can move faster than the speed of light.
     Deep space voyages can apparently have adverse effects on people as they adjust.
     The common cold still hasn't been cured.

Final Analysis: "Captain, we are dealing with a community of life units. Their attack is in the form of brain waves directed against the brain, which is most compatible." It's not a bad concept, but a large part of "The Lights of Zetar" rests on the shoulders of Jan Shutan as Mira Romaine, who's unfortunately not quite up to the task of carrying the episode. Combine that with an absolutely leaden pace, as everyone prefers to discuss in detail everything they're thinking and experiencing rather than trusting that we'll catch on, and the result is an episode that's competent but also intensely dull.

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Page originally created: April 18, 2017
Page last updated: April 18, 2017

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