Where do we go from The Balance of Terror? Silly, because we have to. Shore Leave is one of those weird episodes like The Naked Time that breaks up the gravity of the series. There’s isn’t much to say about this one before we jump in.
Kirk’s got a new yeoman, and he’s also got a kink in his back. She’s all hands, immediately jumping in and massaging his back. His yeoman thinks he needs more sleep, and Spock agrees. Spock makes a comment about the last three months. Has all of this happened in three months? Seems like a tragedy about once a week.
Down on the planet’s surface, McCoy and Sulu are scouting the planet for how suitable it would be for shore leave. It’s a beautiful planet and McCoy notes that it’s so nice it’s something out of Alice in Wonderland. Sulu heads off to get cell structure records to get some biology readings. Interesting to keep Sulu’s roots to the first episode where he was wearing a blue uniform instead of a yellow one. McCoy walks a few steps and sees a white rabbit who appears to be running late for something followed by a little girl looking for the rabbit. Alice in Wonderland indeed. Sulu wasn’t paying attention and missed the whole thing. If I were McCoy? BEAM BACK TO THE SHIP IMMEDIATELY.
This is Star Trek, not reality. If McCoy beamed back up, this episode would be over already. Kirk and Spock don’t plan on taking shore leave. McCoy radios to Kirk what he just saw and reports himself unfit fort duty because of it. All scanners indicated the planet was inhabited. McCoy doesn’t seem to be one to crack jokes, but Kirk lets it slide anyway. Spock makes outwits Kirk to go down on shore leave.
Down on the planet, a male Blueshirt and female Yellowshirt are inspecting some plants when Kirk and his new yeoman beam down to find McCoy. McCoy’s found tracks on the ground from a giant rabbit. At least he’s not crazy, right? No he’s not. The answer is much worse in my estimation. They’re on a planet with a giant rabbit. Kirk halts shore leave until there’s some proof that the planet is harmless.
GUNSHOTS! Kirk, McCoy and the yeoman run to find Sulu shooting a gun. He’s always wanted one. Kirk takes Sulu’s toy away. Kirk sends yeoman Barrows with Sulu to track down the rabbit while Kirk and McCoy go looking around in a glade. No one has realized that these things have materialized while people are alone.
McCoy and Kirk discuss being picked on. Kirk brings up someone named Finnegan that would give him a hard time in academy. Kirk and McCoy split up. Remember what I just said about things happening to people when they are alone? Kirk encounters Finnegan, who immediately punches Kirk in the face. Kirk grapples with him a little bit before hearing yeoman Barrows (I assume) screaming and runs off. No mention of how weird it is to see someone he knew in academy.
Yeoman Barrows was attacked by a Don Juan type. Her uniform is torn and she’s hysterical. So almost everyone has been attacked on the planet or confronted in some weird way, but they stay on the surface? Kirk runs off to find Sulu, but instead encounters an old girlfriend from fifteen years ago who looks exactly like she did fifteen years ago. Kirk’s finally looking concerned and confused. That feeling gives way to a warm feeling for his old girlfriend and suddenly he seems to have forgotten his duties.
Spock breaks into Kirk’s haze to let him know that something on the surface is draining power from the Enterprise and communication may be the first thing on the ship to go. Also? There’s an antennae popping up here and there tracking the crew.
McCoy and yeoman Barrows talk about how the planet is kind of like a giant story book, and a dress shows up out of nowhere for Barrows so she can dress like a princess! McCoy seems to have fallen under the spell of the planet and convinces her to put the dress on.
“Dear girl, I am a Doctor. When I peek, it’s in the line of duty.” -McCoy to Barrows
Everyone is supposed to meet up back where they first beamed down, but the previously mentioned Yellowshirt and Blueshirt and cornered and stuck in a tree by a tiger. Funny story, Shatner wanted to wrestle the tiger on TV, but was convinced that it wouldn’t be a good idea.
Kirk and Spock have a chat about the experiences everyone is having down on the planet. At no point is beaming up brought up. Kirk says there hasn’t been any real danger, aside from the gun and the academy buddy who beat him up. Oh, and speaking of danger a samurai appears near Sulu and attempts to attack him. Sulu runs away and meets up with Kirk, and they both discover their phasers no longer work thanks to the energy drain the planet seems to be having on everything.
Everyone splits up looking whatever is making those tiger sounds (a tiger maybe), which seems like another bad idea. McCoy and Barrows encounters a knight. McCoy says hallucinations can’t harm them. The knight charges McCoy, which is when Spock and Kirk find him.
McCoy is killed by the knight! Maybe now everyone will believe that the danger is real. Kirk shoots the knight with Sulu’s gun, and when Sulu checks the knight, they find that he’s a wax dummy and was never alive. Everyone comes over to check on the knight, which appears to be some variety of a casting that was manufactured.
The Yellow and Blueshitrt are attacked by a Japanese fighter plane (why not?) and it seems that the Yellowshirt was gunned down in the process. Score another one for the mysterious planet. Speaking of mysterious, someone’s taken McCoy’s body. Spock finally makes the connection that everything that everyone is seeing was manifested by their imaginations. As Kirk is talking about how he was thinking about Finnegan earlier, Finnegan appears once more and Kirk runs after him, leaving Spock with the rest of the crew. That’s a PERFECTLY NORMAL thing for a ship captain to do. Finnegan knocks Kirk out during a fight and tells Kirk to sleep as long as he likes. Kinda weird, no?
Kirk comes to and wants answers from Finnegan after doing some negotiating with his fists. Finnegan is doing a bit too much licking of his lips for my comfort levels. Spock comes by and wants to know how Kirk enjoyed beating up the guy who he’s been fantasizing about beating up for the last fifteen years. Spock makes the assertion that something is manufacturing fantasies for them, and it seems the planet’s defense system kicks in to send the tiger and the plane after them.
This episode is just too weird to recap this way. There is an alien race underneath the surface of the planet that has been manufacturing all of these weird things for the crew of the Enterprise. Kirk and friends meet the caretaker of this planet that doubles as an amusement park. The planet was put together for an advanced race of people.
“The more complex the mind, the greater the need for simplicity of play.” -Kirk
McCoy appears with two ladies in furry bikinis from a memory of his from Rigel II. They repaired him under the surface.
The caretaker won’t answer Kirk’s questions because humans aren’t ready to understand what’s going on across the planet. Despite a human lack of understanding of the fundamentals of the planet, the caretaker invites the crew of the Enterprise to come and play on the planet’s surface. Kirk tells Uhura (the ship’s power came back on) to start beaming people down.
What a bizarre episode, and a return to the message from the earliest episodes. There is more out there that humans can’t possibly understand, no matter how advanced we believe we are and how far we have come. Whatever fun we can have on the amusement planet, we aren’t ready to understand it. It’s not knowledge we’re yet meant to have. Similar to Where No Man Has Gone Before and The Menageries Parts I and II.
What happened to the female Yellowshirt? She was shot and it was never acknowledged!
First aired December 29, 1966
Crew deaths: 0