Star Trek is an awesome show. Its cultural impact is immense, its legacy is secured, its effect on the world around it is enormous. But within all that incredible impact, you find a couple of oddball episodes. Not that they’re necessarily bad, though they often are. Look, taking risks means striking out every once in a while. You end up with some Star Trek episodes that are just weird, either in conception or execution. Let’s dish.
Angel One (TNG)
On a world run by women, men are treated as second-class citizens. And it turns out the women are super awesome at subjugating men!
Intended as a comment on Apartheid in South Africa, it instead ended up as a commentary on the writers’ apparent fever dream of how brutally terrible a society run by Tumblr Feminazis would be. I would say that it’s like 4chan wrote an episode, but 4chan has actually written half-decent Star Trek scripts. Throughout the episode, we see the women running this society acting with blatant and insulting disregard for the men below them. Cultural bias hasn’t worked that way since slavery, basically. And considering how ham-fisted and poorly-written the dialog was, it really read like gender politics were the real problem here.
Maurice Hurley, the TNG showrunner summed it up when he delivered his review of the episode: “Terrible. Just terrible. One of the ones you’d just as soon erase.” We feel ya, Maury.
In short, Wesley Crusher is almost executed for falling in a flower bed. You see, this utopian society, when no one needs or wants for anything, also has completely arbitrary rules. And apparently that’s what led to the utopia—you know, like the Purge series of movies. Oh, and we also see the return of the infamous X-dresses! But this time on dudes who are severely sunburned.
Code of Honor (TNG)
Star Trek’s original run is rightly remembered for breaking racial boundaries on television. Later episodes didn’t always live up to this ideal. Take the completely racist episode of Next Generation in which the crew meets a race composed entirely of Black folks. And then the whole episode is about a Black man aggressively pursuing a white woman.
It doesn’t play super well on screen either. The director, Russ Mayberry, was actually fired behind this episode, let go before it even aired. Jonathan Frankes (Commander Riker) tried to keep the episode from airing, but was unsuccessful.
Spock’s Brain (TOS)
This episode shows up on just about every list of Star Trek episodes, good or bad. You could say that makes it controversial, but it’s more like the episode everyone loves to talk about. Here’s the skinny: Spock, for Script Reasons, gets his brain removed. But fear not, he still lives! In fact, it turns out that Vulcans can live without their brain for a full Earth day! What unbelievable luck. McCoy is even able to strap a set of reading lamps on to Spock’s skull and control his movements from afar. Kinda like a Spock video game? But don’t worry, they put Spock’s brain back in the end.
Seven of Nine, the Sexy Robot Lady, fights Sexy Wrestler Man in With Face Makeup. That’s right, Seven’s challenger is none other but Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson! This was before Johnson made his bones as an actual actor, so the placement was jarring. Especially since he did all his Rock stuff, including his trademark eyebrow raise and drawn-out sniff. Probably intended to promote UPN’s other show, WWF Smackdown, this casting seemed super weird to Trek fans at the time. It might feel more natural to folks that have seen Johnson be incredibly charismatic in such high-quality films as Fast & Furious: Waterpark Adventures or whatever.
The Way to Eden (TOS)
Kirk must defend the Star Trek enterprise against an encroaching group of space hippies with long hair, weird clothes, and the malicious application of campfire sing-a-long songs. The hippies are too stupid to achieve their ultimate goal of finding their fabled planet Eden, but not stupid enough to totally fail in taking over a Starfleet vessel. So, ya know, plot convenience strikes again. Oh, and there’s no doubt this episode was intended to skewer the 1960s counterculture: the condescension just shoots out of the screen.
The Naked Time (TOS)
Wanna see George Takei act like a total nut? Then this, my friend, is your episode. Also known as The One Where Sulu Fights People With a Sword. The crew of the Star Trek Enterprise is subjected to a Plot Device that removes their inhibitions. Does this make them all act like ultra-drunks? You friggin’ bet it does, my dudes! But wait, there’s more: Nurse Chapel confesses her love for Spock, Riley appoints himself captain and broadcasts what Memory Alpha aptly calls “a one-man musical/comedy show,” and Spock is deeply disturbed by his inability to express love for his human mother.
Spectre of the Gun (TOS)
The crew of the Enterprise is sentenced to death for invading the space of an alien planet. Screw the Prime Directive, right? For some reason, the manner of the crew’s execution will be based upon a reenactment of the climactic gun battle at the O.K. Corral.
That’s Not Even All of Them
Did we miss your favorite oddball Star Trek episodes? Blast this dumb author in the comments We could have probably listed all the time travel episodes, or the ones that are based on some kind of forced romance. Or just talked about Fistful of Datas for a thousand words.
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