I just rewatched Is There In Truth No Beauty? on DVD: digitally remastered, nothing cut, no commercials. Nice!
Here's a very unusual episode. We meet a Medusan and get a slice of a Medusan's life. This episode is also typical in many ways:
1) Kirk acts like a total masochist, as usual, for example, he can't resist the urge to tempt fate by tangling with a much stronger opponent (Spock, natch!), *again*. 2) Spock, despite supposedly being a pacifist, turns out to be a kick-ass fighter, *again*. 3) Kirk gets into a spicy situation with a sexy woman and, as in the episode Mudd's Women (and many others), it's NOT FOR SEX, it's duty-related, *and* nothing much comes of it), *again*. 4) Spock is insubordinate and/or kicks the stuffing out of Kirk and/or basically treats Kirk and/or other people like shit and gets away with all of it, *again*. 5) Once again, the story is obviously, openly, unashamedly ~really~ about a very unusual love relationship between two people of different species...and the people who are affected by it.
Oh, yeah, and there's that Kollos/Jones thing, too! ;)
Not only is neither Spock nor Kirk the guy who gets the girl in this ep, but it becomes pretty dog-gone plain that the one person that Kirk REALLY has strong feelings about is Spock. Not only is Kirk obviously, openly, unabashedly shady when it comes to his "courtship" gestures toward the woman-du-jour (which is made explicit) but the woman senses that something is off, and comments on it - so it's not just us seeing it: like in Catspaw, the woman that Kirk's fooling with can see/sense something is off, too, and she explicitly says so.
NOTE: In this episode, Spock consents to having another male share his body, and (to a point) he finds it to be an enjoyable experience. Kirk, OTOH, (like Jones) seems to be jealous.
In the opening moments we hear Kirk's voice explaining that the Enterprise is charged with transporting the Medusan ambassador Kollos to his homeworld. Medusans are described as a species so hideously ugly that the mere sight of one can cause humans to go insane.
[NOTE: Therefore, all kinds of wild safety precautions have to be taken.]
The first thing we see is Spock, Kirk, and Scotty in the transporter room. A human guy wearing a snappy, futuristic looking jumpsuit beams aboard alone, and Kirk advances to shake his hand, Terran-style, and welcome him. His name turns out to be Mr. Marvick, and he is obviously not the Medusan ambassador.
Marvick has been sent ahead to be sure that everybody is ready to duck and cover when the ambassador comes aboard. He reminds Kirk and Scotty to get the hell out of the way completely, and Spock is cautioned to remember his special safety visor.
Scotty is thrilled to meet Marvick, who turns out to be one of the guys who designed the Enterprise. They exit together.
[NOTE: And this detail is important....WHY? Marvik's familiarity with the ship explains how he knows how to do what he does later, but nothing ~really~ explains why he is here on this trip. Seriously, why is he really here? It's never really explained.]
Kirk stays behind a little longer, and, while alone, he and Spock share a typical slashy, emotional moment. Kirk expresses lingering doubt about the effectiveness of the visor, and he does this OBVIOUSLY, explicitly because he is "worried" about Spock.
[NOTE: He says he's worried about Spock's human half, meaning Spock's emotional half. We're talkin' 'bout the side of Spock that Kirk is most concerned with - Spock's human "soul". Remember that Kirk later says in ST2 that Spock's soul is human. Remember too that in ST3 Kirk says that Spock's soul is his business as much as his own soul is. Well, here you go: early proof that Kirk watching over the health of Spock's humanity, i.e. his emotional side, i.e. his "soul".]
Spock affirms his confidence in the visor, and Kirk seems reassured. After Kirk finally tears himself away and exits, Spock dons his visor and beams the ambassador up. The first thing we see is a tall, fine looking, human brunette. She is obviously not the ambassador. She introduces herself as Dr. Miranda Jones.
The ambassador is in a metal box on the floor next to the brunette.
[NOTE: Huh! We thought that was her luggage!]
Dr. Jones wears no visor, so Spock removes his.
[NOTE: Why not? They've got Prince Kollos in a can.]
Dr. Miranda Jones turns out to be the ambassador's whatduyacallit..."Traveling companion" and/or tarot-card reader.
[NOTE: We thought Kirk and Spock were an odd couple. Jones and Kollos make Kirk and Spock look normal by comparison.]
Kirk orders everybody to clear the halls so the Kollos can be safely taken to his quarters.
It's made plain moments later in a conversation between Spock and Jones that, like Spock, Jones is able to look at a Medusan through a visor, supposedly because she has studied how, on Vulcan.
[NOTE: NOW they wear the visors, although Kollos is still sealed in his can. Who knows why?]
Spock congratulates Dr. Jones, but she tells him her assignment with Kollos isn't definite yet. Spock tells her he's sure it will be a fascinating experience. Jones reacts strangely to Spock's conversational remark, getting defensive, edgy, and testy with Spock.
"I've heard, Mr. Spock, that you turned down the assignment with the ambassador!"
Spock replies carefully, "I was unable to accept. My life is here."
Dr. Jones smiles at this a little, for no obvious reason.
[NOTE: I smile too. His WHOLE LIFE is there, aboard the Enterprise, therefore he is staying on the Enterprise...where his life is.]
Once Kollos is placed on his pedestal, Spock reports to Kirk that the eagle has landed.
Kirk, prettily seated in the Captain's chair with legs crossed, acknowledges Spock's report.
[NOTE: sitting in his chair exactly the way Uhura is seated in hers, behind him. I'm not kidding. It's there. LOOK.]
Spock and Jones chat a bit, and Spock takes a moment to say hello to Kollos. Kollos opens his metal box and peeks out to greet Spock. Spock, although wearing the safety visor, still flinches at first, but he steadies himself, and silently communes with the telepathic Kollos for a moment. He seems favorably impressed by Kollos, and Jones comments that she senses telepathically that Spock wishes to take her place. Spock denies it.
[NOTE: It might be true, though. Spock always denies it when people say he's obviously showing emotion.]
After Spock exits, Jones doffs her visor and asks a question of Kollos. Kollos opens his box to chat back.
[NOTE: This is not carelessness. Jones doesn't need the visor. The reason why is revealed soon enough.]
Later, Jones is feted at a formal welcoming dinner, and, over after-dinner brandies, all the men present fawn all over her rather *too* obviously.
[NOTE: at this point we see one example of interesting symbolism that is repeated several times in the episode, namely, a red rose is brandished. The rose obviously symbolizes erotic love in this episode, just like it traditionally does everywhere else. The way the roses are used symbolically in the ep is significant.
In this scene, there is a vase full of roses of several colors on the table, and Jones idly toys with a wilting red rose in her hands _throughout this whole scene_.]
[NOTE: Jones pretty obviously isn't one bit impressed by any of the men. She sees nothing special in Kirk. She doesn't prefer McCoy. She's polite to all of them, but she seems a little threatened by Spock. Getting through the dinner seems to be a strain for her.
This is a highly symbolic scene that makes a point about Miranda Jones, not about the guys. The point of this scene is NOT to show what a killer-diller ladies man Kirk is, for example. The point of this scene is to show that Miranda rejects all men, no matter how supposedly attractive and nice they are.]
Right in the middle of his first big speech in this scene, Kirk lays an extravagant Vulcan-style compliment on Spock, and Spock hears it as such.
Kirk: "Tell me, Dr. Jones, why isn't it dangerous for you to be with Kollos? Spock I can understand... nothing makes an impression on him!"
Spock (obviously sincerely flattered): "Why, thank you, Captain!"
Kirk (sincerely and warmly): "You're very welcome, Mr. Spock!"
[NOTE: Just as Kirk is supposedly courtin' and sparkin' with Jones, he's actually strokin' Spock - and anybody with eyes can see this.]
Jones notices and comments on Spock's pin, a Vulcan IDIC. She seems to think he is implying something uncomplimentary by wearing it, but Spock tells her he wore it to honor her.
[NOTE: That's twice that Jones has been wrong about what Spock is thinking. Some telepath!]
Kirk jumps to Spock's defense, saying that he doubts that Spock would wear it merely to annoy her.
[NOTE: that's twice in this scene that Kirk had something nice to say about Spock.]
Now, finally, Larry's official interest in all of this is explained -Medusans are apparently brilliant navigators, and it is hoped that a link between a human and a Medusan can somehow magically make navigation problems easier to solve - and Larry is the guy who supposedly will create/build some kind of mechanical interface...
[NOTE: that still doesn't explain why he had to come along on this trip.]
There's an interesting conversation about goodness, ugliness, beauty, etc. Kirk at one point says, "Most of us are attracted by beauty and repelled by ugliness - it's one of the last of our prejudices." Kirk next caps this moment with a toast:
"At the risk of sounding prejudiced... to beauty! To Miranda Jones: the loveliest human to ever grace a starship."
[NOTE: Boy, that must be some strong brandy that they are drinkin'. It's not their usual stuff. The usual stuff is green: but what they are drinking is cobalt blue.]
The guys all drink to her. Miranda tolerates it.
McCoy asks, "How can one so beautiful condemn herself to look upon ugliness for the rest of her life? Can we allow it, gentlemen!?"
[NOTE: Like she is getting married to Kollos.]
Miranda saucily retorts, "How can someone so full of joy and the love of life, as you Doctor, condemn himself to look upon disease and suffering for the rest of your life!? Can we allow THAT, Gentlemen?"
[NOTE: that's tit-for-tat!]
McCoy tries another toast: "To whatever you want the most, Miranda."
They all drink to that.
Suddenly she blurts out that someone nearby is contemplating murder. Telepathic, yes, tactful, no.
Everybody reacts, alarmed. But the moment passes without incident, and the party breaks up soon after.
Abruptly, Jones excuses herself, abandoning the red rose she was toying with throughout the dinner scene. After everyone else exits, and when nobody is looking, Kirk picks the rose up, with a smile. Apparently he doesn't believe in letting a good rose go to waste.
[NOTE: Does this mean that Kirk is the one who is going to get the girl? NO! Then what does it mean? The stone that the pavers rejected has become the corner-stone, and the rose that the woman rejected... just watch for more roses. I'll illuminate as we proceed.]
Minutes later Dr. Jones is visited in her quarters by GUESS WHO!?
[NOTE: If you guessed KIRK, you guessed WRONG!]
~Larry Marvick~ drops in on Miranda Jones, and she already knows that his mad, unrequited, utterly conventional heterosexual love for her has driven him to desperation. She soon realizes that he is the one who considered murder. Marvick is upset that he is losing Miranda to ~Kollos~.
[NOTE: Not to Kirk, not to Spock: To KOLLOS. GOT THAT? THE LOVE TRIANGLE IN THIS EPISODE IS BETWEEN MARVICK, JONES, AND KOLLOS. Spock and Kirk get incidentally, accidentally, temporarily involved - but the love story in this ep is Jone's story about herself, and Marvick, and Kollos.]
Marvick presses a passionate kiss on Miranda, but she is ice-cold and unresponsive.
[NOTE: So, what's up with the rose that Kirk grabbed? If he's not the one who's grabbing Miranda, then what does the rose symbolize? Wait and see.]
Marvick sneaks into Kollo's chamber intending to do him harm, but is (of course) driven insane when Kollos opens his own encasement and reveals his own hideous, naked, Medusan splendor to Marvick's naked eyes.
[NOTE: Oh my GOD! A guy saw another guy naked! Horrors!]
The now totally nutty Marvick shows up in engineering, gains Scotty's trust, and seizes the back-up controls of the Enterprise. He points the ship to a spot outside of the galaxy, raving like a madman (which is what he now is) all the while.
The Enterprise "now lies derelict in uncharted space" as Kirk puts it. The ship got damaged, and on top of everything else, they are now hopelessly turned around. They can't figure out how to get back to where they came from. They are, like, totally lost n stuff.
In order to return the Enterprise to their proper place in the galaxy, either Spock or Jones (or someone like them) must mind meld with the Medusan ambassador who happens to be a superior navigator, but he has no regular fingers, n stuff. He basically has to borrow a conventional biped body for a while to work his magic.
[NOTE: Medusans, Deltans, Vulcans... it seems that almost anybody is a better navigator than humans. What can humans do better than them? Well, we do throw great parties.... I think we humans do top the list in the partying department.]
Spock modestly suggests that he might mind-link with Kollos for the purpose of tapping his skills in this emergency.
[NOTE: Which he actually has been "Jonesing for" from the start. What a handy-dandy emergency - making it possible for Spock to both mind-link with Kollos, and keep his "life" here aboard the Enterprise, too! And with Kirk's approval... what could be sweeter?]
Kirk frowns and asks about possible hazards, obviously because he is concerned about Spock's human half, again - still. Ultimately he agrees to Spock's plan. Spock warns that Dr. Jones would no doubt jealously interfere, so Kirk promises to distract her while the linkage is established.
[NOTE: Ok, NOW we get the big Kirk the killer-diller ladies man at work scene... and it is literally, explicitly WORK for him. It's duty related, and this is frankly made completely explicit.]
The scene with Kirk distracting Jones is a very interesting one that demands close examination.
The scene opens with a close-up on some pink roses.
[NOTE: NOT red roses.]
Kirk escorts Jones into the ship's little flower garden, and they stroll about slowly amid the floral splendor, and chat.
Kirk: "I may be sentimental, but this is my favorite place."
[NOTE: How ~butch~. NOT.]
He directs her attention to some red roses, and as she bends to smell them, she pricks herself on a thorn. Oddly this surprises her, although she has encountered roses before.
[NOTE: OK, so what's with that symbolism? Does it mean that Kirk has porked her, or that Kirk is going to pork her? NO! Its meaning is immediately made clear.]
Kirk: "You mustn't blame yourself because Marvick loved you."
[NOTE: The thorn symbolizes the pain love can cause. See? Simple.]
Jones: "I didn't want his love."
[NOTE: She also doesn't want Kirk's. Don't believe me? Watch.]
Kirk: "Someday you'll want human love and companionship."
Jones: "(disagrees)", and adds, "I agree with the Vulcans: violent emotion is a kind of insanity."
"A meeting of minds is all very well, but what about love, Miranda?"
[NOTE: We already know that love is one of the most important things in the universe to Kirk. Here's more evidence that he can't imagine life without it.]
Miranda gets testy, because Kirk is getting on her nerves. She turns her back on him and walks away in a huff.
[NOTE: Boy, that Kirk. Some smoothie with the women, huh? Yeah, yeah, smooth as a cinderblock.
Look people, cut the bullshit about "ladies man Kirk". Kirk is in fact completely inept with women and this episode, like many others, shows that. Miranda is not moved by Jim's bumbling blandishments because what a guy looks like is unimportant to her.
She can't see him, and looks count for nothing with her... and face it, he hasn't got much else to work with. It's not as if he's especially seductive or psychologically skillful. Even if he were, which he's not, she's a psychologist as well as a telepath and can figuratively speaking ~see through~ anything he can bring to the table... and in fact she immediately does.]
Jim: "Here we are among the roses... a very romantic setting."
Miranda, totally undazzled, sulks and waits for Jim to stop talking.
Jim (holding a stiff, totally unimpressed Miranda by the shoulders): "I wish there were moonlight too. Moonlight would suit you very well."
Kirk moves as if to plant a kiss on the icy, telepathic psychologist Jones, but she resists, stopping him cold with a very interesting remark:
Jones (dryly): "I see you are a very complicated man."
[NOTE: BINGO. She must be getting that info on the magical telepathic channel, because nothing Kirk actually said or did would indicate that he's in any way "complicated". Kirk's actual words and actions have been utterly basic stuff.]
Suddenly, Jones gets upset because she also senses on the magical telepathic channel that something is up with Kollos. She freaks out. Kirk tries to calm her, but face it folks, he totally fails at this.
[NOTE: Basically, he totally failed at everything he was trying to do with this chick. Those are the facts, folks. He doesn't even snag one dry little kiss.]
Jones tells Kirk that they have to stop Spock because he has no idea how dangerous Spock's plan really is. Kirk blanches. Gee. It's more dangerous for Spock than he knew? That changes everything! Kirk allows Jones to leave, and he follows her out.
[NOTE: Ahem. Obviously Kirk is not happy about Spock being in more danger than he was led to believe he was.]
[NOTE: Ahem. Maybe Jones is a more skillful telepath than we realized. She knows just what to say to turn Kirk around, pronto!]
They run like rabbits to confront Spock. McCoy is there. There is a four-way face-off in the hall outside of Kollos' room.
She demands that she be taught to pilot the Enterprise so that she can mind meld with Kollos and save the day instead of Spock. Dr. McCoy objects, revealing that Miranda is blind. It turns out that her unique gown incorporates a highly sophisticated sensor web, which is how she sees well enough to get around. This handily explains why she is in no danger from Kollos.
She can't see well enough to pilot the ship.
Kirk suggests that Jones ask Kollos for his opinion on the matter. She does, and is most dismayed to learn that Kollos has agreed to mind-link with Spock.
Kollos is moved to the bridge, and is concealed behind a privacy screen. Spock dons his visor, and melds with the ambassador. Moments later, a smiling and heartily cheerful Spock comes out from behind the screen, and he jovially greets everybody. Obviously, it's Kollos, using Spock's body to see, feel, and get around.
Kollos takes control and pilots the ship successfully back into their galaxy, with brilliant finesse. So far, the whole procedure is a complete success, and everybody is happy.
As the others celebrate the moment, Kollos turns away from everyone present, and begins to muse aloud, obviously talking to Spock about how interesting it is to be Spock, temporarily. He marvels aloud about Spock's wonderful body, then comments on how lonely Spock's existence is. Spock, the lonely half-human Vulcan, gets a sad, faraway expression in his eyes, as Kollos glimpses the depths of Spock's loneliness.
[NOTE: Well, Spock is a biological oddity. There is no one else like him in his whole universe. Of course he is, in an ultimate way, extremely lonely. How could he not be? Spock wrote the book on lonely, but Kollos doesn't even know what lonely really means.
Kollos comes from a place where those of his species easily merge both physically and mentally. The idea of being separate and so utterly alone is a new idea to him. Spock can merge mentally with others, but in the physical realm he's always utterly alone, even when he is with somebody, like he is now.]
Kirk sees this going on, understands what it means, doesn't like it, and speaks up.
[NOTE: Good old Kirk, ever watchful over Spock's emotional human half, like a cute lil' old guard-dog.]
Kirk demands in no uncertain terms that the link be broken, without delay.
[NOTE: Kirk doesn't mind if they dance, but he doesn't want Kollos to think that he shoulda packed a toothbrush, for cryin' out loud.]
Spock forgets his visor when he goes to say good bye to Kollos. Kirk sees this, and realizes to his horror that that means Spock has seen Kollos with his naked, half-human eyes. Oh, Lord, now what?
Kirk holds his hands out to Spock as if to give him a big hug, and he doesn't care who's watchin' or what they think of it, either.
[NOTE: I'm not exaggerating. That really happens. Look.]
Well, you know Spock has gone crazy when he rejects Kirk's tempting offer, and instead violently runs amok, like a homophobe who just learned that his best friend is a flaming fairy, or something. Spock fights with everybody on the bridge, and basically kicks everybody's ass, until Kirk stuns him with a phaser blast.
Thanks to Kirk, Spock ends up flat on his back in sickbay. Kirk paces restlessly in the hall, bitching non-stop to McCoy, as Jones tries to reach Spock's mind telepathically and salvage his sanity. Kirk expresses grave doubts about Jone's abilities and motives. McCoy defends her, and tries to calm Jim, but Jim is going out of his tree with worry and won't be calmed. McCoy tries to stop Jim from confronting Jones, but Kirk orders the doctor to stay out of it.
Kirk enters sickbay and sees Jones standing over the unconscious Spock, doing, basically, nothing. He gets bitchy with Jones, and hotly tells her that Spock is half-human, which is more human than she is.
[NOTE: No more Mr. phoney-baloney lovey-dovey. The gloves are off! Say good bye to your fantasies of "ladies man Kirk", and say hello to "DO NOT FUCK WITH MY MAN KIRK".]
Now when Kirk grabs Jones by the shoulders, it's not to kiss her, it's to physically intimidate her. He gives her a rough shake, and declares that it looks to him like she wants Spock to die! He, like, totally dislikes her now, n stuff.
[NOTE: Not that he ever seriously really liked her in the first place...]
Kirk, mad as swarm of aroused hornets, hysterically accuses Jones of telepathically making Spock forget his visor. Jones calls him insane. Kirk keeps roughly wrangling Jones and hollering, telling Jones that the real ugliness is within her.
[NOTE: I don't think he's going to get kissed now. Kicked, maybe, kissed, no. Of course, knowing Kirk, maybe that's exactly what he is angling for. After all, it's no secret that he is a masochistic S.O.B.]
"KOLLOS KNOWS WHAT'S IN YOUR HEART!" Kirk shouts. "You can lie to yourself, but you can't lie to KOLLOS!"
This apparently has the desired effect. Kirk realizes he has said enough, relaxes his hold on Jones, and backs out to exit.
[NOTE: Hmm. Maybe Kirk is smarter about women than I gave him credit for. He seems to know what to say to turn that harpy around and get her back on task, all right!]
[NOTE: Ahem. Kirk certainly is wildly, passionately, emotionally ~worried~ about Spock, eh? I mean, it's just over the top *and* over the moon. We've seen Kirk worried lots of times, but the only times we see him absolutely out of his tree and screaming, hysterical worried is over Spock. I mean, his brother dies (Operation Annihilate), and he shrugs it off. Spock threatens to die and OH MY GOD, TURN THE WHOLE GALAXY TO THE LEFT! Scotty dies (Changeling), and Kirk asks Nomad very nicely to fix it. McCoy threatens to die (World Is Hollow) and Kirk sadly resigns himself to the inevitable. Spock dies and it's a whole WAGNER TRILOGY.
Gee... could it be that Kirk is like, in love with Spock, n stuff? Mmm... ~could be~! Whether there is any _other_ plausible explanation is, however, doubtful.]
After this humiliating and ugly altercation, Dr. Jones focuses in earnest on Spock, and ultimately she is successful at putting him right-side up again, hoorah, hoorah.
It's the end, and Kollos and Jones are in the transporter room, saying good bye.
McCoy give Jones a very warmly personal farewell.
McCoy (taking her hand): "You have what you wanted most?"
Jones (smiling happily): "I am one with Kollos!"
[NOTE: She does NOT say, "Kirk fucked me raw last night. What a MAN!"]
Captain Kirk gives Dr. Jones a red rose as a parting gift, in a formal and utterly platonic manner.
Jones (smiling): "I suppose it has thorns."
Kirk (smiling): "I never met a rose that didn't."
[NOTE: And this means that Kirk porked her, or wants to? NO! Kirk never came close to porking her. Kirk didn't get to first base with her. She didn't want him too, AND he never really wanted to. They were never really interested in each other, at all! All she's been thinking about all along is Kollos, Kollos, Kollos.
As usual, all Kirk really cared about was SPOCK, SPOCK, SPOCK.
So what does the rose signify? What's with the roses? The rose action symbolizes Kirk's erotic kinship with Jones. They both have weird taste in men!]
Speaking of symbolism, what does the IDIC symbolize?
Jones (looking at Spock's IDIC): "I understand, Mr. Spock. The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity..."
Spock (finishing the thought for her): "...and the ways our differences combine to create meaning, and beauty."
[NOTE: The final score? Diversity, one - prejudice, zero.]
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