Star Trek Re-Watch: “What Men Dare Do”

“What Men Dare Do”
Written by K.C. Hunter and Benny Russell
Directed by Allen Smith

Season 2, Episode 13.5
Production episode: 2×19
Original air date: April 1, 1968
Star date: 3253.6

Mission Summary:

In full dress uniform, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock await a special guest in the transporter room: Commodore Robert April, the first captain of the Enterprise. We learn that he just celebrated his thirtieth anniversary in Starfleet. To reward his exemplary service, they’ve promoted him to Federation Ambassador and assigned him to a diplomatic desk job on a planet. Kirk warmly welcomes the ambassador, praising his handling of an early encounter with the Andorians, while Spock greets him as an old acquaintance. They apparently met when Captain Pike assumed command of the ship, and April comments, “Heard about that nasty business on Talos IV. Thanks for taking care of Chris.”

The captain and first officer take him on a tour of the much-altered ship. Spock helpfully lists each aspect of the ship that has changed since his command, from the wall panel circuitry to the turbolift hydraulics couplings. April notes that he Spock is “as Vulcan as ever,” and gives Kirk a knowing look. When they reach Engineering, Mr. Scott runs through some of the overhauls he has completed, and April compliments him on “keeping the old bird flying.” They eventually make their way to the Bridge, where April nostalgically fondles the console buttons on the captain’s chair as Kirk sits in it. It’s been a long time. April offers the captain some advice:

APRIL: Don’t let them promote you, Jim. Don’t let them transfer you. Don’t let them do anything that takes you off the bridge of this ship, because while you’re in that chair, you can make a difference.

Soon a large blue planet fills the viewscreen. They have arrived at their destination, the Federation planet Risa. As they prepare to head to the transporter room, Uhura anxiously warns the captain that a Klingon vessel is in orbit around the planet, too.

Uhura tells Kirk that the Klingons have not raised their shields or otherwise made any hostile gestures, but that a party has just beamed down to the planet. Kirk, nonetheless suspicious, insists on taking a security team to accompany April to his new post.

He, April, Spock, Dr. McCoy, and three redshirts beam down to the surface. They are greeted by a beautiful Risian local woman named Lemara who tells them, “All that is mine is yours.” This is already obvious from her costume, but all right. She then tells them that they must all disarm if they wish to remain on the planet—Risa is a peaceful place meant for relaxation and pleasure, and they won’t need weapons for their little sojourn. I mean, unless you’re a fan of metaphor. Which I am. The Risians, for the record, look like they got lost on their way to a Roman orgy, complete with wispy bra-substitutes and Skinemax soft focus lighting. But no time for love, Dr. Jones: Kirk asks after the Klingons, and the woman politely explains that they, too, have surrendered their weapons. Kirk reluctantly respects this custom and orders his men to hand over their phasers.

Just then a group of Klingons approach, reminding us that this is not, at least not yet, going to devolve into cable television. The leader, Korax, thanks Lemara for her hospitality, and tells her how much his men have been looking forward to shore leave. The men don’t show any enthusiasm at the prospect, but okay. They also seem to be completely uninterested in the Risian women sashaying around them.

KIRK: Captain Korax, I’m surprised to run into you again in a place like this. In fact, this raises a delicate question that’s I’ve been curious about for some time…
KORAX: And what is that?
KIRK: I’ve never seen a Klingon woman. Perhaps some of them will be joining your men on this beautiful planet?
KORAX: Our females remain on board, where they belong.

Ouch! Kirk remains suspicious of Korax, but April asks him to lighten up a bit. In his role as ambassador, he encourages Kirk to call for shore leave as well. What better way to repair the rift between mortal enemies than to encourage them to frolic together on a pleasure planet? Ah, diplomacy of the future… April is clearly the right man for this job. Korax picks up on Kirk’s reluctance and baits him:

KORAX: Your Federation arrogance. The self-proclaimed peacekeepers of the galaxy, claiming moral superiority over other races. Are you afraid we’ll see you for what you really are when you’re surrounded by temptation, Kirk? I already know how easily Starfleet officers are provoked to violence.
KIRK: Not at all. We simply don’t have time for shore leave. We’re just here to see the Ambassador off, and we’ll be on our way.
APRIL: Nonsense, Jim. The Enterprise isn’t needed for anything urgent right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been called in for glorified taxi service. Your crew should take advantage of the R&R while they can. No telling when you’ll be back in this system.
KIRK: But our orders—
APRIL: I’m an ambassador now. The title comes with some privileges, and I would feel much happier with the Enterprise up there while I get settled in my new office. I’ll clear everything with Starfleet.
KORAX: What do you say, Kirk? A friendly wager, to better the understanding between our two races. I’m willing to bet that my men will behave better than yours when left to themselves after three days of sun, liquor, and women.
KIRK: A wager? It should be easy enough to prove the quality of my crew. It’s the best in the fleet. But what’s at stake?
KORAX: Only our honor. Does that mean anything to you, Kirk?

Them’s fighting words! McCoy weighs in and agrees that the crew needs some time off before going on another deep space survey mission, and Kirk, who doesn’t want to appear afraid of Korax’s bet, finally agrees. He contacts Uhura and authorizes shore leave, to be implemented in rotating shifts. As an aside, he recommends that she send down two men for every Klingon on Risa, just in case they’re up to something. She requests to remain on the bridge and use the opportunity to make some upgrades to the internal communications array. On the bridge, Sulu leaps up to take his place in the first wave of leave, claiming seniority and rubbing it in Chekov’s face:

SULU: I can’t wait to see the luminescent underground gardens. I hear Risa has the most beautiful array of local species in the quadrant…and not just plants.

Chekov grumpily but half-heartedly notes that Siberia is much more lovely in the summer, and glares daggers at Sulu as he exits the bridge.

Back on the surface, the ambassador has invited Kirk and Spock to his new post, and offers them anything their hearts desire. He has a special gift for Spock though. From his bag he withdraws an odd-looking sculpture which he calls a horga’hn.

APRIL: This sculpture has special meaning. It’s based on an archaeological artifact discovered on Risa honoring the pursuit of truth and knowledge, what they call jamaharon. To carry this symbol identifies the bearer as a man of science, to be deeply respected and admired. It is a great honor, and I bestow it to you.
SPOCK: I could not possibly accept—
APRIL: That’s an order, Mr. Spock. When you leave you can put it on a shelf with your other accolades and awards, but while you’re here, keep it with you at all times.
SPOCK: Very well. I am honored, sir.
APRIL: Oh don’t be. Really.

He winks at Kirk while Spock studies the statue, and the captain seems oddly gleeful. April then encourages them not to waste their time with an old man, but to go out and sample the local fare, if you know what I mean. I think you do.

As they exit, they run into Lemara again, who seems suddenly very interested in Spock. She asks if he seeks jamaharon. Spock raises an eyebrow, clearly uncertain how to answer. Kirk deflects her question and asks her to show him around Risa, an invitation she eagerly accepts. Spock doesn’t want to intrude, and mentions he’d like to inspect Risa’s famous weather control systems. She raises an eyebrow in a perfect imitation of his expression, laughs merrily, and tells him again, “all that is ours is yours.” She then walks off arm-in-arm with Captain Kirk. Spock, utterly baffled, wanders off to seek the other members of his crew. Pfft. Women. Who knows what’s going on in their little heads?

He returns to the main complex and finds Dr. McCoy poolside, two Risian women flanking him, taking turns feeding him grapes.

SPOCK: Doctor.
MCCOY: Mr. Spock! Are you enjoying yourself?
SPOCK: That is a human emotion, Doctor, which which I am totally unfamiliar.
MCCOY: I’d hate to live on a world full of minds like yours. I, on the other hand, am having a grand time on a world full of minds like mine. I encourage you to do the same. (Glancing at his lady friends.) Elsewhere.

He returns to luxuriating in the sun and orders a drink from the pool boy while Spock moves on.

Meanwhile, Kirk and Lemara, presumably having completed their “tour,” return to the main complex. Kirk is still having trouble relaxing with the Klingons around so he hails Uhura for an update. She informs him that the first shift of shore leave has finished beaming down, and that nothing seems out of the ordinary. Lemara vows to “take his mind off his ship.”

Spock has since spotted Scotty in the distance about to unmoor a 20th century sailing ship. He explains that one day, when he retires, he plans to buy a boat and feel the sun and the wind on his face. He also says that he cannot get on with his trip until Spock moves aside, and he unmoors the boat and waves goodbye. A couple of Risian women emerge from the cabin and join him on the deck as the boat pushes off.

Lemara, meanwhile, has certainly worked her charms on Kirk. They engage in some ’60s face-pressing (or as the kids call it, “really lame making out”), and we see her hand slide along his belt… and… swipe his communicator. (You were excited there for a minute, weren’t you. It’s okay.) She then breaks off and tells Kirk that she has to “freshen up” and heads into the hallway. A moment later, Korax arrives and she reluctantly hands over the communicator. He tells her not to worry, he’s just trying to help the his old friend relax—by separating him from the “heavy responsibilities of commanding a starship.” She seems to accept this at face value and returns to Kirk. There’s still a little bit of Risa he hasn’t seen yet…

Back on the Enterprise, Uhura has gutted her communications console, and seems about mid-way through her upgrades. She suddenly receives a hail and crawls out from under her station to answer. It’s Captain Kirk calling from the surface, ordering her to send down shifts two and three for their shore leave. This of course would leave the Enterprise with no crew. She points this out and there’s a short delay, after which Kirk replies, “You’re right. Just send the men.” She barely contains her shock and surprise when she responds “Just the men?” “That’s an order, Lieutenant!” The transmission abruptly ends. Chekov leaps from his station.

UHURA: And where do you think you’re going, mister?
CHEKOV: You heard the Captain. You wanted to stay anyway. You have the Bridge.

Uhura’s left there with just a couple of female yeoman. She tries to call the captain back, but he doesn’t answer. She leans on her console in annoyance and something shorts out, sending up sparks and smoke.

Back on Risa, Spock finds Sulu strolling through beautiful underground gardens with three beautiful women. Sulu calls him over to show him a particularly interesting flower he’s found (the ladies clearly have other interests), but his companions immediately flock around the Vulcan, to Sulu’s dismay. Spock’s expression hints he might be feeling the all-too-human emotions of surprise and discomfort as he tries to extricate himself from the Risians’ attentions. Spock backs away with the horga’hn and the women trail after him. Sulu tries to convince them to stay but they’re gone. He turns dejectedly and picks the flower from the garden, idly plucking its petals as he wanders in the opposite direction, alone.

And that is how Sulu learned the true meaning of Spock-blocking.

April joins Kirk and Lemara as they watch a lively game on the beach that looks like a cross between volleyball and basketball with a shiny ball, a wide hoop, and sweaty voluptuous female players. Starfleet officers and their female Risian companions are lying on blankets all over the beach, sitting at the bar, and whispering at intimate tables throughout the resort. April notices Kirk staring at a group of three Klingons sitting by themselves around one of the tiny tables with untouched drinks in front of them.

APRIL: Still can’t keep your eyes off the Klingons? You should be more attentive to your date.
KIRK: I can’t help it. They’re up to something. I can feel it.

As they talk, Korax approaches the three Klingons and speaks to them. They jump up and hurry away. “That’s the happiest I’ve seen them all day,” April muses. Korax comes over to Kirk and apologizes but says they’ll have to continue their bet another time, because duty calls. “Now that’s something I can understand, Korax,” Kirk says. Lemara bids him farewell, asking him to return soon. Once the Klingon leaves, Captain Kirk visibly relaxes and allows Lemara to peel an orange for him. Like women do. For their men. Because it’s the future.

On Enterprise, Uhura receives a distress signal from a nearby scout ship. She asks Lt. Reed, the female officer at Sulu’s station, where the Klingons are. She doesn’t know—they must have slipped out of orbit, somehow. Uhura tries to contact the captain but can’t reach him, so she tries Spock. For a moment she hears a woman laughing, what sounds like “Ladies, please!” then the signal cuts out.

LT. REED: What do we do? Send a shuttle down to find out what’s going on?
UHURA: We don’t have enough people to spare. It’s up to us. Plot a course for the distress signal. Take us to yellow alert.

Uhura commands all remaining crewmembers to submit status reports, so she can inventory who’s left on the ship, and discovers she has about 50 women left on board. She assumes her position in the captain’s chair, a bit self-consciously given her uniform, and they warp to the distress signal.

Down on Risa, the three women who followed Spock are tossing his communicator to each other, over his head. He simply stands there helpless, surrounded by their laughter, completely at a loss with such illogical behavior. Chekov arrives and grabs the communicator as it sails by. The three women go “Awwwww” in unison. He returns it to Spock, who asks him what he’s doing there—Chekov was supposed to be on the third shift. Chekov is deeply distracted by the ladies, but he tells Spock that the captain ordered all the men to take their shore leave early. Spock immediately guesses something is up and tries to hail the ship but it doesn’t respond. He looks around and wonders, “Where are all the Klingons? I must find the captain.” He hands the delighted Chekov his horga’hn and heads off in search of Kirk.

The Enterprise arrives at the coordinates of the distress call, but all they find is the Klingon ship. Korax hails them:

KORAX: Such a lovely little prisoner! Thank you for the ship. Since I am not a wholly heartless man, I will allow you to surrender, rather than kill you all on sight. You are now subjects of the Klingon Empire. You’ll find there are many rules and regulations. Violation of the smallest of them will be punished by death.
UHURA: We have no intention of surrendering to you or your empire. Leave now, and we’ll spare you the shame of losing.
KORAX: You speak courageously. Obviously you do not know the difference between courage and foolhardiness. Always it is the brave ones who die. (To his first officer:) Fire.

The shields survive the first blast and she signals all remaining crew (not many!) to battle stations, asking senior officers to report to the Bridge. Lt. Reed tells her that shields are losing power and when they give out, the Klingons will be able to beam aboard. Uhura orders her to return fire. They score a direct hit, but the Klingon ship seems undamaged. The next barrage cripples the shields, and Engineering cannot seem to reroute power. Lt. Reed informs Uhura that a boarding party has beamed over.

Back on Risa, Spock finally locates Kirk and Lemara looking cozy on a beach blanket by the shore. He stands over them for a moment, uncertain of what to do. His shadow falls over Kirk and the captain blinks up at him.

KIRK: You’re blocking my sun. Oh, Spock, it’s you.
SPOCK: I believe we have a situation, Captain.
KIRK: This? This is what we humans like to call—
SPOCK: No, sir, not that. The Klingons have left Risa.
KIRK: I know all about that, Spock.
SPOCK: And I can no longer contact the Enterprise.
KIRK: You have my attention.

Kirk reaches for his communicator, but it isn’t there. He looks around for it in the sand, when his gaze falls on the Risian woman. She looks afraid, but she explains she was only trying to help him relax.

KIRK: You gave my communicator to the Klingons?
SPOCK: It’s possible, sir, that Korax tapped into the memory circuits of your communicator and forged a message, orders from you, using your own voice.
KIRK: Yes, you’ve done something similar, if I recall. What you’re telling me is that he ordered everyone to beam down to Risa, leaving my ship, my ship, defenseless.
SPOCK: Not everyone, sir, and not defenseless. Uhura attempted to contact me a moment ago.
KIRK: Attempted?
SPOCK: I was…occupied.
KIRK: I see. Go on.
SPOCK: Some of the crew is still aboard, but something must have caused them to move the ship out of orbit.
KIRK: And here we are… Trapped—in paradise.

Unable to reach the ship with their communicators, they head for April’s office to use his long-range subspace radio to contact Uhura and find out what’s going on.

Meanwhile, Nurse Chapel, Dr. Noel, and three female lieutenants have assembled on the Bridge, armed with phaser pistols. Reed reports that the shields are down and weapons disabled. Lt. Palermo in Engineering says it would be suicide to try and reroute power to weapons, as they’d lose warp power and any chance of escape. Uhura wishes aloud for one of Mr. Scott’s miracles. Dr. Noel at the science station informs her that a crew of about 50 Klingons have just beamed into Engineering:

UHURA: We have to disable them before they make it to the bridge. There are more of them than us, and they’re stronger, too. Suggestions?
DR. NOEL: Klingons do have a distinct physiology from humans. Perhaps we can take exploit those differences.
NURSE CHAPEL: They have twenty-three ribs, two livers, an eight-chambered heart, three lungs, redundant neural function, and multiple stomachs…
UHURA: Can we calibrate the internal sensors to detect them?
LT. REED: Yes, but that won’t do much but tell us their locations.
UHURA: Do it. Perhaps we can still target some other aspect of their physiology…
LT. REED: Can we turn off that alarm? (Referring to the Red Alert klaxons.)
UHURA: That’s it! What about their hearing? Is that as heightened as their other abilities, Christine?
NURSE CHAPEL: That stands to reason. They’d be vulnerable to high-frequency sound waves, which can could disable their hearing and impede their balance.
UHURA: That might be enough! I can patch the upgrade I made to the communications console into the ship’s PA, and blast them with a high-frequency sound wave that should disorient them.
NURSE CHAPEL: We would be equally susceptible, Lieutenant.
UHURA: You’ll figure something out. Security, keep them away from the bridge while I make the necessary adjustments. I just need time.

She calls Security to the bridge and starts poking around the still-open communications console.

On Risa, Kirk and Spock meet Scotty and April in the commodore’s office, where Spock fusses with the com panel, trying to track down the ship. Kirk is clearly furious with himself for allowing this to happen, but Spock expresses confidence that Lt. Uhura is capable of handling the situation until they arrive.

On the Enterprise, Nurse Chapel finishes handing something out to each of the female security officers who have gathered. Uhura sends them off into the turbolift to intercept the Klingons on the lower deck. A moment later, she crosses a couple of wires on her console. We see a group of Klingons marching through the ship’s corridors. When they move past an intercom, a piercing screech brings them to their knees as they drop their weapons and clutch their ears. A moment later, security officers approach from both ends of the corridor, phasers drawn. The scenario is played out in another corridor at the same time. They collect the Klingons’ weapons and surround them. One of the security women hits a button on the intercom to hail the Bridge, wincing at the loud noise but otherwise fine. The signal cuts out and Uhura asks for a status report. The Klingons stare blankly, unsure of why the women are unaffected. She smiles and pulls out her earplugs. “We have the Klingons, Lieutenant.”

Uhura has Korax brought to the Bridge before signaling his ship to negotiate for their release. Korax is absolutely shocked. There must be some mistake. The female Klingon who responds, Kreela, confronts him about his incompetence:

KREELA: I told you to make sure everyone beamed down. But your arrogance has cost you your freedom, and your ship.
KORAX: I underestimated you, all of you! But I will get my vengeance.
KREELA: Kill him. Incompetence has no place in the Empire. Pitiful men, can’t be trusted to do anything right… Though I do thank you, Korax, for the lovely ship.

She warps away, and Korax suppresses his rage. Just then, Spock’s message from Risa gets through:

SPOCK: Lieutenant! The Klingons—
UHURA: I know, sir. I suspect they would very much like to meet the captain.

She orders the ship back to the planet and sits in the command chair with a pleased smile.

Kirk returns to the Bridge with Spock, McCoy, Sulu, and Chekov—who take their stations somewhat bashfully from the women in their seats. Chekov perches Spock’s horga’hn at his navigation station. Kirk turns to Uhura, still in his chair, and asks what she would like to do with their Klingon prisoners.

UHURA: Since we can’t kill them or bring them with us on our deep space survey mission… I suppose we could leave them on the planet.
MCCOY: I doubt they’d see that as a compassionate act, Lieutenant. I’ve never seen anyone so miserable surrounded by so much beauty and happiness. Odd, wouldn’t you say, Mr. Spock?
SPOCK: If you’ll excuse me, I have duties to perform.
KIRK: Just goes to show, one person’s heaven is another’s hell. In fact… Uhura’s right. Why don’t we allow the Klingons a little bit more shore leave?
MCCOY: You are a cruel man, Jim.
KIRK: A moment ago you called it compassion, Bones.
SPOCK: Compassion is a very human form of cruelty.
KIRK: Quite right, Mr. Spock. Mr. Scott: Prepare the Klingons for transport down to the surface. Pick them out a nice spot on the beach, with plenty of sun. I’ll let April know about the impending party guests.

Uhura starts to rise from the chair to return to her console, but the captain tells her to sit in it a while, she’s earned it. She asks him how he’ll hail the ambassador while she’s in his chair, and he seems sincerely offended, saying “I was a lieutenant once, Lieutenant. I can operate a communications console.” He walks over to her console and looks quizzically at the buttons. Everyone on the bridge stares at him. After a few false alarms—literally, the ship goes briefly to yellow alert—he manages to make the call to the ambassador and explain the situation.

APRIL: It looks like I have my work cut out for me.
KIRK: Hopefully we will pass this sector again soon, and take that promised shore leave. Kirk out. (He pushes a button.) Sulu, plot a—
APRIL: Captain? I’m still here.
KIRK: Oh. My apologies. Good day, Sir. Kirk out. (Pushes another button.)
APRIL: Still here, Captain.
KIRK: Oh good Lor—Kirk out. (Long pause. Kirk smiles satisfactorily.)
APRIL: Is this how you run a ship, Captain?

Uhura, smirking, returns to her console and ends the call.


I can’t tell if this episode is actually sincerely an attempt to cast women into leading, powerful roles, a kind of joke that Roddenberry played to prove that the show could’ve worked as originally conceived, or if actually the joke’s on me. I’m going to go with sincerity, as I generally do, and praise the forward thinking here. We finally get to see a woman command the Enterprise, something that I don’t believe we ever actually see again. Uhura gets to take center stage for once and say something other than “Hailing frequencies open, sir,” proving her mettle as an actual commanding officer. I love the way that she doesn’t falter uncertainly or hem and haw about what to do. She gets input from the officers she has, and uses that information to come up with a game plan that utilizes her knowledge base: the communications system. My only criticism is that she falls once again into the trap of stereotypical ’60s career woman, rejecting any kind of vacation for her work. I guess Uhura going on Risian sexcapades probably wouldn’t have made it past the censors. (How the costumes did, though, I have no idea.)

The title is a line from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. It’s an exclamation by Claudio at his wedding to Hero, just as he’s about to reject her. The full line is: “O! What men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do!” That pretty much sums up this episode. I think the wager is important because ultimately this episode is (trying) to say more about the true nature of men than it is trying to prove anything about women. The “gentleman’s wager” proposed by Korax is what sets off Kirk’s need to prove his own men’s moral compasses, and that lets his guard fall enough to be duped by a well-intentioned local and practically lose his ship. Being perceived as confident and masculine is so important to the captain that it can, and is, easily exploited. On the other hand Korax has the same weakness—his arrogance and overconfidence in his own abilities leads him to vastly underestimate his first officer, refuse to heed her advice, and have his entire plan sunk in that instant. Confidence can only take you so far before it becomes recklessness.

All seriousness aside, I nearly died laughing at Spock with a horga’hn. My favorite bit of this episode was definitely Spock and his overpowering boredom on the pleasure planet. He can’t sit still for two minutes and enjoy himself, so he keeps seeking out his crewmates, who resent his intrusion on their fun. I think by the end of the episode Spock has caught on to the horgh’an’s real purpose, but watching him be so distinctly uncomfortable and struggle mightily to suppress it is just comic gold. And poor Sulu! Now I know where all those sad Geordi-is-lonely episodes came from in TNG.

We also get to meet Robert T. April, the very first captain of the Enterprise, who appears later in The Animated Series episode “The Counter-Clock Incident.” By then he’s being forced to retire, though interestingly there he has a wife, who is conveniently absent for his stint on Risa. I guess that would have put a big kink in his ability to fully appreciate Risa.

Speaking of plot holes: how the hell does Korax know that the Enterprise is going to be there in the first place? And whatever happened to the wager?

Torie’s Rating: Warp Factor 5

Eugene Myers: I couldn’t place this episode just from the title, but as soon as I saw the opening scene with Commodore April, I remembered it all vividly. This episode, one of the better humorous Star Trek installments, has many iconic moments: from Spock wandering around Risa with the horga’hn tucked under his arm to Uhura sitting in the captain’s chair with a woman officer at every station like some fanboy’s wet dream. In fact, I bet this made its way into many a fanboy’s fantasy, which is probably why it was only aired once in its original network run and infrequently in syndication, with heavy edits to some of the more suggestive bits. Though the plot doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny, which becomes increasingly true as we get into the later half of the series, it at least strives for some deeper meaning amidst the cheap laughs.

As the title suggests, this episode is about what makes men and women different, as much as it is about humans vs. Klingons. Though the “gentleman’s wager” ultimately fizzles into nothing, it was satisfying that after Korax accuses Kirk and the Federation of arrogance, it’s his own arrogance that leads to his own defeat.

Seeing Nurse Chapel on the Bridge may remind some of her previous role as Number One in “The Cage” and “The Menagerie,” and some have conjectured that this story was Roddenberry’s parting shot at the network before his role as producer was further reduced in the third season of the series. Some have suggested this episode actually prompted his more limited involvement in the rest of Star Trek.

As in “I, Mudd,” it’s interesting to see what each crew member pursues in his free time, especially since it’s not all women and drink like Korax suggests. It’s also fun seeing Kirk uncomfortable with a woman for a change and unable to enjoy himself on his forced vacation, the seducee instead of the seducer, and finally the jilted lover when he realizes Kemara’s affections were just part of her job. This also plays into the men vs. women theme, where Kirk finally meets his match.

Ultimately, as enjoyable as this episode is, it still falls short because of its unfulfilled potential, its loose plot, and the contrived bit with the communicator and the Klingon scheme to take over Enterprise.

Eugene’s Rating: Warp Factor 4

Syndication Edits: Establishing shots of the Enterprise as it orbits Risa; a sweeping panorama of Risa; a couple of racy shots of Risian ladies, including one near wardrobe malfunction; April gifting Spock with the horga’hn (which probably confused a lot of viewers when he began toting it around); McCoy ordering another mint julep; Spock’s entire exchange with Scotty at the dock; the female beach volleyball; various reaction shots of the all-female Bridge crew when Korax hails the ship; Spock steering clear of the horga’hn at Chekov’s console on the Bridge.

Best Line: CHEKOV: “Jamaharon? Mr. Spock, I do not think that word means what you think it means.”

Trivia: You can tell that these were aired out of production order because Korax doesn’t recognize Kirk two episodes from now in “The Trouble With Tribbles.” (He’s the jerk who insults the Enterprise and starts a bar fight.)

The Risian women’s costumes were made from doilies sewn into mosquito nets, if that explains anything. You know, actually, it really doesn’t.

Like with many things on Star Trek, the ability of the communicator to record and then replay previous messages is a nice little feature that never shows up in the series again, probably because it doesn’t make any sense (or because it so easily fooled them).

The first draft of this episode had Orions, not Klingons, as the main villains. They intentionally separated the men at gunpoint with the goal of forcing the women into sexual slavery. Roddenberry nixed the idea as being absurdly, obscenely offensive. We are all thankful.

April’s heartfelt advice to Captain Kirk on the Bridge was of course borrowed almost verbatim for the film Star Trek Generations, when Kirk passes on the same advice to Jean-Luc Picard about another ship named Enterprise.

The screenwriters for this episode, K.C. Hunter and Benny Russell, were referenced in the popular Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, “Far Beyond the Stars,” as writers for Incredible Tales magazine.

Other Notes: By now the studio understood that Spock and not Kirk was the lady’s fan favorite, so they requested a Spock-centric episode in which he flirted (as Vulcanly as possible) with an assortment of women. His role was substantially increased in this episode in response to those studio requests—something Shatner was none too happy about. This kind of blatant pandering is obvious again in the horrendous third season turd “Beach Blanket Tongo,” guest-starring Annette Funicello.

Speaking of stunt casting, the well-endowed actress who plays Lemara, Staci Peach, was a popular porn star in the 1960s and went on to be Playboy’s Miss April the following year. The episode was also shot at an actual beachside resort, which was unusual for the budget-conscious series. They saved some money by recycling old footage of Klingon battle cruisers and showing most of the battle from the Bridge.

Torie Atkinson thinks you should all be grateful she resisted the urge to turn Scotty’s lines into sexual puns. “I’m giving her all she’s got!” “She canna take anymore!”


Eugene Myers resisted making a bad pun about a “horga’hn conclusion” in this post. There, it’s out of his system.

This post originally appeared at

About Torie Atkinson & Eugene Myers

TORIE ATKINSON is a NYC-based law student (with a focus on civil rights and economic justice), proofreader, sometime lighting designer, and former blog editor/moderator. She watches too many movies and plays too many games but never, ever reads enough books. EUGENE MYERS has published short fiction in a variety of print and online zines as E.C. Myers. He is a graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop and a member of the writing group Altered Fluid. When he isn’t watching Star Trek, he reads and writes young adult fiction. His first novel, Fair Coin, is available now from Pyr.