Five years ago, respected scientist Dr Roger Corby went missing on an alien planet. His fiancée Christine Chapel joined Starfleet in the hopes of findng him, and now it seems like she may be in the luck. The Enterprise has just reached the planet where Corby went missing, and against all the odds, he appears to be alive. But his amazing discovery of android technology seems to have changed Corby – and not for the better.
This is one of those episodes that could only be more classic if something had happened to the (di)lithium crystals along the way – in all other regards, it scores pretty highly. Two redshirts die within the first few minutes of the episode, Kirk is duplicated, Spock figures out what’s going on, and the apparent superiority of artificial life forms is shown to be false. This latter point is a repeating motif on TOS, and here we have a man who believes that the future of humanity lies in transferring human conscious to android bodies. But as we see, removing the unpredictability and irrationality of human episodes mean that the resulting androids lose something – they are confused by love, unable to feel deeply, and ultimately bound by their orders. It might feel like old hat nowadays, but Star Trek would hardly be worth its salt if it didn’t thoroughly explore artificial intelligence for itself.
Scotty, McCoy and Sulu don’t get to appear in this episode, but in their place, Christine Chapel steps forward. We learn that she gave up a promising career in biochemical research in order to become a nurse on the Enterprise, so she’s clearly very smart. Unfortunately, whilst she does get to go down to the planet’s surface, she doesn’t really do much but moon over Roger whilst she’s down there – all the proactive stuff is done by Captain Kirk. Chapel is clearly jealous of Roger’s beautiful female android Andrea, and whilst Roger insists that Andrea is merely a tool rather than a woman, one can’t help but think that he still used her as a sex-bot. After all, no one would argue that a fleshlight is anything but a tool. Later, Andrea is reprogrammed to serve Christine as well, but sadly there are not hot lesbian android-on-nurse scenes.
How Things Would Be If I Were in Charge of the Enterprise
This is the first episode with honest to goodness redshirts wearing red shirts, beaming down with the captain, and almost immediately dying. How could we have saved them? Personally, I would have tried to map out the caves with the Enterprise’s sensors, and then provided the away team with maps, so that falls off dangerous precipices were less likely to occur. Also, no one person would be left on their own and out of sight of others, minimising the possibility of being snuck up on by an android. Scans for life forms might have helped, although it’s possible that the androids might not have shown up on the scanners.
Summary – What Are Little Girls Made Of?: One of the perils of long-distance relationships is that your fiancé might turn himself into an android. You have been warned.