The Great Star Trek Rewatch: Spock’s Brain

Yes, this is it. We are here, at possibly the most ridiculous episode of TOS. The synopsis – Spock’s brain is stolen – says it all. Not his consciousness, which we could get behind, but his actual physical brain. And not only does he not die instantly, but his brain-free body is attached to a remote control device so that he can accompany a landing party. No, really. I am not making this up.

At the start of season three, Star Trek was in a difficult place. Initially delighted that fan response saved the show from cancellation, Gene Roddenberry was disappointed when NBC moved the show from primetime to a graveyard Friday night slot. He threatened to leave the show, they called his bluff, and what was meant to be “the best season ever” was instead a shambles of low budgets and poor stories.

Which isn’t to say that we won’t encounter some good episodes in this season, but as you might have gathered, I don’t consider this to be one of them.

Why Spock’s Brain might just be the most ridiculous episode of them all

  • A mysterious woman beams aboard, knocks out everyone on the ship, and then performs surgery on Spock to perfectly remove his brain.
  • Spock doesn’t even die from this! What’s more, McCoy can keep him alive on life support for 24 hours – not a minute more or less.
  • The Enterprise tracks the brain to a planet where primitive, stupid men live on the cold, inhospitable surface, whilst equally primitive and stupid women live underground with the leftover technology from their once-advanced civilisation. Their dialogue includes “Brain and brain! What is brain?” and “I must not know the secrets!”.
  • Spock’s brain is located within a computer system, where he has been plugged in as “The Controller”. His job is to power the life support systems of the underground complex, and somehow his brain is completely able to do this.
  • Spock’s disembodied brain still speaks with Spock’s voice.
  • Spock’s body is brought down to the planet, connected up to a remote control system operated by McCoy (and later Kirk). This enables Spock’s brain-free body to walk around and even disarm one of the women – and all this without any adverse effects.
  • One of the women becomes temporarily smart by putting a device called “The Teacher” on her head. McCoy then does the same to gain the knowledge of how to restore Spock’s brain.
  • Apparently Spock’s brain is expected to operate the computer system for 10,000 years – and no other suitable brain will show up within that time, for some reason.
  • McCoy starts forgetting his advanced knowledge partway through restoring Spock’s brain. Once he reconnects Spock’s vocal cords, however, Spock is able to assist with the reconnection of his own brain. Imagine if you had to assist with your own brain surgery.
  • Everyone laughs and banters as if it’s just another normal day.

Oh, and I feel compelled to mention that the text in the credits is now blue instead of the familiar yellow we’ve come to know and love. This is indeed a strange, new world.

Summary – Spock’s Brain: “Brain and brain! What is brain?”

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