The Great Star Trek Rewatch: Is There In Truth No Beauty?

The Medusans are renowned as a race of deep intellect and amazingly complex thought, but for all they have to offer the Federation, interactions with them are difficult – for the very sight of a Medusan is enough to drive a human insane. Nonetheless, the Enterprise has agreed to return the Medusan ambassador to his homeworld, along with his two human aides. But with tensions running high amidst the visitors, it seems that disaster may be just around the corner.

Given that we’ll be wading into poor episodes more often than not this season, it’s nice to pause and enjoy the ones that are actually pretty good. Like The Enterprise Incident, this is a uniquely Star Trek episode, featuring both a new and imaginative alien, but a strong female character in the form of Dr Miranda Jones (Diana Muldaur again), a rare telepathic human who longs to mind meld with the Medusan ambassador, but who must first overcome her own doubts and insecurities – in particular, her jealousy of Spock and his Vulcan mental abilities.

To Boldly Go…

  • The idea of ESP in humans was central to Where No Man Has Gone Before, but has pretty much been ignored since then. This episode features the first true human telepath in Dr Jones; due to her abilities, she studied mind techniques on Vulcan, and considers the Vulcan way to be superior. It’s nice to have characters who appreciate the Vulcan way of life, since usually it’s mentioned in the context of Kirk and McCoy needling Spock about it.
  • In a precursor to the VISOR, the blind Dr Jones uses a sensor web placed over her dress as a stand-in for vision. The web seems pretty sophisticated, but is never seen again.
  • Larry Marvick, who also travels with the Medusan ambassador, is in love with Dr Jones. Of course, since he’s a man and she’s a woman, her saying no to him is not enough, and he has to keep pressing his suit even when it’s unwelcome.
  • I guess I can slightly forgive Marvick being given free run of the ship when he’s actually one of the designers of the Enterprise engines. Under those circumstance, special clearance to see ‘his’ engines is probably permitted.
  • The screen placed on the bridge to stop anyone but Spock seeing the Medusan doesn’t seem terribly protective – the sight of the Medusan could surely be seen round the edges of the screen, or reflected off a console. Or is it like the eponymous Medusa in that looking at a reflection renders the view harmless?
  • The Enterprise now seems to have an arboretum – perhaps it’s the next evolution of Mr Sulu’s botanical study area.

Summary – Is There In Truth No Beauty?: Both of Diana Muldaur’s TOS characters are much, much better than Dr Pulaski.

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