The Great Star Trek Rewatch: Elaan of Troyius

The Enterprise is on a vital diplomatic mission to unite the once-warring planets of Elas and Troyius by ferrying Elaan, Dohlman of Elas to her arranged marriage to the Troyan leader. A fiery woman from a society where strength is prized, Elaan isn’t about to walk demurely to the altar, and whilst Kirk tries to teach her how to conduct herself in peaceful society, he must deal with both Klingon sneak attacks and the aphrodisiac effects of Elaan’s tears.

When I first watched this episode, I remembering disliking it simply because Elaan was so annoying, and caused such trouble for the Enterprise crew – women, eh? On rewatching, I came at it from a different angle – Elaan is still annoying, but she’s also a victim of both her circumstances and of sixties attitudes to woman. She’s berated for being too violent and demanding, but she’s a high ranking person from a society that prides itself on strength – no one has ever said no to her in her life! And if she seems a little irate, well, she is being sent away from her home to marry a man she doesn’t know, on a planet she has never visited. Kirk calls her uncivilised, but really it’s just that her society’s values are different. And besides, he also says that Vulcan is the only planet where the women are logical, so he can go hang on that one.

At the Final Frontier

  • Apparently any old dilithium crystals will do in a pinch, regardless of their shape and purity. Maybe Scotty really is a miracle worker.
  • Space battles can take place at warp speed.
  • Once again, letting visiting aliens have free run of the ship is a bad idea, as one of Elaan’s retinue rigs the ship to explode if the Enterprise goes to warp.
  • Elaan seems quite interested in getting spanked by Captain Kirk.
  • It’s unclear whether Elaan really fancies Kirk, or whether she was just manipulating him in the hopes of avoiding an undersirable arranged marriage.
  • The tears of Elasian women contain a bacterium which causes men to fall irrevocably in love with them – at least, until McCoy isolates a cure. It turns out, however, that his devotion to the Enterprise is enough to help Kirk overcome the effects of Elaan’s tears.
  • The Klingons recklessly attack the Enterprise despite the Organian treaty – and suffer no consequences for it.
  • Kirk worries that sending a message back to Starfleet will let the Klingons know that the ship is damaged. I hope he means that he’s worried about the fact of them intercepting a message, rather than that they were planning to send it unencrypted. Or maybe it’s part of a longer game in which they want the Klingons to think they’ve cracked Starfleet encryption so that they can broadcast misinformation.
  • Nurse Chapel wonders why the Elasian men would want such disagreeable women – because of course in the enlightened 23rd century women should always focus on making themselves as attractive as possible to men. You know what – I want to write some hot lesbian Elasian fanfiction about now.

Summary – Elaan of Troyius: The 23rd century has a remarkably 1960s attitude to women.

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