The Great Star Trek TAS Rewatch: The Lorelei Signal

The landing party wander through the women's compound.

When the Enterprise answers a distress call from the Taurean system, they discover a colony of beautiful women. While the men on the ship are lured down to meet these mysterious sirens, Uhura and Chapel discover that something is amiss.

Tropes! Get your tropes here! We’ve got tropes by the pound! Buy four tropes, get another one free! Yes, this is one of those episodes.

The basic premise, as summarised above, is that there’s a planet of beautiful, near-identical Aryan women, who need to feed off the life force of men to survive. To that end, they summon ships to their planet, convince the men to beam down, and then start draining them of all their energy in an entirely non-sexual manner. It’s a classic, “bitches, eh?” storyline that’s both extremely tired, and hasn’t aged well.

It goes without saying (but here I am saying it anyway) that the whole setup is entirely heteronormative. It’s only men who are lured down to this planet of women- although of course we know there are no gays on the original Enterprise. It’s implied later in the episode that the life draining effect is biological, so I guess there are no trans people on the Enterprise either (or the transporter is used to perfectly transition them).

Anyway, Kirk, Spock and McCoy all head down to the planet to enjoy some quality time with these beautiful blondes, only to find themselves becoming old and feeble with alarming rapidity. Meanwhile, Scotty and the other men left on board the ship are becoming increasingly spaced out and useless by their proximity to the planet. This leads to one of the few good things about the episode – Uhura essentially saying “sod this”, taking command of the Enterprise, and organising the female crewmembers to save the day. Since Uhura never got to do this in the main series, I’m glad she gets to here.

aged Kirk, McCoy and a redshirt drowning in a massive urn

For some reason I am incredibly amused by prematurely aged Kirk, McCoy and Redshirt almost drowning in a massive urn.

Of course, the women can’t fix everything by themselves – once Spock is rescued, he has to tell them what to do. Now, admittedly Spock would probably be single-handedly figuring things out for the benefit of his male colleagues as well, but it would have been nice to let the Enterprise women figure this one out. Similarly, even the evil blonde women aren’t allowed to be technically competent – they have an all-knowing computer to tell them everything they need to. Still, I guess they may well have programmed that very computer in the first place.

Finally, I can hardly move on without pointing out one little bit of randomness. When Kirk asks where all the men are, the “head female” tells him that they’re in another compound – to which Kirk replies “that makes sense”. I know Kirk was pretty out of it at the time, but does it make sense? Maybe it would if further explanation was offered, but as a statement it doesn’t so much make sense as it does invite further questions. If the men were actually alive and living in a separate compound, why? Because they’re a danger to the women? Because they need space to indulge in manly pursuits like cars and football? Are they in quarantine?

As with previous episodes, I enjoyed the freedom of the animated medium for making truly fantastic alien landscapes – the women’s compound certainly looks attractive. And even though the music is the same as it is for every episode, I especially liked it here – it just seemed to fit the action well.

Summary – The Lorelei Signal: Beware the planet of women – who knows what they might get up to?

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