The Great Star Trek TAS Rewatch: The Ambergris Element

the Aquan council

The Enterprise is investigating Argo, a planet whose landmasses have become entirely submerged underwater. Events take an unexpected turn, however, when Kirk and Spock go missing after being attacked by a sea monster. When they are finally recovered, it turns out that their entirely physiology has been altered, turning them into water breathers! Unwilling to live underwater for the rest of their days, Kirk and Spock set about unravelling the mystery of their transformation.

Having felt a sense of ennui about TAS while watching TAS, it’s nice to follow it up with a pretty decent episode. Obviously that’s still only “pretty decent” by TAS standards, but nonetheless that still indicates a welcome improvement.

With its underwater civilisation and massive sea monsters, this episode fulfils TAS’s promise of doing stories that would not have really been possible on TOS. Just the thought of how bad the effects for a TOS version of this episode would have been is enough to make me shudder.

Of course, the plot is far from perfect. It’s not entirely clear why transforming Kirk and Spock in the first place was the only way to save them – why not just leave them unconscious on a rocky outcropping instead of unconscious in a shallow pool of water? And of course, as with any other TAS episode, we gallop through the plot a bit too quickly for any real development to occur. Compared to some other episodes, however, at least this time around the writers don’t try to pack in too many elements – instead, we just focus on one main storyline.

Other notes

  • This episode marks the first and only appearance of the “aqua shuttle”, a special submersible shuttle that gets wrecked at the start of the episode.

Summary – The Ambergris Element: Underwater shenanigans.

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