The Great Star Trek TAS Rewatch: Bem

The Enterprise is playing host to an observer – Ari bn Bem from the planet Pandro. On a mission to observe the natives of an alien planet, Bem decides to accompany Kirk and his landing party, only to create trouble at every turn.

To be fair to it, Bem is an episode that showcases some classic Star Trek elements. Get out your bingo cards, folks, because we’ve got all of the following:

  • An alien observer who turns out to be a complete jerk who makes trouble for the crew and fails to listen to orders.
  • A primitive alien species that the Federation wishes to observe.
  • Kirk and Spock getting captured by said aliens.
  • An advanced alien race who is initially displeased by the Enterprise’s presence, but is won over by a speech from Kirk.

It also throws in the obligatory “TAS only” element – Bem appears to be humanoid, but is in fact a ‘colony’ life form made of an independent head, torso and legs. This might be an interesting concept, if it didn’t look so utterly ridiculous on screen.

Overall, as with so many TAS episodes, there isn’t really time to develop any of the plot threads to any depth – it’s just a procession of narrative beats with little chance to dwell on any of it. Then again, we can continue to be thankful for the short runtime of each episode – 45 minutes of this would be intolerably bland.

Other notes

  • This is actually the first time Kirk’s middle name is specified as Tiberius.
  • There are numerous questions one could ask about Bem. How do the disparate body parts receive nutrition? How do individuals choose who to combine with? Do the body life forms have to raise the helpless heads? Most importantly, though – how are Bem’s upper body parts able to float when his legs are detached?

Summary – Bem: Tries to include all the classic TOS elements, but just comes across as bland.

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