(written from a Production point of view)
Kirk loses his memory and joins the descendants of a tribe of Native Americans.
Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down into an idyllic location next to a lake on the planet Amerind, reminiscent of the American Pacific Coast. Kirk remarks on the "duplication" of the planet's evolution as compared to Earth, while McCoy notes the beauty of the flora.
They come upon an ancient obelisk covered with unknown alien symbols. Spock notes that the obelisk is "an alien metal of some kind, an alloy resistant to probe." Even the age is beyond the tricorder's ability to date. Spock examines the symbols but can offer no insight into their meaning. He speculates that to build such a monument would require a civilization equal to or beyond the Federation's ability. McCoy brands the planet "an enigma."
The trio only has thirty minutes to explore the surface before leaving the planet. They return to the lake and look across at a village which houses an indigenous, Native American-like tribe that is "a mixture of Navajo, Mohican, and Delaware" characteristics, according to Spock. Kirk feels it is similar to discovering a mythic lost society like Atlantis or Shangri-La.
McCoy suggests contacting the natives to warn them, but is discouraged by Spock. An asteroid is on a direct course towards the planet. The thirty minute restriction on exploration was to allow them to return to the ship in time to make the journey to a deflection point. As the time on the planet draws to a close, they return to the obelisk. On the way, Kirk remarks on the simplicity of life for the natives. McCoy diagnoses him with Tahiti Syndrome.
Before the landing party returns to the USS Enterprise, Kirk climbs up onto the platform at the base of the obelisk and flips open his communicator. A trap door slides open and drops Kirk into a chamber. He falls down some stairs and begins to pull himself up, accidentally leaning onto a control panel. As he regains his footing, energy tendrils strike out from the panel, immobilizing him and finally leaving him slumped across the controls.
Spock and McCoy attempt to scan the interior of the obelisk but have no success. They are unable to discover how to open the trap door.
McCoy berates Spock for suggesting abandoning the search for the time being. Spock explains the danger of delay in reaching the deflection point. If they fail to get to the deflection point in time, it would become impossible to divert the asteroid, and everyone on the planet including Kirk would be killed. The two return to the Enterprise.
Kirk regains consciousness and attempts to remember where he is or how he got into the chamber. He staggers about, looking over his phaser and communicator, disoriented, admonishing himself to "try to remember".
He ascends the stairs and the trap door opens to let him out. As he looks around, two of the natives arrive at the obelisk carrying baskets of fruit and bread. Presumably they are delivering them as sacrifices to the obelisk or to what they believe lives within.
At the sight of Kirk emerging from the obelisk, both kneel and cover their faces with their hands. One, the priestess, rises and climbs up on the platform with Kirk, saying "we are your people, we've been waiting for you to come to us."
Back on the Enterprise, Montgomery Scott warns from engineering that the ship is being pushed too hard. Spock urges Scotty to keep the engines at warp nine in order to reach the deflection point in time. Scott warns that "[they are] moving further into the danger range all the time."
On the planet, Kirk is brought before the tribal elder, Goro and medicine chief Salish. Kirk still remembers nothing of the asteroid danger or of his own history. The medicine chief, Salish, insists that he prove himself. The elder explains to Kirk that their legends prophesy that one will come "who can rouse the temple spirit and make the sky grow quiet". Kirk does not know whether this describes him or not.
As they are speaking, a young boy who had been caught in fish nets and had drowned was brought in. Salish examines him and states that "there is no sound in the boy, there is no life in the eyes, he will move no more." As he moves off, defeated, Kirk moves in and tries CPR on the boy. Within a few moments, the boy is breathing again.
While Kirk insists that it's simply a very old technique that "goes way back…" although he can't remember more about it, the elders acclaim Kirk, saying that only a god can give breath to the dead. Salish's medicine badge is taken from his forehead by the priestess, Miramanee, and placed on Kirk. All bow to Kirk, covering their faces. As Salish rises, his face twists in shame and anger.
The Enterprise has reached the deflection point, and Sulu prepares to target the asteroid. Spock asks Scotty for full power to the deflectors. Scotty provides it, worrying that the circuits will blow under the strain after such a stressful journey to the deflection point. Spock orders Scotty to bypass the relays.
As they activate the deflectors, the power flickers. Scotty reports that the dilithium crystal circuits are failing and must be replaced but Spock has him hold off on doing so for the moment. The deflectors start to move the asteroid, but the power drops and the asteroid has only moved 0.0013 degrees.
Spock moves the ship into the path of the asteroid. They will retreat in front of it until the power is strong enough to destroy the asteroid. McCoy worries that the power might not be enough and that they will be crippled in the way of their own destruction. Spock reminds him that they will still have impulse engines and will be able to get out of the way. McCoy counters with "Jim won't be able to get out of the way." For Spock, this is a calculated risk that must be taken.
Miramanee and Salish meet by the lake. Salish reminds Miramanee that she should be working on their ritual cloak. Miramanee tells him there will no longer be a ritual as the priestess and medicine chief always marry and he is no longer the medicine chief. Miramanee attempts to reassure Salish that any other woman in the village would be honored to have him, but Salish bitterly tells her that he will have no other. They part tearfully.
Kirk works in one of the shelters and Miramanee brings him clothing to replace his Starfleet uniform. He asks her about the gods of the obelisk, known to them as the temple. She is surprised as she believes he knows everything. He convinces her to tell what she knows. Miramanee tells him that the gods brought them there long ago and appointed a medicine chief to keep the secret of the temple and to use it "when the sky darkens". The secret is passed from one medicine chief to another. Salish's father, who was medicine chief before him, died before he could pass on the secret.
The elder joins them and asks Kirk his name so they may honor him. Kirk manages to remember "Ki… Ku…". With that, Goro, the elder guesses his name to be "Kirok." The elder knows that Kirk is displeased about something. Kirk assures him that he is happy and has never felt so peaceful before. He only doubts his ability to help them. Miramanee touches him tenderly and tells him that "here there is much time".
Under Spock's instruction, Ensign Chekov scans for the asteroid's weakest point from the science station. After determining it is almost dead center, Spock instructs Sulu to lock all phasers there to split the asteroid. The engine room scrambles to keep up with the phaser bombardment. However, this effects no damage to the asteroid.
Miramanee wakes Kirk and tells him their ritual cloak is finished. Kirk doesn't understand until she explains the traditional joining between the priestess and medicine chief. She takes his confusion as a sign that there is another. Kirk reassures her that "there is no one else in my mind or in my heart." He tells her to name the joining day. Miramanee chooses the very next day.
Scotty reports to Spock that the Enterprise's warp drive is non-functional and can only be repaired at a starbase. McCoy orders Spock to rest. Spock ignores him and signals Chekov to place them on course back to the planet. They will continue under impulse drive the 59.223 days back to the planet, trailed by the asteroid with only a four-hour gap. McCoy is disturbed by Spock's lack of attention to his rant. He notices that Spock is intently studying the tricorder images of the obelisk. Spock tells him that it is "another calculated Vulcan risk."
Miramanee dresses for the joining in her lodging while the elder paints Kirk's face on the platform of the obelisk. He tells Kirk that he will return to the village first to tell the priestess that Kirk will follow. Kirk walks back to the village feeling content and lucky. Salish jumps out and threatens Kirk. He pulls a knife and cuts Kirk's palm in their struggle. Salish is shocked and elated that Kirk cannot be a god as one would not bleed.
They fight and Kirk disables Salish. Salish tells him to kill him, saying, "I will not rest until I prove to my people that you are no god." Kirk leaves him and continues back to the village. Kirk dons the ritual cloak and Miramanee joins him under it to complete the ceremony.
Spock continues to try to decipher the symbols. He has gone without much rest or food for 58 days. McCoy diagnoses him with exhaustion. He reminds Spock that he made a command decision and it isn't his fault that the asteroid wasn't deflected. He also tells him Kirk probably would have undertaken the same course of action. Spock goes and lies down but returns to his work as soon as McCoy leaves.
A shirtless Kirk and Miramanee frolic together in the woods near the lake, kissing and laughing together. Kirk tells her that he is "so happy". Unfortunately, he is plagued by bad dreams. He dreams vaguely of the Enterprise and her crew. Miramanee tries to take his mind off "the strange lodge which moves through the sky" by showing him a gift. She brings out a swaddling board and tells him that she bears his child. Kirk is delighted.
Back in camp, Kirk shows Miramanee how he plans to set up an irrigation system to double the food production. She praises him for his invention of the lamp and his knowledge of food preservation, that will protect the people in time of famine. As they talk, a storm brews outside. Miramanee is frightened but is comforted by Kirk's presence. She looks outside and tells him that he must go to the temple "and make the blue flame come out". Kirk is confronted by the fact that he does not know how to get into the temple or how to stop the storm.
Salish and the elder arrive and urge him to go to the temple. Kirk suggests going to the caves, but Salish berates him. The elder demands that he "rouse the temple spirit". Kirk begrudgingly goes off to the obelisk and asks them to take care of Miramanee. Kirk stands in front of the obelisk and pushes and beats at the exterior to no avail. He begins calling out to the obelisk but the only apparent response is stronger winds and Salish smiling at Kirk's failure.
McCoy returns to Spock's quarters and sees that he is still working at his computer, trying to decode the language of the temple. Spock tells McCoy that the symbols are not words, but music. Spock has been working them out on his Vulcan harp. He has discovered that the people who made the obelisks are called The Preservers. They moved humanoid species in danger of extinction, placing them around throughout the galaxy in hospitable areas in order to save them. For McCoy, this answers the question of why there are so many similar humanoid species scattered throughout the galaxy. They speculate that the obelisk is an asteroid deflector that has been inoperative for quite some time.
Kirk's inability to make the obelisk work was noted by Salish who has brought the villagers to the temple to kill Kirk by stoning him. Miramanee tries to stop them, but Salish stops her. They struggle and he tells her to "go, go die with your false god." Kirk and Miramanee are both stoned by the villagers, and Miramanee receives a hard blow to her abdomen.
As this happens, Spock and McCoy beam down and this frightens off the villagers. Both Kirk and Miramanee have been knocked unconscious by the stones. They revive Kirk, but he does not remember Spock or McCoy. He calls out for his wife but, unlike him, she has not recovered as quickly. Spock speaks with her and figures out some of the missing pieces. Nurse Chapel joins the team with an emergency surgical kit and she and McCoy tend to Kirk.
Sulu calls to report the time to impact. Discovering they are dangerously short on time, Spock performs a Vulcan mind fusion on Kirk to restore his memory. Spock breaks the meld, and McCoy asks what is wrong. Spock replies "His mind… he is… an extremely dynamic individual." Kirk rises and says, "It worked."
Once again himself, Kirk looks to his wife. Spock interrupts and asks him about the interior of the obelisk. Kirk says that it is filled with equipment, and Spock explains that it is a deflector device. Kirk and Spock work to try to re-enter the interior. Kirk re-opens his communicator and the trap door opens. Kirk kisses Miramanee and asks McCoy to help her. Spock and Kirk go down into the monument and try to discover how to work the controls. Spock manipulates what he believes to be the correct controls and a blue beams emits from the obelisk and successfully pushes off the asteroid away from Amerind.
Kirk goes to the shelter where McCoy has laid Miramanee. He asks about her condition and McCoy tells him that her internal injuries are fatal. After McCoy leaves the two of them alone together, Kirk tells Miramanee that the planet has been saved. Miramanee does not realize she is dying or Kirk's real identity and speaks hopefully to Kirk about how she will give him a happy life with many children, when she is recovered. Kirk holds her and confirms his love for her, kissing her just before she dies.
"Kirk to Enterprise…"
- - Kirk, hailing the ship; also the same musical tone that opens the entrance to the obelisk temple as he would soon discover
"That Vulcan won't be satisfied 'til these panels are a puddle of lead!"
- - Scott, as the Enterprise fires its phasers on the asteroid
"My bairns. My poor bairns."
- - Scott, after the engines burn out
"The sooner our happiness together begins, the longer it will last."
- - Miramanee to Kirk, on marking their wedding day
"Well, Spock, you took your calculated risk in your calculated Vulcan way, and you lost! You lost for us, you lost for that planet, and you lost for Jim."
- - McCoy, on Spock's failure to destroy the asteroid
"Behold! a god who bleeds!"
- - Salish, after he slashes Kirk's hand
"And as for the pressure, that green ice water you call blood–"
"My physical condition is not important, Doctor. That obelisk is."
- - McCoy and Spock, on Spock's fixation with the obelisk's markings
"Well, what do you wait for, god? Your robes?"
- - Salish to Kirk, as the weather starts to worsen
"I bear your child."
- - Miramanee, to Kirk
"I am Kirok!!"
- - Kirk, shouting against the wind
"His mind. He is an extremely dynamic individual."
- - Spock, after breaking his mind meld with Kirk
"Each kiss is as the first."
- - Miramanee's dying words
"All I can tell you is that I'm happy and peaceful here. I'm not sure, but I think I've never felt that way before."
- -Kirk, to Goro
"And I'll love you, Miramanee. Always."
- -Kirk, to Miramanee
Story and script
- The original title for this episode was "The Paleface". (Star Trek: The Original Series 365, p. 275)
- Although not mentioned on screen, the planet in this episode, according to the script, was called Amerind.
- Several months pass over the time of this episode, making it by far the longest time period in a single episode of the original series.
- This is the second time in three episodes that Spock performs a mind-meld on Kirk.
- The original script had Miramanee surviving with Kirk's child.
- The obelisk was built especially for this episode.
- The lake featured in this episode is the Franklin Reservoir above Los Angeles. It has been featured in hundreds of westerns and police shows, but is most famous as the fishing hole in the opening credits for The Andy Griffith Show. (Star Trek: The Original Series 365, p. 275)
- Other than the street sword fight in "All Our Yesterdays", this was the only episode with outdoor shooting in the entire third season. Budget constraints caused severe cuts in location money, hiring of extras to populate the ship's corridors and Matt Jefferies' set designs. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- Although only seen in the distance in a couple of shots, the little village on the far shore of the lake included some realistic details – the people can be seen working on canoes.
- As a subtle hint of the time Kirk has spent on the planet, small sideburn appliances are added to Shatner's head to give them a squared-off shape instead of his regular points.
- The robe made of colorful feathers Kirk wears during the wedding ceremony can also be seen in the 1966 Batman episodes "The Spell of Tut" / "Tut's Case is Shut", worn by King Tut (Victor Buono).
- Several unique visual effects are used in this episode in the forced perspective engine set, as Scotty's "bairns" are put under a great deal of stress. Recycled footage from this scene can be seen in "The Savage Curtain".
- Only in this episode do we see the ship firing its gold deflector beam.
- The asteroid was recycled later as the Yonada in "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky".
- Gerald Fried contributed the score for this episode which included more Spock bass music and peaceful guitars for the scenes on Amerind.
- Uhura is not on the bridge in this episode, but stock footage from "And the Children Shall Lead" places her there for a moment.
- During the first attempt to deflect the asteroid a rare top shot of the Enterprise is shown, first used in the "The Changeling".
- John Lindesmith had previously appeared as the helmsman in "Charlie X".
- The outfits worn by the Native include headbands and decorations woven with glass seed beads. These really are used by Native Americans, but were originally a trade item, brought by Europeans. Before that time, Native Americans used porcupine quills, and beads made of other natural materials.
- According to author Daniel Leonard Bernardi, "'The Paradise Syndrome" stereotypes Native-Americans as noble savages and whites as 'normal' and even divine […] Miramanee cannot figure out how to pull Kirk's shirt off, as she cannot find any lacing. She is portrayed as simpleminded, not that bright – according to Bernardi. This is not the case with Kirk. Moments before, he has fashioned a lamp from an old piece of pottery and saved a boy by using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Despite his amnesia, he is shown as "naturally superior" […] When the Native realize that Kirk is not a god, they stone both him and Miramanee (it's the local citizens who are violent in this version of the noble savage stereotype). Spock and McCoy eventually intervene, but only Kirk survives. In this take on a standard white/red miscegenation narrative, the native girl dies so that Kirk, the white male hero, isn't shown unheroically and immorally leaving her and their unborn baby behind." (Star Trek and History: Race-ing Toward a White Future, pp 44, 49)
- Story pitch by Margaret Armen, 14 March 1968
- Story outline by Armen, titled "The Paleface", 15 March 1968
- Revised story outline, 22 March 1968
- First draft teleplay, 7 May 1968
- Second draft teleplay, 18 May 1968
- Revised First draft teleplay, 29 May 1968
- Final draft teleplay by Arthur Singer, 3 June 1968
- Additional page revisions by Fred Freiberger, 5 June 1968, 7 June 1968, 10 June 1968
- Filmed, 11 June 1968 – 18 June 1968
- Day 1 – 11 June 1968, Tuesday – Desilu Stage 9: Int. Bridge, Spock's quarters
- Day 2 – 12 June 1968, Wednesday – Franklin Reservoir: Ext. Trail, Ext. Obelisk
- Day 3 – 13 June 1968, Thursday – Franklin Reservoir: Ext. Obelisk
- Day 4 – 14 June 1968, Friday – Franklin Reservoir: Ext. Obelisk, Field, Trail
- Day 5 – 17 June 1968, Monday – Desilu Stage 10: Int. Lodge
- Day 6 – 18 June 1968, Tuesday – Desilu Stage 10: Int. Lodge, Obelisk; Desilu Stage 9: Int. Spock's quarters, Engineering
- Score recording, 19 July 1968
- Original airdate, 4 October 1968
- First UK airdate, 6 January 1971
Video and DVD releases
- Original US Betamax release: 1988
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 30, catalog number VHR 2382, 3 September 1990
- US VHS release: 15 April 1994
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 3.1, 1 September 1997
- Original US DVD release (single-disc): Volume 29, 14 August 2001
- As part of the TOS Season 3 DVD collection
- As part of the TOS-R Season 3 DVD collection
- The remastered version of "The Paradise Syndrome" aired in many North American markets during the weekend of 24 February 2007. The episodes featured several new computer-generated shots of the planet from space, and the Enterprise. The obelisk deflector beam was digitally recreated, now red to differentiate it from the phaser fire of the Enterprise. However this creates an error not present in the original version: Miramanee speaks about the "blue flame" coming out of the obelisk according to the legend (this error was corrected for the DVD release, where the beam is once again blue). The asteroid was also redone, now a design vastly different from that seen in "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky". Then, for the first time ever in a TOS episode, the ships' navigational deflector was actually shown to activate and emit an energy beam as future deflectors in later Trek series would be shown to do on multiple occasions. Furthermore, a modified Enterprise door sound effect was added to accompany the memory beam that hits Kirk. 
Links and references
- Rudy Solari as Salish
- James Doohan as Scott
- George Takei as Sulu
- Walter Koenig as Chekov
- Richard Hale as Goro
- Majel Barrett as Nurse Chapel
- Naomi Pollack as Native American
- John Lindesmith as Engineer
- Peter Virgo, Jr. as Warrior
- Lamont Laird as an Native American boy
- William Blackburn as Hadley
- Roger Holloway as Roger Lemli
- Foster Hood as an Amerind villager
- Jeannie Malone as a yeoman
- Nichelle Nichols as Uhura (recycled footage; no lines)
- Vince St. Cyr as Father of Drowning Boy
- Unknown performers as
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- "The Paradise Syndrome" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "The Paradise Syndrome" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "The Paradise Syndrome" at Wikipedia
- "The Paradise Syndrome" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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