An old friend found and a world that resembles Rome. Originally broadcast on March 15, 1968, this is Bread and Circuses.
Captain’s Log Stardate 4040.7
After finding the long lost wreckage of the SS Beagle and viewing a strange broadcast of a gladiatorial fight involving one of the Beagles crew members, Kirk and team beam down to a planet to investigate only to be Sun Worshipers who are on the run. They soon find that the world is a 20th century version of Earth but based on Roman Rule including slavery and ‘citizen’ rights.
Before long they meet Kirk’s old friend Captain Merik who admits that his entire crew have been forced to fight in the gladiator ring. Proconsul Claudius Marcus condemns Spock and McCoy to death in the gladiator ring when Kirk and team attempt to escape. However, after winning a round Claudius attempts to gain control over Kirk by freeing his friends from their punishment.
Kirk begins to consider the options but refuses to bring his crew down for the amusement of the Romans. After various escape attempts, Kirk, Spock and McCoy manage to get away but Merik is killed in the process. Back on the ship, Spock is amazed at how this planet parallel’s that of Earths past with some interesting changes to history. Uhura points out that the ‘Sun Worshipers’ that they first encountered were in fact, ‘SON’ worshipers implying that this planet had it’s own Christ as well making it even more similar to Earth Prime than originally believed.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
I honestly have zero memory of this episode which should have been a sign for me. Now, it’s not a bad episode but I have never really liked the concept of another planet in our own universe running parallel to our own. While mathematically it is possible, it is certainly not a probability of any sense of the term. Now, the concept of ‘another Earth in another Time’ comes back this season but in a way that makes much more sense than this one, which really seems….kind of a stretch.
The issues don’t stop there. Not only do we have an alternate Earth in the same universe, but we find that Kirk’s old friend has placed himself in a position of power prompting Kirk and team to begin spouting off about Violating the Prime Directive in pretty much every scene. This gets even more annoying when the series has yet to genuinely take this ‘Prime Directive’ seriously with Kirk and crew blatantly breaking it at every turn. Now, to be faire, this episode is one of the first to really firmly establish the Prime Directive so I guess I can forgive that.
Overall, I had a really hard time getting into this one and frankly, I think it is one of the weakest this season so far. It’s not terrible, just not a very strong entry and one that you could easily skip without missing much at all. To be frank, it’s pretty forgettable which explains why I don’t remember much of it at all.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- McCoy references that they ‘represent many beliefs’ implying that Earth and or the Federation itself still has some sort of religious system.
- We never find out what happened to this planet or it’s people which makes it all the more tragic. I would imagine that 100 years later, during the STNG era, these people would have been a space faring group that could have posed a significant threat to the Federation and other species. Unfortunately this is never explored in any way and has since been pretty much forgotten/ignored.
- It also seemed that this episode focused heavily on the antagonistic nature of McCoy and Spock, much to it’s detriment.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Journey to Babel
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Late To The Game 3/9/2022
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