May 27 2009 12:09pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “Shore Leave”

“Shore Leave”
Written by Theodore Sturgeon
Directed by Robert Sparr

Season 1, Episode 15
Production episode: 1x17
Original air date: December 29, 1966
Star date: 3025.3

Mission summary
The Enterprise stumbles upon a lush paradise planet, green and peaceful. Aside from strangely lacking in any animals or other life forms, the planet is reminiscent of Earth. Since the ship’s crew has had a grueling three months, Kirk agrees to survey the place as a possible site for shore leave, which is a little mysterious since there’s absolutely nothing to do down there. I guess there’s no Risa yet. Sulu and McCoy beam down to take some readings, and everything seems to check out…just a little bit too well. “It's like something out of Alice in Wonderland,” McCoy remarks.

Then, out of nowhere, a huge white rabbit appears, checking its gold watch. “I’m late!” he cries, and runs off. The rabbit is followed by a little girl in blue. McCoy looks absolutely terrified.

McCoy reports his sighting to Kirk, who laughs it off as a trick to get him down to the surface and rest, and refuses to take the bait. Spock enters to discuss a matter of some importance: a crew member “who’s showing signs of stress and fatigue—reaction time down 9-12%, associational reading norm minus 3…He’s becoming irritable and quarrelsome, yet he refuses to take rest and rehabilitation.” Spock agrees that he has that right to refuse, but Kirk interrupts him:

Kirk: A crewman’s right ends where the safety of the ship begins. That man will go ashore on my orders. What’s his name?
Spock: “James Kirk.” Enjoy yourself, Captain.

Tricksy Vulcanses.

Kirk beams down with a new yeoman, Tonia Barrows, who aside from her physique is entirely a waste of space-time. She repeats everything the captain says, only more flirtatiously. They meet up with McCoy, who shows them the footprints of the giant rabbit, to prove he didn’t imagine the whole thing. Kirk admits that it had to have been more than illusion, and eventually finds Sulu having some target practice fun—with an old six-shot revolver.

Kirk: Where did you get it?
Sulu. I found it. It's a crazy coincidence, but I’ve always wanted one like this. Found it lying over there…

That doesn’t seem suspicious or dangerous at all! Kirk takes away his toy (Takei’s dejected face is really something), and they divide up to investigate the area.
Kirk teases McCoy about the rabbit, and we learn a bit more about Kirk’s past:

Kirk: What’s the matter, getting a persecution complex?
McCoy: Well, I’m beginning to feel picked on.
Kirk: I know the feeling. I had it at the academy. An upperclassman there—one practical joke after another and always on me—my own personal devil, a guy by the name of Finnegan.
McCoy: And you being the very serious young—
Kirk: Serious? I was absolutely grim, which delighted Finnegan no end.

Guess who they meet next!

McCoy and Kirk split up, the better to make sure no one can corroborate anyone’s findings. In no time Kirk stumbles across none other than Finnegan himself, and oh my what an asshole he is. His entrance is marked by Irish pipes (did no one think that would be offensive?), and he dances around like the puckish jerk he is, then hits Kirk square in the jaw. You immediately want to punch him in the face—but don’t worry, we’ll get there.
Meanwhile, McCoy and Kirk both hear a woman screaming, and discover Yeoman Barrows bloodied and upset. Her tunic is ripped across the chest, and she explains that none other than Don Juan came to her. Kirk tells McCoy to stay with her and runs off to find Sulu, who left in pursuit of the cloaked assaulter.

Kirk stumbles upon a rocky outcropping, and finds a beautiful woman dressed in long robes. It’s Ruth, a flame of his from fifteen years ago, and she hasn’t aged a day. Before they can get, ahem, reacquainted, he contacts the landing party and tells them to rendezvous in the glade where they first beamed down. Spock then contacts him because  has learned that there is industrial activity beneath the surface, and it’s draining the ship’s power.

Meanwhile, McCoy flirts shamelessly with Yeoman Barrow, in a scene so inappropriate and unsettling that I can’t really describe it. This is what transpires:

Barrow: I was thinking, before my tunic was torn, that in a place like this a girl should be... oh, let's see now, a girl should be dressed like a fairy-tale princess with lots of floaty stuff and a tall hat with a veil.
McCoy: I see what you mean, but then you'd have whole armies of Don Juans to fight off... and me, too.
Barrow: Is that a promise, Doctor? (sees outfit on tree) Oh, Doctor, they're lovely. Look at me, Doctor—A lady to be protected and fought for. A princess of the blood royal.
McCoy: You are all of those things... and many more. They'll look even lovelier with you wearing them.
Barrow: Doctor... I'm afraid.
McCoy: Now, look, I don't know how or why, but the dress is here. I'd like to see you in it. Why don't you put it on?

Wow. Barrow: way to remind us of your utterly pointless existence! McCoy: way to coerce her into being more sexually pleasing to you! Just wins all around. But the mysterious dress isn’t the only thing that isn’t right appearing on this planet. Two crewmembers, Angela and Rodriguez, encounter an enormous tiger, and then Sulu gets attacked by…wait for it…a samurai. Yes, kids, a samurai with a katana goes after the Japanese man. I dearly hope that this is the most offensive paragraph I ever have to write. Kirk finds him, and with communications on the fritz, they head towards the rendezvous point. Spock beams down and joins them.

McCoy and Barrow come upon the glade (holding hands, no less), but no one is there! That is, of course, until a knight in full armor riding a horse is seen in the distance. McCoy assures Barrow, who is burgeoning on hysterics, “These things cannot be real. Hallucinations can’t harm us.” He holds his ground while the knight charges.
He gets lanced through the stomach and dies.

Kirk, Spock, and Sulu get there just in time to shoot the knight with the pistol, in an oddly funny scenario that nearly makes you forget that McCoy just died. Barrow finally bursts into hysterical tears, shouting that this is all her fault. No one tells her she’s wrong, of course, probably because she’s the woman so it probably was her fault. Strangely, neither Kirk nor Sulu seem to be interested in why she’s wearing a princess dress.

They inspect the fallen knight, but he looks more like a doll or a dummy than a real person. Spock explains, “This is definitely a mechanical contrivance. It has the same basic cell structure as the plants here, even the trees, the grass.” Kirk is confused:

Kirk: Are you saying this is a plant, Mr. Spock?
Spock: I'm saying that these are all multi-cellular castings. The plants, the animals, the people—they’re all being manufactured.
Kirk: By who? And why? And why these particular things?
Spock: All we know for certain is that they act exactly like the real thing. Just as pleasant...or just as deadly.

Rodriguez and Angela are still in the dark about the nature of the whole thing, and Rodriguez unwittingly summons up early-20th century planes. Angela, poor thing, gets gunned down by one of the planes.

Kirk sees Finnegan again and decides he’s going to have his vengeance, once and for all. He chases the Irishman to a rock outcropping, and they proceed to wrestle for dominance. Faces get sullied, shirts get torn…maybe this planet isn’t so bad after all! In the end Kirk manages to best his former tormentor. He keeps demanding answers from the guy, but gets none, until Spock shows up and points out that this is something Kirk has wanted to do for a very long time. He must’ve conjured it by just thinking about it. That took entirely too long to figure out, if you ask me.

They run back to reunite with the rest of the landing party, passing a tiger, a warplane, and a samurai. It’s sort of like an Animaniacs episode, where they run from set to set on the studio. Or a bar joke. Or a Sci-Fi Original Movie. Don Juan tries to kidnap Barrows again (yawn), but they fight him off.

Kirk commands his crew not to think of anything—to make their minds a blank slate. Then, the Stay Puft Marshmallow man appears! Just kidding, it’s a humanoid. He calls himself the Caretaker, and says that the planet is an amusement park, intended for play. They’ve repaired McCoy and Angela, and McCoy shows up with some Playboy bunny-esque space hussies. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, pimp extraordinaire! Barrow jealously forces them to leave, throwing her arms around McCoy.

The Caretaker has decided that Kirk’s race is not yet ready to understand the hows or whys, but agrees to let them carouse nonetheless. The captain orders the crew to begin beaming down for shore leave, for the best vacation of their lives.

This episode is essentially the first holodeck episode, and if you remember how those usually turned out (*cough*FistfulOfDatas*cough*), then you where to set your expectations. This ep was remarkable only in its offensiveness. I cringed in nearly every scene, from the female yeoman massaging Kirk in the opening, to the Japanese man being chased by the katana-wielding samurai. Even the Irish pipe music when Finnegan appeared was too much. So he’s Irish, and that’s supposed to make him an asshole? Barrows, the new yeoman, only ever seems to think about romance, and then gets nearly raped by Don Juan. Yay, the woman’s fantasy is of course to be the princess in the castle protected by the great white knight. No freaking thank you. And Bones should know better. His come-ons to Barrows were inappropriate and creepy. He treats her like a doll for dress-up, to amuse and delight him. So much for equality in the workplace, eh?

I could go on about the flimsy plot, the unsatisfying conclusion, and yet another occurrence of the “space douche” phenomenon (super-advanced race uses is time to toy around with the Enterprise; see “The Corbomite Maneuver”) but none of that really compares to how offensive it is to just about everyone. Men fantasize about beating the shit out of each other; women fantasize about getting ravaged and worshipped as princesses; and the Asian guy imagines having to battle samurai. That’s it? That’s all there is to the human subconscious?

I’d forgive it if we didn’t know from “The Enemy Within,” “Dagger of the Mind,” and “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” that they’ve touched upon these ideas before in a much more interesting, thoughtful, and considerate way. It’s hard to believe that Theodore Sturgeon wrote this, though the original idea for the episode sounded much more interesting. According to The Star Trek Compendium, the original outline included McCoy getting dragged down below by a creepy set of mechanical arms, and one of the things to appear was a crewmember’s mother (rather than a love interest? I do not know). Kirk gets them out of the situation by concentrating on wanting to know everything, to which the Caretaker appears to answer his questions. In that version, the planet is 1000 years old, and completely automated—an unattended program. Much more interesting, don’t you think?

All in all: hard to watch. Maybe it was funny in 1966, but worthless women, attempted rape, and racial stereotypes don’t make me laugh one bit.

Torie's Rating: Warp Factor 2 (It did let me use the half-naked man-wrestling tag again, so I bumped it up)

Eugene Myers: This is appropriate to review now, since Fleet Week is just wrapping up in New York. As a comedic episode of Star Trek, “Shore Leave” mostly delivers. I was really enjoying myself for the first part of it, much more than I had expected since I had some unfavorable impressions lingering from my childhood (mostly I remembered the White Rabbit and Yeoman Barrows’ princess getup). I cracked up when Barrows gave Kirk a back rub and he thought it was Spock, but this does make you wonder if he’s accustomed to Spock massaging him on the Bridge. As we see in Enterprise, Vulcans do have a particular talent with neuropressure massages…

McCoy’s reactions to the White Rabbit and Alice are precious, as are his flirtations with Barrows. (“My dear girl, I am a doctor. When I peek, it’s in the line of duty.”) There are a lot of other terrific moments, such as Spock tricking Kirk into beaming down for R&R, the anachronistic delight in seeing a 23rd Century spaceman shoot a medieval knight with a police revolver, and McCoy with his chorus girls (who did not amuse Barrows in the slightest). I was also pleased to see another ethnicity represented by Lieutenant Esteban Rodriguez.

So where does it all go wrong? The episode builds a sense of mystery and raises tension as people are actually killed by their “hallucinations.” It’s also great to learn a little more about Kirk’s past via his run-ins with the mischievous Finnegan and his former love Ruth, and add some depth to Sulu, who appreciates old weaponry as much as plants. But the episode started to lose me when it implies that Yeoman Barrows wants to be ravaged and/or rescued. The attack by Don Juan where her tunic is nearly torn off feels out-of-synch with the humorous tone of the rest of the episode, and there are a lot of other weird manifestations that don’t quite fit. Who dreamed up that tiger and the fighter planes? Did Sulu really have to be chased by a samurai warrior?

Ultimately, the episode fails because the explanation for the odd occurrences and the goofy antenna we see tracking the crew’s movements is as disappointing as finding out it was all just a dream. Not only is this planet some kind of advanced amusement park that can manufacture anything people imagine and resurrect the dead, but the planet’s Caretaker won’t explain how any of it is done because “your race is not yet ready to understand us.” That is such a copout. On top of that, tickets to Six Flags for us today are ridiculously expensive, but these aliens let anyone visit their planet whenever they feel like it? Without even posting instructions?

In the end, this episode is as forced as the laughter following Mr. Spock’s final comment that Kirk and the others are “most illogical.” Ha ha ha, we haven’t heard that one before, Spock.

Eugene’s Rating: Warp Factor 2

Best Line: “The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.”

Syndication Edits: Kirk holding Ruth is cut a bit short, and two captain’s logs (the stardate one and the supplemental log entry later) got axed. Weird, seeing as they left in the insane amount of half-naked man-wrestling.

Trivia: This was principally filmed in two places: “Africa, USA,” a private facility that they painted up with red spray paint to make it look more alien, and Vasquez Rocks, a California park.

The woman who is Angela here appeared in the previous episode as the woman who lost her fiancé (though she is presumably playing different characters).

Other Notes: Theodore Sturgeon also wrote “Amok Time.”

Next episode: Season 1, Episode 16 - “The Galileo Seven.” US residents can watch it for free at the CBS website.

Check the Star Trek Re-Watch Index for a complete list of posts in this series.

Kurt Lorey
1. Shimrod
I am completely with Torie on this episode.
Herb Schaltegger
2. LameLefty
You guys are much too harsh about Sulu with the samurai bit. I mean, what modern kid (20-somethings are kids to some of us approaching old fogey-hood) doesn't fantasize or imagine something romantic about himself or his history? How many green wearing "Irishmen" do you see out celebrating the tiniest bits of Celtic blood in March, you know? And Oktoberfests are full of shorts-wearing "Germans" swilling beer every fall, etc. Everyone wants to think about the cool, fun parts of their ancestry and family history, not the boring mundane parts. Why WOULDN'T a kid of Japanese ancestry and a penchant for martial arts harbor some Walter Mitty-esque fantasies about his ancestral culture? I do agree Finnegan-the-Irish-Asshole was a bit much, but I still enjoyed Kirk beating the hell out of him. Oh well. I guess I'm just an unenlightened 20th century kid at heart. : )

Overall, I thought this was a light, silly episode, quite unremarkable except for it's now-dated view of male-female working relationships (which were not at ALL unusual for the time - watch AMC's Mad Men for example, set in the early 60's). It didn't make a lot of scientific sense to me - I mean, there shouldn't be a stable O2/N2 atmosphere without a working biosphere. Spock should have seen the artifice immediately. But at any rate, by the obligatory happy ending (not THAT kind of happy ending you pervs!), I decided that this place was the inspiration for Risa on TNG. Heck, maybe it even WAS Risa in the minds of those writers or in a show bible somewhere.
Arachne Jericho
3. arachnejericho
Re: Sulu and the samurai

There are a lot of "ethnic" people who are completely divorced from their so-called homeland. I don't know if Sulu is or not, but some of us don't appreciate being inexorably linked to a culture that isn't ours.

For instance, I consider myself fully American even though there are people who will ask me why I don't ever visit my "home country".

Well, duh. Because I *live there*.

I could imagine Sulu's family having lived in, say, America or Canada for long enough that he would feel that way. I feel that way, and I'm first-generation Vietnamese.

And may I mention that I find questions of "but where do you come from" to be along the same lines of "are you so tied into what I look like that despite how I act you assume I come from somewhere else?!"
Rand Al'Todd
4. Rand Al'Todd
Torie said

"It’s hard to believe that Theodore Sturgeon wrote this, though the original idea for the episode sounded much more interesting."

That was always the biggest problem with TOS -

Desilu did not understand SF. They kept demanding episodes which exposed skin - usually female - or had laughs rather than solid SF. In general the SF had to follow certain patterns/formula that they could understand/accept.

Hard to believe, considering where the series fell time wise after 'Twilight Zone' and 'Outer Limits' - which, in general had better SF plots - but usually plots with ironic twists, which were the staple of the short stories in SF magazines in the 50/60's.

Far too many Trek TOS plots involved:

1. radically superior civilization which toys with Enterprise then lets them go.

2. Ancient civilization set up computer control which now must come to an end

3. Androids (almost all of which are more human and more advanced than Data - as has been mentioned here previously)

4. Kirk's old girlfriends (He must have had an affair with every woman in San Francisco while at the academy)
Richard Fife
5. R.Fife
Ya know, I caught the woman who played Angela, and that had me kind in a funk. Was thinking "wait, she lost her fiancee, so now she's a simpering damsel in distress for Esteban?"

I agree with the annoyance of the "fantasy portrayals" of the women, but McCoy's flirtation didn't come off as that creepy to me, at least since they led up to the cute line above mentioned by Eugene. Although, I didn't notice Angela's return post-mortum. Did I miss that, or was she actually not on screen again after dying and we only get to assume she was repaired like McCoy (and never mind the lack of "please give us your medical technology, please?")

Irish Finnegan was annoying, but I think it was more of his forced Irish accent and all his hopping around like a jack-dandy that annoyed me than the music.

The Samurai, while out of left field, I agree with LameLefty: not offense, per se, since we already have had Sulu enjoying guns and western fencing. I mean, would it have been OK if Spock was chased by a Samurai? That's almost a reverse-discrimination. "He's Japanese, so we can't have /any/ Japanese culture even remotely attached to him or else we are 'stereotyping'". Bleh.

Otherwise, yeah, it was a cluster-bomb of WTFs soon as Kirk beamed down.
j p
6. sps49
I think Andrea is the same character; air date order makes it seem she got over Tomlinson pretty damn quick.

YN Barrows gets her tunic torn to balance out the Kirk tunic tearing. No?

I thought Sulu was intended to be Japanese, not Japanese-American.

I get some of Torie's concerns, but I think some are looking too hard for offense.

If anyone cares, "Africa USA" was located in Redwood City, CA; but moved to Vallejo, CA and is now known as Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.

EDIT: punctuation
Rand Al'Todd
7. Rand Al'Todd
As to Sulu and the samurai:

in TOS Sulu was into fencing, with an epee (or rapier -whatever- I don't know enough of the difference) NOT oriental weapons. And I believe he was supposed to be decended from long time SF residents - i.e. multi-generation American with very weak to non existent ties to Japanese culture. I think that except for this episode I can't recall any other "Japanese" culture reference for him in TOS. (Very easily could be wrong.)

TOS always CLAIMED they paid a lot of attention to continuity from episode to episode, but there are a lot of examples where they didn't.

The later ST universe (especially Enterprise and the new movie) has IMHO made relatively little effort to conform.

Note Sulu's (folding??? by god FOLDING) Katana in the new movie. Should have been an epee or saber, and could have been with no effort.
Arachne Jericho
8. arachnejericho
Re: reverse-discrimination of Sulu

The samurai thing was as stereotypical as an Irishman being portrayed as a swaggering heavily-accented meanie.

If the former is "looking too much for offense" what does that make the latter?

I'm sorry but that's a double-standard to me.
Torie Atkinson
9. Torie
@ 1

Every time I hear that it's like music to my ears. :)

@ 2 & 3

I'm not a canon expert, but Memory Alpha and Beta seem to indicate that Sulu is American, born in San Francisco, but of Japanese descent. His first name is from The Tale of Genji, but his last name wouldn't be purely Japanese, as Japanese doesn't have the letter "L" as we know it.

Given that, my feelings on this are with AJ--there's no reason that his imagination would be populated by samurai just because he's of Japanese descent. I thought it was particularly weird considering in "The Naked Time" they were originally going to have him fight with a katana, but decided "Gee, that's kind of stereotypically racist" and instead made him a fencer with a soft spot for The Three Musketeers. It's cute, and it's a nice little character bit, without making cultural assumptions.

It's one thing if they establish that he's interested in Japanese history or culture, for whatever reason. But they didn't, and just threw that out there in a way that implies, in my mind, "Of course he'd think of a samurai, he's Asian." Given what we've seen of him, and given his established interest in fencing, why isn't it Cardinal Richilieu attacking him? Because they weren't thinking about it, and when they weren't thinking about it the first thing to come to mind is a racist and stereotypical assumption. It's a subtle and almost certainly unintentional racism, but it's there and it's disappointing nonetheless.
Rand Al'Todd
10. DemetriosX
Admittedly this is, all in all, a silly episode and I bet a look at Sturgeon's original treatment would turn up a lot of differences. That said, we really should try to avoid "presentism" when judging it. No matter how progressive the cast and crew might have been, they could still only reflect the mores of their time. Ted Sturgeon was born in 1918; he might have been a very progressive thinker, but he was still a member of the pre-War generation. By our lights sexist, by those of the people creating and watching the show (during which they might have seen an ad with the tag line "My wife, I think I'll keep her.") just a harmless sex farce.

Sulu & the Samurai: I agree with LameLefty @2. It is not necessarily that strange that he might have had thoughts of samurai running through his head. First of all, Sulu is not Japanese-American or Japanese-something else hyphenated. He is Japanese, culturally, by birth, however you want to look at it. The samurai play a strong role in the Japanese national psyche today and there is no reason they shouldn't continue to do so in a couple of centuries. You wouldn't have given it a second thought if Kirk caused a cowboy to materialize with his daydreaming. This is no different. Of course from what we know about Sulu it should have been some of Cardinal Richilieu's men, but still...

Kirk and Finnegan beating the crap out of each other isn't really a "men like to fight" thing. It's more like Kirk dreaming of finally getting payback against someone who made his life a living hell for a while. It's more of a revenge fantasy and Kirk seems to be prone to those.

Vasquez Rocks was a very popular location for movies and TV in the 50s and 60s. We'll see a lot of it (maybe even more than the in-studio Paramount rock). Actually, if you're in the LA area, it's worth the drive up to the park. Lots of interesting geology and it is sure to bring up a lot of old memories.
Rand Al'Todd
11. Capper
With respect to the whole Sulu/samurai thing, I don't believe it is racist at all. It had previously been established that Sulu was a fencing enthusiast. Therefore it would not be surprising if he wondered whether he could compete with with great swordsmen of the past, including samurai, who had the reputation of being the finest swordsmen of Earth. Given his interest in fencing, he probably had a great deal of pride in the reputation of the samurai, so I don't see how you can reasonably read a racist intent into the scene.
Richard Fife
12. R.Fife
As a point of clarification, I said that the way Fennigan acted was annoying for the accent, and "jack-dandy" jumping.

And while I full well see that the samurai was out of left field and thus kind of a "wtf are they saying?" it could also be that they were trying to not harp on the same thing twice. They already had offended us with renaissance dastardlies with Don Juan and the Yeoman, so they might have decided that they wanted the Samurai just for cultural variety in general for the episode. That it was sulu, well, yeah, I again see the issue.

My reverse-discrimination remark (and I should have used reverse-stereotype, but whatever) was more of a lament of how it is not PC anymore to have people interested in things if it could be precieved as a stereotype. To quote Freud, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. So, sometimes a homocidal samurai is just a homocidal samurai (although maybe not in this case).
Andrew Lovsness
13. drewlovs
What I took from the classic Star Trek series was the fact that the characters embraced their ancestery. Everyone was "federation", but had a pride in their origins.

I think this was due to the volitile era it was created in, and the creators were just trying to imagine "one world organization." If the US was just another part of something larger, would you still feel a national pride?

For the series, the answer was simple; you don't, but you also "remember" where you cme from, and honor it. As such, Sulu would imagine a warrior from feudal Japan. The hardest part for me to digest is the lack of imagination when it came to female/male working relationships. If women are fighting and dying next to men, why on earth would they want to be treated like princesses the first chance they get at "down time".

Oh well... not everyone can get it right all the time.
Melissa Ann Singer
14. masinger
@3: Not about Trek or SF, really, but an agreement with the "where are you from" situation . . .

I actually get asked that fairly often in my neighborhood, which is a lovely combination of multi-generation Americans, immigrants, and 1st generation Americans. Because of my coloring, most people assume I'm Russian (except in the Italian neighborhood I once lived in, where they thought I was Italian), until they hear me speak (totally American, even Queenish at times). So they ask me, "where are your parents from?" and I say, "Here."

And then they look puzzled and ask, "but where are your grandparents from?" and I say, "Here" again because I want to see the look of incomprehension on their faces and I'm a little pissed off. In truth, only half of my grandparents were born in the States; the other two were from Hungary and a little town that was either in Austria or Germany depending on the most recent battle and isn't there anymore anyway.

The true joy is when my daughter has to do "country/culture of origin" projects for school. Usually we default to Jewish because I make a tasty latke that travels well, but I would love to send hot dogs or pizza instead. The kid has worn t-shirts and jeans for "native costume" events, since she agrees that our country of origin is the US.
Torie Atkinson
15. Torie
@ 10

But he's not Japanese. See my above comment & Rand Al'Todd's. He's American, from San Francisco. He'd have many of the same experiences as Kirk.

I'm not saying he couldn't or shouldn't embrace his parent's or grandparent's (or whatever) heritage: I'm saying the show never demonstrated a) that it was their heritage or b) that it was an interest of his at all. We see Worf obsessively learning and living whatever he can about the culture he was never a part of--but Sulu, no, never. It hasn't come up at all until now, and I don't think that getting attacked by a samurai fits any definition of embracing one's heritage.

@ 11

I like that answer, but I don't see any evidence of it in the episode. He doesn't imagine dueling a samurai--he imagines getting attacked by one, without any defense of his own.

@ 13

Oh I agree, that's very much a part of Star Trek. But again, getting attacked by a samurai does not equal embracing your heritage. The writers needed a threat, so the first thing they thought of was a samurai. It doesn't fit Sulu's character (from "The Naked Time"--a more logical threat would've been Richilieu). It's just the "obvious" answer, and I think that's racist.

Again, it's a little thing, and maybe the theories proposed here were the ones that informed the decision. I can certainly hope that. But I have a really hard time believing it.

And I agree, the sexism of this episode is much more blatant and offensive. Really cringe-worthy at every turn. LameLefty @2 points out that this was fairly standard in the '60s, but the show isn't supposed to depict the '60s--it's supposed to be the future. Very telling that nothing changed.
j p
16. sps49
I recall that much later (ST4) Sulu had a scheduled scene with ancestors in SF, so OK on his Japanese-Americanism.

And anyway, the first thing on Sulu's mind resulted in a six-shooter, so I really think that the next result is a samurai shouldn't grate on anyone.

I note that younger folks have no compunction about asking people when they meet their derivation. I was shocked when first exposed to that, but nobody seems bothered, they just spout out whatever. People more my age are different-

(Faintly Haitian-accented Guy) Hi!
(New Acquaintance) Hi. Hey, where are you from?
(Guy) Concord.
(FNA) Ha ha, no, really!
(Guy) All right, East Concord.
Rand Al'Todd
17. Matte Lozenge
This script is far below the quality of Theodore Sturgeon's best work and I have a hard time believing there was very much left of his original story after script revisions (but perhaps that's only because I don't want to be disillusioned). Sturgeon's stories did contain quite a bit of sexism, but then again few of his female characters were passive and helpless like Yeoman Barrow. Rumors from the set indicate the script is more Roddenberry than Sturgeon:
Of 60-some pages in this script, there are perhaps five pages at most that have not been revised. Legend has it the revisions continued right through shooting with Gene Roddenberry doing uncredited on set rewriting as the filming was going on about him. Though I have not read Mr. Sturgeon's original draft, I have heard that it included many set pieces that would have wrecked the budget, not to mention the fact that they were nigh onto impractical -- a three ring circus, a dance held planetside with numerous personnel participating, robotic arms levering up out of the ground to drag dead bodies below, rampaging elephants, etc. With the constant last-minute revisions, there is little in this script that did not air.
It seems that little remained except the idea of a wish-fulfillment planet where subconscious desires are realized. One essayist called it a "light-hearted invocation of the Krell machine" and indeed it bears the trace of Sturgeon's optimistic sexual utopianism -- instead of Forbidden Plant's rampaging monsters of the id, the Enterprise crew conjures up bimbos, past lovers, medieval adventures and old scores to settle. There are some upsets and mishaps but only because the crew doesn't understand what's going on. As soon as it's all explained, it's party time. Sturgeon described the episode:
That was a gas because anything could happen. Any wild idea you could possibly have could be stuck into that script. Everybody had a good time with that one.
Torie's right that this is the first holodeck episode. Gary Westfahl says "the Holodeck should properly be regarded as Sturgeon's kindly gift to the Star Trek family." But Amok Time will always be the better showcase for Sturgeon's storytelling talents. In addition to a compelling psycho-sexual drama, Sturgeon also gave Star Trek the Vulcan hand sign and the phrase "live long and prosper."
Rand Al'Todd
18. Ésquilo
Sulu could've probably been interested in samurai during his childhood or teenage years. Nobody is ever interested in only one thing. Maybe even his parents used to tell him tales about Japan when he was a kid. I mean, McCoy summoned Alice and the white rabbit...

The irish dude being so stereotypical doesn't actually reflect Kirk's memory of the guy? His hatred of finnegan plus a tiny bit of prejudice created a lamer version of how his bully actually was.
Melissa Ann Singer
19. masinger
I guess my biggest problem with the episode is that the majority of the fantasies and wishes being fulfilled were negative. If such a planetary engine actually existed, and went romping through people's minds to find their wishes and dreams, I'd like to think that it would bump up against more pleasant diversions . . . that wouldn't have cost an arm and a leg to make manifest.
Mitch Wagner
20. MitchWagner
This was one of my favorite episodes when I first saw TOS. Of course, I was just barely a teen-ager then, and it was the 1970s, so my attitude toward gender relations, race and ethnicity then were different than they are today.

I'm with LameLefty that I don't find it unreasonable that Sulu might fantasize about a samurai warrior. We've already seen him fantasizing about the Three Musketeers and -- in this episode -- a 20th Century police revolver, so we know he's not a one-dimensional Japanese stereotype. Still, I also respect arachnejericho's perspective on this; I had an interesting conversation with an Asian-American friend about this subject and I know that "where are you from" is a loaded question -- many Anglos were unsatisfied with her -- truthful -- answer, "A small town in Illinois you've probably never heard of."

People of a particular ethnic group are often find offense in particular ideas that are non-offensive or even baffling to people not of that ethnic group. Sure, it makes sense to me that the Japanese -- or Japanese-American -- Sulu would fantasize about samurai ancestors. But, then again, I'm not Asian. My favorite example of this kind of discrepancy: On the TV show "The West Wing," the African-American actor Dule Hill's character was supposed to get some good news on the phone, and be so overcome with joy that he burst out in spontaneous tap-dancing down the hall. Not a huge production number, just a few quick steps. It seemed perfectly reasonable to me -- but Hill refused to do it, because of the stereotypes linking African-Americans and tap-dancing. That refusal would have seemed reasonable to me -- except Hill is, in fact, in real life, an expert and accomplished tap-dancer.

Even as a 12-year-old I thought Finnegan looked phony. I knew plenty of Irish kids and adults -- rather, Irish-Americans -- and I none of them acted like this guy, who acted like the Lucky Charms leprechaun. Still, I didn't think twice about it -- I knew, by then, that people on TV acted differently than people in real life.

I think we ought to save the word "racism" for big offenses. Interment of Japanese-Americans at Manzanar (where, btw, George Takei spent a couple of years): That's racism. Samurai appearing for an episode of Trek? That's not racism, that's, at worst, dumb.
Jeff Soules
21. DeepThought
I do think it's important to recognize the significance of even little instances of racism. Things like the stereotyping apparent in the samurai can feed into racially biased subconscious beliefs, which create the groundwork for things like internment.

Imagine if Sulu were actually a Swedish-American guy from Minnesota, and instead of a samurai, he were attacked by a Viking berserker. That would seem really bizarre, and we as an audience would see it as such (like Kirk's leprechaun tormentor). But when it's Sulu, the Japanese-American character, it doesn't seem as weird. It seems "natural" that Sulu sees a samurai, even though it'd be mystifying if a Swedish-American saw a Viking. Part of what informs that difference is a subconscious perception that Asian-Americans aren't really "American" in the same sense that European-Americans are.

While the samurai is not such a big deal in itself, that kind of subconscious bias is part of the reason Manzanar could happen. We didn't intern, say, all the Pennsylvania Dutch, because we perceived them as "Americans" in a way that Asian-Americans aren't acknowledged to be, even if their families have been here for over a hundred years.
Avram Grumer
22. avram
Rand @7, I think it's a mistake to assume that any of the characters has a well-worked-out backstory at this point in the series. We're not even halfway through the first season. The Federation hasn't even been mentioned yet.
j p
23. sps49
@ 21-

If any Scandinavian-American was chased by a Viking in the eisode, nobody would think anything except, maybe, "cool!".

You betcha.
Tim May
24. ngogam
is last name wouldn't be purely Japanese, as Japanese doesn't have the letter "L" as we know it.
Conceivably, it could be a Japanese name which Sulu, or one of his ancestors, decided to romanize in a slightly nonstandard way (using "l" instead of "r"). There's some precedent for this, e.g. the manga artist Leiji Matsumoto. Although I don't think I've ever heard of such a name as "Suru".

The samurai is a lazy and regrettable choice, but I can't really find it offensive, particularly in comparison to the really creepy sexism in the episode. There's nothing particularly implausible about a person having an interest in fencing and old handguns and samurai, and if it misses the chance for deeper character development, well, so do the other characters' fantasies.
Rand Al'Todd
25. firkin
I'm not sure there's much use in arguing whether the samurai (or the princess thing) is "offensive" or only dumb and lazy. Sure, nobody died, maybe it's not totally horrifying. But that doesn't make it harmless, either.

As DeepThought suggests, part of what makes the "big offenses" of racism (and sexism, etc) possible is the insistent, insidious rendering of individuals as mere stand-ins for a group with marked, obvious boundaries and supposedly predictable characteristics. The shape racist or sexist offenses take is informed by the kind of stereotypes in use, but even so-called "positive" stereotypes (Asians are smart, women are nurturing) still have the effect of reinforcing strict group boundaries, making us more likely to create expectations, interpret behavior, and interact with others based on (perceived) group membership and what we think we already know about that group. All happening in the context and aftermath of some real fucked up history.

So the black actor in MitchWagner's example resisted having his character tap dance because doing so in a society already deeply informed and structured by racism, with a specific history of minstrel shows, would only reinforce and make (more) visible the race of the character, not highlight the actor's actual skill. It's too loaded by history to work any other way.

It's also worth noting that the effect is magnified by there being only one member of the group in question. Had there been three women with significantly different subconscious desires, the princess dreams of only one of them would not be nearly as problematic.
Eugene Myers
26. ecmyers
@ 5
I wondered about Angela (or Turner or whatever her name is) but she does wander back onscreen at the end, seemingly none the worse for wear. She didn't have as flamboyant an entrance as McCoy, for certain. It seems they did decide to have her be the same character when they realized she'd been on the show previously, but Kirk still uses the original name for her from the script. The last-minute revisions really made a mess of this episode.

@ 17
I believe the Vulcan salute is usually attributed to Nimoy, as it is borrowed from a Jewish gesture.

Re: the racism, I thought that the samurai is at least a lazy sterotype and at worst offensive. In combination with Finnegan's portrayal, I fall on the side of racism. When I re-watched this one, my jaw literally dropped and I thought "WTF?" when the warrior popped out of the ground behind Sulu. Since I had that immediate reaction, given my familiarity with Sulu, Trek, and the other characters, I think this is really out of line for him.

I'm half-Korean and half-German but was raised in Korean culture (and know almost nothing about my German heritage). I consider myself American in everything but my appearance, to the point where I'm surprised to be asked about my background. Sulu might be more in touch with his distant culture, but why would he think, "Boy, it would be neat if a samurai attacked me just now." The machine is supposed to read subconscious thoughts, but it behaves so inconsistently it seems to just pluck random memories and recreate them. So maybe the Caretaker saw a samurai somewhere in Sulu's head and understood that he's Japanese and thought, "Well, he'll get a kick out of this. He's Japanese after all." And by the Caretaker, I mean Sturgeon.

It's not horribly offensive in the grand scheme of things, but it's unfortunate and I think it's worth exposing its implications.
Mitch Wagner
27. MitchWagner
DeepThought (#21)

Sorry, DeepThought, you're not convincing me -- the weirdness of Sulu being chased by the Samurai was precisely the point of this episode, because Sulu is not a medieval Japanese, he's a 24th Century starship officer. So I'd consider a Swedish-American being chased by a Viking to be no more or less weird than Sulu being chased by Samurai.

Or all-American Kirk being chased by a cowboy (which actually was an episode later on - and which brings up an interesting digression, which is that cowboy obsession is part of European stereotypes about Americans. I mean, think about it, cowboys haven't been part of mainstream American culture since Bonanza went off the air. Sure, Hollywood makes a cowboy movie or TV show every few years now, and it generally struggles at the box office until it dies. And yet anti-American Euros seem to think we're obsessed with cowboys and John Wayne.).

And, as Avram poins out in (#22), most of the background of Trek had not been worked out at this point. In the Gary Seven episode, I'm pretty sure Kirk introduces the Enterprise as a "United Earth Ship" -- they hadn't even invented the Federation by then, and that episode aired *after* this one.

So I doubt the writers had anything figured out about Sulu at this point other than: Japanese, helmsman and -- via Amok Time -- fantasizes about swashbuckling. I'd be surprised if the writers had figured out that Sulu was Japanese-American by this time -- indeed, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Sulu's American ancestry didn't get written until Star Trek IV.

firkin (#25): I didn't find it odd that the black actor resisted tap-dancing onscreen. I get that part of it: Minstrel shows, Bojangles, all that.

What I found odd was that the actor resisted tapdancing onscreen while he himself was an expert tapdancer.
Arachne Jericho
28. arachnejericho

I didn't find it odd that the black actor resisted tap-dancing onscreen. I get that part of it: Minstrel shows, Bojangles, all that.

What I found odd was that the actor resisted tapdancing onscreen while he himself was an expert tapdancer.

Isn't the first paragraph the answer to the second paragraph? Or at least it seems that way to me.

Sigh. I just kind of see it from this perspective: sure, it'd be great to be a sexy Asian woman in an SF big screen production. It'd be great if I actually was that sexy.

But on the other hand, I've been pummeled with "yellow fever" and "little rice bowl" crap so much that, were I actually in the above situation, I couldn't swallow that pill.

And, on a tangent, thus I often don't expose that I'm either Asian or female on the net, or at least not until recently. It was an unfortunate way to have a lot of bad memories triggered.

I mention that some of the stuff being said in this thread, as polite as it is, also has an unfortunate way of triggering a lot of bad memories, mostly in terms of being accused of seeking out offense when I "should not" be offended. Which I know, on multiple reads here, is not being said by people here, and I don't think is said by you, Mitch, but... some of your phrasing was close enough for me to make the mistake.

But this discussion is touching a nerve in me, and has managed to, whether you think it's stupid or over-reacting or not, made me cry. Sigh. Which is weak, but argh, it's hard for me to keep an objective eye on the meta-discussion.

Apropos of nothing much...

I wish we had the original script to compare all this too. It's just hard to believe that Sturgeon would be so... clueless about so many things.

But Roddenberry was rewriting it (apparently, as the thing was filming). But at the same time... why would he be so clueless? Why *this* when he purposely had Sulu fence in "The Naked Time" and created the character of Number One in the pilot-that-never-was?

How this episode happened the way it did just boggles my mind.

Thinking about episodes like this more---holodeck episodes---why is it that, when offered something pretty much infinitely flexible, writers still often turn out lazy crap instead? Shouldn't it be the opposite? There are a very few good holodeck episodes, but most of the time, throughout Star Trek history, it's dreck.

Why why why why why? These writers aren't dumb.

Mitch Wagner
29. MitchWagner
arachnejericho, I'm sorry to have made you cry. It certainly was not my intention. Nor am I trying to tell you, or anyone else, how to feel.

And perhaps a sensible person in my position would walk away from this discussion. But I think President Obama was right when he said that one of the problems with race in this country is that polite people don't discuss it. So I hope I won't offend anyone if I go on a little longer.

I'm not sure I understand this passage:

"Sigh. I just kind of see it from this perspective: sure, it'd be great to be a sexy Asian woman in an SF big screen production. It'd be great if I actually was that sexy.

"But on the other hand, I've been pummeled with "yellow fever" and "little rice bowl" crap so much that, were I actually in the above situation, I couldn't swallow that pill."

Are you saying that Asian woman should not be portrayed as sexy onscreen? I'm not sure I know what "yellow fever" and "little rice bowl" is.

Unless those are other names for men that an Asian American woman friend called "rice chasers" -- Anglo men with a creepy fetish for Asian-American women. (This was the same friend who was repeatedly asked, "Where are you *from*?" -- answer: Illinois.)

Maybe I'm just overthinking this. Maybe Sulu being chased by a Samurai is offensive just because it is, same way it would have been offensive to have Jewish crewman portrayed as moneygrubbing, or a black crewman eating watermelon. Some images you just don't show.
Arachne Jericho
30. arachnejericho


Well, it's sort of an unfortunate combination of you and my past history and me that made me cry. In a better state of mind I'd say, "No worries."

I think it is right that we should have this conversation. I need to remember that it's really difficult on my side and to be patient 'cause it's not obvious to others even if it is 2=2 for me. (I had to have Irishmen explained to me, for instance, once.)

Are you saying that Asian woman should not be portrayed as sexy onscreen? I'm not sure I know what "yellow fever" and "little rice bowl" is.

Not at all. What I'm saying is that, like black tapdancers, there's a history with beautiful Asian women as portrayed in the West as an exotic delight for men. (A graphic novel/comic book/whatever that occurs to me: Mail-Order Bride, for a modern example of what I'm talking about here. And yes, that service exists in black market ways. And it is sick.)

And that kind of history and one's interpretation of it may or may not, as an Asian or a black man, cause one to not "express one's assets."

"Yellow fever" and "rice bowl" are what "rice chasers" use to refer to their attraction and to women that they feel fulfill their attraction to the Eastern Exotic. I used to not know what those were either---until I hit college. Good gods did the knowledge make my spine crawl.

Maybe I'm just overthinking this. Maybe Sulu being chased by a Samurai is offensive just because it is, same way it would have been offensive to have Jewish crewman portrayed as moneygrubbing, or a black crewman eating watermelon. Some images you just don't show.

That's how I feel about it, but it's open to interpretation by people, like anything else is.

It just kinda punches my gut, which makes me even angrier, because it's an otherwise seemingly innocent image, and I wish it didn't make me feel that way, but it does. It's the historical context that does it.

And unfortunately personal interpretation occurs with meta-context as well as plain old what's in the story context.
Arachne Jericho
31. arachnejericho
(An addendum to "yellow fever" that's somewhat off-topic because I've been asked before: "What if I'm a white guy and I'm attracted to an Asian woman? How do I approach this?"

It is pretty simple. Just treat her like anybody else you'd be attracted to and want to eventually date. Hang out and do stuff, that kind of thing. (The more general "Don't Be THAT Guy" conversation is also applicable here.)

It gets creepy when you are attracted only because she's Asian. That's all sorts of wrong for everybody involved.)
Torie Atkinson
32. Torie
@ 29

Stereotypes hurt, even when, as firkin @ 25 said, they're supposed to be "positive" (in this case, sexy). Those stereotypes reinforce group-based perceptions and boundaries.

Some images you just don't show, you're right. Ultimately, it doesn't matter if the Jewish guy really is a banker, or if a black crewman just happens to really love watermelons as an individual. You have to be a damn good writer, nuanced and considerate and deliberate and thoughtful, to use that image in a way that isn't just drawing attention to his/her race or background.

There's a point at which the history of those images trumps everything, including individuality. You don't see the Jewish man as a smart accountant--you see him as a Jew. Having Sulu get attacked by a samurai means you don't see him as a swordsman--you see him as a Japanese person. That racially-motivated image dominates one's perception, and it means seeing a (perceived) race or group, rather than an individual.

Again, I don't think it's the worst thing I've ever seen by a long shot. But these little things, these little associations and seemingly insignificant slights, build up over time into culturally ingrained prejudices.

I expected better from Star Trek.
Melissa Ann Singer
33. masinger
@32: nods nods

I'm slowly introducing my daughter to the works of Shakespeare. I've started with the easy stuff--R&J, "the Scottish play" (yeah, I know it's not really an "easy" play, but it can be understood by a 12-yo, and was really creepy when portrayed by Italian marionettes), As You Like It, and, more recently, Henry V (definitely not an easy play, but she's getting older).

Someone told me a few months back that a well-regarded Shakespeare company is doing Merchant of Venice this summer. There is value in the play . . . but I'm not ready for my daughter to run head-on into that play's view of Jews. I'm not sticking my head in the sand--she knows there is anti-Semitism in the world and our synagogue regularly employs a security guard who actually stops people he doesn't recognize as members of the congregation (he's very nice about it) and patrols the outside of the building. And the kid has read a ton of young adult Holocaust literature.

But at 13, she's never yet had anyone spurn her because of her faith or address/refer to her using a derogatory term.

And I'm not ready for her to face Shylock and what is said about him and to him.

Yeah, it's fiction, and it's not directed at _me_, per se. But it still hurts.
j p
34. sps49
One of the few times I ever experienced racism or discrimination was while at UC; I was seeing a girl whose parents were both born in China (my only Asian GF so far); we got along great and it may have gone farther, but her parents HATED me. I wasn't good enough to be seeing their daughter, much less a possible son-in-law or grandbabydaddy. I didn't care, just kind of rolled my eyes, but it was harder for her and she eventually caved.

So I have had a couple of overt actions made against me (the other was in Japan) but never had to deal with lots of little subtle acts which I know happen to others. I don't act against anyone in that way myself, and don't feel I should be held accountable for what a small minority does, but I have been accused in minor encounters that had only to do with he other person's actions.

arachnejericho, I hope I didn't add any stress to your life.
Mitch Wagner
35. MitchWagner
I think I understand these issues a little better now. Thanks to arachnejericho and everyone else who participated in the discussion.

Though I do think Sulu's collapsible katana in the Trek movie was way awesome. Although it's a pity that John Cho, one of my favorite character actors, was so woefully underutilized.

Torie (#32): Even positive stereotypes can be limiting. A career advice blog recently gave one example: Asian men are stereotyped as highly intelligent, hard-working, and good with numbers, so that's only going to help them in the workplace, right? Not necessarily, said the blogger; because that same stereotype says that Asian men are lacking in people skills. What if a particular Asian man wants a job in sales?

As for expecting better from Trek: Well, yes, Trek was groundbreaking, but this was still 1967, and Trek was part of the cultural climate then.
Church Tucker
36. Church
90% of everything Sturgeon wrote was crap :)

The samauri thing did register as odd, since I had seen this one a bit after Naked Time, but not all that odd. I was (and am) fascinated by feudal Japan, but I don't know if that would be the first thing my panicked brain would summon. And, frankly, a Cardinal popping out of the ground would be more appropriate for Monty Python than Trek. You needed a 'threat for a second' and samauri works better. Run with it.

I liked Finnegan (in a like-to-hate way) and I'm half Irish myself. He struck me as a bit of a charachiture, but not inherently offensive. I think even as a lad I understood that it was a memory, and thus subject to being a bit out of sync with reality. Or maybe he was just a really mean version of Reilly. "One more time, Kirk me lad!"
David Lev
37. davidlev
@33 I recently saw the Al Pacino movie of Merchant of Venice, and I can sympathize with your concerns, as a fellow Jew. No matter how sympathetic they make Shylock, the story is still hampered with a few things:
1. It's a Shakespearian comedy (which I didn't actually realize until after I watched it), not a tragedy, which might have worked better
2. Shylock is the designated villain of the piece, so he must be punished
3. The reason WHY Shylock is a villain is because he's a Jew who dares to feel no mercy for a Christian who has treated him horribly in the past because he's Jewish
4. Shylock is humanized and a complex character, but the protagonists of the play are not: they're essentially good guys because Shakespeare MAKES them good guys, even though they engage in unsavory activity throughout the story

Merchant of Venice might be a very well written play, and Shylock is a very complex and interesting character, but the STORY is anti-Semetic crap.
Rand Al'Todd
38. trekgeezer
Roddenberry actually meant for Sulu to represent all of Asia and for him not to have any specific nationality.

He got the name Sulu off a map.

In Voyage Home they did attempt filming a meeting between Sulu and one of his direct ancestors (a child), but they couldn't get the kid to cooperate so they gave up after one day.
Melissa Ann Singer
39. masinger
One of those "only in New York" type stories (only tangentially related to this thread, sorry): yesterday my 13-yo and I were in Central Park for Japan Day. Most of the crowd was Japanese or Japanese-American. There were a scattering of cosplayers among the spectators (and in the performers) but many more people dressed in kimono and in varieties of Harajuku-style clothing. It's strange how odd cosplay looks in that kind of setting, when you wouldn't think twice about it at a ComicCon or AnimeFest.

A highlight for the kid was to see a (modified for outdoor presentation and an audience) version of the Tea Ceremony. She said the tea tasted like seaweed (this is a compliment). On line for the tea ceremony, we were approached by a couple of older Japanese ladies who asked, "Didn't we see you at the theater last week?" Which they had--we had gone to see Gamarjobat, a Japanese comedy duo. We had a lovely conversation about why two white Americans are so interested in things Japanese and I think we amused the ladies quite a bit. (It's my father's fault--he worked for Toshiba during my formative years . . . .)

Leaving the event, we ran into the back end of the Salute to Israel Parade.

The subway ride downtown was a mix of lots of white folks in various Israeli/Jewish organization t-shirts and lots of Japanese people in everything from kimono and other traditional attire to t-shirts and jeans to high pop style.

The kid had a fit of the giggles, thinking that we looked like we fit in with one group but had actually been hanging around with the other . . . .
Eugene Myers
40. ecmyers
@ 39

Sometimes I really love this city!
Rand Al'Todd
44. FanFromWayBack
All the rambling about racism (and I'll personally say that I didn't find the 10 seconds of Samurai warrior to be offensive or racist -- maybe he WAS randomly thinking about a Samurai, or chatting about the history of Asia which someone) and nobody seems to have mentioned the main issues I found about the story:
1. The big one -- Why did it take everyone so long to figure out that SOMETHING weird is going on? Once they saw the real tracks from the white rabbit, and the gun, it should have been eminently clear that there is nothing not-right about this planet, and they need to either all stay in one place until they figure out what it is, or get a few disposible red-shirts down to explore, or get the hell out of Dodge before anyone gets killed. How can Kirk, an experienced and unflappable officer get so caught up his responses to Finnegan and Ruth that it never occurs to him that their appearence here is not possible?
2. Why would anyone build a pleasure planet which can really kill people? Surely there would be some sort of fail-safe. (And I dont' mean an amazing surgical suite in the underground staging area where the dead can be ressurected.)
3. Funny how the black knight is obviously made out of plastic, while Ruth and Finnegan look very real.
Rand Al'Todd
45. punkalehouse
Hi, Does anyone have access to crystal clear images of the WW2 fighter plane(s)? I recognize the planes, the 1st plane is a U.S. NAVY "HELLCAT", the 2nd plane is a U.S. NAVY "CORVAIR", and the 3rd plane is a U.S. BEECHCRAFT TRAINER T-10 painted to look like a Japanese Zero or "Kate". I thank you in advance and hope to hear from someone soon.

Rand Al'Todd
46. Dave Palmer
This is one of my favorite episodes, in spite of the problematic characterization of Yeoman Barrows. What I like about it is that it ulimately has a light-hearted message. The moral of the story is that people should relax, let go of their fears, and have a good time. It's a good counterpoint to all the episodes about the dangers of confusing fantasy and reality, and all the terrible things lurking in the human unconscious. This episode argues that the human unconscious is full of all kinds of fun and exciting things.

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