08 March 2021

Did Someone Order Ham? (Review: 'Star Trek' 2.20 "Return to Tomorrow")

The original form of Sargon (Photo by Сергей Орловский on Unsplash)

It's been a while since I've done one of these - I was watching Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery, which has very much grown the beard or (rather the braids) with a major step up in quality. Then, following its release on Amazon Prime, I watched the excellent Star Trek: Lower Decks animated series. Beckett Marinier would be great to see in the actual flesh.

So, now it's time to go back to 'Those Old Scientists' or the 2260s...


The Enterprise is, for a change, actually going somewhere where no man has gone before, when they encounter an M-class planet that has been dead for half a million years (quite how Spock figures that out so quickly from space is unclear). Or so it seems. Another space entity hijacks the ship - they should really get better firewalls - and gets the crew to beam down to a deep cave where the three survivors of their race are now energy contained in glowing spheres. They want to have bodies again and need to borrow some of the crew to make them, in return for giving them their technology.


Now Bill Shatner is known for chewing the scenery as Kirk. When another creature possesses him, it's an excuse to chew even more of it than usual, as Sargon, the leader of these three survivors, really appreciates a new body in 'excellent condition' - although this tale doesn't have Kirk's clothing get damaged this time. The use of 'booming audio' to distinguish the character is a fairly cheap device but it works.

Nimoy also gets a chance to ham it up good and proper as Henoch, another creature from the opposite side of a war that destroyed their civilisation. When it turns out Henoch has an ulterior motive, it's not really that surprising. Nimoy does a great job being evil.

The body swap lot isn't exactly a new one and you'd have thought that the Enterprise crew would be a bit wary about going into the whole deal - beware of Greeks bearing gifts and all that - but only McCoy really shows any questioning of the whole thing. "What's the catch?" is a question that should always be asked when anyone comes along with offers of superior technology - as many an ethnic group on this planet has found out to its cost. The twists and turns of the whole thing are OK, but nothing I've not seen before and arguably better.

The third survivor is Thalassa, Sargon's wife, who gets to use the body of a previously unseen female officer, who gets introduced with romantic music and of course ends up snogging Kirk. Not exactly the most feminist episode, that's for sure and a fairly major black mark for me.

The underground cave set with the balls is well done though, but you'd have thought they'd have added labels in some alien language.

The ending is straight up "deus ex machina", where some hitherto unrevealed power turns out to save the day and the reset button is duly pressed on the whole situation. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.


Giving a chance for more than one regular to chew the scenery, this is otherwise some very average Trek. It's been done before; it will be done again.


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