Is There In Truth No Beauty? (1968) Star Trek episode - My Rating: {>>--} (Spock Rock) {{ Previous - Next}}


Please note that this review is laden with spoilers.

This episode is about a creature that has an appearance so startling that no one can look at it and remain sane. The Federation refers to the race as Medusans after the mythological Medusa who could turn men to stone with her gaze. Diana Muldaur brings a lot to this episode in her role as Miranda Jones. It is a shame her Dr. Pulaski character on Star Trek: The Next Generation was not nearly as interesting.

Body count: One. Marvick dies after seeing the Medusan ambassador and going completely insane.

Plot Outline:

The crew of the USS Enterprise has a few visitors, the Medusan ambassador Kollos, Dr. Miranda Jones and instrument specialist Marvick. The Medusans are a race whose appearance is so shocking that viewing them causes permanent insanity in most humanoids. They seem to mostly consist of light, and this one is kept inside a box.

Dr. Jones is a human telepath with Vulcan training. She is completely blind, but can see using a sensor web that is worn as part of her clothing. She feels different from everything else and doesn't want to have a lot to do with people. She would rather attempt to mind meld with Kollos and be the Federation's voice to the Medusans. Dr. Jones is particularly jealous of Mr. Spock because his telepathic abilities are superior in many ways.

Marvick the instrument specialist has long been in love with Miranda, and he proposes to her. She turns him down, as she would rather stay with the Medusan instead. So Marvick attempts to assassinate the ambassador, but instead he glimpses his true form and goes insane. Insane people aboard the USS Enterprise usually manage to take over the ship, and that is exactly what Marvick does. He takes the ship out of the galaxy into a very strange territory, and no one other than the Medusan knows how to get back.

Spock mind melds with Kollos so the Medusan can pilot the ship back to normal space. We even get to see one of those wonderful short bits of Leonard Nimoy playing Spock with emotion. But Spock neglects to wear his protective goggles when he restores Kollos to his box, and he goes insane upon viewing his form. Dr. Jones uses the mind meld to save the sanity of her rival Spock, and she then makes a permanent link with Kollos and leaves with him.

My Opinion: This is a pretty decent episode, although it certainly could have been better. I really enjoyed the Dr. Miranda Jones character, and her jealousy and interactions with Mr. Spock. The alien was fairly interesting, it appeared to be some sort of non-carbon based energy or probability based life form. I don't even think it had a body, so I cannot truly understand how the Federation would be sharing technology with it. Races like that seemed almost completely absent in the Next Generation/Deep Space Nine era.


Notes
  • The Vulcan IDIC "diversity" medallion was written into the script just so Gene Roddenberry could sell the prop for money. This angered several people, most particularly Leonard Nimoy.
  • Many of the external shots of the ship are recycled directly from the episode "Where No Man has Gone Before".
  • A small error in the directing of this episode caused Kirk to be present and view the Medusan ambassador as he beamed away. This should have driven Captain Kirk permanently insane, but instead nothing happened at all.
  • This episode has several completely unexplained plot points and comments. Did Dr. Miranda cause Mr. Spock to forget the visor? What was Marvick trying to get at when he said Miranda had "brought it" with her. Why would healing Spock have anything to do with her own survival? All we can do is guess, because the episode certainly doesn't explain it.
  • Miranda's sensor technology appears to be superior to the visor worn by Geordi LaForge decades later. The visor is visually obvious, must be plugged in to the brain, and causes pain to the wearer. While Miranda's sensor web is simply worn as a dress and causes no discomfort at all.
  • This episode establishes the fact that Star Trek telepaths must actively close out the thoughts of others to keep from being simply overwhelmed with them all.


Cast and Guest Stars

Directed by: Ralph Senensky directed this episode along with five other original Star Trek episodes.

Writing credits: Gean Lisette Aroeste was responsible for this script. This was the only Star Trek episode Gean ever wrote.

Sources: Star Trek.com, my head, and watching the sucker multiple times. A big thanks to weasello for the format used.

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