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"Star Trek: That Which Survives (#3.17)"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"Star Trek" That Which Survives (1969)

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24 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Spock is really annoying in this one

7/10
Author: shakawtwf from United States
1 October 2007

Spock jumps on every comment that every person says, correcting their calculations with comments like "I wish you'd be more accurate" and saying things like "We're not here to engage in gambling" when someone asks about their odds of survival (how many times has Spock himself spewed out odds of this and that in the past? His own mother had to cut him off at the knees when he did that once). I've always thought that the "folding Lee Meriwhether" effect was cool but I'm not sure the episode really makes any sense. My main problem with this episode is how annoying Spock is because he's my favorite character in this series.

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

decent ST episode

7/10
Author: HelloTexas11 from United States
15 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'That Which Survives' is a good, low-key, atmospheric third-season episode that has a melancholy air to it, especially in retrospect after you learn what happened to Losira and her people. I would definitely rank it as one of the better shows of the last season, though admittedly the bar is pretty low. If there's anything really odd about 'That Which Survives,' it's the dialogue. All of the characters are really snappish with each other. Sulu will say something and Kirk will almost bite his head off. Same thing goes on back at the Enterprise; Spock is more of a smartass than we've ever seen him before. Almost anything anyone says to him is met with a response dripping in sarcasm. It's quite a different approach and frankly it becomes annoying after a while, though some of his lines are funny. I don't recall any other episode of ST with dialogue quite like this. And it's all the more peculiar as the writer, John Meredyth Lucas, was a Trek veteran who wrote four shows including the fine episode 'The Changeling.' None of his other scripts display this odd approach to dialogue. Lee Meriwether is a good choice for the mysterious, lonely Losira and the scenes on the planet are the most interesting.

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

problematic season 3 episode

6/10
Author: fabian5 from Canada
23 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'That Which Survives' is another example of a subpar episodes of season 3 of Star Trek. The premise of the show is not credible: Losira the last surviving defender of the Kalandan colony on the young planet Kirk and his crew men are visiting is so powerful that she can hurl the Enterprise 990 light years away, kill the crewman who was beaming down Kirk's party and home in and cause Kirk's phaser to overload and explode. And yet, once on the planet, Losira doesn't quickly dispose of Kirk and his surviving crew--D'Amato, Sulu and McCoy--on the Kalandan planet with several laser blasts or trap them in a force field and instead has to resort to creating numerous holograms of Losira's image to physically touch--and thus kill--them. The premise is preposterous. Losira is so technologically advanced and yet so weak at the same time?

Then the damaged Enterprise warps back to the Kalandan colony despite the fact that the ship's engines are 'out of sync' due to an explosive problem in the matter anti-matter flow of the Enterprise's warp engines as Scotty informs Spock. Spock and a landing party conveniently save Kirk, Sulu and McCoy just in time from being killed by the various holograms of Losira. Frankly, there is one too many coincidences in this one episode which just proves William Shatner's comments in his book 'Star Trek Memories' that as season 3 of TOS progressed, its scripts actually "regressed, becoming less believable and perceptibly more far-fetched." (p.266) Finally, there was simply no real drama or point to this show. Losira--or the computer which projects her--is far too passive as the last defender of her long extinct colony to be taken seriously.

However, there were some hilarious scenes in the Spock-Scotty and Spock-Uhura interactions which slightly elevated this show. Usually, we never get a Scotty-Spock relationship but in this case, it works--but only barely. We also got to see Sulu in action on the Kalandan colony itself--rather than remaining the Enterprise's helmsman. Perhaps if the episode had better pacing and film execution, 'That Which Survives' would not be an underrated show. As such, I'll raise my rating to 6/10; inferior but just passable for a season 3 episode. Since it was penned by DC Fontana herself (under a psudonym), the script was quite logical but Spock was very irritating in his treatment of Uhura and Scotty. When Scotty saves the Enterprise from exploding from a matter-antimatter flux in the engine core, he says to Spock--"won't you at least thank me?" To which Spock makes the belittling reply: "why do you humans feel the need to be so emotional. Scotty just did the logical thing!" You could almost fall asleep at this point. Its clear that Scotty would have had just as cold a relationship working with Spock as McCoy did with Spock.

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11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

That Which is Not Very Thrilling

5/10
Author: Bogmeister from United States
5 March 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a typically sub-average episode of the 3rd season and since the 3rd season was not very good compared to the 1st and 2nd seasons, well, you can see where this is going. There appears to be some mystery, action, tension and sf adventure thrown into the mix here but none of it adds up to much by the end. The Enterprise arrives at a planet which even Spock can't explain: it's about the size of our moon but has Earth's characteristics. There's mention, also, that it's only several thousand years old and anyone with minimal knowledge of astronomical/geological time measures knows this is not possible for a natural planet. Kirk beams down with McCoy, Sulu and a geologist (uh-oh, expendable red-shirt alert) and the ship is immediately transported nearly 1000 light years away. Huh? This amazing act of displacement is never really explained. Several 3rd season episodes had such nonsensical contrivances to the plot: this seems an excuse to have a separate storyline on the ship while the landing party struggles to survive on the planet. But, they're zero for two in this one: neither the 'A' or 'B' storyline is up to snuff - slow going in both.

On both the planet and the ship, the crew are stalked and killed by what seems to be a female hologram (Meriwether); they don't refer to it as a hologram, but that's what it seems like to me - an early version of the holodeck from the TNG show. This female disrupts all the cells of a body simply by touching that person; she announces beforehand who she's for, i.e. "I am for you, James Kirk" (the meaning is not what Kirk hopes for). Spock is never more annoying than in this episode; in command of the ship for most of the episode, he takes every opportunity to lecture the other crew members on how illogical they are. This does turn out to be an intriguing comparison to how the ship is usually run (by Kirk). Check out Uhura's annoyed expression when he lectures her about gambling. Dr. M'Benga is back (see "A Private Little War") - I guess he's Doc#2 on the ship. "My guess would be valueless" Spock tells him, almost in anger. And, of course, Spock's verbal attacks on Scotty are never ending; I'm surprised there were no whispers of mutiny by the time they got back to the planet. This repartee is all mildly entertaining but the story is tedious overall, with no interesting revelations about the ancient outpost of a planet or the attacking femme fatale.

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16 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

The stars are "all wrong" this time around.

10/10
Author: fedor8 from Serbia
22 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For Trekkies one of the worst episodes, but for me this is the campiest of them all; not as much regarding what happens but what is being said. There are Edwoodesque dialogues here that had me in stitches.

Listed below are some lines/dialogues from TWS. See if you can figure out where the actual dialogue ends and where invented parts begin... (perhaps not that easy!).

1. Sulu: "The Enterprise must have blown up, Captain!" Kirk: "Yeah, well, who cares...?"

2. Helsmwoman: "Mr. Spock, the planet's gone!"

3. Sulu: "Captain, the ship simply disappeared! What does that mean??" Kirk: "Well, it means we're stranded here." Sulu: "But, Captain, aren't you worried about the lives of 400 of your crew??" Kirk: "I already told you: I ain't. This is Season 3, and I'm a little more apathetic about things."

4. Helmswoman: "What bothers me is the stars, Mr.Spock... they're all wrong." Spock: "There's something wrong with your head, Missy. The stars are fine just as they are..."

5. McCoy: "I wonder what killed him..." Kirk: "I don't know... But something or someone did." This is almost the same sort of exchange as in "Plan 9": "I don't know... But one thing's for sure: there's a dead body here, and someone's responsible!"

6. Scotty: "Mr. Spock, the ship feels wrong." Spock: "What do you mean 'feels wrong'?" Scotty: "The field is all wrong." Spock: "Oh, the FIELD is all wrong. I thought you said 'it feels wrong'." Scotty: "I DID say that!"

7. Losira: "I am... from this planet." Sulu: "So the planet IS hollow!" Losira: "No, Sulu, the script-writer's head is hollow."

8. Losira: "I have come for you, Mr.Sulu... I want to touch you." Sulu: "Touch Kirk! I'm gay..."

9. Sulu: "How can such evil BE, Captain?! She's so beautiful..." Kirk: "I know... Evil only comes from ugly people."

10. Sulu: "I'd rather be on the Enterprise." (Translation: "Mommy, I wanna go home!!") Kirk: "I agree, Sulu... I'd rather rest my head between Uhura's massive pillows now than be fighting aliens on this damn planet."

One of the most amazing, absurd, unique hence entertaining aspects of this wildly funny episode is Spock's atypical grumpiness, which manifests itself at least a dozen times in sarcasm(!) and put-downs(!!) of crew members. The cranky side of Spock, that we didn't even know existed until TWS, really comes into the forefront in this episode. Perhaps male Vulcans have their period every seven years?

No-one was safe from Spock's venomous ripostes. Examples:

1. When Uhura asks "what happened?", after the ship is shaken up, Spock proceeds to literally and in full detail explain the physics of his fall - like some demented robot, and without a trace of sarcasm. (He was still warming up for the upcoming sarcastic remarks.)

2. Uhura: "How did she get off the ship, sir?" Spock: "Presumably the same way she got on it." This was such a cheap shot by Spock, the kind of dumb comment one could expect from a 6th-grader!

3. Sick-bay Doctor: "Your guess is as good as mine, Mr.Spock." Spock: "I would suggest you refrain from guessing and focus on the task at hand." So the TWS Spock can dish out sarcasm, but is too dim too detect it from others, or at least to recognize a common phrase when he hears one.

4. Uhura: "What are the chances the Captain and the others are still alive?" Spock: "Lieutenant, we do not engage in gambling." This, coming from Starfleet's Annual Intergalactic Useless Statistics/Odds Champion!

Meriwether, looking vaguely Raquel Welchian, going around killing people in spite of feeling ambivalent about hurting them is a bit amusing, too. (The wishy-washiest killer of them all.) At the end, Kirk and co. even engage in quasi-slapstick, when they keep changing the order of how they stand to avoid being touched by the strange pacifistic-yet-murdering alien woman/robot.

Apart from bombarding the viewer with unintentional nonsense every single minute, TWS is also a visually high-quality episode, with great sets and wonderfully bombastic 60s colours. The Losira-gets-folded special effect is very effective.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

An adequate episode, dragged down by bad characterization

7/10
Author: aaustin-10 from United States
25 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When the Enterprise investigates a strange planet, a mysterious woman abruptly appears to sabotage the ship and put it in danger of exploding, while simultaneously threatening to wipe out a stranded landing party led by Captain Kirk. Kirk and his crew must find out who or what this woman is, and why and how she is putting them all in such peril, before the ship is destroyed and the landing party killed off.

This episode has a good, steady pace, solid plot, and a genuine sense of the Enterprise crew desperately trying to cope with a sudden, unknown threat before disaster overtakes them all. It manages to convey dramatically the idea that out in deep space our heroes will encounter unexpected and random threats any one of which might be more than they can handle. Also, I like that they take the time to give a little depth to the D'mato character (a likable guy who is enthusiastic about his work in geology) before killing him. And the regular characters treat his death with a little mourning and gravity. Too often on Star Trek the deaths of minor characters are glossed over by episode's end, like in installments where many men died horribly and then the script concludes with a lame joke. It ruins an episode's dramatic heft Here, we really care about D'mato's demise. Also, we get to see Scotty at his best, doing emergency repairs when danger looms, and taking risks because he does not want Spock to be the one to have to do it.

This episode could have gotten a top ranking from me but it gets dragged down by serious mistakes in characterization. For one thing, Spock's personality in this episode is completely different than it is in the rest of the series. The usually composed, polite, patient Spock suddenly and inexplicably is turned into an arrogant, rude jerk who deserves to be demoted for his treatment of his shipmates during a time of peril. Ordinarily, Spock would only criticize someone's illogical thought patterns during laid back moments of reflection and spare-time conversation. Here, he is emotionally shooting people down right and left when he should be concentrating on solving the problem. It is completely inconsistent with everything we know about this character.

To a lesser extent something similar is done with the Kirk character. Early on he is meaninglessly short and callous in his comments during the landing party. He returns to regular form quickly enough, but the damage is done. We now have two regular characters spewing dialogue inconsistent with what we know of their personalities and it serves to remind the viewer we're just watching actors reciting lines rather than actors being characters. It short circuits the drama. This one major error in the script manages to spoil the quality of the whole episode.

This just goes to show you that what is really important in fiction is the characters, and if you get them wrong, you get the story wrong. The writers of this episode apparently thought the only way to create interesting dynamics between characters was to have them say pointlessly abrasive things people would not really say in real life. It is the mark of an amateur, so it is astonishing Gene Roddenberry himself and the great D.C. Fontana were two of the three writers who did this. They may be the admirable giants to Star Trek, but on this episode, they dropped the ball. But the plot's execution, at least, helps keep the episode floating enough to earn a seven out of ten.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

"This thing is going to blow up..."

6/10
Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
14 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Boy, didn't you just want to smack Spock upside the head for his characterization here? He was never more annoying, and even though he's my favorite Star Trek character, I was going 'enough already' with his determination to put down all of his fellow crew members with precision and logic. Come on Spock - couldn't you round 990.7 light years up to a thousand? I think everybody would have been on the same page with you.

On top of that, once Losira turns out to be a hologram, the whole story falls apart. How was her 'touch' so deadly if she wasn't real? I suppose the last of the planet's scientists could have concocted some relationship between the image and the cellular disruption gimmick, but that was never offered.

Another thing - I don't think the Enterprise was ever challenged before with the warp factor established here. If I recall correctly, the ship never, ever reached Warp 10 in any prior episode, but here it accelerated to 11.2, then 11.9, 13.2 and holy asteroids (sorry, thought this was a 'Batman' episode), topping out at 14.1! I think it was established in an earlier show that 10.0 would make the ship a goner, but I could be making that up. Just like they made this one up on the fly.

The one redeeming feature of the show, and I was reminded when I saw her, but I had totally forgotten how gorgeous Lee Meriwether was. I'm sure the Captain would have willingly traded her character for another episode where he got to get up close and personal. Oh well, you can't win them all.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Beware the cubic disco ball of doom

4/10
Author: Christopher Baird from United States
11 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This episode is better than most of the rest of season three, but that's not saying much. There's really not much to the story. A mysterious woman keeps killing crew members and ends up being the projection of a computer (the swirling cubic disco ball of doom!) left on auto-pilot by an extinct civilization. The subplot of the Enterprise being thrown 1000 light years and suffering sabotage seemed added for no reason but to fill out the plot. The scenes where Scotty had to climb in by the plasma flow and make repairs or the ship would explode were entertaining thanks to fine acting by Doohan and nice visuals, but they make no sense from a scientific perspective and seem added for the sole purpose of creating drama.

My wife walked in during the repair scenes and our conversation went something like this. My wife: "Why is Scotty down by those sparks?" Me: "He has to fix a sci-fi-mumbo-jumbo-thingy." My wife: "Why doesn't he turn the sparks off first?" Me: "The enemy did some sci-fi-mumbo-jumbo-thingy to the ship so they can't." My wife: "Why did the enemy do that?" Me: "To create drama. There's no real reason given." My Wife: "How does he fix it?" Me: "He waves a sci-fi-mumbo-jumbo-thingy in a dangerous place." My Wife: "Why is it dangerous?" Me: "To create drama. There's no real reason given. My wife: "Why don't they wait until the power runs out so the sparks go away so they can make repairs safely?" Me: "Because the ship is going to explode in 12 minutes." My wife: "Why is the ship going to explode?!" Me: "To create drama. There's no real reason given."

In summary, these scenes exemplify much of season three: contrived nonsense. Other odd tidbits:

- The woman is just an optical projection of a computer, but for some reason must physically touch people in order to kill them. - The woman's touch is only deadly to one predesignated person at a time and we never find out why. - The woman knows everyone's names and we're never told how. - The disco ball of doom has the power to explode every cell in a person's body from 1000 light years away, yet one phaser shot to and its destroyed (talk about anti-climatic). - The victims have every cell in their body exploded, and yet they look exactly the same on the outside. - Spock is unusually annoying in his demand for precision for no real reason.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The beautiful guard they left behind

6/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
26 July 2014

This Star Trek story has the Enterprise coming upon a seemingly deserted planet which has some strange life patterns. Almost as if life was grafted on to it as opposed to evolving naturally. But the away team of Kirk, McCoy, Sulu and a geologist is stranded when a beautiful woman gets on the Enterprise and kills the transporter technician. And then the Enterprise is hurled almost a 1000 light years away.

The beautiful woman is former Miss America Lee Meriwether and she's deadly to the touch as she kills both another Enterprise crew member on board and the geologist on the away team. Remarkable she turns up in two places light years away and causes considerable damage.

But there is a logical explanation for all this and more than Spock endeavor to find it. Her people are the Calandrans and they've left ages ago.

An interesting Star Trek saga.

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Spock gets sarcastic and Kirk is afraid of being touched by a beautiful woman

7/10
Author: Tweekums from United Kingdom
15 August 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This episode sees the crew of the Enterprise investigating a mysterious planet; it is only the size of the Moon and is a mere five thousand years old but it appears to sustain life, have an atmosphere and be the mass of the Earth. Just as Kirk, McCoy, Sulu and an expendable geologist beam down to the surface a beautiful woman appears in the transporter room saying they must not got to the planet; she then kills the transporter operator with a single touch! Soon after the away team arrive the planet suffers a major earthquake; when it is over there is no sign of the Enterprise. As they search for anything that might be edible the same beautiful woman appears and approaches the geologist, she says she has come for him before touching and killing him. It isn't that long before she is coming for the others although it becomes apparent that she can only harm the specific person she has come for. Back on the Enterprise the crew discover that the entire ship has been moved to a point almost a thousand light years away and the same woman kills an engineer as he examines the engines after Scotty states that something doesn't feel right. Further investigations reveal sabotage that could destroy the ship as it hurtles back to the planet.

This might not be a great episode but it isn't terrible either. It was nice to see that geologist Lt. D'Amato was given a bit of character rather than being the typical doomed character whose sole purpose is to die in a mysterious way. The fact that the danger came from a beautiful woman was a bit of a cliché; it seems that almost every episode must feature a beautiful guest star dressed in a fairly revealing costume. The way she only came for a specific crewmember each time was intriguing though leaving the viewer wondering if there is one woman, several identical women or she is something else. Spock seems strangely out of character here; he has always been logical but now, as he takes command of the ship, he seems merely obtuse and sarcastic as he is overly precise and criticises any wording that is inexact or even employs metaphor. The story is tense though; I especially liked the scene where Scotty struggles to fix the ship knowing that the slightest mistake could destroy the ship; James Doohan was really good in this scene. Overall a fairly mixed episode with some great moments but also some that are almost laughable… and not in an intended way.

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