Star Trek: Season 3, Episode 21

The Cloud Minders (28 Feb. 1969)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 673 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 3 critic

Kirk and Spock are caught up in a revolution on a planet where intellectuals and artists live on a utopian city in the sky while the rest of the population toils in mines on the barren surface below.



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Title: The Cloud Minders (28 Feb 1969)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Kirk Raymond ...
Cloud Guard #1 (as Kirk Raymone)
Jimmy Fields ...
Cloud Guard #2
Ed Long ...
Troglyte Prisoner
Harv Selsby ...
Cloud Guard #3


In order to save an inhabited planet from being destroyed by a botanical plague, the Enterprise goes to pick up zenite, the mineral cure, on the only known planet where it is mined. When Kirk and Spock beam down, they are attacked by 'troglites' (troglodyte miners) but not captured. High council adviser Plasus intervenes and brings them to Stratos, a luxurious metropolis which literally floats in the sky. However, it is under attack from 'disruptors', troglite revolutionaries who want equal life conditions for their peers. They do all the hard work, mainly toiling miserably in mines and dwell in caves on the barren surface below. Dr. McCoy ascertains that the alleged intellectual inferiority of the troglites is not genetic but the reversible effect of exposure to an invisible gas emitted by the zenite. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

mine | rebellion | miner | fight | inequality | See more »


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Release Date:

28 February 1969 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


David Gerrold conceived the original story on which this episode was based, an outline called "Castle in the Sky". He was deeply disappointed with the final script. His original concept dealt with a three-way conflict between the elite of the planet's sky city and two groups of the cave-dwelling miners - one adhering to the tenets of a pacifist, Martin Luther King-like leader, the other followers of a more militant Malcolm X-like figure. Gerrold's story ended on a deliberately ambiguous note, with the only "triumph" being that Kirk finally managed to establish a dialogue between the groups. Gerrold later characterized the final script - in which the miners' violent actions are blamed entirely on a toxic "zenite" gas in the mines - with the scathing line, "And if we can just get them troglytes to wear gas masks, then they'll be happy little darkies and they'll pick all the cotton we need." See more »


Plasus rules the Federation planet Ardana as a corrupt petty tyrant, suspending civil liberties and violating basic Federation law. Kirk and Spock can and should arrest Plasus for corruption and enslavement, and grant the Troglytes the inalienable Federation rights which are granted to all sentient beings within jurisdiction. This is not a "Prime Directive" case where the Federation refuses to interfere in non-Federation matters. This way of doing things, depending on Federation versus non-Federation, has been shown time and again in the Trek universe. See more »


Vanna: It's hard to believe that something which is neither seen, nor felt, can do so much harm.
Captain James T. Kirk: That's true. But an idea can't be seen or felt, and that's what's kept the Troglytes in the mines all these centuries, a mistaken idea.
Vanna: Would all the Troglytes wear these masks?
Captain James T. Kirk: Yes. I'll see to it that the Federation engineers construct them.
Vanna: Suppose Plasus does not agree?
Captain James T. Kirk: Plasus is not the whole government.
Vanna: That is true, but the City Counsel will not listen to Troglytes.
Captain James T. Kirk: As soon as the zenite is ...
See more »


Featured in Pioneers of Television: Science Fiction (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

Dig, Captain! Dig as the Troglytes Do!
9 March 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Enterprise arrives at the planet Ardana to obtain zenite, a rare mineral which they need to combat a botanical plague on another world. Kirk & Spock beam down but find themselves caught in the middle of a class struggle between the intellectual rulers dwelling in a city in the clouds, sustained by some anti-gravity technology, and Troglytes, the miners who mostly dwell in the caves on the surface of the planet, where such items like zenite are obtained. This is essentially a reworking of the elite class vs. the worker class story penned by H.G.Wells in his famous novel "The Time Machine" (filmed in 1960 and later versions). Extrapolating from such a premise of basic inequality, where-in the elites get all the benefits through the sweat of the workers, it proposes that, some time in the past, one race experienced an extreme branching off separation into two, though, scientifically, they are still all the same race. Kirk & Spock see them as the same, simply a division of the rich vs. the poor, but the egotistical intellectuals of Stratos, the hovering city, have come to see themselves, over the centuries, as a different, superior race.

All of this is sort of summed up by Spock's voice-over as he sits in meditation in his guest room on Stratos, as images of various characters from both sides of the issue are transposed over his form. This sequence also kind of reminded me of scenes and voice-overs from the film "Dune"(84) - another variation on depicting royalty vs. poverty in a futuristic setting. It's a fairly exciting episode from the 3rd season, especially when I saw this as a kid, with several hand-to-hand struggles, and perhaps with even an increase to the usually-lackluster budget for 3rd season episodes. The episode also does a good job of contrasting the desperate stance and attitudes of the Troglytes (variation of 'troglodyte') when compared to the superior attitudes of the elites on Stratos. On the downside, this episode would have rated at least a couple of stars higher had it adhered to the complex social problems presented. Instead, it's revealed that a gas, released when digging for zenite, causes a retardation to the brains of the Troglytes. This problem is solved with the introduction of gas masks by Kirk, which will, in turn, the conclusion suggests, eradicate the inequality on Ardana. This plot turn devolves the episode to simple escapist sf fare, away from the potentially insightful commentary on cultural inequality.

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