Star Trek: Season 1, Episode 21

The Return of the Archons (9 Feb. 1967)

TV Episode  |   |  Action, Adventure, Mystery
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 1,094 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 10 critic

Seeking the answer to a century-old mystery, Kirk and crew encounter a vacantly peaceful society under a 6000-year autocratic rule that kills all those it can't absorb.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Harry Townes ...
Torin Thatcher ...
Brioni Farrell ...
First Lawgiver
Charles Macaulay ...
Jon Lormer ...
Morgan Farley ...
Karl Held ...
Lindstrom (as Christopher Held)
Sean Morgan ...
Lt. O'Neil


The Enterprise travels to Beta III to learn the fate of the U.S.S. Archon, gone missing a century earlier. One member of the landing party disappears, and one returns in a strangely blissful state. Kirk beams down with another landing party; amidst the chaos of "Festival" their hosts asks if they are "Archons." To learn more, Kirk must convince Betan citizens to disobey Landru, the man who has ruled them for 6,000 years - or find those who already resist. But with the Lawgivers everywhere, that task is going to be difficult... Written by CommanderBalok

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

23rd century | See All (1) »


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Release Date:

9 February 1967 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This is the first appearance for actor Charles Macaulay, who is the projection of Landru. He appears again as Jaris, ruler of Argellius II, in the second season episode "Wolf in the Fold" See more »


When Kirk is trying to wake everyone in the dungeon, the shadow of the camera is very visible as it passes a stone wall between the camera and Kirk. See more »


Mr. Spock: This is a soulless society, Captain. It has no spirit, no spark. All is indeed peace and tranquility - the peace of the factory, the tranquility of the machine, all parts working in unison.
See more »


Featured in Cosmic Thoughts (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

Self-defense, conflicting Prime Directives and how to outsmart an omnipotent power
16 April 2007 | by (Vulcan) – See all my reviews

Return of the Archons is one of those episodes of TOS which, whether you like it or not, sticks with you. It is one of the franchises first attempts to deal with dystopian subjects and takes place almost entirely on a planet inhabited by people whose lives are regulated in all respects by the mysterious force known as Landru. Sulu sets this up by becoming the first member of the crew to become absorbed by 'the body'. He is transported back to the ship in the same state of idiotic bliss as the inhabitants of the planet, and begins babbling the praises of Landru. Takei's acting makes this opening scene very memorable and sets a disturbing tone.

The Archons were crew members of the USS Archon, a federation ship which arrived at this planet long ago. Today, the Archons live only as a legend of resistance to Landru and 'The Body' - his regulated, brain-washed society. The story is well written and smartly conceived. Within the first 20 minutes, the episode gives us a taste of the body's folk-lore, language, and regulatory systems.

This episode incorporates some comic elements early on - mostly the typical human vs vulcan theme - but the humor dies down as the bridge crew begins to understand the threat they are facing. Landru sees all, is beginning to absorb all, and is pulling the ship out of its orbit. Kirk, Spock and a small landing party must violate the prime directive to save their ship and the catatonic society they have encountered. But they frankly don't even know where to start.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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