"Star Trek" The Return of the Archons (TV Episode 1967) Poster

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You are not of the body...
Ken Hower6 July 2006
This is the word of Landru! "You will be absorbed...your individuality will merge into the unity of good."

This episode always makes me wonder if this was the inspiration for the BORG. The planet has 1 ruler/leader, who's name is Landru. But he is really just a computer. This was a common theme in the original Star Trek...computers gone awry. In the episode all citizens must become "of the body". If they aren't "of the body", they are pointed out, or busted by those of the body. Once "assimilated", all citizens feel joy, peace and contentment. The BORG obviously take this concept to another level, but the similarities are very apparent.

In the projection of Landru...he says "you are an infection" to Kirk and crew. Very Borg like indeed.
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Self-defense, conflicting Prime Directives and how to outsmart an omnipotent power
mstomaso16 April 2007
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.
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Curious episode that works in odd way
mlraymond20 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Return of the Archons is one of the Star Trek episodes I didn't much care for years ago, but has grown on me.The characters and themes seem close to the edge of outright silliness at times, but somehow, it works. The sense of a genuinely strange society, that the Enterprise crew have stumbled onto, is conveyed well. Seeing Captain Kirk dressed as if he were on his way to the gunfight at the OK Corral is odd enough to be memorable, along with the medieval dungeon they find themselves in, the hooded robes and staffs of the Lawgivers, and the obscure lingo about the Body, etc.

It's certainly imaginative and creatively done for a low budget TV show. Charles Macaulay, as the mysterious, seemingly benevolent Landru has such a marvelous voice and presence that I wish his character could have had more screen time.

One of the most oddly memorable scenes is that that of their host Reger showing the landing party to their quarters, and the following scene of them waking the next day, with Kirk sleeping standing up in a blanket, and Spock lying on his back in a bunk bed. The incongruity of the solemn Spock sleeping in a bunk bed is an image that tends to stay with me.
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Better Hurry - it's almost The Red Hour
Bogmeister14 July 2006
Some rather deep and sophisticated concepts were presented in this episode, quite sophisticated even for this show; the drawback was an unexciting narrative, even a drab pace. The Enterprise had already arrived at a planet before the episode begins, on one of those investigative searches for a lost Federation ship from a century prior. The planet's inhabitants all seem to be in a perpetual state of vapid, almost mindless contentment, walking about in a happy daze on the streets of a pleasant town. Well, perpetual until the big clock strikes a certain hour - then everyone goes crazy raping & pillaging (I wonder who cleans up these messes afterward?). The people here are no more than wind up toys, following the telepathic command of a hidden ruler named Landru. It's one of those 'group-mind' premises prevalent in sf, especially in the sixties. There are no real individuals left, only a 'body' composed of many cells, each pretty much the same as the next one. This proposes that when free will becomes too intoxicating and mankind nearly destroys itself (i.e. self-induced holocaust), then something may step in to regulate our will to avoid extinction - a cosmic Gandhi turned benign dictator, if you will.

However, as with every body, there appear certain strains or viruses attacking from within. The rebels here work in groups of 3 and are apparently resistant to the absorption techniques imposed by Landru. It's interesting that these rebels are all old men, perhaps having developed some immunity over time, but they're not so much into rebelling as crying for some saviors to come - like the 'Archons' from a 100 years ago. Kirk has to coerce these guys into helping him find this mysterious Landru, while avoiding being absorbed. My favorite scene lets actor Kelley show what a good actor he really was after McCoy gets absorbed into the body. No one else was able to capture that self-satisfied contentment as well as he did and it was all the more unsettling when, after pointing an accusatory finger, he attacked Kirk in rage ("You're NOT of the BODY!") - I tell you, you can't pay for better entertainment sometimes. The 4th act, unfortunately, is anti-climactic, with a pat use of anti-machine logic by Kirk to get some circuits sputtering (see later episodes such as "The Ultimate Computer" and "The Changeling"). I did appreciate the guest turn by actor Thatcher who appears late in the episode - I'll always remember him from the best Sinbad movie.

Now we come to the real crux of this story - the complete disregard of the Prime Directive, that supposedly unyielding law which governs the ethics of the Federation. It states that such Federation envoys as the Enterprise crew may never interfere with or change another culture. Well, maybe it wasn't a COMPLETE disregard: Spock does remind Kirk of the directive towards the 4th act. Kirk dismisses this law with a couple of sentences, that it only refers to a growing culture, which this isn't. Oh, really? Perhaps now we understand the attraction of going off into space as a starship captain - you get to play God on occasion. Not a bad way to spend one's time - as Kirk would do again; remember "The Apple" and, very soon, "A Taste of Armageddon"?
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"Your individuality will merge into the unity of the Good".
classicsoncall24 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Back when I was watching these Star Trek episodes as reruns in the Seventies, I would never have considered the political and societal implications of an episode like 'The Return of the Archons'. For anyone watching these shows as a youth, the stories seem primed purely for entertainment. The same could be said for an earlier series, my all time favorite, The Twilight Zone. Yet in many of his stories, Rod Serling took a definite stand against the encroaching authority of the state, and both subtle and not so subtle intrusions against individual freedom and liberty. Perhaps his strongest statement in that regard was the TZ second season episode 'The Obsolete Man', and to a lesser extent, 'Eye of the Beholder', even though that latter one is generally remembered for representing something entirely different.

I have no idea what Gene Roddenberry's political leanings might have been, but one gets a strong hint with 'The Archons'. The summary line quoted above, when studied for it's deeper subtext, contains the ultimate promise of the uber-Socialist. One's freedom and individuality, as demonstrated by the spirit of Landru, is a machine's concept of perfection, one of peace and harmony, but sadly no soul. Although the conundrum presented by Captain Kirk to the machine logic of Landru is a bit awkward, it isn't hard to demonstrate that lacking a freedom of choice, there is no creativity, and ultimately, no life. At least no life that can express joy at it's own existence, only those distractions brought on by a manufactured 'Red Hour', or as I came to the conclusion while watching, a Mardi Gras on steroids.

There's also Roddenberry's intriguing symbolism of 'the three', those elder statesmen if you will, who were immune to 'absorption'. The idea I take away here is that only the oldest residents of Beta III were able to remember the way things used to be prior to the arrival of the first starship, the Archons, a hundred years earlier. In that context, Reger (Harry Townes), Hacom (Morgan Farley) and Marplon (Torin Thatcher) were the last line of defense before The Enterprise arrived to keep alive the traditions of the past. They were among the last remaining citizens who understood that 'freedom is never a gift'.

I could probably go on and on with this subject, the seed of a college thesis is at the core of this story. However I'd like to wrap up with another reference to Rod Serling and his own unique vision. There was a fourth season TZ episode entitled 'The New Exhibit'. In that one, a museum caretaker brings home a murderers row of wax dummies representing infamous killers in history. Near the end of the story he admonishes one of his figures for killing a guest who came to his home. The name of the murderer using a garrote - it was Landru!
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Quite a mix of sophisticated thinking and comic book resolution
sheenarocks25 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is a rather strange episode of Star Trek. It could have possibly been a great one. Someone above mentions how the Red Hour aspect of the story is never explained. I suspect that this is because something was either left out or cut out of the final script. It is a very interesting idea, that the content, happy folks of this society must periodically have "Festival" which... Blows off steam? Keeps the pressure cooker from boiling over with joy? I suspect it was something like this, something explained in the original script and a very interesting and deep concept for the show.

Another thing not explained (or perhaps I missed this) is the "hollow tube" weapon. When it is discovered that this weapon is just that, a hollow tube with no mechanical parts, it appears this is another little detail that was left out of the final script--why and what then caused it to kill and control? Another tantalizing plot device, like the Red Hour, that could have, if given the time (i.e., longer than 60 minutes), made for a very exciting and well-thought out episode.

Unfortunately, the ending is one of those human versus computer things where, of course, Kirk wins out while reasoning with the evil computer, causing it to destroy itself. A common and really ridiculous plot device that was perhaps changed in the final script also.

In all, not a bad ST episode but it could have been much better.
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The will of Landru
bkoganbing3 August 2013
One of my favorite of the Star Trek prime episodes is this one. A great lesson to be learned when humankind thinks it has found the perfect society and seeks nothing else.

This story has Lieutenant Sulu getting beamed back aboard the Enterprise in a rather dreamy like state like he was a member of some cult. When a larger away team led by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy go down they find a society frozen in time and completely submerged in a philosophy of peace and non-violence. Except of course for the 'festival' when ones baser impulses get to run amuck.

The people on Beta III as this planet is known to Star Fleet are held in thrall by the will of an ancient philosopher named Landru. And before Landru died he found a way to see his teachings were carried out. What it involved was nothing less than the stamping out of individuality.

Back when I saw this episode in its first run I was taking Far Eastern history in college and we learned about Confucius and his influence on Chinese culture. He did not speak in fortune cookie aphorisms as those old Charlie Chan films would have you believe. But he did have a lot of wise things to say and we in the west could profit by some of it. So great was his influence that it guided the culture. And so great was the respect he was held in that it was thought in that society all wisdom began and ended with him. I don't think Confucius himself ever thought so and he certainly did not have the advance technology that Landru had and built 6000 years earlier for his planet.

Only with individuality comes new ideas, bad and good and over time we find out what the good is. A great lesson taught to us by Gene Roddenberry, courtesy of Star Trek.
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Sulu and Bones get brainwashed… will Kirk and Spock be next?
Tweekums4 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
In the opening scene Sulu and another crewmember are investigating the mystery of the Archon, a ship that disappeared a century ago, in a town that is reminiscent of the late nineteenth century but there is something odd about the people; they act more like automata than human beings. The two officers are cornered by robed men and Sulu is touched by their staffs just as he beams out; back on the Enterprise he starts to behave like the inhabitants of the planet. To find out what happened Kirk leads a full away mission to the planet and discover a strange society were almost everybody has been absorbed into 'The Body' by a leader known as Landru and those who for whatever reason haven't been absorbed are in danger of being killed in the interest of 'the greater good'. If Kirk and his team are to avoid being absorbed they will have to discover the truth behind Landru.

This is a fine episode takes us into a rather disturbing society; outwardly it looks almost Utopian but it quickly emerges that the minority who haven't been absorbed live in fear of being discovered by those who have; the latter behaving like brainwashed religious zealots. The society's uniformity isn't totally boring though; every so often they have 'Festival' when they are released from control and run wild. There is a greater than usual sense of threat as the opening shows a major character being effected rather than just killing of some red-shirt we have never seen before and Sulu is only the first to be effected. The ultimate discovery about the true nature and defeat of Landru are a little disappointing now but I suspect it would have seemed better when this first aired in 1967. Overall a good episode set on an interesting world.
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Sure it's stupid and often makes no sense, but I still enjoyed the episode
MartinHafer6 December 2006
The idea of a planet where everyone is "absorbed" and become like one giant group of cooperative zombies is pretty cool, so the basic concept isn't bad. And the idea that this Landrew character is sort of like "Big Brother" and watches and controls everything is also pretty exciting. However, the execution of the episode isn't all that great--particularly the whole "red hour" segment. At the red hour, every one of the very peaceful and placid people of the planet become raving maniacs and run amok--this NEVER was explained and didn't fit into the plot at all. I really think they added it because someone thought the episode was dull and thought "let's add a cleaned-up version of an orgy to keep the viewers awake". Well, it just irritated me. And, overall, the episode was very watchable but far from memorable. The show just needed more fun and energy.
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Ladru knows this is my Favorite Star Trek episode.
thejcowboy2213 February 2017
The Prime Directive is the guiding principle of the United Federation Of Planets which prohibits Starfleet personnel from interfering with the internal development of alien civilizations.This particularly applies to alien worlds which are below the threshold of technological scientific and cultural development.This prevents, prohibits, Starfleet personnel from interfering with the internal development of alien civilazations. The Star Ship Enterprise travels to Beta III in hopes of learning the fate of the missing Archon ship 100 years earlier that landed there with their crew. Crew members of the Starship Enterprise Sulu (George Takai) and O'Neil (Sean Morgan) were sent down to the planet for reconnocense on the planet and the Archon vessel. Sulu was beamed aboard in some what of a trance to the crews consternation. The Captain James T. Kirk decides to send down a landing party to find out what happened to Crewman O'Neil. Upon their arrival wearing local garb the planet resembles an old 19th century western town. The crew of the enterprise is startled as the locals walk slowly as if they were floating by. One of the locals Bilar approached the crew and says, "Joy to you friends." Captain Kirk obliges by repeating, "Joy To YOU." Bilar adds..." You be strangers? Come for festival are ya? Got a place to sleep it off yet? Go around to Reger's house. He's got rooms, but you'll have to hurry it's almost red hour." The confused crew couldn't comprehend those bizarre statements. Then the huge clock in the town square strikes six and the Zombie like residents turn into wild savages starting fires, screaming and throwing rocks through store front windows as the startled crew heads for the aforementioned hotel of Reger. As they head inside for safety in Reger's house accompanied by Tula (Brioni Farrell)and an agitated Tamar Jon Lormer who is questioning the loyalty of these new visitors. Reger and Tula are the exceptions in this world of order. Reger asks if they are from the Valley or are they Archons. Kirk replies, "What if we are." Meanwhile an aggravated Crewman Lindstrom (Carl Held) complains to Reger as his Daughter was caught in the frakas of the Red hour as she was on the verge of being tortured by wild men. Reger replies by saying "It's the will of Landru." By the emotional responses by the crew, Tamar was skeptical and realized the crew is not of the body. A perturbed Tamar runs out of the lobby into the street and summons two men in hooded robes and long tubes. They enter but Tula in defense gets zapped by the henchman. Falls to the floor and Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelly) says, "He's dead." An image appears and it's a man in a robe from a time past.

It's Landru played by Charles Macaulay who tells the startled crew that they are invading the body and must be absorbed and if they refuse they will be obliterated. Landru did not personally respond because Spock (Leonard Nimoy) tells the Captain (William Shatner) that it's only a projection. Meanwhile up in orbit Scotty, (James Doohan) the ships engineer,tells the Captain that there's a tractor beam hitting the ship and pulling the Enterprise slowly into Beta III atmosphere. Back on the planet the crew fights the henchman and escape the tubes and now head for safety elsewhere provide by Reger but the locals under the direction of Landru Grab wood, clubs and Stones as they attack the crew . Luckily armed with Phazers they use the wide field beam on stun and knock out the attackers. The crew heads for cover in another building free from Landru until they notice crewman O'Neil among the attackers . Rendered unconscious by the phazer, the crew takes him along against Regers wishes. Reger explains that you can't take him because he was already absorbed Landru will use him as tracking devise and find us. Doctor McCoy give comatose crewman a sedative as Reger explains the world they entered is controlled by Landru for 6000 years. Linstrom complains,"This is simply ridiculous, A bunch of stone aged characters running around in robes?" and Spock replies,"And apparently commanding powers far beyond our comprehension. Not simple,not ridiculous. Very very dangerous." As usual the crew of the Enterprise is in a very dicey situation with Landru and the ship drifting into the planet. I particularly liked this story. Some classic quotes come to mind, for example when Spock and the Captain Kirk are fighting the robes and Spock instead of using his famous Vulcan neck pinch. He give a right cross to the jaw of the recipiant. Kirk looks over in amazement and says "Isn't that a bit old fashioned?" The teleplay by Gene Roddenberry and written by Boris Sobelman in the man against computer genre. One of four instances throughout the Star Trek series. The final confrontation with Captain Kirk and First Officer Spock against the machine is sheer genius. Defining what a living growing culture consists of.Baffling the mighty computer/ Landru and how to disable the machine with out weapons or punches thrown in addition to eluding the Prime Directive. Also you see Spock blush as the Captain tells him that he would have made an excellent computer. Conversely you see helmsman Sulu return to normal and back at the helm. Warp factor ONE!
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"You will be Absorbed"
XweAponX23 April 2013
This episode spot-on delivers a fist to the face of Religious EXTREMISM. And I hope, it broke some noses in the process.

Extremism is not limited to any particular religion, it can infect any of the worlds great religions. And much like The "Chronicles of Riddick" - If an extremist cannot convert you, they will probably try to kill you.

The idea that the absolute truth is only available to those who believe in one particular religion, is folly and fallacy, and maybe apostasy. And just like the planet Beta III in this episode, we see what happens to a society when all creative incentive is forbidden to the membership and only allowed to the leadership - The society which is based on the religion becomes stagnant.

This difficult-to-watch Star Trek Original Series episode shows how such a society will look, the membership, while outwardly proclaiming peace and Joy, have neither. They are tightly controlled, and Law is upheld by Fear Alone.

Taken one step further, the leadership of this stagnation is a machine! And so we have here the very first Computer-Confounding of James T Kirk's career. He becomes an expert in the destruction of computers using illogic, up to and including V'Ger. So maybe this is not as funny as they way he did it in "I, Mudd" - But the process he uses is very much the same.

On a Side-Note, Jon Lormer, who plays the Illusion "Dr Haskins" in "The Cage/The Menagerie" is "Tamar" - The First casualty of this episode at the hands of "Landru" (Charles Macaulay).
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"This is a soulless society..."
poe4263 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Unlike its contemporaries (teleshows like LOST IN SPACE, for instance), STAR TREK often tackled contemporary beliefs- in this case, religious zealotry. THE RETURN OF THE ARCHONS holds up as a fairly bold examination of the absolute mindlessness of The True Believer(s), of the willingness to bend oneself to the will of someone (or someTHING) beyond one's ken (a view even more valid Today than it was in 1967!). The eerie, dreamlike state of the True Believers, underscored by some of the creepiest music ever done for the show, speaks (volumes) for itself. There's not a bad performance to be found, and Charles Macauley (who played the greatest Dracula of them all in BLACULA) is spot-on as the enigmatic Landru- and DeForest Kelly is great as a McCoy who has gotten religion.
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Social repression and trends
Blueghost28 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Like the other reviewer said, the Red Hour is nigh. The author of the episode shows the audience a skewed view of societal controls through repression and the extraction of the human soul by allowing ceremony and ritual, however harmful, to establish an unhealthy norm.

Without elaborating on specifics, and in this way revealing possible spoilers, I'll say that Kirk once again uses his guile and wits to baffle yet another integrated circuit board cranium.

Here again we witness some innovation by the production crew to use period costume to revive and re-energize the sense of an alien world. The viewer is given some tangibility with the props and sets, but the theme and more "alien" aspects of this episode are presented when the deeper impetus of the story is revealed.

A commentary on everything from drunken rioting at sporting events to other like group behavior that people think justified because "everyone else is doing it". Yet another bit of profundity from the creative minds at Desilu Studios.

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One of the worst episodes
intp8 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Gah, this was a terrible episode. Like the earlier episode, "The Enemy Within", this played out like a bad Twilight Zone episode. For the record, I liked "Twilight Zone" as a series overall, but there was an astonishing mix of good and bad episodes in that series, with some major "gimmick" episodes that relied critically on one 'big twist'. That worked out a bit better for an anthology series like TZ that was in a half-hour time slot; but much less so for a 'serious' show like Star Trek, where the 50 minutes just drag on painfully.

The premise is that the crew find themselves trapped on a peculiar world where some unseen master ("Landru", who turns out to be a computer) forces everyone to act "happy" and not ask questions. Kirk and company's mission is to figure out how to disable the mysterious master, free the natives, and escape.

The main theme is incredibly simplistic: a computer lacks "soul", so it would make a poor ruler. Well, yeah, obviously, if one is talking about a 'computer' in the conventional sense; but this assumes that a true AI is not possible, which may or may not be the case.

This episode had some really strange elements. Whereas most of the time the people act zombie-like and complacent, there is the strange periodic "Festival" where everyone runs around berserk, seemingly engaging in wanton sex and violence (the sex of course was only suggested)- what the heck was that about? Was it just to procreate the species? The odd implication is that such excesses are a 'natural' part of humans which need to be indulged in every so often, which I don't really buy.

Basically, one can just watch the first few minutes, then fast forward to the end, to get the gist of the episode, without having to endure the painfully boring bulk of it. That's all I plan to do if I ever feel compelled to review this episode again for the sake of completeness. The entire middle part is mostly superfluous nonsense.


Even the ending was incredibly cheesy, hardly worth watching. Kirk basically just "outwits" the computer and "talks it into" destroying itself. Talk about lousy programming (of the computer) and weak writing (of the script).
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The Red Hour, Landru & Absorption
Rainey Dawn5 January 2017
Season 1, episode 21. A century earlier the U.S.S. Archon disappeared near the planet Beta III and the Enterprise investigates. A search party goes down but only Sulu returns to the ship but acting very strange. Kirk gathers another party to beam down the surface and finds all the inhabitants are acting as strange as Sulu. The party runs into a girl who says her father will give them a place to stay at his tavern about that time the red hour began. The party ends up in that tavern and meet the girl's father Reger. From there Kirk and Spock start asking Reger and his friend, Tamar, questions about what is going on. They mention the name Landru but cannot say more... Landru overheard and sent in his men to kill Tamar. From there Reger is trying to help Kirk and crew from being absorbed by Landru. They are caught and Landru tries to absorb them one by one. McCoy is absorbed but Kirk and Spock pretend to be. It's up to Kirk and Spock to solve the mystery of Landru and save the rest of his crew from being absorbed or destroyed.

The mystery of Landru makes for quite an interesting episode. The ending is good - watching Kirk and Spock destroy Landru with only words quite literally.

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One of the better episodes!
mm-3929 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The return of the Archons is great scientific scripts. Like a memorable Twilight Zone episode. A society is brain washed, and lives in a cult society. Who is this Landru guy? Well the ship is locked into the planet. Crew members brain swiped. Troubles and more troubles. What will Kirk and the gang do. A riveting episode were the viewers wonders what will happen next! Well acted and directed, with great costumes, and sets. A great late night watch! A memorable ending. 8 out of 10 stars.
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Star Trek: The Original Series - The Return of the Archons
Scarecrow-889 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Beta 3 has a zombie like society, lost in "peace and tranquility", faces devoid of "evil and corrupt misbehavior" (only tolerated once a year during the "red hour" which is twelve hours of hellish anarchy, hedonism, riot, and violence), dressed in suits, robes, dresses, and the like similar to the old west or a temple, with this "leader" named Landru dictating a society that is all "good", intolerable to anything that would undermine his command. Kirk, Bones, Spock, and other members of their landing party try to avoid being "absorbed" (indoctrinated through a machine that applies an influence over those deemed a threat to the standards Landru set up for his society), looking to confront Landru and "rescue" the "body" (the name of those who make up Landru's "ideal" society). There are those (an underground) who look to the skies for the return of the "archons"…a race that would "guide them". With a heat beam from the surface of the planet caused by "Landru" (Spock contemplates how Landru functions like a computer, with robed security holding canes that fire rays that kill or influence the will of the leader on those considered "evil", bewildered by Kirk's defiance of them, "correcting after a gap of "reflection" or computing the information new to them) which functions like a tractor beam hooked on the Enterprise causing them to pull towards the Earth, Kirk will need to find Landru and destroy him. Landru is a figure from 6000 years ago who seems to function as a type of projection that doesn't hear Kirk or answer his questions. Soon Kirk and Spock will confront *what* Landru really is. The Prime Directive makes its appearance here and Kirk must go up against it, seeing a society without the freedom to function as a creative people, beholden to an enslavement that forces them all to abide to the will of a leader without the opportunity to oppose him (or it, in the case of a "law" that governs through mental control). Kirk and Spock once again must avoid mind control or potential slavery, which includes possible death, by examining the behavior of the society and the leader that guides them. The dilemma of the Enterprise, with Scotty in command, as the beam is pulling them to their doom, and Kirk on the surface with his landing party against a "body" that will turn you in if you are not just like them (Kirk worrying about both those above, orbiting the planet, and those alongside him, shows the pangs of being the captain exploring the great unknowns and encountering societies of all types), produces plenty of tension. Harry Townes and Torin Thatcher are members of the underground who help Kirk and Spock, but when guidance from Landru might disappear (or their actions uncovered by Landru) their tune changes. The red hour is unhinged!
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Imagine How Boring This Planet Is
Hitchcoc28 April 2014
The story opens with Sulu and one of those expendables exploring what appears to be sort of an old Western town (that's probably where the set came from). They are pursued by guys in monk's cloaks. They cower in a doorway as one of these guys shoots Sulu with a bamboo pole. He immediately starts grinning as Kirk simultaneously beams him up. The next part of the show has them trying to rescue the other guy. Sulu is under house arrest. The kicker is that this planet is full of benevolent (to a fault) people who walk around in a giddy daze, greeting each other. But at the "Red Hour" everyone goes berserk. There is murder and rape and all manner of violence. If you are lucky enough to survive you hop up, dust yourself off, and head for home or wherever. This a world dominated by an an entity called Landru (didn't he used to coach the Dallas Cowboys? Just kidding). He can inflict great pain on those who defy him. It is up to Kirk and Spock to figure out who he is and what to do. This is another episode where a computer somehow wields great power. It won't be the last.
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If I were you, I'd look for another job, Roddenberry
Jamie Ward2 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Roddenberry strikes again, somehow the person we have to thank for this entire franchise manages time after time to riddle his inputs to the show with American Propaganda Nonsense and 'Return of the Archons' is amongst the biggest of such examples.

So let me get what I enjoyed about the episode out of the way. Firstly I appreciated the main cast's performances, specifically from Kelley who actually manages to make these zombie hippie-commies seem interesting. Indeed one of the episode's few redeeming scenes comes mid-way when McCoy is left to sit in the background like an oblivious child until he suspects Kirk and Spock's whispering. I also thought Roddenberry's dialogue was good enough throughout, it's just a shame that they are constantly blabbering on about how a different society is unacceptable.

So naturally now I'm going to go on about what I disliked about 'Return of the Archons'. Firstly the whole 'festival' thing, although a very feasible concept, I felt was very poorly produced. The end result ends up coming off as completely absurd, wacky and unconvincing. It's dramatic and pleasing to watch just for the sheer insanity of it all, but when you take it in context of how seriously the script seems to take itself, you have to realise how poor it is implemented here. Half way through the episode however I found myself craving some more of this anarchy in place of the extremely dull and repetitive plot which moves along frustratingly slowly, heading for a conclusion that doesn't pay off at all.

The final scenes involving Kirk defeating and outsmarting the computer lacks conviction, focus and is simply unconvincing. Never does Kirk or Spock justify how lack of creativity destroys the 'body'. In fact I could come up with a thousand reasons as to justify the exact opposite. Don't you think if creativity was necessary to keeping the 'body' alive that Landrau would have programmed such rules for the computer to enforce? Essentially the whole episode boils down to a message that any society different from that of 1960's America is unacceptable- how could anything be better than the great Democracy? Specifically however, this is a blatant attack on Communism, stinking of cold-war propaganda that I am actually ashamed Trek and Roddenberry actually thought was intelligent or justified; the sheer ignorant and biased nature of the scripts political and philosophical themes is totally unnecessary and unpleasant; this is something that I never could or would associate with any respectable production of Star Trek.

Furthermore the society that is presented here is ridiculous in itself, with little grey to be seen between the black and white. Instead of real characters posing a threat to the Enterprise crew, what we get is a bunch of chess pieces and nothing more; mere placeholders for personal ideals and ideas about another society that the writer clearly has no grasp of. According to 'Return of the Archons', people who serve the 'body' are nothing more than zombies, walking around speaking about peace all day. So who then made the houses, harvests the food and maintains the cities on this planet? Indeed if there is no creativity in such a society, who came up with the idea for the festival? Who designed the roads, the buildings, and the clothing which seems to be an apparent fashion rather than a uniform? So in this respect, if this is indeed a warning against the great evil of communism, then it's clearly nothing more than biased capitalist propaganda at best. Never does it discuss the pros and cons of both societies. Instead the Enterprise crew is portrayed as ignorant fools, rushing in to meld things the way they want it.

Sure there is oppression present, and sure creativity should be allowed if not encouraged, but the problem with the script is that it forces such ideals down your throat and uses them –unjustly- to condemn a form of society that is unified and spiritual. The problem with Landau's society isn't that it's a strong community and the problem doesn't lie in the people's nature- it lies in the obvious dictatorship of Landau, something similar to Communist Russia of the time, I admit, but not something inherent to a society that serves a 'body'.

The end of the episode comes to a frustrating halt with the final discussion between Kirk and Spock on the bridge. Kirk is actually pleased that domestic quarrels have begun arising in the city and laughs it off, dismissing Spock's only intelligent line of dialogue in the episode. Oh yes, quarrelling is human alright, but so is discrimination, war, injustice, corruption and greed. Where will Kirk be when such circumstances arise? Well it's doubtful he'll be there to clean up what he naively encouraged.

When it comes down to it, 'Return of the Archons' has definite potential, but it lacks the detail and discussion that such heavy topics require. So instead of being a coherent and solid piece of thoughtful science fiction, we end up with simple misguided writing with little to no intelligent discussion to justify its claims. As a piece of TV it fails also thanks to it's sluggish pace, dodgy acting from supporting cast and a distinct lack of any significance to main character development or Trek lore. There are some exciting moments here and there and a few good performances that help redeem some points but when it comes down to whether the episode works or not, 'Return of the Archons' just doesn't cut it; A real low-point for Trek.
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Pulling Back the Curtain
Samuel-Shovel23 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
In "The Return of the Archons", the Enterprise is searching a galaxy for a ship that went missing in this section of space long ago. They scout an inhabited planet where all of the people act extremely odd and in a trance-like manner. Some of the crew begins to succumb to this manner. It seems that all subjects are under the control of the great Landru. With the help of a revolutionary underground unit, the crew attempts to break the spell of Landru and give these subjects their freedom back.

I can't quite put my finger on why, but I really enjoyed this episode. Everything about it has this strange opaqueness to it, like we never really get the full picture. This layer of mystery really makes the episode interesting. The odd, old-timey culture this planet has adopted, the weird style of speech that the inhabitants use, the spooky monks, the "Wizard of Oz"-like Landru pulling the strings behind the curtain, I love it all. Now, whether this mission violates the Prime Directive is a whole other can of worms I don't feel like going into...

My favorite character from this episode is Lindstrom, who just seems like an absolute dolt. He gets very upset about the festival, not understanding the cultural significance and the power of Landru. He also at one point tries to shoot a project, thinking he can kill Landru.

I thought Jon Lormer as Tamar absolutely steals the show in the few scenes he is given. He's a great character actor.

The final reveal of the computer program running a Utopian society is something that is going to be topical for a long time. As AI continues to improve and we rely more on the power of computers, these kind of ethical questions regarding how much power to give to machines will become more relevant. Currently, AI is not good at sophisticated decision-making when it encounters variables and situations it is not programmed to deal with. The writers of Star Trek tap into this notion within this episode and it all still makes sense 50 years later. I find that incredible!
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and when something unexplained happens..
merelyaninnuendo20 March 2018
Star Trek

The Return Of The Archons

A cultural hub and by far one of the most loved and respected tale, Star Trek is created by Gene Roddenberry who wrote this brilliant concept, ahead of its time and is probably why it still doesn't fail to entertain us after these many years. It was written "for the future" in many aspects as it even though is smarter, wiser and powerful it still seeks for emotion and the force that binds it all. The relation between Spock and Kirk; despite of its premise, is the most human thing in this majestic tale where the adventures are endless. Encountering this original series, at this stage makes the execution look petty and a bit loose (the small technical aspects can be negotiated) but the writing is smart, gripping and hence completely overpowers it.

Unlike any other hit series, it only has 3 seasons so luckily it means that they will be covering up all their ideas within it until they are satisfied. As it often happens, the first season is always promising and has potential (or else it won't lift up for further more seasons) in it and is utilized with fine detailed work like focusing on different new breeds and characters bonding through this journey.

A brilliant concept and this time executed well enough to invest yourself in where you won't be disappointed with either the writing or the execution of it for it mostly relies upon verbal sparring and tricky plot and not on physical sequences like it often does.
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