Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
Star Trek: Season I, Episode XXV: The Devil in the Dark (1967) Directed by Joseph Pevney, Written by Gene L. Coon, Created by Gene Roddenberry
[McCoy has been ordered to help a silicon-based life form]
McCoy: You can't be serious. That thing is virtually made out of stone!
Captain James T. Kirk: Help it. Treat it.
McCoy: I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer.
Captain James T. Kirk: You're a healer. There's a patient. That's an order.
On the planet Janus II, all the action takes place underground. Janus II is a treasure trove; perjium for reactors across the Federation, Platinum and Rare Earths in abundance. The colony there has existed for fifty years, mining. But now, in the last three months, something is in the tunnels with the miners, something alien, and deadly. 50 men have died, and the Enterprise is on its way to see perjium production is put back on schedule.
Chief Engineer Vanderberg (Ken Lynch) is gruff, scared, but willing. He wants Kirk to succeed, and he puts the planet’s resources at Captain Kirk’s (William Shatner) disposal. The monster, whatever it is, seems to move through solid rock and kills with a powerful acid bath. There are millions of miles of tunnel, and as Production Manager Appel (Brad Weston) points out, they can’t get the Enterprise down a mile deep in a mine. So it’s Kirk and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and a whole lot of Red Shirts on foot, armed with phasers against a monster that has proven to be phaser resistant, and that doesn’t show up on sensors.
This is William Shatner’s favorite episode. I can see why. It is a total spookfest. Every time it comes on, I turn off every light in the house, and watch it, trying to recapture the thrill it gave me as a small child. I will be honest, it scared the wee-wee out of me. Alone in the dark, with an unknown monster…it’s every child’s nightmare.
It is also the very best of what Science Fiction is about. It takes the possibilities (silicon based life forms) and plays around with them. What would that be like? Would they show up on sensors? How would they live? It then takes all that speculation, and uses it for the fuel for a story that teaches a real lesson; in this particular case, “don’t judge a book by its cover”, or possibly, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself…and spiders.” It is a allegorical fable about jumping to conclusions, and acceptance.
It is also a favorite episode of Queer theorists. Mr. Spock is notorious for his reverence for life. He suspects that the monster is 1.) intelligent, 2.) protecting its offspring, and 3.) the last of its kind. Kirk slaps him down when he suggests capturing it. He calls its elimination a crime against Science. Yet when Kirk reveals that the monster is ten feet away from him, his reaction is automatic, and indicative of where his priorities lie; “Kill it Jim! Quickly!” Also, watch Spock when Kirk is going to send him to help Scotty, for his own safety. Spock’s very logical explanation of why he should stay reminds me of nothing so much as a ten year old explaining why he should get to go with Daddy on some errand.
The episode also allows all three of the principles to shine, from Mr. Spock’s telepathic communication with the monster, and his rather amusing final scene, to Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) and his miracle cure of a Silicon based life form “It won't die. By golly, Jim, I'm beginning to think I can cure a rainy day.” to Captain Kirk’s moment of clarity when he and the monster face off in the dark…and don’t kill one another. Jim figured it out. Without Spock explaining it.
I’m with William Shatner. This is one of my favorite episodes.
To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before! Star Trek Season I
The Cage (episode 0, unaired pilot)
The Man Trap
Where No Man Has Gone Before (pilot 2)
The Naked Time
The Enemy Within
What Are Little Girls Made Of?
Dagger of the Mind
The Corbomite Manuever
The Menagerie Part I
The Menagerie Part II
The Conscience of the King
Balance of Terror
The Galileo Seven
The Squire of Gothos
Tomorrow is Yesterday
The Return of the Archons
A Taste of Armageddon
This Side of Paradise
The Devil in the Dark
Errand of Mercy
The Alternative Factor
The City on the Edge of Forever
Read all 6 Reviews
Write a Review
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children up Ages 8