‘THE RETURN OF THE ARCHONS’ (TOS)
Please feel free to comment on my review.
‘The Return of the Archons’ isn’t one of my favourit ‘Star Trek’ episodes. There’s something about it that doesn’t work for me, although the tension and atmosphere of this episode is pretty disturbing.
In the episode, Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew visit a planet where the culture is that of a nineteenth century Earth society. However, the people there are worshippers of the god-like Landru.
Early in the episode, Sulu is the only one who returns to the Enterprise after being stung by a hooded figure’s staff on the planet. When he returns, he exhibits strange behaviour, praising Landru.
Eventually Kirk and his away team visit the planet to find out more about what’s going on. They get a shock when suddenly at ‘the red hour’ everyone goes into animalistic-like frenzy around the streets.
There’s a certain demonic aspect to this episode which I didn’t like. Landru is claimed to be gentle and peace-loving, when as in actual fact there’s a sense of unrest and the people are really soulless.
I was pretty disturbed when Sulu got ‘absorbed’ and seemed to be worshipping Landru. It’s a great acting performance on George Takei’s part and it is so scary when he seems too relaxed and at ease.
Eventually, it isn’t long before Dr. McCoy becomes ‘absorbed’ and seems to be worshiping Landru. It was rather disturbing when Bones realises Kirk and Spock are ‘not of the body’ and he shouts loudly.
Harry Townes guest stars as Reger, owner of a boarding house on the planet Beta, who allows Kirk and the others to take refuge. Reger isn’t affected by Landru’s influence, aware of what this is about.
But Reger seems afraid to reveal too much about Landru to Kirk and the others, as he senses that he is watching and hearing them. Reger is one of three people who seem to be against Landru’s reign.
During the episode, the Enterprise gets attacked by heat beams from the planet of Beta. It seems that Landru is attempting to bring the ship down and Scotty relates to Kirk about what is happening.
I liked it when Kirk and Spock tried to pass themselves off as being ‘one of the body’ with Landru. I was convinced that Kirk had been taken over, until it was revealed when Spock was to take his turn.
Torin Thatcher guest stars as Marplon, another one of the three with Reger who is against Landru. Marplon doesn’t absorb Kirk and Spock into Landru, and he’s the one who helps to get them to him.
The hooded figures that threaten Kirk and the others on Beta are the Lawgivers. They serve the will of Landru and they seem to act and talk like computers when they threaten Kirk to follow their laws.
Charles Macaulay guest stars as Landru. Landru appears human-like, but seems to be like a powerful god on Beta. But he’s a holographic projection to Kirk and the others when attempting to talk to him.
It soon gets revealed that Landru is merely a machine that’s controlling the people on Beta. I like that confrontation scene where Kirk and Spock manage to disable Landru and end this horrible reign.
So yes, ‘The Return of the Archons’ isn’t one of my favourite episodes from the ‘Star Trek’ series. I can’t put my finger on it, as it’s a pretty average episode and it seemed as soulless as Landru was in the story.
The DVD special features for this episode are as follows. On Disc 6 of both the original and re-mastered DVDs of ‘Star Trek: The Original Series – Season 1’, there is a preview trailer for this episode.
‘The Return of the Archons’ (TOS) rating – 4/10
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