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Star Trek – Plato’s Stepchildren (Review)

This July and August, we’re celebrating the release of Star Trek Beyond by taking a look back at the third season of the original Star Trek. Check back every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the latest update.

Another third season episode. Another iconic episode.

As with a lot of third season episodes, Plato’s Stepchildren is easily reduced to a selection of imagery and iconography. It is one of the episodes most likely to be cited as an “important” moment in the cultural evolution of Star Trek, full of clips that are likely to pop up on documentaries covering the history of television. Plato’s Stepchildren is an episode that has permeated popular culture, in large part due to a singular and memorable image that ultimately has very little to do with what the story is actually about.

"A kiss can be even deadlier, if you mean it."

“A kiss can be even deadlier, if you mean it.”

There is something frustrating about this. It feels inappropriate that Plato’s Stepchildren should have become such an important part of the history and the mythology of Star Trek. Not only is Plato’s Stepchildren offensive in ways that deliberately and brutally cut against the imagery that is so lauded, it is also a terrible piece of television in its own right. As with a lot of the third season of Star Trek, it seems like the mythology of the show is brushing up against the quality of the show itself.

Plato’s Stepchildren is memorable and important, but it is all boring and offensive. It encapsulates a lot of the third season, all in all.

"I can see you."

“I can see you.”

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