The Return of the Archons
Are you of the body? Are you here for Festival? Is this technology run amok or order so stringent, it’s killing the society it was set up to protect? Much to consider as Mission Log returns with “The Return of the Archons.”
Tags: Archon, Beta III, Bobby Clark, computer, Festival, Joseph Pevney, Landru, Prime Directive, red hour, The Original Series, The Original Series Season 1, The Return of the Archons, TOS
According to Issue #1 of the now dead publication title Starlog Magazine:
“If you look just beneath the surface of the gripping Archons story, you’ll find some of the most daring and best ideas ever presented to this day on television. The events take thematic pot-shots at both communism and organized religion, at self-inflicted slavery, and at the non-productive mindlessness of unquestioned brotherhood.
Most daring, perhaps, is the story’s equating of political collectivism with traditional religious ethics – carried to an extreme.!” There is even more than one creepy foreshadowing of a Borg like hive mind. Didn’t you know – “Resistance is futile! ”
It’s still one of those episodes where I feel like there’s a lot going on and so much fodder for discussion. Love to revisit it one day.
Oh – and did you hear Starlog is coming back?
Say what ? !!!
Talk about “The Red Hour!”
Nothing a little Photoshop can’t repair!
My impression was that the “Red Hour” was simply a release valve to make up for for the stifling conformity of the rest of the time spent babbling about “The Body.”
It was also interesting how fear worked so powerfully in anyone who was immune, or somehow avoided absorption; “No! I submit to the will of Landru!” It would be nice if someone did a parody of this episode and Landru was instead L. Ron Hubbard!
The Red “Hour” was 12 hours long. Which to me never made sense.
So Kirk lands on a planet of comparative peace and harmony, and out of a flimsy circumstance where his ship is threatened, he makes a specious argument about it not being a thriving society, destroys its controlling computer and leaves the survivors to an uncertain future.
Thank goodness this will never happen again…
Three questions not answered in podcast:
a) How can ANYONE possibly be “immune to absorption”?
and 2) Why is age a factor in determining who celebrates during the Red Hour? Reger doesn’t appear to be much over 40.
And iii) Is Kirk PART HORSE??? It’s bad enough Spock sleeps with eyes open but HE SLEEPS STANDING UP!!! WHO CAN DO THAT?!?!!?
How did we miss Spock LAYING OUT one of the guards with a FULL ON ROUNDHOUSE?!?
Kirk’s smug reaction : “That was a it old fashioned, wasn’t it?”
Sounds like the folks of Beta III had the same problem as the Vulcanians (sic) did in their early years. A warlike race bent on destroying itself. The Vulcans turned to the teachings of Surak in using logic to control their emotions.
On Beta III, Landru moved to an anti-technology stance, but enforced it with _technology._ It’s a nice contrast in philosophies.
I saw this on METV recently, and I must say this was a lot better than I remember it being. Yes, there are flaws, but I really like the acting overall. What really stands out is the only female of note in the episode is NOT a romantic interest of Captain Kirk. The away team actually stays relatively focused on the mission of getting the heck out of there. Of course, that is after deciding to destroy the native society.
Way late to this but thought I would offer some insight why the Festival was done. Simple such festivals increase social control and order. This is a common sociological phenomenon.
Just thought I would share some sources. Love the podcast!
Interesting. I was thinking that maybe that’s the only time that they had sex, whether consensual or not. And a society can’t survive without sex (assuming that they procreate like humans)!
I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on how this episode would play out differently if the computer was run by a human/alien. There could be a line of Landrus, with Landru 600 running the show now. How would Kirk have handled that, if it were controlled by a person? As was discussed in the podcast, this doesn’t have to be about technology. It’s about social control.
Similarly, I think a huge underlying theme of this episode was CONSENT. No one consented to anything. It didn’t seem like you could opt out of the festival, there definitely appeared to be non-consensual sex (e.g. sexual assault) going on during the festival, no Starfleet crew consented to be absorbed into The Body (did anyone really have a choice?), no one alive now consented to have a computer run their lives, and no one consented to having the computer *stop* running their lives.
Listening to back-issues of Mission Log, and I noted that just after the recap, Ken stated that Festival was like a “violent ———“. I did not recognize nor understand the word that followed “violent” … It sounded like Bach-a-nail-ya? Val-can-ale-ya? Anyone know what that word is? I’d like to look up the reference, but I’m obviously not close enough for Google to help.
No problem, J.M. – the word is “bacchanal.” Here you go! https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacchanalia
One “loose end” that Mr. Ray covers multiple times is the difference between Sulu’s costume and those of Kirk and the landing party. This is explained in the prologue by Sulu himself. In an “Out of Body” experience, Sulu addresses the historian: “You… You did it. They knew we were Archons.” Sulu throws garments at the historian and says “These are the clothes they wear, not these.” as he pulls off his jacket.
So Sulu and O’Neill were caught because of bad intel. I think it explains nicely why Kirk was in 1890’s garb and not 1790’s. They now had patterns to copy.
Incidentally, like its subject, Mission Log itself has great “rewatchability”. When I’m caught up with my current podcasts, I keep coming back to old Mission Logs – especially TOS and TAS.