The Paradise Syndrome
|"The Paradise Syndrome"|
|Star Trek: The Original Series episode|
Captain Kirk, with Miramanee
|Episode no.||Season 3|
|Directed by||Jud Taylor|
|Written by||Margaret Armen|
|Featured music||Gerald Fried|
|Cinematography by||Jerry Finnerman|
|Original air date||October 4, 1968|
"The Paradise Syndrome" is the third episode of the third season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek. Written by Margaret Armen and directed by Jud Taylor, it was first broadcast October 4, 1968.
Captain Kirk, First Officer Spock and Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy transport to the surface of an earth-like planet, from which they are to deflect an approaching asteroid. They discover an obelisk with strange markings, and observe a settlement whose inhabitants, according to Spock, are descended from Native Americans. Kirk, while out of sight of the others, falls through a trap door into the obelisk, where a beam shocks him into unconsciousness. Spock and McCoy are unable to locate Kirk and return to the Federation starship USS Enterprise to complete their mission.
Kirk awakens with amnesia, and a pair of women, including Miramanee, the tribal priestess, see Kirk emerge from their "temple." He is hailed as a god, and taken back to their village, where the tribal elders demand proof of Kirk's divinity. At that moment, a drowned boy is brought in. Salish, the medicine chief, declares the child dead, but Kirk uses mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to revive him. The elders accept Kirk as a god, forcing Salish to relinquish his position to Kirk.
Following the tradition that the tribe priestess and medicine chief marry, Miramanee rejects Salish for Kirk. Meanwhile, the Enterprise crew intercept the asteroid, but fail to deflect or destroy it. Spock orders the ship to shadow the asteroid back to the planet. Kirk falls deeper in love with Miramanee, though haunted at night by dreams of people he feels he should be with. Miramanee happily tells Kirk that she is pregnant.
As the Enterprise nears the planet, Spock succeeds in partially deciphering the markings on the obelisk. It is an asteroid deflector built by the "Preservers", an ancient race that resettled various endangered humanoid populations on other planets in order to ensure their survival. Spock surmises that the obelisk has malfunctioned.
As the asteroid nears the planet, the sky darkens, thunder roars and strong winds blow, and the elders tell Kirk he must go into the temple to stop the storm. As Kirk pounds fruitlessly on the side of the obelisk, the tribe turns against him, stoning him and Miramanee. Spock and McCoy materialize, frightening the villagers away. Spock uses a mind meld to retrieve Kirk's memories, while McCoy tends to Miramanee's wounds. Kirk is able to open the trap door and Spock activates the deflector with minutes to spare. McCoy tells Kirk that Miramanee will not survive.
Production and reception
According to author Daniel Leonard Bernardi, "'The Paradise Syndrome" stereotypes Native Americans as noble savages and whites as 'normal' and even divine [...] Miramanee cannot figure out how to pull Kirk's shirt off, as she cannot find any lacing. She is portrayed as simpleminded, not that bright-- according to Bernardi. This is not the case with Kirk. Moments before, he has fashioned a lamp from an old piece of pottery and saved a boy by using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Despite his amnesia, he is shown as "naturally superior" [...] When the aliens realize that Kirk is not a god, they stone both him and Miramanee (it's the local citizens who are violent in this version of the noble savage stereotype). Spock and McCoy eventually intervene, but only Kirk survives. In this take on a standard white/red miscegenation narrative, the native girl dies so that Kirk, the white male hero, isn't shown unheroically and immorally leaving her and their unborn baby behind."
In 2017, ScreenRant rated the love story between Kirk and Miramanee as the seventh best love story in Star Trek.
- Star Trek and History: Race-ing Toward a White Future, pp 44, 49
- Star Trek's 15 Greatest Romances, screenrant.com
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