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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Star Trek: Season 1, Episode 8: "Miri" or "Trust no one over thirty"

Enterprise receives an SOS signal from an alternate Earth. A plague has hit this Earth driving mad and killing all adults. Children are illusive but for Miri. All humans but Spock receive sores. McCoy quickly learns it is viral.
Analysis with spoilers:
Someone tried to extend life to age one month per 100 years, but it killed adults. The children have lived years as kids, but once they enter puberty, they die. Louise, a little older than Miri, succumbs to the illness, announcing Miri's imminent turn as she approaches puberty. The crew, too, will go mad in seven days. The landing party combs records for clues. The children take the communicators, leaving the landing party without connection to computers.

When Miri, attracted to Kirk, sees him embrace the devastated Janice Rand, fearing death and disfigurement, she turns against them. They kidnap Janice and use her as bait to lure Kirk. Meanwhile, McCoy has come up with a cure, but he needs to check with the ship computers. Kirk convinces Miri that this is her fate, too, unless she listens and they. They taunt and attack until Kirk convinces them that this will happen to all.

Part of the inspirational source must have come from Jack Weinberger, a free speech activist, who in 1964 told a San Francisco Chronicle reporter, "Trust no one over thirty."  Thirty-six years later, he said, "It was a way of telling the [reporter] to back off, that nobody was pulling our strings." However, that's a weird way of saying that. Perhaps it suggests that, but more likely he wanted to talk about a generational divide in terms of the Vietnam War.

The quote quickly spread across the country. That this episode discusses it (the leader of the child gang wears a tattered military coat) shows the magnitude of the impact the quote had on the nation. The Planet of the Apes movies accepted the phrase while here it is challenged. The children get older but don't mature, without the influence of an adult population. The adults that do remain go insane, and yes, the adults caused the disease in an attempt to make life better. The children need adults to help them (and help the adults) get over diseases and perhaps technological problems.

The famous bonk quote below was written as "bunk" which has an interesting interplay with the episode. They do disagree and may find Kirk's speech "bunk" but so, too, may be their perspective as they change their minds.
This may be one of the most memorable episodes--rogue and nearly ageless children who rule the world, the tender Miri, the Lord-of-the-Flies violence of children gone feral, the invented or shorthand language (grups [grownups], the before time [before the plague], the onlies [children survivors], and the foolies [apparently, a prank to "fool" someone]). The episode captures the horror that can result from mindless mass behavior -- the chanting of nonsense and violence as a way to reinforce an idea and ignore what others have to say. Memory says that this was a childhood favorite.
  • "Bonk, bonk on the head." [bunk?]
Adrian Spies, Edgar winner, Emmy nominee.
  1. No violence toward children.

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