Amusing, if cynical, reaction to some of my favorite third-season episodes. (I suggested that my sister name her dog “Gem,” after the name McCoy gives to “The Empath,” and through high school and college I wished for the ability to speed myself up to meet deadlines, so it’s a bit of a challenge for me to see these episodes as mediocre, even though I acknowledge they are not the best Trek.)
We’ve been down the road of the aliens who test other aliens for worthiness, we’ve had some laughs with it (Space lizard!), we don’t really need to be reminded how noble everybody is. Plus, the constant return to the archetype isn’t good for world-building. The universe can’t be this full up of these guys, can it? Take the monolith in 2001. It’s a striking, powerful image–a stark reminder of how little we know about everything, how barely we’ve cracked the possibilities that life and the cosmos have to offer, how rich with potential we, as a species, still are. Now, imagine that every planet we went to had a monolith. Sometimes more than one, many of them in different colors, or different shapes, and some of them told knock knock jokes. How quickly would the magic die?