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According to Memory Alpha's In Universe Timeline, the story sequence is:
The Enterprise Incident : The Empath : The Mark of Gideon.
In the Remastered Episodes Chronology, the release sequence is
Spectre of the Gun : The Empath : Turnabout Intruder.

Summary

The Enterprise is ordered to evacuate a research outpost in the Minarian system whose sun will go nova. When the attempts to contact the station fail, Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down and find that the crew is gone. Then a transporter locks on to the three officers and beams them into an area where they are being held captive by two Vians - together with a mute woman whom McCoy nicknames "Gem". The Vians have already tortured the crew of the research outpost to death, and they intend to continue their cruel experiments with the Enterprise landing party.

After Kirk has been hurt, Gem turns out to be an empath and absorbs his pain. The crew's subsequent attempt to escape together with Gem fails and is obviously part of the Vians' plan. When it comes to the final test, McCoy disables Kirk and then Spock with a hypospray and thereby "volunteers" to be the victim. Kirk and Spock finally manage to transport themselves into the torturing area, where McCoy is already dying.

The Vians' actual goal, however, is to test Gem's ability to overcome her instinct of self-preservation and help McCoy, which she does eventually. When Kirk and Spock manage to overwhelm them and end the cruel scheme, the Vians concede that are satisfied now. In their view Gem has proven that of all inhabitants of the Minarian system her race is worthy of being saved.

Errors and Explanations

The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic Trekkers

Plot Oversights

  1. OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, must be out of business in the twenty-third century. To gain access to the research station, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy must walk down a narrow, steep, and winding staircase with no handrail. It may not have been possible to install a handrail and/or a wider, shallower staircase.
  2. For some unknown reason, when the Vians torture Kirk, they take his shirt off and then dress him before sending him back to his friends. Were they concerned that he would stink up his shirt during the process and Gem might be offended by his body odor? They most likely reasoned that the torture would be easier to carry out with the shirt removed, and replaced it before sending Kirk back in order to hide the effects.
  3. Spock seems to have lost his motivation in this episode. Early on, he neck-pinches a Vian. At this, Kirk grabs the hand-held device the Vian uses to work his magic. Then the landing party and Gem escape to the surface. Once there, the Vians return Spock and McCoy to a holding area and torture Kirk as Gem watches. Afterwards, Spock asks Kirk for permission to examine the Vian device. Why hasn't he done this already? He didn't want to risk damaging it by examining it until it was necessary.

Equipment Oddities

  1. I am constantly amazed at the sophisticated manner in which visual logs are recorded. When Spock plays back the scientists’ log, the camera pans and zooms to follow the action. This is likely a setting programmed by the scientists, to eliminate the need to shift the cameras themselves while working.
  2. After examining the Vian handheld controller, Spock claims that it is operated by the specific brain patterns of an individual. He then tunes it to operate on his patterns. Yet near the end of the show, Kirk gives the device back to one of the Vians, and the guy uses it to heal McCoy. Wouldn't it still be tuned to Spock's brain patterns, or was our good Vulcan friend simply confused? It was probably re-tuned to McCoy's brainwaves by the time Kirk handed it back.

Internet Movie Database

Plot holes

  1. There is no reason why the Vians' labels would be written in English with the Latin alphabet. The Star Trek universal translator only works with speech, so their labels should be written in an alien script. Either they copied the script used by the scientists, to ensure Kirk, Spock and NcCoy understood who the Vian testing chambers were intended for, their script just happens to resemble English, or they have a translation system that also works with written languages, just like the Translation matrix used by the TARDIS in Doctor Who.

Revealing mistakes

  1. As Kirk recovers from the Vian weapon on the planet's surface, he touches a nearby rock formation to steady himself. The boulder-sized rock visibly shifts under the weight of his hand. The Vians could have altered the structure of the boulder in some way.

Nit Central

  1. D.K. Henderson on Thursday, December 10, 1998 - 5:23 am: When Kirk and Co. found that they would have to stay on the planet for some seventy-two hours, why didn't they have some food, water, etc, beamed down? There was no guarantee that they would find anything, especially since they had not heard from Linke and Ozaba. It may not be possible to beam food down to their location.


The Original Series Season 3
Spectre of the Gun I Elaan of Troyius I The Paradise Syndrome I The Enterprise Incident I And the Children Shall Lead I Spock's Brain I Is There in Truth No Beauty? I The Empath I The Tholian Web I For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky I Day of the Dove I Plato's Stepchildren I Wink of an Eye I That Which Survives I Let That Be Your Last Battlefield I Whom Gods Destroy I The Mark of Gideon I The Lights of Zetar I The Cloud Minders I The Way to Eden I Requiem for Methuselah I The Savage Curtain I All Our Yesterdays I Turnabout Intruder
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