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According to Memory Alpha's In Universe Timeline, the story sequence is:
Plato's Stepchildren : The Lights of Zetar : The Cloud Minders.
In the Remastered Episodes Chronology, the release sequence is
The Mark of Gideon : The Lights of Zetar : The Way to Eden.

Summary

A strange energy storm first attacks the ship, then alters course and kills the personnel of the databank of Memory Alpha. Lt. Mira Romaine, Scotty's love interest, who inexplicably passed out during the first attack, predicts the return of the phenomenon before the Enterprise's sensors are able to locate it.

McCoy and Spock's investigation comes to the result that the storm consists of ten distinct lifeforms, who are seeking to occupy Mira Romaine's body that they deem most compatible. The storm eventually penetrates the ship's shields and the aliens, survivors of the dead planet of Zetar, take possession of Mira Romaine. She is taken into a pressure chamber, creating a condition that kills the aliens.

Errors and Explanations

The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic Trekkers

Plot Oversights

  1. When discussing the visions that Romaine has had concerning the energy cloud, Scott claims that she foresaw the first attack on the ship. As far as I can tell, no other line of dialogue supports this statement. They probably discounted it as an example of coincidence.
  2. This episode contains a blatant “we did it because we thought it would look cool” error. After placing Romaine inside the pressure chamber, Kirk orders the gravity to zero. This allows the creators to simulate the look of Romaine in a gravity-free environment, although the treatment is totally unnecessary and probably unwise. As soon as the crew cuts off the gravity, McCoy comments that the Zetars are growing stronger. Spock then chimes in, saying that the weightless state has become their natural condition. If you recall, the point of this exercise is to rid Romaine of the Zetars. It’s not to make them more comfortable. If the Zetars like a gravity-tree environment, why is Kirk supplying it? [N 1] Maybe Kirk is doing this to get their attention, in order to negotiate with them via the universal translator.

Equipment Oddities

  1. Much of the equipment at Memory Alpha comes from previous shows, but one particular item is worth mentioning. One desk sports a Romulan control box just like the one seen on the Romulan commander's desk in The Enterprise Incident. Perhaps they just look alike.
  2. To kill the beings that inhabit Romaine, Kirk places her in a pressure chamber. Spock then increases the pressure until the beings die. Wait a minute: These beings invaded the ship. That means they passed through metal, since the Enterprise doesn’t have open vents to the outside. What's stopping these beings from simply floating out of the pressure chamber? There could be an energy field which is repellent to the cloud beings,

Continuity And Production Problems

  1. As the Enterprise races away from Memory Alpha, the energy cloud pursues. The viewscreen shows an aft view. The stars race away, but the cloud stays in the center of the screen. Kirk orders Sulu to turn to starboard. A graphic of the ship shows it turning to the right. This is correct. Moments later, the viewscreen shows the cloud moving back into the center of the screen, traveling right to left. Presumably this shows that the cloud has made the turn to starboard also. I don't think this is correct. lf the Enterprise turns to the right and the cloud copies this motion, it should move from left to right onto the screen, not right to left. The only way it could go from right to lelt on the viewscreen is if it made a circle around the ship or if it overshot the turn and then had to approach the Enterprise from the opposite direction. Moments later, the creators do the same sequence again, this time to port, and they make the same mistake. The cloud moves back onto the screen from left to right when it should move onto the screen from right to left. (ls this thoroughly confusing or what?) Actually, the cloud is moving in a way that allows it to maintain it's pursuit of Enterprise.

Nit Central

  1. Todd M. Pence on Thursday, December 10, 1998 - 3:04 pm: When the crew discovers the Memory Alpha databanks have been burned out, Spock comments on it being a disastrous loss for the galaxy. Hasn't the Federation ever heard of back-up files? They may have been damaged/destroyed by whatever burned out the original databanks.
  2. HarleQuiN on Friday, August 20, 1999 - 8:31 am - One thing that disturbed me was that, when McCoy says that the pressure in the chamber is extremely high (it could even kill her), Kirk nevertheless orders Spock to increase the pressure, bringing "The Girl" into even more peril. How come that Kirk doesn't listen to his MD, when everyone knows that McCoy is fully qualified to know his med stuff? Kirk's training was similar to Deana Troi's command training that we saw in the Next Generation, i.e. "Your first duty is to the SHIP." He may not have wanted to hurt Lt. Romaine, but was willing to do so to safeguard the rest of the crew.
  3. John A. Lang on Wednesday, November 28, 2001 - 11:00 pm - Spock notes that Memory Alpha has no shields...Why not? The Alpha Quadrant ain't exactly the safest spot in the universe ya know! Who's the brain who built this station anyway? kerriem. on Thursday, November 29, 2001 - 8:29 pm - Which gets even scarier when you realize said shieldless installation is supposed to be a repository for something like most of the knowledge in the ruddy Federation! How long would it have been before the Klingons decided to register for a library card...using phasers? Memory Alpha was - presumably - located deep in Federation space, well away from the borders.
  4. Francois Lacombe (Franc0is) on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 4:04 pm - When the dying memory Alpha technician is speaking in those strange garbled sounds, McCoy tells Kirk that Mira was making the same sounds on the Enterprise's bridge after the first attack. Kirk asks him if he's sure and McCoy says yes. However, Kirk was on the bridge and able to listen to Mira's garbled speech for much longer than McCoy, who only heard it for a second or two. He should have been the one to identify the sounds made by the technician. At the very least, he should not have needed McCoy's confirmation. McCoy probably has a better ear for that sort of thing!
  5. steve McKinnon (Steve) on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 10:36 am - At the end they decide that working at Memory Alpha would be good therapy for Romaine. Yeah, that'd be alot of fun...if every person there hadn't been killed, and the entire station is a murder scene. Is she supposed to repair the station by herself? I think the climax would have been better if Romaine had somehow been seen to reach out and 'hold' the Zetarians inside trhe chamber (since they should have just passed through the walls, as it did the hull of the Enterprise). It would been a cool way of showing her in charge of her future, kinda like, "You tried to take over my body, but I'm not letting you get away with that!", and that would make her the hero of the episode instead of just a victim. Tim McCree (Tim_m) on Thursday, February 20, 2014 - 5:28 am - I'm sure they would ask Romaine whether she wanted to work at Memory Alpha first. Either way, the Federation would probably send in replacement staff and a fully equipped repair team.

Notes

  1. Answer: Because the creators thought it would look cool to strap this woman to a board and have her bob up and down.


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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