Star Trek TOS: When ‘Lost’ Meets Star Trek

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Season 1, Episode 16

Shore Leave

Cabin fever was an early theme in Shore Leave — Kirk and Spoke spoke about fatigue amid the last three months of chaos. Then on an Earth-like planet, McCoy and Sulu yearned for Kirk to approve a ‘shore leave’ because of its peace and beauty. But that was before a rabbit and girl (reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland) appeared. 

Kirk was told of the Alice in Wonderland shenanigans and point-blank believed it to be a joke. If Kirk’s fatigue wasn’t totally obvious by the clues, Spock bluntly told Kirk to take some rest — a tricky arrangement for a Captain that experiences daily brushes with death. 

Nevertheless, Kirk headed down to the planet for a look, only to find McCoy was not kidding. The madness ensued. Kirk saw bunny tracks — large ones — while gunfire broke out. But that was Sulu — who once galavanted as a pirate — messing around with a gun that was quickly confiscated by Kirk. “Americans” and their guns.

In terms of initial vibes, this episode felt markedly more lighthearted than Balance of Terror, which was nearly mutually assured destruction. And the change of pace worked. 

Kirk began hallucinating, getting beat up (sort of) by a former cadet-mate from the academy, Finnegan. Everyone was freaking out based on apparent figments of their imaginations.

Star Trek dabbled into psychedelics — not wildly unsurprising for the late 1960s. No wonder all the crew members wanted a day off on this planet. 

Kirk even stated, “We are seeing things the cannot possibly exist. Yet they are undeniably real.”

Yep, this was the acid episode. The Captain, too, bought into the reality of the trip. His former squeeze, Ruth, especially enticed him. McCoy found a love bug in a female crew member named Barrows, so this planet also inspired arousal. Back on Enterprise, Spock reassured Kirk that all of the weirdness from the Earth-like planet was not rooted in logic. Always the voice of reason. 

Dr. McCoy was killed by a medieval knight — definitely on your bingo card — and the cause for concern escalated in a hurry. Angela, a crew member, also perished when a fighter jet unleashed hell. 

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There’s a reasonable chance that the screenwriters of 2004’s Lost used this particular Star Trek episode as inspiration.

Shore Leave was also notable because it showcased an inordinately long fistfight between Kirk and his joker pal Finnegan from earlier in the episode. It might’ve even been longer than Rocky main events. Hyperbole — but you get the point.   

Near the end, the leader of the planet revealed the planet was basically an amusement park. McCoy didn’t die — it’s implied he had a threesome with two vixens — and Kirk’s bewilderment-turned-anger was placated. 

This was a fundamental switch-up from the foreboding episodes that preceded Shore Leave. In a fun way, this was the drugs episode. Paid time off from work is important — reference Star Trek the next time you submit a vacation request. 

Themes: Hallucination. Playful Escape from Reality

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. His odyssey with Star Trek starts from beginning to finish, watching ‘The Original Series,’ all the way to the present day. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).