Star Trek TOS: Spores Are Drugs, and Spock Is Finally Happy

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Season 1, Episode 25

This Side of Paradise

Kirk and his pals beamed down on Omicron Ceti III to investigate the extinction of humans. Upon arrival, the extinction story was incorrect, evidenced by a man named Elias, who greeted the men from Enterprise

Of course, there was an attractive woman, Leila, with the patented shimmering aura — one that entranced Spock (of all crewmembers). Spock seemed weak in the knees and pissed all at the same time when Leila greeted him. 

As it turned out, Leila loved Spock as the two met on earth six years prior. Interestingly, there were no other signs of life on Omicron Ceti III, just the colonists. Sandoval explained the total peace on the planet sans machinery or weaponry. While Kirk didn’t fundamentally disagree with the premise of that philosophy, the group was totally skeptical about the lack of life.

Leila used her best seduction skills on Spock, springing spores onto him, which changed his personality. The plan worked. Spock was hoodwinked, kissing Lelia passionately. Meanwhile, Sandoval and his people refused to evacuate Omicron, defying Kirk’s orders. And under the spell of Lelia, Spock bucked the withdrawal orders, too. 

Having the time of his life with Lelia, Kirk, Sulu, and Kelowitz attempted to dissuade Spock from his outright disobedience. But they got blasted by the spores, too. Kirk was immune, however. 

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Spore remnants found their way inside the ventilation system of Enterprise, so everyone aboard was brainwashed, setting up mutiny. That obviously peeved Kirk. His anger was supersized when the whole crew of Enterprise vamoosed to Omicron.

Therefore, Kirk battled the allure of paradise. 

He was blasted by spores one more time, and this time it worked. But Kirk’s spell turned from bliss to violence. Kirk wooed Spock back to Enterprise, insulting him on the spot, even going after Spock’s Vulcan heritage. Yet, that was premeditated. Kirk’s purposeful strategy snapped Spock out of the trance. 

Spores can only be analogized to drugs. Each person beset by the effects of spores experienced euphoria until the spell wore off. If you’ve used drugs or alcohol, you know the drill. The spores changed men’s and women’s personalities, tricking them into enjoying the derealization of life. And that’s what drugs do — until they don’t anymore. 

Lamenting the whole ordeal, Spock proclaimed about the spores, “I have little to say about it, captain. Except that for the first time in my life, I was happy.” That’s quite the statement on drug affliction. The influence of drugs and alcohol is so powerful because it feigns happiness more acutely and on-demand than most of life’s dealings. 

Deriding the fallacy of drug inducement, Kirk aptly opined, “Maybe we were meant to fight our way through, struggle, claw our way up, scratch for every inch of the way. Maybe we can’t stroll to the music of the lute. We must march to the sound of drums.”

There’s your anti-drug takeaway. 

Themes: Mutiny, Drugs

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).