Star Trek TOS: Kirk Falls in Love While Playing God with Native Americans
Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 3, Episode 3
The Paradise Syndrome
Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beamed down to a place with pine trees, a lake, and honeysuckle. For the men, it felt like earth. There are so many Earth-like planets in Star Trek: The Original Series.
Then, the group discovered a huge monument with writing on it, confusing the three to the utmost. The place, per McCoy, was an enigma. Spock informed his pals they had thirty minutes to explore, so they set off to find wildlife.
Instead, they observed American Native Americans — a very odd circumstance for a planet not called earth. Kirk commented on the serenity of the planet and asked for one more look at the monument with writing on it. He scaled the structure and fell in. The turmoil began.
Spock and McCoy had no clue what happened to Kirk and hence considered the captain missing. Back on Enterprise, an asteroid was reportedly heading toward this paradise planet, causing Spock to call for a return to their vessel. They had to stop the asteroid foremost before even broaching the topic of locating Kirk.
Kirk escaped the monument and was greeted by a beautiful Native American woman who explained she and her people — were Kirk’s people. Naturally, Kirk was dumbfounded. The Native believed Kirk was a “God,” sent to the planet as a savior. Conveniently, a boy was brought to Kirk for attention. He apparently drowned, and Kirk performed CPR. It whisked the boy back to life, prompting the Natives to affirm Kirk’s god-like status.
Kirk was anointed a prestigious medicine badge by the Native. He was their God. They fully expected the “sky to darken” in the future. Keeping Kirk in their presence was supposed to be the remedy. The Natives showered Kirk with fruit and gifts, making the captain a wee bit uncomfortable. But he did find romance with the woman who initially greeted him, Miramanee. The two exchanged a long kiss in private.
Meanwhile back on Enterprise, Spock, Scott, McCoy, and Sulu targeted the asteroid. Spock was contemplative on how to destroy it while his counterparts pressured him to act. And Spock began increasingly obsessed with the monument back on the Native American planet.
Kirk embraced full Native garb after the session with Miramanee. However, one of the Natives was unimpressed with his ardor for Miramanee, probably out of jealousy. He attacked Kirk with a knife. The man saw blood from Kirk’s hand and rejoiced as this confirmed he could not be a God. He retreated.
Madly in love, Kirk and Miramanee frolicked all about. The captain was genuinely happy. A storm kicked up soon after as the natives turned to Kirk for direction.
When Kirk couldn’t calm the storm — he wasn’t a God — the Native tried to stone him, much to Miramanee’s chagrin. Spock and McCoy beamed down during the struggle, offering Kirk medical attention. Immediately, Kirk asked about his “wife,” perplexing Spock and McCoy.
Spock performed Vulcan mind fusion to resurrect Kirk who was fading in and out of consciousness. The treatment did the trick. But the group would have to get into the monument — a mammoth deflector — to prevent the planet’s destruction.
Miramanee died but not before the two professed love for each other. To date, this was Kirk’s deepest ardor for anyone.
The takeaway from The Paradise Syndrome was a vehicle to illuminate Kirk’s emotional side. The episode did a sloppy job portraying Native Americans’ so-called reliance on white people — but this was the 1960s after all. Whatever happened to Kirk inside the deflector monument also vivified how man can accrue a god-like complex — even the best of them like Kirk. He did seem to embrace the respect as a God afforded to him by the Natives.
Themes: Native American Stereotypes, Love
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).