Star Trek celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this month. So, here on Redeeming Culture, we’re going to release a short review of every episode of Season One, one episode per day, all month long; for each episode, we’re writing a 3-sentence recap, a 3-word review, and (as much as we can) answering the questions “What fears or hopes are conquered or realized?” and “How does this point to Jesus or to the way God made us?”
For more about Trektember, read our preview post. Please note that there are minor plot spoilers for this episode below.
Today’s episode marks the first time Captain Kirk ever set foot on screen: Where No Man Has Gone Before.
Aboard the crippled Enterprise at the edge of the galaxy, Captain Kirk’s old friend Gary gains godlike powers and begins to lose his humanity. But as Gary slides further into madness, Kirk must make the call as to whether or not he can even be saved – or if any of him even remains to be saved. Big questions and great action introduce Star Trek to an unsuspecting world.
Bold. Innovative. Genre-defining.
Big Sci-Fi Concepts
- What happens when limitless power touches frail man?
- What is our Humanity: A Virtue? A Downfall? Both?
Fears Conquered/Hopes Realized
- Gary becomes the fear of losing oneself, incarnate. In the final fight between him and Kirk, the Captain literally faces that fear.
- Kirk grapples throughout the episode with the fear that his humanity and compassion might be a weakness. Mitchell even gives voice to this fear when he says that “command and compassion is a fool’s mixture.” Mitchell is, of course, proven wrong; the “good side” of humanity keeps Kirk alive by convincing Dehner to turn on Mitchell, even as Gary’s human frailty drives him to try and kill his old friend.
What does this episode tell us about God or about man?
When Kirk talks to to Dr. Dehner, he says, “As powerful as he gets, he’ll still have all that [humanity] inside him.” And so it is with us; no matter how high we reach or stretch, no matter what miracles we think we can muster of our own power, our frail humanity still drives us. Kirk is right; the nature remains the same, and our perfect selves are always unattainable. Worse still, we would lose ourselves in the attempt to achieve it; there’s even a scene of Mitchell and Dehner eating an apple in a newly-created garden to drive the point home. The curse of sin weakens us still.
But God provides a way for us to escape. That sin now lies dead, weakened by the sacrifice of Another!
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Thank you for reading Redeeming Culture! Come back tomorrow for more Trektember as we look at the second episode of Star Trek: “The Corbomite Maneuver.”