STAR TREK REWIND: “Bem”

“Mister Spock, something funny is going on.”

David Gerrold returns to pen “Bem.” The titular character, voiced by James Doohan, is a bit of an annoyance for Kirk and crew as he insists on accompanying the landing party to the mysterious alien planet of Delta Theta III, populated by aborigine natives. He also seems to have the ability to separate his torso from his legs and inflict all manner of mischief. Bem is abducted by the natives of the alien planet, and because Bem removed Kirk and Spock’s communicators (for no reason that I can fathom), the Enterprise has a hard time tracking them.

On the bridge, Uhura takes the reins again and beams up the other members of the landing party. Kirk and Spock are able to locate Bem and attempt to rescue him, but Bem objects. Kirk and Spock are captured by the aborigine natives. Kirk argues with Bem over his refusal to be rescued and his confiscation of their communicators and phasers. After Bem is revealed to be a “colony creature,” capable of easily leaving his jail cell, Kirk is infuriated at the landing party’s lost opportunity to escape.

They argue Bem’s pacifist strategy. They manage to escape but are interrogated by a god-like figure that refers to the aborigines as “children.” Components of this story would be used (to lesser effect) in the first season Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “Justice,” with another powerful entity watching over the Edo. It seems Bem had the right idea. Kirk and Spock were too busy interfering with Bem that they should have left well enough alone. If they had left Bem alone, the mission of study would’ve been accomplished in a much shorter time. In any case, Bem wanders off again, as he is want to do.

Kirk tries to reason with the entity. He promises to leave the planet alone if he and the landing party are released. The entity agrees, Kirk and Spock need to find Bem first. As frustrating as Bem is, I think he’s more right than wrong, even if he seems to have no compunction about putting himself in danger. The god-like creature shows the landing party compassion when Bem realizes the error of his ways. This is one of the better episodes of The Animated Series and quite possibly David Gerrold’s finest story.

Star Trek Rewind explores the Star Trek universe. From Archer to Janeway, Kirk to Picard, and Georgiou to Sisko — boldly read what no one has read before!

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