“Shore Leave” is the fifteenth episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series, Star Trek.
In the episode, the crew of the Enterprise visits a bizarre planet where the fantasies of the landing party become reality.
On stardate 3025.3, the Federation starship USS Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, arrives at a planet in the Omicron Delta system. Scans reveal the planet to be congenial, and the crew is exhausted after three months of continuous operations. Kirk announces shore leave for all off-duty personnel.
But not long after beaming down, the landing parties experience strange occurrences. Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy sees a large, anthropomorphic white rabbit hop past hurriedly, and a moment later Alice, from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, asks McCoy if a rabbit has passed by. Lt. Sulu finds an antique Colt Police Positive revolver and later is attacked by a katana-wielding samurai. Yeoman Tonia Barrows is accosted and attacked by Don Juan.
Kirk thinks that McCoy’s seemingly ludicrous report of seeing characters from Alice in Wonderland is made up only to make him beam down for investigation. Even so, he is convinced by Spock to visit the planet for relaxation. At first, Kirk does not believe the doctor’s story, but then he is shown large rabbit tracks as proof. Kirk then stumbles upon young Starfleet Cadet Finnegan, a cocky Irish practical joker, an upperclassman who had been the bane of his existence back in his Academy days; and a former girlfriend, Ruth, whom he has not seen in years.
Kirk orders a temporary halt to the beaming down of personnel until the landing party can discover what is really happening. Science Officer Spock reports that the planet is emanating a strange force field that seems to be drawing energy from the ship’s engines. If the drain continues, it could jeopardise the ship. He also reports that the energy patterns suggest some kind of industrial activity.
Spock beams down to gather sensor readings as communications between the ship and crew members on the planet’s surface are becoming impossible, thereby stranding himself on the surface as the transporters have become useless. After Yeoman Barrows finishes changing into a medieval dress, a knight on horseback charges her. McCoy steps in front of Barrows to protect her, and he is impaled with the lance. Kirk shoots the knight with the pistol he confiscated from Sulu. Kirk and Spock analyse the body of the knight and find out it is not human in origin, but rather resembles the vegetation on the planet’s surface. A World War II fighter plane then strafes the landing party, and during the commotion, the bodies of Dr. McCoy and the knight mysteriously vanish.
Spock deduces a connection between the visions and the landing party’s thoughts just before the visions appear and asks Kirk what was on his mind just before his “vision.” Kirk recalls thinking of his academy days; then, as Spock expected, Finnegan reappears. Finnegan taunts the Captain and then runs off, with Kirk on his heels. The chase ends in a ravine where Finnegan and Kirk have a fistfight. Finnegan feigns an injury so that he can catch Kirk off guard, attack, and knock him out. Finnegan then proceeds to taunt the unconscious Kirk. When Kirk wakes up, the fight resumes, and wanting to take revenge for all the torment the upperclassman put him through as a plebe, Kirk fights back and knocks out Finnegan. Spock and Kirk realise that their thoughts are conjuring up their fantasies, but also that the visions are starting to prove deadly for them. Kirk orders everyone to come to attention and stop thinking about anything.
An elderly man appears and identifies himself as the “Caretaker.” Accompanying him is Dr. McCoy, who was revived by the sophisticated machinery below the planet’s surface. McCoy smiles and confirms he is all right and shows off the two Rigelian cabaret girls he conjured up, to the irritation of a jealous Yeoman Barrows.
The Caretaker informs Kirk that the planet is a sophisticated “amusement park,” but its constructs are not designed to be harmful or to last permanently. He apologises for the misunderstandings and offers the services of the planet to the Enterprise’s weary crew, with the caution that the visitors must choose their amusements with care. Kirk accepts the offer as Ruth appears again, and he authorises the crew to beam down. The leisure-loathing Spock, however, has had his fill of shore leave and requests to be returned to the Enterprise.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Robert Sparr.
- Production: Desilu Productions (1966-1967) and Paramount Television (1968-1969).
- Distributor(s): Paramount Pictures (1966-2006), CBS Paramount Television (2006-2007), and CBS Television Distribution (2007-Present).
- Original Network: NBC.
- Release Date: 29 December 1966.
- Running Time: 50 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.