“Plato’s Stepchildren” is the tenth episode of the third season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek.
Written by Meyer Dolinsky and directed by David Alexander, it was first broadcast 22 November 1968.
In the episode, the crew of the Enterprise encounter an ageless and sadistic race of humanoids with the power of telekinesis.
The episode is notable for depicting a passionate inter-racial kiss between a white man (Kirk) and a black woman (Uhura), which was daring for 1960’s US television.
It was one of several episodes not screened by the BBC because of their “unpleasant” content, including torture and sadism.
Captain Kirk, along with First Officer Spock and Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy, beams down to a planet to investigate a distress call. Once there, they are greeted by a friendly dwarf named Alexander (Michael Dunn). He leads the landing party to meet the rest of his people, who have adopted classical Greek culture, and named themselves Platonians in honour of the Greek philosopher Plato.
All of the Platonians, except for Alexander, possess telekinetic powers. The Platonians explain they “lured” the Enterprise to their planet because their leader, Parmen, requires medical help. After being treated by Dr. McCoy, Parmen demands McCoy remain on the planet to treat other Platonians. When Captain Kirk objects, the Platonians use their powers to punish him.
Alexander wishes to tell Kirk and Spock that Parmen wishes to kill them but is afraid.
Parmen repeatedly humiliates Kirk and Spock as Dr. McCoy watches, trying to make him agree to stay on the planet. Later, the Platonians use their powers to force two other Enterprise officers to the planet for their entertainment: Communications Officer Lt. Uhura and Nurse Chapel.
McCoy takes a sample of Alexander’s blood and manages to isolate and identify the kironide mineral that provides the inhabitants with their special powers; it is abundant in the natural food and water supply of the planet. McCoy is able to prepare a serum and inject Kirk and Spock with doses to make them have twice the power of Parmen. Alexander asks where does Kirk come from and if size matters. Kirk says size, colour, and species does not matter. Alexander asks to go with Kirk.
While waiting for it to take effect, Parmen forces the four to perform again. Alexander becomes angry after watching the humiliating tricks played upon the crew by his fellow Platonians and he tries, unsuccessfully, to attack Parmen with a knife.
Kirk uses his new-found telekinetic powers to defeat Parmen and save Alexander’s life. Parmen then promises to mend his bullying ways, but Kirk doesn’t believe him, and warns Parmen, should he go back on his word, the powers can be recreated by anyone whenever they wish to defeat him.
Kirk promises to send appropriate medical technicians to the planet as long as the Platonians behave themselves, and Alexander requests to go with the Enterprise to start a new life elsewhere in the Galaxy.
With Alexander by his side, Kirk contacts the Enterprise and tells Scotty. “I am bringing a little surprise onboard.”
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): David Alexander.
- Writer(s): Mayer Dolinsky.
- 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: 22 November 1968.
- Running Time: 50 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.