This Side of Paradise
The Enterprise arrives at Omicron Ceti III to survey the planet's destruction under a bombardment of deadly berthold rays. Beaming down, they find colonists unexpectedly alive and well.
The crew begin acting strangely and it's found that some plants are responsible. They travelled through space until the reached the planet and found the colonists. Depositing their spores into a human host, they provide the hosts with perfect health with no wants or needs.
Kirk finds out that through anger, a host can break free of the spores and works on getting his crew back.
This is a unique episode in that we get to see Spock free of his controlled Vulcan logic. He meets with an old friend, Leila and once infected by the spores they spend time together with Spock sharing some fun and out of character moments.
Kirk is the last of the crew to be affected and the first to figure out how to break the spores' hold on their hosts. The episode works well in that the situation becomes more and more hopeless as it progresses, to the point where Kirk is infected as well. But a solution is found and things are returned to normal in the end.
Overall Rating: 6/10
The Devil in the Dark
A mysterious creature has been killing miners on the planet Janus VI. The Enterprise and her crew arrive to investigate.
They find a creature unlike anything they've previously encountered which was let loose once the miners drilled deeper into the planet for more resources. Kirk and Spock are able to come to an understanding with the creature and its species in the process.
One of few recent episodes that I remember, I thought it came much earlier in the series. This episode introduces the Horta, basically a rug, but supposed to be a silicon based lifeform capable of moving through rocks as we move through air. I think this was one of the first times we see the Vulcan mind-meld (the joining of two minds) where Spock is able to understand the Horta.
This is quite a simple episode but it's one that really embodies the idea of Star Trek and the mission of the Enterprise and her crew. The Horta is definitely a 'strange, new life form' and a mutual agreement with the miners and the Horta reached at the end shows the Federation idea of living and working together for a common goal.
There were a number of new special effects shots in this episode and they worked really well, from the new scene of the Horta tunneling through a wall to some of the new passes by the Enterprise it was all seamlessly delivered.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10