With October behind us and the Do what ever I like month of December still a month away (not that you can tell by all the Christmas stuff out… even when it was September, PLEASE WAIT TILL AT LEAST AFTER HALLOWEEN NEXT YEAR) sorry about that… anyway let’s return to our normal schedule, but let’s not leave the monster theme behind just yet as we travel into the future and beam down onto an alien world.
The Devil in the Dark is an episode from the first season of the Original series of Star Trek and none of the scenes are set on the Enterprise (except for a short scene involving Scotty). After the opening we get straight to Kirk, Spock and a red shirt (you know what’s coming) beam down to the planet Janus VI where miners have been attacked by a strange creature, a devil in the dark you could say.
This was one of the first ever original series episodes I saw (TNG FOR THE WIN). What followed was a tale that was part monster film and part mystery with an ending that felt far more like what Star Trek purists (not one myself but of late they got very loud so this is one they would like) would approve of while also delivering a far better alien than most of all Star Trek.
The Horta the titicular devil in the dark is a silicon-based life form and only started attacking the miners after they delved to a particular level of the planet. Also at first it only sabotaged mining equipment before moving onto killing. There are also tons of these strange spheres found by the miners they refer to as silicon nodules.
Complications come when it begins to show the Horta is intelligent and Spock (best character in the show) begins to suspect there is much more to its actions than simple violence or killing but he keeps it to himself to allow the mystery to go on for us (how thoughtful and certainly not a plot hole...)
I’m not going to spoil said ending – as mentioned it’s a mix mystery and monster but I will say it involves McCoy saying one of his famous lines, if you’re a Star Trek nerd you know what I mean.
The episode all but happens on the mining planet. We do get some outer scenes of the mining complex (at least in the remastered version). While we do get scenes inside the mining facility most of the scenes tend to take place in the mines themselves which have a sort of blueish grey rock structure. It does help sell this as an alien world and is much better executed than some other sci fi series attempts at caves (sorry Dr Who, still love you but caves weren’t your strong point).
Devil is the Dark is a good episode of classic Star Trek. The setting and the monster are well realized for its time and it’s not bogged down by many of the problems of show like when Roddenberry tries to be overly clever with his message or the mountains of sexism. If you have the dvds, Netflix or just see this on the tv one day – give it a shot.