In its first season, Strange New Worlds dedicated two pretty pivotal episodes to the Enterprise’s encounters with the Gorn. And of course, Lower Decks had a field day with species like the Mugato, the Edosians, and the Caitians. With that in mind, I wanted to take a look at a few of the other less prominent but highly memorable alien species from the Original Series that deserve to make a comeback.
We first meet this bizarre species in the episode “The Devil in the Dark.” They look, well, kind of like big rocks covered in moss and lava. And at first, Kirk and the rest of the away team treat them like dangerous animals. The episode starts with the team beaming down to Janus IV to help the colony there try to deal with the Horta, which have killed 50 people. Ultimately, Spock mind melds with one of them and discovers the miners had destroyed its eggs and it was only acting to protect its young. The Horta, he learns, are in fact a highly intelligent species. Kirk convinces the colony that they can coexist peacefully, and even collaboratively. There are insightful messages about compassionate communication, otherizing, and colonization that would be great to explore again in a more modern light.
Sylvia and Korob
Who can forget the episode “Catspaw”? It takes place on a planet that looks like something straight out of a haunted house. The planet is engulfed in fog and there’s a creepy old castle with a dungeon and witches. Korob first appears as a wizard with a black cat. We learn that Korob and another alien named Sylvia essentially used telekinesis to create the spooky motif in order to test the character of the landing party. Ultimately, they return to their natural form – small, non-humanoid creatures. Though they die at the end of the episode, there would surely be a way to bring them back somehow. They’d be perfect for a Halloween episode of Lower Decks!
In the episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” we meet Bele and Lokai, the last two surviving members of the Cheron. The right half of Bele’s face is black and the left is white, and the reverse is the case for Lokai. Eventually it’s revealed that the Cheron who look like Bele had oppressed those who look like Lokai and the civilization tore itself apart through its racism. In fact, Bele has been pursuing Lokai for 50,000 years, continuing the cycle of hate. Kirk and the crew try to persuade them, particularly Bele, that their intolerance of one another is ridiculous. It is, after all, what led to the civil war that destroyed their people. But the episode ends somewhat inconclusively, with the two of them being left on Cheron, still hating one another. While the black and white makeup is certainly heavy-handed, bringing these characters back in an updated and subtler way could make for a compelling Strange New Worlds episode.
This is a species that could make for the basis of a great Strange New Worlds episode. The Gideons appear in the episode “The Mark of Gideon.” They’re a hardy species with very little illness and therefore they’re facing a massive overpopulation problem. When Kirk questions Hodin, their ambassador, about birth control, Hodin replies “We are incapable of interfering with the creation of that which we love so deeply.” Yet despite their supposed reverence for life, they’re preparing to kill Hodin’s daughter and have her spread disease among the population as a means of fighting the overpopulation – a hypocritical decision that Kirk quickly points out. It’s a solid pro-birth control message that could even be seen as pro-choice, and it would certainly still be relevant in today’s climate.
Given the undeniable excellence of the Gorn, it’s easy to forget that another alien species played a prominent role in “Arena.” The Metrons are the ones who send Kirk and the Gorn captain to the desert planet to battle it out. They deem both the Enterprise crew and the Gorn as violent and basically uncivilized because they’ve been firing at one another. But when Kirk ultimately makes the decision to spare the Gorn captain’s life, one of the Metrons appears on the planet. He has the appearance of a young man or adolescent but is in fact 1,500 years old. He says that, because Kirk demonstrated mercy toward the Gorn, the Metrons will return both of them to their ships. They’re an interesting species. Their take on violence certainly has validity. But at the same time, they have an arrogance that allows them to believe they are the arbiters of worthiness when it comes to judging other species. It would be interesting to see how the Metrons view the actions that Pike and his crew have taken to fight the Gorn.
Clearly, there is no shortage of unique and memorable alien species in the Star Trek universe! These are just a few that deserve to make a comeback. And given the Trek renaissance that’s going on right now, there should be plenty of opportunities to make it happen.