50 years ago, the second-last Star Trek episode “All Our Yesterdays” aired to the American TV audience.
On March 14, 1969, the episode “All Our Yesterdays” introduced Star Trek fans to Mr. Atoz, varied timelines and worlds in what would be the second-last episode in Star Trek TOS history. The final — and regrettable episode, “Turnabout Intruder” would air on June 3, 1969.
Mariette Hartley circa 2003 (Photo by Giulio Marcocchi/Getty Images)
Star Trek’s third season — as Gene Roddenberry abandoned ship — contains a number of hit or miss episodes. “All Our Yesterdays” offers outstanding insights into Spock’s personality while injecting a sense of humor and tension.
The Enterprise arrives in orbit around the planet Sarpeidon hours before its sun is set to go nova. The primary mission is to observe the nova, but also to ensure the planet’s inhabitants have a last-second lifeboat.
Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam planet-side and wander into a library containing these small, mirror-like discs. The discs, when inserted into a reader, display a visual history of the planet. The trio encounter the librarian, Mr. Atoz and hasten to remove him and his family to the Enterprise.
Mr. Atoz insists he and his family are safe, but it’s the Enterprise trio who must be sent somewhere safe. He asks them find a place they’d like to visit. As the trio insert different discs into the reader, Kirk hears a woman’s cry for help, runs across the threshold to the outside and disappears.
Spock and McCoy follow Kirk and also disappear through a device known as the “Atavachron.” The entire population of the planet chose a time and place in the society’s history, walked through Atavachron and disappeared. The device coded each person for their time and prevented them from returning. At one point the device was used to maroon prisoners.
Spock and McCoy arrive in a distant ice age while Kirk lands in a Salem-witch-trial error and is jailed for practicing witchcraft. Each party must find their way home. Spock and McCoy encounter a lovely exiled female, Zarabeth (played by Mariette Hartley), who longs for companionship. She explains how the Atavachron’s encoding makes it impossible to return to the library.
The Devolution of Spock:
McCoy recovers from shock and Spock begins to lose his “Vulcaness” as his body acclimates to a pre-historic timeline. Spock’s personality changes. He eats meat and feels passionate for Zarabeth. Jealousy rears its ugly head as McCoy believe Zarabeth will lie and even kill to keep Spock to herself.
Leonard Nimoy, writer Jean Lisette Aroeste, director Marvin Chomsky deserve credit for producing quality when they knew the show was headed to the dustbin.