Star Trek – The Apple

★★★ October 13, 1967 Season 2 Episode 5

If you want to see where we are…and you missed a few…HERE is a list of the episodes in my index located at the top of my blog. 

This show was written by Gene Roddenberry, Max Ehrlich, and Gene L. Coon

This is not the greatest episode of Star Trek, but I like it because it really has most of the classic Star Trek themes and situations. There’s a landing party that gets mixed up with natives, and to save his crew Kirk has to take drastic steps to alter the course of their civilization. There’s a lot of romance in the air, (though interestingly, no romance for Kirk.)

There is something about Star Trek that I haven’t mentioned. The Red Shirt Syndrome. It seems that any security personnel with a red shirt…has a high mortality rate in the Enterprise. The ones that get it…usually are just stock performers we never saw before and certainly won’t again. Scotty is somehow safe from this occurrence… well he rarely beams down to planets. 

In this episode, there is plenty of time for Spock and McCoy to debate concepts like free will, change, and material comfort versus freedom. Of course, several red-shirt crew members are killed along the way here also. There’s a big fight and plenty of storms and lightning.


The Enterprise crew are exploring a planet that seems idyllic, but turns out to have deadly plants and explosive rocks, as well as a simple native race that worships a sophisticated machine they don’t understand and deify as an entity called “Valla”. Valla’s story is never really explained… it provides for the natives’ needs while needing periodic ‘feeding’ for some strange reason.

Valla basically serves as a plot device to temporarily disable the Enterprise and place the ship and crew in mortal danger. Valla also has the ability to control the weather and direct deadly lightning bolts at ground targets. Kirk’s dilemma is to take out Valla and free both his ship and the natives from their seemingly benevolent dictator.

The episode is alright but the storyline has been done before on Star Trek and Twilight Zone. 

From IMDB:

Spock’s lightning-burned shirt was auctioned off at a science-fiction convention in 1967, the same year filming wrapped.

 Chekov’s first name, Pavel, is established in this episode, when his love interest, Yeoman Landon, calls him “Pav”.

 Originally, the script for this installment called for Vaal’s stone dinosaur head to be destroyed by Enterprise’s phasers. The props department had put in a lot of work creating it with paper mache’ and refused to allow its destruction.

 Walter Koenig seems to have discarded the wig he used in his earlier episodes. Since his own hair was now long enough, it was not necessary for him to wear it anymore.

 Spock’s appearance is jokingly compared to Satan in the final scene. This resemblance caused discomfort to would-be advertisers when Star Trek was first being marketed (see series trivia).

 This episode contains confirmation of a much-speculated upon topic: whether the Enterprise could separate the Engineering section and warp nacelles from the primary vessel. Mentioned in Kirk and Scotty’s conversation by communicator, half-way into the show, after Kirk beams down to the planet with an away team, and Scotty takes a seat in the captain’s chair on the bridge.

 This is the only time we see a landing party that comprises more than 6 members.

 Actress Celeste Yarnall, who played Yeoman Martha London, said it took a while to film the scene where she asks how the planet’s inhabitants would “do it” after Vaal is destroyed because William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and Deforest Kelly kept making up hilarious methods for procreating. Network censors we’re on set and Yarnall said they were getting upset, which made everyone laugh more.

 Security Guard/Red-Shirt Casualties: 4.

 Leonard Nimoy kept playing practical jokes on Celeste Yarnall while filming the episode. In an interview, she said that she was terrified every time she saw him coming because she had no idea what he might do.

 After the first crewman is killed by the poisonous flower darts, the captain is trying to understand it all and foolishly plucks a flower and smells it, not realizing that this could be a fatal mistake.

 Censors made producers cut out footage of Yeoman London during the cave scene because they didn’t want the audience to make the assumption that she slept in the same cave with the male characters.

 It is debated whether or not Kirk is in violation of the Prime Directive by interfering. The Prime Directive states “Don’t interfere with the natural evolution of the planet.” In Kirk’s opinion, the planet’s inhabitants are living in servitude of a machine that is impeding their natural growth and development. Mr. Spock’s point is that the natives are healthy, happy, and content with their lives. This means that life on the planet is exactly as it should be, and doesn’t need to advance.

 In addition to Lt. Hadley, Bill Blackburn also appears as one of the natives.

 The deity called “Vaal” is curiously similar to “Baal”, the Semitic deity.

 According to Celeste Yarnall, she and William Shatner were very attracted to each other. He wanted to act on that attraction but understood when she said no, because she was married at the time. They did end up dating for a while, a few years later, after she got divorced.

 “The Apple” refers the forbidden fruit (of the “tree of knowledge”) eaten by Adam and Eve in Genesis, Chapter 3, which caused them to be cast out of Paradise by God. The fruit was never specifically identified in the text, but popular culture regards it as an apple. The fruit was first called an apple in John Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost,” which also inspired a famous line in Star Trek: Space Seed (1967).

 The villager’s greeting to the Enterprise crew, wrists together with hands apart and fingers slightly curled inward, is similar to the Ferengi greeting. The gesture used here places the left hand below the right, unlike the Ferengi gesture.

 George Takei and Nichelle Nichols do not appear in this episode.

 David Soul (Makora) would go on to play Detective Kenneth Hutchinson in Starsky and Hutch (1975) as well as author Ben Mears in Salem’s Lot (1979).

 When the landing party meets with the villagers, Kirk asks Akuta where the children are, but he fails to comprehend. But, after Kirk makes a gesture simulating the height of a child, Akuta interprets it as “replacements”. Since an accidental death of a villager would cause an imbalance, there is no explanation by Akuta as to how Vaal replaces a villager, since Vaal has prohibited “holding” and “touching”. But, during the final scene, it is implied that the villagers will be able to procreate naturally.

 This takes place in 2267.

54 years after this episode aired, William Shatner made a space flight on October 13, 2021 aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard 4 capsule. On this flight he officially became the oldest human to fly to space.

 Not unique to this episode, but worth noting. Using the failed beam-up sequence as a reference, when several people beam up, they’ll arrange themselves to stand approximately where the transporter pad that’ll receive them will be. Exception for the unconscious Mr. Spock, notice how Kirk, Checkov, Yeoman Landon, and Kaplan stand in a somewhat circular formation.

 Three years earlier, James Doohan and Keith Andes had appeared together in The Outer Limits: Expanding Human (1964) along with Skip Homeier. Skip Homeier would go on to play Melakon in Star Trek: Patterns of Force (1968) and Sevrin Star Trek: The Way to Eden (1969). The latter also has a Genesis-themed story-line as leader a group of space hippies in search of Eden.

At the end when Kirk advises the villagers that they are free of Vaal and now have the right of autonomy, there is no mention of retribution for the crewman killed during the villagers attack. Likely because they are a gentle, childlike people who were simply beguiled by Vaal and obeying a command.


Kirk and a landing party beam down to what seems to be an ideal, Eden-like planet. They soon find however that the planet is ruled by a powerful computer that keeps its local inhabitants – primitive and simple tribesmen – happy and healthy. With the Enterprise locked in a tractor beam and slowly being dragged into the planet’s atmosphere, Kirk and Spock must find a way to disable the computer. Realizing the threat to its existence, the computer orders the tribesmen to kill the visitors.


William Shatner … Captain James Tiberius ‘Jim’ Kirk
Leonard Nimoy … Mister Spock
DeForest Kelley … Doctor Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy
Keith Andes … Akuta
Celeste Yarnall … Yeoman Martha Landon
James Doohan … Lieutenant Commander Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott
David Soul … Makora
Walter Koenig … Ensign Pavel Chekov
Jay D. Jones … Ensign Mallory (as Jay Jones)
Jerry Daniels … Marple
John Winston … Lieutenant Kyle
Mal Friedman … Hendorff
Shari Nims … Sayana
Paul Baxley … Native (uncredited)
Bill Blackburn … Lieutenant Hadley / Native (uncredited)
Ron Burke … Native (uncredited)
Bobby Clark … Native (uncredited)
Vince Deadrick Sr. … Native (uncredited)
Dick Dial … Kaplan (uncredited)
Eddie Paskey … Lieutenant Leslie (uncredited)