Miri

We went into watching “Miri” fairly lightly, expecting to be mostly entertainment – this was based on past viewings of the episode and the knowledge of the plot. However, as it progressed, we found there was a lot more to it than we had expected, or absorbed in the past. Let’s scratch that surface, shall we?

THE EPIDEMIC OF ADULTHOOD

The Onlies threatening bonking

The “Fittest”

After watching this episode, Ando pointed out that it seemed unusual that after 300 years, these children still acted like children rather than showing 300 years’ worth of wisdom and maturation. I think this suggests that there is some essential, biological difference between children and adults that the episode is trying to examine. It’s no wonder that the children on this planet are so prototypically childlike; on our Earth, maturity and wisdom gained on the journey to adulthood are obviously characteristics that favor survival. As the episode states pretty explicitly, the onset of puberty is a death sentence for the children on this planet. Remaining a child is essential for survival in Miri’s society, so childlike traits have been repeated and distilled for 300 years, meaning the comically obnoxious chants that we see the children do are actually displays of survival of the fittest.

Despite a supporting cast full of children, this episode is not exactly a family-friendly romp. It deals head-on with the impending death of dozens of children. But a little investigation suggests this episode is even darker than it first appears. The youngest children that we see are maybe 2 or 3 years old. Since this is a parallel Earth, we can safely assume society would follow the same patterns of age distribution. So where are the babies? The episode does not address this point at all, and I propose that is because the truth was too dark for television at the time (and may still be today). I believe infants too young to possess basic survival skills died – or were killed off – in the traumatic time period in which the “grups” destroyed themselves.

...and they're not pretty

Miri has seen things…

Miri explains that the “onlies” all hid while the “grups” killed themselves off. The same rage that killed the adults probably caused rampant infanticide as well. Any babies that survived the initial disaster surely died when their shellshocked older siblings were mentally and/or physically incapable of caring for them. Every one of the children seen in this episode has survived unspeakable horrors, which leads me to my next point.

 

Stress can cause early onset puberty. The horrific events that occurred as the virus spread probably triggered puberty in many of the older children, which of course only served to compound the disaster. In a similar vein, as the “onlies” succumbed over the years, rather than happening one by one, I imagine they probably turned in groups, as the stress of one “only” turning could have easily led to their friends turning as well, in a snowball effect of early onset puberty.

And rips his shirt...of course...

Kirk almost succumbs to the hyper-aging virus

Going into watching “Miri”, the most memorable moment we could think of was Kirk shouting “NO BLAH BLAH BLAH!”. Laughing about this together, we went into the episode not expecting much. Once we more closely examined the children-only society that we see, we realized the macabre implications behind it. The same grime-covered kids that we originally thought needed a spanking or a time-out are actually in great need of therapy due to the horrible things they have seen for the past 300 years.

What Are Little Girls Made Of?

Ando: While this episode has a rather deep topic that I know we’ll spend most of the post discussing, I’d like to open by pointing out that this is another early example of Kirk using his wits to get himself – and Christine Chapel this time – out of a tight spot. Not only does he set up the mental hook to alert Spock that the man who goes back to the Enterprise is an impostor, he also manages to fritz out Andrea’s android brain with love and re-awaken Ruk’s frustration with humanoid life. Quite an accomplishment, considering he had no idea the danger he was in at the start of the mission.

Psst - it's a penis!

Sometimes a rock is just a rock

KM: I don’t think I recognized the dominant theme of this episode until the last scene. Kirk’s casual dismissal of android Dr. Corby’s legitimacy made me realize that the story is essentially about humanity. “What are little girls made of?” What makes a person a person? What makes us human?

Ando: Indeed – Roger’s insistence that he was “in here” and that his android body should not have changed Chapel’s feelings toward him goes to show that at least he felt that the consciousness makes the man. He obviously believes that his original human body’s death did not change who he was, since his consciousness – his “soul” lived on inside the android body.

KM: It’s an interesting philosophical question: is a human mind in an inorganic body still a human? Kirk obviously has a very strong opinion on the matter, but the other characters display a level of ambivalence that I personally consider more relatable. This is why Kirk’s response left me with a sour taste. I think the matter is far more gray-area.

Dr. Corby's icky hand

Dr. Corby and his damaged hand

Ando: In the end, I think Kirk had to be a bit strict in his definition – and likely his report to Starfleet – precisely because he’s the captain, and he can’t really afford to let himself be seen as letting sentimentality overcome judgment, and in order to protect not only his crew but every human Corby would have replaced, he had to dismiss android-Corby as not the “real Corby”, although I can see how that pains Chapel. He made a command decision, rather than a human one.

KM: This episode is just the first of many throughout Star Trek canon that deals with the definition of humanity/sentience. Most notably, Data (from Star Trek: The Next Generation) is an android who often struggles with the concept of humanity and his own desire to be human. This episode gives a different slant (a human brain being put inside an android rather than a completely inorganic android from the beginning), but deals with similar concepts that I know we will give much more attention to later on in our voyage.

Ruk having a senior moment

Ruk having a senior moment

Ando: The one thing about this episode that’s always bugged me a bit is how Ruk literally forgets about why the “old ones” were gone. I mean, he’s an android, and when Kirk starts asking him questions about the “old ones”, Ruk even says in his eureka moment that the information was there in his memory banks, it’s just that it had been so long that he had forgotten (and earlier in the episode, Corby demonstrates that Ruk essentially lost track of time until he got there). Why? An android shouldn’t have senior moments, especially not one who describes himself as “superior” to the models he helped create (Brown, Andrea, Corby, and Kirk). I can’t shake how much that bothers me. However, in the grand scheme of things, this episode is very good, so I suppose I can forgive. It’s the human thing to do.