One of the clichés of early Star Trek appears to be Kirk getting duplicated. Whether it’s split in half by a transporter malfunction in “The Enemy Within” or being straight up cloned here in “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”
We also see another Trek cliché begin here with Kirk taking on a computer.
Oh sure, he isn’t talking a computer to death with an unsolvable logic problem, but Kirk is still messing with something mechanical in order to try and stop it. In this case, it’s putting in a secret message for Spock as Kirk’s attitudes and feelings are copied from him to the android.
And there’s nothing subtle about this message including the use of the term “half-breed interference” to really put Spock on the scene. I always find it interesting that the scene where android-Kirk’s angry outburst plays out comes in Kirk’s quarters and not in a more public area. There’s no telling if or how the crew might have reacted and given the game away. We’re lucky that Spock’s emotions are downplayed and that he gets the message without necessarily looking or sounding offended.
Now I’ll have to admit that “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” is one of my favorite installments from the first dozen or so episodes of Star Trek. A good portion of this could be that it’s very Kirk-centric. Kirk is down on Exo III, battling with Korby and the androids society he’s stumbled across. Yes, Spock leads the cavalry to Kirk’s rescue once the message is received, but by that point Kirk is merely mopping up after he’s outwitted the androids and seemingly saved the day.
I will also admit I find it interesting to note that Christine Chapel signed on board the Enterprise not to practice medicine but to find her lost finance. Now, I don’t know what Roger Korby was like before he went to Exo III, but I can’t help but wonder if Chapel has some kind of strange attraction to emotionally unavailable men. In “The Naked Time” she was professing her love for Spock and now here she is chasing her lost fiancé who hasn’t contacted her in a while and turns out to an android (no, not the phone).
It even goes so far as to imply that Korby created a dream girl down on the planet in the form of Andrea. I can’t help but wonder if this episode might have been a bit more intriguing if Andrea had looked and sounded a bit more like Chapel. Of course, that might give away the big end of act one reveal that everyone is an android.
The cold surface of Exo III reflects the cold nature of various players in the story – from Korby to Andrea to Ruk. Even the clone of Kirk is cold. The androids are good at mimicking human behavior without necessarily finding the warmth behind it. We see that Andrea quickly programs herself to kiss first and then slap someone. Is this simply because the androids are programmed to follow the last series of commands and can’t necessarily process that one doesn’t always lead to the other? Or is Andrea just a lower model android than Ruk or Korby, both of whom seem able to learn from their experiences and don’t necessarily have to have the exact same output given similar input.
I really think that there are some great isolated scenes in this one. “Androids don’t eat, Ms. Chapel” is one of them as is Kirk’s laying down the programming to let Spock know they’re in trouble. I’m not all the pieces add up to a classic whole, but I’ll still take this over episodes to come in the run like “Miri” or “The Alternative Factor.”
And “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” is also one of those memorable episodes because of the costuming of William Ware Theiss. Andrea’s outfit really pushes the limits of what the censors would allow in the 60’s. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that you’ve got Sherry Jackson in the outfit helping to push those boundaries.
Mission Log Podcast: What Are Little Girls Made Of?
SciFi Special Edition: Shatner Hosts, Nimoy Hosts
Al, Bill and David Watch TV commentary
Memory Alpha Entry: What Are Little Girls Made Of?
Tor Review: What Are Little Girls Made Of?
Onion AV Club Review: What Are Little Girls Made Of?
Mark Watches: What Are Little Girls Made Of?