Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the writer Alice. Her five-year mission: to recap every episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, to post them to this blog, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
And as she goes, she’ll keep her eyes open for the following items:
1. Kirk Fu wouldn’t actually help you; it’d probably get you killed instead.
2. Roddenberry predicts SCIENCE!
3. Space Husbands (Spock/Kirk), Space Boyfriends (Spock/McCoy), and Space Biffles (Kirk/McCoy), oh my!
4. Doomed Crewmen Aren’t Always Redshirts (but they usually are)
5. Someone actually does their assigned job.
6. Social issues are addressed.
7. Bones is adorable/grumpy (which is the same thing to me)
8. WTF?! moments are my fav.
9. WTF?! aliens are also my fav.
10. They referenced this in the reboot films!
11. Mark Jefferies was a genius!
12. Catchphrase running tally:
- Bones—He’s dead
- Chapel—Doctor!/Doctor McCoy!
- Chekov—anything regarding Russia
- Kirk—Kirk out
- Scotty—the laws of physics
- Sulu—repeats an order
- Uhura—Hailing frequencies open
13. The Prime Directive doesn’t matter because Kirk knows best.
14. Omg, costumes!
Where No Man Has Gone Before was the second pilot they filmed in an attempt to get the studio to approve the show. Back then, it was unheard of for a show to film two pilots. If your first one was denied, you were done. But Gene Roddenberry was like, “F that. I’m trying again.” And aren’t we glad he did? I know I am.
Captain’s log, Star date 1312.4. The impossible has happened. From directly ahead, we’re picking up a recorded distress signal, the call letters of a vessel which has been missing for over two centuries. Did another Earth ship once probe out of the galaxy as we intend to do? What happened to it out there? Is this some warning they’ve left behind?
Today, we open the episode in the Rec Room where Kirk and Spock are playing 3D chess, waiting for a report regarding the distress signal. I’d like to point out that Kirk seems to be the only one capable of winning a game against Spock. I’d also like to point out that Spock’s wearing Command Yellow—and it’s an ugly pale gold sort of yellow—instead of Science Blue (#14), and his eyebrows are at a ridiculous angle. They hadn’t really nailed down his look at the time and so his eyebrows and ears look a little strange, a little pointier and sharper. I think Roddenberry said he wanted to really drive home the fact Spock wasn’t Human by making him look particularly devilish. I’m not sure what that says about Roddenberry’s view on aliens in general, but it worked well as Spock is very clearly not-Human.
During their game, Kirk and Spock engage in a small debate about emotions, which is very cute, #3.
Whatever was sending out the distress call was small, only a meter in diameter, so Kirk’s like, “Sure! Beam it aboard.” And he and Spock go to the Transporter Room to check it out:
Turns out, it’s a ship’s disaster recorder, similar to our planes’ black boxes. Kirk’s hopeful that they’ll be able to access the recording or memory banks and find out what happened to the Valiant.
But Kirk can’t care about that now, because they’re approaching the edge of the galaxy, where the Valiant presumably met its end, and he must get to the Bridge so he can be a Captain! (#5) He and Spock jump into the turbolift, where they’re joined by Gary Mitchell, the primary navigator.
On the Bridge, Mitchell takes his station, and Kirk orders they hold their position on the edge of the galaxy before he addresses the crew, in what I believe is the only time he has someone else turn on the ship-wide broadcast comm:
This is the Captain speaking. The object we encountered is a ship’s disaster recorder, apparently ejected from the S.S. Valiant two hundred years ago. We hope to learn from the recorder what the Valiant was doing here and what destroyed the vessel. We’ll move out into our probe as soon as we have those answers. All decks, stand by.
Spock reports the tapes are burned out and he’s trying the memory banks. He’s very insistent on reporting everything he does with this thing in this scene. It’s kinda cute, actually. #5
In which we’re introduced to a bunch of people really fast and in which Mitchell flirts with Yeoman Smith by getting her name wrong:
Mitchell: Department heads, sir. You wanted everybody on the Bridge before we left the galaxy. Jones.
Smith: The name’s Smith, sir.
Sulu: Astro sciences standing by, Captain.
Scotty: Engineering division ready, as always.
Piper: Life sciences ready, sir. This is Doctor Dehner, who joined the ship at the Aldebaran colony.
Dehner: Psychiatry, Captain. My assignment is to study crew reaction in emergency conditions.
Dehner mentions that if there was an emergency with the Valiant, she’d like to know how that crew reacted. And I’m sitting here, like, “Seriously? Something destroyed their ship. Obviously, there was an emergency, woman.” And clearly, Mitchell is cut from the same cloth as Kirk when it comes to women, because he has this exchange with Dehner:
Mitchell: Improving the breed, Doctor? Is that your line?
Dehner: I heard that’s more your specialty, Commander, line included.
BAM, you go, girl. I take back the comment I made about the emergency. Mitchell doesn’t get nearly as much respect from me, because this comment to the pilot, Kelso:
Walking freezer unit.
REALLY? Was that really necessary? He could have made a different comment with the same intention without the blatant misogyny in it. Like, I dunno, “Ouch.”
And now it’s obvious that Dehner and Mitchell are going to be a Thing, despite the cute flirting with poor Smith. What was the point of including the interactions between Mitchell and Smith if you always intended for him to hook up with Dehner? By including it, you make him look like a giant dick. But maybe that was your point, Samuel A. Peeples, and I’m just easily annoyed tonight? But, y’know, go ahead and make your character look like a giant dick. He’s your character, not mine.
Meanwhile, Spock seems to be the only crewman who isn’t flirting and is actually working, #5:
Spock: Decoding memory banks. I’ll try to interpolate. The Valiant had encountered a magnetic space storm and was being swept in this direction.
Kirk: The old impulse engines weren’t strong enough.
Spock: Swept past this point, about a half light year out of the galaxy, they were thrown clear, turned, and headed back into the galaxy here. I’m not getting it all. The tapes are pretty badly burned. Sounds like the ship had encountered some unknown force. Now, orders, counter orders, repeated urgent requests for information from the ship’s computer records for anything concerning ESP in human beings.
And now we’re getting to the meat of the episode: ESP. I hate ESP in scifi. It’s almost always universally mishandled. This is no exception. But, I do like this exchange between Kirk and Dehner:
Kirk: Doctor Dehner, how are you on ESP?
Dehner: In tests I’ve taken, my ESP rated rather high.
Kirk: I’m asking what you know about ESP.
Get over yourself, Dehner.
I really don’t like how she’s written. She’s always left really open for mockery and scorn and, “Oh, ho ho. Look at the woman with her heightened emotional state!” It really bothers me. Sally Kellerman gave a fantastic performance with what she was given to work with; it’s just what she was given to work with wasn’t handled very well by Peeples, unfortunately. She could have been a great character.
Also, Kellerman was “Hot Lips” O’Houlihan and she was in an episode of Faerie Tale Theater, and I love her.
Also, also, this is the last time TOS will see Starfleet women in trousers until we get to The Menagerie, #14:
There’s some more talk about ESP from Dehner and Spock continues to report from the disaster recorder:
Severe damage. Seven crewmen dead. No, make that six. One crewman seemed to have recovered. That’s when they became interested in extrasensory perception. More than interested, almost frantic about it. No, this must be garbled. I get something about destruct. I must have read it wrong. It sounded like the captain giving an order to destroy his own ship.
Kirk asks for comments or observations from the department heads and Piper, who is this episode’s CMO, is like, “Only thing we really know is the Valiant blew up.” And I’m like, “Dude. You suck; gimme back McCoy.”
Because the only thing they know for certain is the destruction of the Valiant, Kirk decides to continue with their probe of the area seeing as other ships will end up there eventually and they’ll need to know what they might be up against. Good, Captain. Have a biscuit. And they continue onward, leaving the galaxy.
They leave galaxies every so often on the show and it’s usually treated as a Big Deal, and I give Peeples and Roddenberry props for doing something like this for their pilot. It was a gutsy move and a gamble and luckily for the world, it paid off.
As they leave the galaxy, Spock’s sensors pick up on a force field of some kind. But it doesn’t give off any information his computer can work with. Everything’s just ‘negative.’ As they pass through the force field, it deals some pretty intense damage to the ship despite the deflector shields being up. I mean, consoles blow up and crewmen are thrown all over the place.
Once it settles, it turns out Dehner and Mitchell were the most affected by the force field thing. She’s all right for the most part, but Mitchell’s been stunned. When Kirk goes to check on his friend, they reveal his truly creepy, but awesome, silvery bright-light eyes:
They did this with reflective contacts. Gary Lockwood, our Mr. Mitchell, was very uncomfortable while wearing the contacts, which gave them the happiest accident of the episode, where he ends up sort of having to look down his nose at everybody. It’s really pretty awesome.
So, turns out this force field, aside from killing nine crewmen and making Mitchell’s eyes go weird, dealt some pretty substantial damage to the Enterprise herself. Now, they’re running on impulse power only. Warp drive, you know that thing that lets them travel at the speed of light? Yeah, that’s impossible now. And they’re stranded, years away from the nearest Starfleet base.
But what’s really troubling is closer to home. The force field that killed the crewmen did so by burning out part of their brain. The other weird thing? Everyone affected by the field—the nine dead, Dehner, and Mitchell—all rated high on ESP tests. In fact, Mitchell rated highest. So now we get to find out why the Valiant was so desperate to find out about ESP.
Meanwhile, Kirk’s worried about Mitchell, which is understandable. They’re buddies and they’ve known each other since their days at Academy. They have a fun chat about their Academy days, which gives us a little background for Kirk:
Mitchell: Hey man, I remember you back at the academy. A stack of books with legs. The first thing I ever heard from upperclassmen was, Watch out for Lieutenant Kirk. In his class, you either think or sink.
And I absolutely love this because a lot of people, when asked “Kirk or Picard?” will answer Picard, often saying that a better captain will think his way out of a problem. And they’ll also often say Kirk would either fight or try to charm his way out of his problems. Which isn’t true.
Let me rant on this for a minute, okay?
Kirk is my captain. Going to put that out there right now. He is. And it isn’t because he’s charming or sexy or whatever. He’s my captain because he uses everything at his disposal to make sure the situation goes the best way for his crew, first and foremost, and Starfleet in general. If that means he has to charm an alien babe, awesome; if he has to fight a Gorn, not so awesome, but he’ll do it. But most of the time, he uses his brain to deal with the situation. He’ll reason, out think, bluff. He doesn’t just fire photon torpedoes willy nilly because someone said his green shirt made him look fat (which is something people have said; I think it looks fine, personally).
Yeah, he’s a flirt and he’s charming. But you know what? I don’t think he can really help it. I dated a Kirk-type. The Lawyer was a Kirk and, boy, was he fun. But he was a flirt and he was super charming; it was part of his nature.
Just because Picard isn’t like that and just because he was very rarely part of the Away Team (where most of Kirk’s fisticuffs occur) doesn’t mean he was a better captain. The narrative just had him thinking way more. TNG was a lot more political than TOS ever was, but that doesn’t make Picard any more or less brainy than Kirk.
End rant. (For now, probably.)
Anyway. Kirk tells Mitchell he’s having Dehner take over the case and she’ll be monitoring Mitchell’s condition. To which Mitchell replied with a less whiny version of “Aw, but she’s mean to me.” I still don’t like it, though:
Mitchell: With almost a hundred women on board, you can do better than that, friend Captain.
Kirk: Consider it a challenge.
Mitchell: That doesn’t seem very friendly.
I’m sitting here, thinking, “Dude, she didn’t think your flirting was workplace or time appropriate; suck it up and move on. She’s on that ship to work, just like you. You can flirt when you’re off-duty.”
Back on the Bridge, Spock tells Kirk that Mitchell’s reading speed has increased, like whoa. And we get this gem of a line:
Spock: Is he Gary Mitchell? The one you used to know?
So, obviously, Spock’s got some concerns. To him, it’s possible that whatever is happening to Mitchel could be a Very Bad Thing. Probably even the same VBT that destroyed the Valiant.
Scooting on back to Sick Bay, Dehner’s monitoring Mitchell’s condition. Sort of. She’s leaning against the wall and chatting with him:
Dehner: I know you don’t particularly like me, Mister Mitchell, but since I am assigned here, can we make the best of it?
Mitchell: I’ve got nothing against you, Doctor.
Dehner: Nor against the walking freezer unit?
Mitchell: Well, I—sorry about that.
Dehner: Women professionals do tend to overcompensate.
Dehner. Honey. You shouldn’t be apologizing to this guy because you were professional in regards to his poorly-timed flirting. Yeah, I get you’re all stuck on a ship and your romantic and sexual prospects are limited to the 428 people on board unless you’re super into ridiculously long-distance relationships (some people are; I am not one of them), but come on. You don’t have to count on this jerk to fulfill that need. Don’t make excuses. Just be like, “You were unprofessional, I didn’t dig it, I accept your apology for calling me names. Now, let’s get to work.” That’s all that’s needed here. But, nope. Peeples wanted these two to bone and god forbid a woman be morally superior then the dude who wants in her regulation trousers.
That’s it, I’m making that #15: The sexism is rampant and makes me feminist rant.
Also, why is she the only actually apologizing in this situation? She did nothing wrong. He made an inappropriate advance on her and called her a name, but he said, somewhat put out too, “Well, I—sorry about that.” That’s not an apology, Mitchell! That’s you saying you’re sorry you caught saying rude things about your coworkers. Everything about this exchange just pisses me off.
Calm down, Alice. It’s a television show.
So they move on from his not-apology and start talking about how he’s feeling, which, to me, is obvious—he’s feeling cocky and jerkface.
But he reminds us that Piper commented that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with him (ignore the eyes) and Mitchell looks up at his monitor and suggests that maybe they could change his readings and they go berserk, the dials soaring. I really wish I knew how to read those stupid monitors. I’ve been trying to figure it out for years and I can’t. If you have any insight, let me know; I’d love you forever for it.
Dehner: How did you do that?
Mitchell: I’m not sure, I, I just thought of making it happen, and it does. It’s, hey, er hey watch this, Doc.
The monitor’s indicators plummet and he collapses. Which of course, sends Dehner into a small panic. She runs to his side and tries to get him to wake up. After a moment, he does and his readings normalize.
And his finally has a moment of humanity:
You, you know, Doc, there have been other things too, like going halfway through the ship’s library in hardly a day. Yeah. Oh, what’s happening to me?
But it’s not enough to make me like him. Dehner asks him if he can remember everything he read, on any tape, and he’s like, yeah. So she calls his bluff and puts a tape into the computer, turns the monitor away from him and pulls up a page (#2, digital books). And he recites “one of the most passionate love sonnets of the past couple of centuries.” Maybe there’s not enough of the sonnet there for me to properly judge, but I don’t see the passion or the love, but whatevs. I do love that it was written in 1996 on another planet. They were so optimistic about the future.
And then Mitchell’s super concerned with how Dehner’s feeling. She’s like, nope, totally fine. All she did was fall, after all. But he’s convinced something’s happened to her, too. So… foreshadowing?
But they’re all intimate-like, when Kelso comes by to check on Mitchell. Poor Kelso. He gets a bum rap this entire episode. Kelso and Mitchell talk about the ship’s repairs and Mitchell says to check the starboard impulse packs. And Kelso’s like, sure. But Mitchell’s insistent, which freaks Kelso out a little and he leaves.
Mitchell: He’s a fool. A fool. He’d seen those points and he hadn’t noticed their condition.
Dehner: How do you know?
Mitchell: The image of what he’d seen was still in his mind.
DUN, DUN, DUNNNNN!
Later, in the Briefing room:
Kelso: Well, it didn’t make any sense that he’d know, but naturally, I checked out the circuit anyway. I don’t know how, but he was right. This point is burned out exactly the way he described it.
Dehner: Sorry I’m late. I became so interested in observing Gary, Mr. Mitchell—
Spock: Our subject is not Gary Mitchell. Our concern is, rather, what he is mutating into.
Dehner: I know those from your planet aren’t suppose to have feelings like we do, Mister Spock, but to talk that way about a man you’ve worked next to for years is worse than—
Kirk: That’s enough, Doctor.
Ugh. Could we not have the only person with any sort of emotion whatsoever be the woman this time? Please? Kirk, you’ve got feelings; I know you do. THIS is why we need McCoy. He provides the emotional argument in the ot3’s discussions.
Calm down, Alice.
Anyway, they discuss Mitchell’s changes some more and Dehner just mentions that he’s capable of controlling autonomic reflexes and he reads super fast and remembers a lot. Way to not tell everything, girl; that promotion’s yours for sure.
But then Scotty and Spock deliver this crushing piece of evidence:
Scotty: About an hour ago, the Bridge controls started going crazy. Levers shifting by themselves, buttons being pushed, instrument readings changing.
Spock: And on my monitor screen I could see Mitchell smiling each time it happened, as if this ship and crew were almost a toy for his amusement.
Kirk asks Dehner if she noticed Mitchell was capable of anything like that and she said, yeah, maybe. And Kirk’s like, woman, why didn’t you say something?
Dehner: No one’s been hurt, have they? Don’t you understand? A mutated superior man could also be a wonderful thing. The forerunner of a new and better kind of human being.
Stop defending him; he’s an asshole. #15
There’s some more talk about how quickly Mitchell’s power is growing and there’s concerns that he’s getting too strong too quickly. And Sulu throws some math at us (his math is wrong, btw), which I think is hilarious. I love that he started as a science officer for the early episodes, because if we keep that in consideration with everything else he becomes over the course of the series, he turns out to be one of the very underappreciated badasses in the entire Trek ‘verse. I mean, seriously. Dude’s got more hobbies than those crafty bloggers out there.
Anyway, everyone leaves Spock and Kirk alone so they can discuss things some more. But not without Kirk’s warning that they are not to talk about the situation with anyone.
So Spock gives Kirk some of those vague warnings that he’s so good at and Kirk snaps at him. #3, dude. And all Spock can think of is getting Mitchell off the Enterprise when he says:
Recommendation one. There’s a planet a few light days away from here. Delta Vega. It has a lithium cracking station. We may be able to adapt some of its power packs to our engines.
Despite the fact that if they can’t adapt the power packs, they’ll be stuck in orbit, that’s what he really wants to do because he can get Mitchell away from the crew.
Kirk: If you mean strand Mitchell there, I won’t do it. That station is fully automated. There’s not a soul on the whole planet. Even the ore ships call only once every twenty years.
Spock: Then you have one other choice. Kill Mitchell while you still can.
Kirk: Get out of here.
Spock: It is your only other choice, assuming you make it while you still have time.
Kirk: Will you try for one moment to feel? At least act like you’ve got a heart. We’re talking about Gary.
Spock: The captain of the Valiant probably felt the same way, and he waited too long to make his decision. I think we’ve both guessed that.
Seriously, guys, #3. I love their angry discussions. I don’t know why. And obviously, Kirk decides Spock’s right because he says:
Set course for Delta Vega.
Then commercial break! And I want to take a moment to mention that Delta Vega was the planet that Spock marooned Kirk on in the reboot 2009 film, so #10. I think Spock has a thing for marooning people on Delta Vega. But the original Delta Vega isn’t a frozen Hoth-like planet. It’s pretty rocky and crystally. It actually reminds me of the planet Midnight from Doctor Who. But that’s just me.
Kirk’s post-commercial recap, ladies and gentlemen:
Star date 1313.1. We’re now approaching Delta Vega. Course set for a standard orbit. This planet, completely uninhabited, is slightly smaller than Earth. Desolate, but rich in crystal and minerals. Kelso’s task, transport down with a repair party, try to regenerate the main engines, save the ship. Our task, transport down a man I’ve known for fifteen years, and if we’re successful, maroon him there.
It’s so dramatic when Shatner reads it. Makes me smile.
Dehner, Kirk, and Spock go to collect Mitchell from the Sick Bay to take him down to the planet. And he’s reading people’s thoughts and taunts them a bit.
Mitchell: It’s like a man who has been blind all of his life, suddenly being given sight. Sometimes I feel there’s nothing I couldn’t do, in time. Some people think that makes me a monster, don’t they Jim?
Kirk: Are you reading all our thoughts, Gary?
Mitchell: I can sense mainly worry in you, Jim. Safety of your ship.
Kirk: What would you do in my place?
Mitchell: Probably just what Mister Spock is thinking now. Kill me while you can.
And then he zaps them with electricity! Well, not Dehner. He wants to bone Dehner.
Mitchell: I also know we’re orbiting Delta Vega, Jim. I can’t let you force me down there. I may not want to leave this ship, not yet. I may want another place. I’m not sure yet just what kind of a world I can use.
Mitchell: I don’t understand it all yet, but if I keep growing, getting stronger, why, the things I could do, like, like maybe a god could do.
And then Kirk knocks Mitchell out and has Dehner sedate him. I mean, seriously, this is not a good development, this god-thinking. Why aren’t they trying to figure out how to permanently dispose of this guy?
Because Kirk’s a good guy and he’d rather not kill someone if he can help it.
Down on the planet, Kelso’s gutting some panels and whatnot in order to fix the Enterprise and Kirk has Mitchell locked up in a cell with a force field door. I love the force field doors. I want one.
Kirk asks Kelso if the fuel bins on the planet could be detonated from the cracking station control room, y’know, just in case. Kelso looks at his captain funny, but says he can probably rig something up to work as a destruct switch, sure.
But Mitchell wakes up soon and begins the attempt at manipulating Kirk:
Mitchell: My friend James Kirk. remember those rodent things on Dimorus? The poisoned darts they threw? I took one meant for you.
Kirk: And almost died. I remember.
Mitchell: So why be afraid of me now?
But Kirk’s having none of that nonsense.
Kirk: You’ve been testing your ability to take over the Enterprise. In the transporter room, you said something about us seeming like insects by comparison, squashing us if we got in your way.
Mitchell: I was drugged then.
Mitchell, just stop talking.
Kirk: Yes. In the Sickbay, you said if you were in my place, you’d kill a mutant like yourself.
Mitchell: Why don’t you kill me then? Mister Spock is right and you’re a fool if you can’t see it.
Dehner: You don’t mean that, Gary.
Stop liking this asshole, Dehner. You’re better than this.
Mitchell rants that humans cannot survive if a race of true Espers shows up and he tests the force field by shoving his chest against it. And his eyes go back to normal for a little bit. But not for long.
Meanwhile, Scotty’s being our miracle worker and installing pilfered equipment on the Bridge while on the phone comm with Kelso and Kirk.
Scotty: It fits like a glove, Captain. Oh—did Mr. Spock get the phaser rifle we sent down?
Kirk: I didn’t order any—
And Spock enters carrying a rifle and looking badass:
Spock reports Mitchell tried getting through the force field again and he regained his strength faster. And then:
Kirk: Doctor Dehner feels he isn’t that dangerous. What makes you right and a trained psychiatrist wrong?
Spock: Because she feels. I don’t. All I know is logic. In my opinion we’ll be lucky if we can repair this ship and get away in time.
Kelso tells Kirk then that he’s finished with wiring up the fuel bins to blow. Kirk tells him that at his discretion, if he thinks there’s no other option, hit that button.
And we’re all on the same page of knowing that if Kelso hits the button, he’s blowing up the planet, right? Right? You know that Kirk’s signing Mitchell’s death warrant and asking his other friend and crewman to lay down his own life to protect the rest of the Enterprise’s crew and the Federation, probably. Kirk isn’t just a brawler; he makes difficult decisions and asks the impossible of his crew and they come through for him every single time. That is not the mark of a bad captain, people.
Unfortunately, after the commercial break, Kirk orders everyone up to the ship and Dehner says she’s staying, which is a bad idea. The other unfortunate thing? Mitchell’s strong enough to strangle poor Kelso with a cable while he’s still locked up in the brig.
Kirk has no idea that his last line of defense is dead. Because he’s busy in the brig, trying to get Dehner to not be stupid. And Mitchell takes that opportunity to zap Kirk and Spock and knock them out. He gets rid of the force field and pulls Dehner over to his cell’s mirror.
Later, Kirk and Piper are awake:
Piper: It hit me, too, whatever it was. Kelso is dead, strangled. At least Spock’s alive.
Kirk: Dr. Dehner?
Piper: She went with Mitchell.
Because she’s stupid.
Kirk: Don’t give him a pill until after I’m gone. It’s my fault Mitchell got as far as he did. Did you see their direction?
Piper: Yes, there was some morning light. They were headed across the valley, to the left of the pointed peaks. There’s flatlands beyond.
Kirk: When Mr. Spock recovers, you’ll both transport up immediately to the Enterprise.
Piper: But, Captain—
Kirk: If you have not received a signal from me within twelve hours, you’ll proceed at maximum warp to the nearest Earth base with my recommendation that this entire planet be subjected to a lethal concentration of neutron radiation. No protest on this, Mark. That’s an order.
And Piper just nods. I tell you, McCoy would’ve obeyed the order, but he would’ve given Kirk a stern lecture before he did.
Elsewhere on the planet, which is totally desolate and unlivable, Dhener tells Mitchell it would take a miracle for them to survive. So Mitchell creates a miracle.
And apparently, Mitchell can feel Kirk’s brain from distances? Because he totally knows the captain’s coming. Or maybe Kirk’s just predictable like that. So Dehner is sent to go talk to Kirk.
This is a good conversation and it doesn’t piss me off:
Dehner: Yes, it just took a little longer for it to happen to me.
Kirk: You must help me. Before it goes too far.
Dehner: What he’s doing is right for him and me.
Kirk: And for humanity? You’re still human.
Dehner: No, I—
Kirk: At least partly, you are, or you wouldn’t be here talking to me.
Dehner: Earth is really unimportant. Before long, we’ll be where it would have taken mankind millions of years of learning to reach.
Kirk: What will Mitchell learn in getting there? Will he know what to do with his power? Will he acquire the wisdom?
Dehner: Please go back while you still can.
Kirk: Did you hear him joke about compassion? Above all else, a god needs compassion… Elizabeth.
Dehner: What do you know about gods?
Kirk: Then let’s talk about humans, about our frailties. As powerful as he gets, he’ll have all that inside him.
Dehner: Go back.
Kirk: You were a psychiatrist once. You know the ugly, savage things we all keep buried, that none of us dare expose. But he’ll dare. Who’s to stop him? He doesn’t need to care. Be a psychiatrist for one minute longer. What do you see happening to him? What’s your prognosis, Doctor?
Dehner: He’s coming.
Kirk: Then watch him. Hang on to being a human for one minute longer.
You know what Kirk’s doing here? He’s not flirting with her or charming her or kicking her butt. He’s reasoning with her. Using his brain, his intellect. And he’s almost got her to agree with him, when Mitchell shows up. Kirk’s abandoned diplomacy at this point because he knows Mitchell won’t listen to him, so he shoots him with the phaser rifle. And Mitchell isn’t phased. (You’ll soon discover that I like puns.)
Instead, Mitchell tells him he’s been contemplating the death of an old friend. Contemplating, guys. He’s totally decided that he’s going to kill Kirk. And to emphasize his point, he creates a grave:
Clearly, no one told the props department that Kirk’s middle was Tiberius. That, or Roddenberry hadn’t decided yet.
Dehner: Stop it, Gary.
Mitchell: Morals are for men, not gods.
Kirk: A god, but still driven by human frailty. Do you like what you see?
Mitchell: Time to pray, Captain. Pray to me.
Mitchell: To you? Not to both of you?
Dehner, it isn’t looking good for you, babe. Seems to me that Mitchell doesn’t want to share this weird paradise with you and will probably end up killing you as well. Told you he was an asshole.
Mitchell: Pray that you die easily.
Kirk: There’ll only be one of you in the end. One jealous god. if all this makes a god, or is it making you something else?
Mitchell: Your last chance, Kirk.
Kirk (to Dehner): Do you like what you see? Absolute power corrupting absolutely.
Finally, Dehner twigs that maybe Mitchell’s dangerous and she zaps him with her own electricity. He returns fire and they just continuously zap each other until Mitchell’s eyes return to normal. Dehner tells Kirk to get on with the ass kicking and the boys wrestle and punch each other and tear Kirk’s shirt, setting the pattern for all of his shirt tears, #14:
Kirk hesitates for just a moment to ask forgiveness and Mitchell’s eyes glow again. They both fall into the grave and Kirk manages to leap out to grab the phaser rifle. He shoots the boulders above the grave until they fall into the grave and crush his friend inside.
Then Kirk goes to Dehner, who is dying from her fight with Mitchell. And her last words? They don’t make sense to me, but then I don’t wish to be a god:
I’m sorry. You can’t know what it’s like to be almost a god.
On the ship, which is now working because Scotty’s a miracle worker, Kirk records his final log for the incident:
Captain’s log, Star date 1313.8. Add to official losses, Doctor Elizabeth Dehner. Be it noted she gave her life in performance of her duty. Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell, same notation. I want his service record to end that way. He didn’t ask for what happened to him.
And the episode ends with some cute flirting between Kirk and Spock, #3:
Spock: I felt for him, too.
Kirk: I believe there’s some hope for you after all, Mr. Spock.
What I loved about the episode:
It gave us a really interesting villain to work with in Gary Mitchell-turned-god. I honestly thought that they were going to use him as the villain in Into Darkness and was legitimately angry that they went with Khan instead. But more on that later, I think.
What I would change:
Everything about Dehner and Mitchell’s relationship. Dude was a jerk. There’s no way any self-respecting woman would like him. It really compromised her characterization to have her fall for him because he was such an interesting case study to her. She could have been fascinated by his case but still think he was a jerk and fought harder against him.
What I hated:
How much Dehner defended Mitchell and became all emotional about her defense in the Briefing Room. I get that she’s female and the stereotype is that we’re more in touch with our emotions, but come on. She’s a professional. She’s a doctor for crap’s sake. She wouldn’t have reacted so emotionally.
Headcanons I developed because of this episode:
Spock really is more emotional than he would let us think. He was worried for the safety of the crew, and worry is a Human emotion. And he pitied Mitchell. Pity is also a Human emotion. Either he’s not as firm in Kohlinahr than he wants everyone to think or Kirk’s just plain rubbing off on him.
Catchphrase Tally for this episode: 0
We’re still at 6 for the series. I’m sure it’ll pick up soon once the Bridge Crew is more firmly in place.
Join me on Wednesday/Thursday for The Naked Time, which is all manner of fun. Hopefully, by then I’ll have figured out the stupid formatting.