(written from a Production point of view)
The Enterprise crew finds witches, black cats, and haunted castles on a distant planet.
A landing party of Sulu, Scott, and Crewman Jackson on Pyris VII is overdue for a routine check-in, when Jackson finally answers the USS Enterprise's urgent hails. His disconcerting message: one to beam up. And, when Jackson is beamed aboard by Kyle, he materializes on the transporter pad and he immediately falls down to the floor, dead. But from his dead lips a sonorous voice tells Captain Kirk that his ship is cursed; he must leave or all will die.
- "Captain's log, stardate 3018.2. Crewman Jackson is dead… and there are no apparent physical causes. Mr. Scott and Mr. Sulu are still out of touch on the planet below. Leaving Assistant Chief Engineer DeSalle in command of the Enterprise, I'm beaming down to the planet's surface to find my two missing crewmen… and discover what killed Jackson."
With two crewmen missing and a mysterious death, Kirk doesn't plan to leave just yet. He organizes a second landing party: himself, Spock, and Doctor McCoy. They beam to the point from which Jackson was beamed up. There, Kirk intends to discover what happened to his missing men, and what killed Jackson.
The planet is fogbound, something extremely unlikely given the environmental conditions, as there are no cloud formations or bodies of water on the planet. Proceeding towards a reading of nearby lifeforms, the landing party encounters three witches; the spectral hags again warn Kirk to leave. Winds and fog try to thwart the landing party, but they eventually discover a large castle – the source of the lifeform readings. Entering the castle, they find a black cat and identify all the iconography of old Earth tales.
On the bridge of the Enterprise, Ensign Chekov reports to assistant chief engineer DeSalle that the landing party's lifeform readings are the only ones on the planet. As the landing party entered the castle, he then says they have simply stopped registering. DeSalle asks Chekov to check the scanning equipment for malfunctions but Chekov already has – the equipment is functioning perfectly. DeSalle then orders Chekov to recalibrate the scanners.
The landing party explores the castle further and falls through the floor, plunging them down to a dungeon chamber, and unconsciousness.
Awakening, the landing party discovers they are chained. Scott and Sulu appear, and Kirk is at first relieved to see his missing men. Then he realizes they're marching to someone else's drum: alive, but unresponsive and no longer allies. The two enthralled men free Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, and herd them towards the door at phaser point; a brief scuffle is halted when all the men are suddenly – elsewhere, in the presence of a strange robed man.
This is Korob, decked out in wizard's finery, with robe, wand, and black cat. Spock's comment that mapping expeditions have not discovered lifeforms on Pyris VII wrings a small truth from Korob – that he is not native to this world. Korob first plies the crew with food and drink, then with fortunes in gemstones. All to get them to leave, without asking more questions. But Kirk tells Korob he could manufacture such stones by the ton on his ship; they're valueless, a fact that conflicts with whatever research Korob has done. Korob then reveals that the events were staged to test the landing party. He has learned they are loyal, brave, and incorruptible.
Sylvia enters. She tells Kirk that she can read and control the minds of men. Spock states that it must be Telepathy and Sylvia says "not entirely," and explains that telepathy is only a part of what she does. Kirk briefly overpowers Scott, seizing his phaser, and when he refuses to return it, Sylvia reveals another skill: she can perform sympathetic magic. She admits that she thought of Jackson in her mind, and when she killed the image and knew it was dead, so was the real Jackson. A small model of the Enterprise, held in the flame of a candle – and the real ship, orbiting above, begins to grow hot. Chekov reports to DeSalle that the temperature has jumped sixty degrees in just thirty seconds. "We're burning up, sir," he states.
Seizing Sylvia's arm, Kirk removes the model from the flame, and the Enterprise from danger. Kirk tries to surmise how they are able to do all of this and says "You seem to do with your mind, what we do with tools. You alter matter and move it about by Telekinesis." Korob begins to answer saying "Yes we can change…" when Sylvia cuts him off, stating that he talks too much. When Kirk suggests that landing parties will soon appear, Korob seals the model in a block – and above, the ship is suddenly surrounded by a force field unlike anything ever encountered, a field that doesn't come from anywhere, but just… is.
On the Enterprise, Chekov cannot analyze it. DeSalle orders Chekov to attempt to puncture the force field.
Kirk and Spock are returned to the dungeon, while McCoy remains with Sylvia, who intends to question him. Kirk and Spock spend some time speculating about Sylvia and Korob, and Kirk decides they must be stopped. Their questions and interest seems to him a little too sinister. McCoy eventually returns, though he has been taken control of by Sylvia. He, Sulu, and Scott take Kirk to Sylvia.
Meanwhile, Sylvia and Korob argue. Sylvia likes her new sensations, and it's obvious that the interest goes further than their original plan. Wherever these aliens call home, they have nothing like them – and she intends to remain here. Korob reminds her they have a duty to the Old Ones, a fact she considers unimportant in light of her new infatuation.
Kirk is returned to Sylvia's presence, where he learns she is infatuated with him, as well. She reveals her plan: to dispose of Korob and join with Kirk. But Kirk is using her, gaining answers through manipulation. Among other things, he learns that the transmuter is the key to her power, a mechanism that facilitates the actualization of thought. But she discovers the deception, and has McCoy, Scott, and Sulu haul Kirk back to his cell.
On the Enterprise, Chekov reports that they had an effect on the force field, identifying a small electrical field as a start.
Korob finds Kirk and Spock; he reveals he has released the Enterprise, and he releases them. He also reveals that he can no longer control Sylvia or her pawns, and that he considers her dangerously irrational. He is regretful, offering his opinion that their visit could have been a peaceful one. Time presses, and he cannot explain in detail; instead, he urges the men out of their cell, where they again encounter the black cat – now grown to enormous size.
The men are forced to retreat back into their cell, where they attempt to escape through the ceiling. The cat forces the door of the cell, however, crushing Korob. Kirk now has an opportunity to retrieve the wand.
Escaping through the ceiling, Kirk and Spock are confronted by their own enthralled crew, and a brief scuffle ends with Sylvia's pawns out of action, and the reappearance of the cat, as well as Sylvia. The wand Kirk has retrieved is the transmuter, and Sylvia wants it very badly. She transports Kirk away from Spock into the main hall and tells him to give her the transmuter. She informs him that she has a less powerful, and simpler mechanism; that it's Korob's wand which holds the key to their power. Sylvia is reluctant to simply seize the device from Kirk, despite her contention that he does not know how to use it.
Finally, she threatens Kirk with a phaser, demanding the wand. Kirk responds by shattering the wand, an act that undoes everything… almost everything. At the landing party's feet, two small aliens wither and fall. Deprived of their transmuter, Sylvia and Korob have resumed their real forms, and are as Sylvia described them: feathers in the wind, a life form that is totally alien to their universe. They quickly perish, and both landing parties return to the Enterprise.
"Captain Kirk! Can you hear me? There is a curse on your ship. Leave this place, or you will all… die!"
- - Jackson's mouth speaking in Korob's voice warning Kirk
"Captain Kirk! … Captain Kirk! … Captain Kirk!"
"Go back! … Go back! … Go back!"
"Remember the curse!"
"Wind shall rise!"
"And fog descend!"
"So leave here, all, or meet your end!"
- - Three illusory witches, warning away Kirk, Spock and McCoy
"Very bad poetry, Captain."
"A more useful comment, Mister Spock."
- - Kirk and Spock, on the curse
"If we weren't missing two officers and a third one dead I'd say someone was playing an elaborate trick or treat on us."
"Trick or treat, captain?"
"Yes, Mister Spock. You'd be a natural."
- - Kirk and Spock, on the Halloween references
"Mister Chekov, recalibrate your sensors. If you need help –"
"I can do it, sir. I'm not that green."
- - DeSalle, patronizing Chekov after he loses readings of the landing party
- - Kirk, after seeing a skeleton in chains next to McCoy
"Where did your race get this ridiculous predilection for resistance, hmm? You examine any object. You… you question everything! Is it not enough to accept what is?"
- - Korob
"You can't think a man to death."
- - Kirk, on sympathetic magic
"Maybe we can't break it, but I'll bet you credits to navy beans we can put a dent in it!"
- - DeSalle, determined to free the Enterprise from Korob's force field
"You are using me! You hold me in your arms and there is no fire in your mind! You're trying to deceive me! It's here like words on a page! You are using me!"
"And why not?!! You've been using me and my crew!!"
"You will be swept away. You! Your men! Your ship!! Your worlds!!!"
- - Sylvia and Kirk
"Captain, a little more alacrity, if you please."
- - Spock, as he and Kirk escape the dungeon
- - Scott, after awakening from the mind control
"All of this, just an illusion."
"No illusion. Jackson is dead."
- - McCoy and Kirk, after seeing Sylvia and Korob die
- "Broomstick Ride" is published in Super-Science Fiction: December 1957 
- Story outline by Robert Bloch: 9 March 1967
- Revised story outline: 14 March 1967
- First draft teleplay: 29 March 1967
- 2nd draft teleplay: 14 April 1967
- Final draft teleplay by D.C. Fontana: 24 April 1967
- Revised final draft by Gene Roddenberry: 27 April 1967
- Additional page revisions by Gene Coon: 4 May 1967, 5 May 1967, 10 May 1967
- Filmed: 2 May 1967 – 11 May 1967
- Day 1 – 2 May 1967, Tuesday – Desilu Stage 9: Int. Bridge, Transporter room
- Day 2 – 3 May 1967, Wednesday – Desilu Stage 10: Ext. Pyris VII surface
- Day 3 – 4 May 1967, Thursday – Desilu Stage 10: Int. Castle corridors
- Day 4 – 5 May 1967, Friday – Desilu Stage 8: Int. Dungeon
- Day 5 – 8 May 1967, Monday – Desilu Stage 8: Int. Dungeon, Great hall
- Day 6 – 9 May 1967, Tuesday – Desilu Stage 8: Int. Great hall
- Day 7 – 10 May 1967, Wednesday – Desilu Stage 8: Int. Great hall, Castle corridors miniature shots
- Day 8 – 11 May 1967 (Half Day), Thursday – Desilu Stage 8: Int. Castle corridors miniature shots
- Score recording, 21 June 1967
- Premiere airdate, 27 October 1967
- 1st rerun, 24 May 1968
- First UK airdate: 20 April 1970
- Remastered airdate, 28 October 2006
Story and production
- The title of this episode, "Catspaw", is a term that describes a person used by another as a dupe; as McCoy points out, Scott and Sulu are used as catspaws to lure more crewmen down.
- Robert Bloch based this episode very loosely on his own short story "Broomstick Ride." Bloch also wrote "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" In both episodes, the "Old Ones" figure into the guest characters' backstories. 
- Although this was the first episode of TOS Season 2 in production (filmed in early May 1967), it did not premiere until the week of Halloween, 1967. It was, in fact, written in a Halloween-type theme for just that reason. This episode also remains to date the only Star Trek production produced as a "holiday special" type episode.
- This episode marks several changes to the episode credits. From this point on, the episode titles and end credits are in the same font as the main title of the series. Directors and writers are credited at the beginning of Act One instead of the end of the last act. DeForest Kelley's name is added to the opening credits. Also, Gene Roddenberry is credited as series creator in the opening credits.
- Several bloopers from this episode can be found in the second season blooper reel. 
- This episode introduces two plot elements that were revisited in stories later in season 2. First, the theme of extragalactic aliens taking Human form and then becoming inundated with Human sensations was revisited in "By Any Other Name". Second, the subject of an eccentric man with uncommon powers and accompanied by an apparently intelligent black cat, who later turns into a black haired woman, is revisited in "Assignment: Earth".
- The three witches' appearance and manner of speech are reminiscent of (though not necessarily directly referential to) characters in Shakespeare's Macbeth.
- Walter Koenig joined the cast as Pavel Chekov in this episode, despite his character having already met Khan Noonien Singh in the previous season's "Space Seed" as noted in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; also note the rather large wig worn by Walter Koenig in this episode which was later dispensed with when his own hair was long enough.
- This was the third and final appearance of Michael Barrier as DeSalle. The character has been promoted to assistant chief engineer because the producers thought they need someone in charge of main engineering while Scotty is in command of the bridge. However, as no such situation arose in any episodes, DeSalle has never made another appearance. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Two, p. 46)
- James Doohan's only dialogue in this episode is the statement "Everything's vanished". George Takei doesn't speak at all; he simply nods "yes" and "no" when his character is queried by Kirk, and later cries "aha!" before engaging Kirk in hand-to-hand combat. This is Takei's only non-speaking appearance in the entire series.
- Theo Marcuse died in a car accident one month after this episode aired.
- The role of Crewman Jackson was played by regular Trek stuntman Jay Jones. In a 1996 retrospective interview, Jay claimed that the role of Jackson was his first assignment on Star Trek. (Science Fiction Television Series, Mark Phillips and Frank Garcia, McFarland and Co.)
- This is the first episode to feature all seven of the "classic" cast members who were brought back for future big screen adventures: Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scott, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov, although they do not all appear in the same scene together.
Props and effects
- A detailed metal prop miniature of the Enterprise was created for this episode, then laminated in lucite as one of Korob's tricks. The miniature was donated to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum by Gene Roddenberry. (The Star Trek Compendium, p. 70)
- The Ornithoid life forms were marionettes composed of blue fluff, pipe cleaners, crab pincers, and other materials. The marionettes were operated with thick, black threads that were clearly visible; most of this was corrected in the remastered version of the episode. (The Star Trek Compendium, p. 70)
- The three witches seen towards the start of the episode were intended to be shown as floating severed heads, hence the reaction from the landing party at their appearance. The characters wore black turtlenecks against a black backdrop, with light shining directly up into the face. Unfortunately, the effect did not work and the turtlenecks worn by the actors can clearly be seen. Even in the remastered version of the episode, this oversight is still present. (The Star Trek Compendium, p. 70)
- This is the first episode in which a scope can be seen at the engineering station on the bridge. The science station scope was slightly altered for this episode; it is of a lighter color than the science scope used in episodes of the first season and has a circular control added to its left side. This dial control, as first seen in this episode, would remain throughout Seasons 2 and 3.
- The blue planet used in this episode as Pyris VII (albeit a darker blue to illustrate the spookiness of the planet) was reused in subsequent episodes, representing Argelius II in "Wolf in the Fold", Sigma Iotia II in "A Piece of the Action", Troyius in "Elaan of Troyius", and Scalos in "Wink of an Eye", which were all lighter blue color.
- The wizard's robe worn by Korob is the same costume that was previously worn by Bob Denver in the Gilligan's Island episode "Lovey's Secret Admirer", which aired on January 23, 1967. 
- In this episode, DeSalle wears a red engineering tunic, unlike the gold command tunic he wore in "The Squire of Gothos" and "This Side of Paradise". The character started out as a navigator in "Squire", then served as a science officer in "Paradise", ending up as an engineer here.
- The short scene of crewmen in turtleneck uniforms walking in a corridor during red alert is stock footage from "Where No Man Has Gone Before". This marks the last time that these uniforms are worn by Enterprise crewmembers.
- The events of this episode take place on Stardate 3018.2 which means it took place right after the events of TOS: "The Menagerie, Part II", whose events took place on Stardate 3013.1-3013.2, and before the episode TOS: "Shore Leave" whose events take place from Stardate 3025.3-3025.8.
"Catspaw" was the eighth episode of the remastered version of The Original Series to air, premiering in syndication on the weekend of 28 October 2006. Aside from the standard remastering of the effects used for the USS Enterprise, the most notable revised features include new effects shots of Pyris VII, as well as the castle on the surface, with the original shot of the castle entry completely retained as part of the full building. The transmuter effect was also touched up and most of the visible wires controlling the Ornithoid life forms were removed.
- The next remastered episode to air was "The Trouble with Tribbles".
Video and DVD releases
- Original US Betamax release: 1986
- US LaserDisc release: 8 May 1986
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 16, catalog number VHR 2328, release date unknown
- Japan LaserDisc release: 25 March 1993
- US VHS release: 15 April 1994
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 2.1, 3 February 1997
- Original US DVD release (single-disc): Volume 15, 11 July 2000
- As part of the TOS Season 2 DVD collection
- As part of the TOS-R Season 2 DVD collection
Links and references
- James Doohan as Scott
- George Takei as Sulu
- Nichelle Nichols as Uhura
- Walter Koenig as Chekov
- Michael Barrier as DeSalle
- John Winston as the transporter chief
- Rhodie Cogan as the first witch
- Gail Bonney as the second witch
- Maryesther Denver as the third witch
- Jimmy Jones as Crewman Jackson
- William Blackburn as Hadley
- John Blower as Swensen (deleted scene)
- Frank da Vinci as Brent
- Jeannie Malone as a yeoman
- Eddie Paskey as Leslie
- Unknown actress as Crew woman
- Bob Bass as stunt double for James Doohan
- Frank da Vinci as stunt double for Leonard Nimoy
- Gary Downey as stunt double for William Shatner
- Jimmy Jones as stunt double for DeForest Kelley
- Carl Saxe as stunt double for Theo Marcuse
- Vic Toyota as stunt double for George Takei
"all right"; ability; ambition; amplifier; analysis; animal; answer; arm; assistant chief engineer; attitude; azimuth; bear; beef; "bet you credits to navy beans"; billion; boar; body of water; "Bones"; black; blinking; bravery; bribery; bypass power; castle; cat; catspaw; cell; chance; choice; cloud formation; cobweb; colleague; color; compassion; comrade; consciousness; contact; coordinates; creature; credit; crystal; curse; damage; danger; data; day; death; degree (angle); degree (temperature); demon; demonstration; desire; diamond; doctor; door; dream; drug; dungeon; dust; Earth; effect; electrical field; emerald; environment; experience; eye; failure; familiar; feather; fire; fog; fool; force field; "for the moment"; friend; ghost; ghost story; green; Halloween; heat; heat-dissipation unit; host; hull; Human (aka Earthman); hypnosis; idea; illusion; image; impulse engine; "in error"; information; "in order"; inquiry; iron maiden; key; knowledge; landing party; landing party procedure; legend; lifeform; location; logic; love; loyalty; luxury; mace; magic; magic wand; magnetic field; malfunction; mapping expedition; mark; martial arts; matter; meter; Milky Way Galaxy; mind; mind probing; minute; mistake; model; molecular structure; mumbo jumbo; myth; mythology; name; navy bean; nightmare; object; ogre; Old Ones; onion; "on the double"; orbit; page; pain; parallel development; pattern; peace; peacock; phaser; place; poetry; power; power system; puppet; Pyris VII; Pyris VII system; prisoner; race; racial subconscious (aka racial memories); range; reactor; relay station; reality; ruby; saber-toothed tiger; sapphire; Satan; science; scientific method; search party; second; sensation; sensor; sensor scan; "Singing a different tune"; skeleton; specimen; "stand by"; standby alert; static interference; stranger; subconscious; superstition; surface; surface temperature; symbol; sympathetic magic; telekinesis; telepathy; temperature; thing; thought; threat; tool; traitor; transmuter (aka power pack); trick; trick or treat; tricorder; twilight world; Vulcan neck pinch; water; wavelength analysis; weapon; white; will; wind; wine; witch; wizard; word
- "Catspaw" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Catspaw" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Catspaw" at Wikipedia
- "Catspaw" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
| Previous episode produced:|
"Operation -- Annihilate!"
| Star Trek: The Original Series|
| Next episode produced:|
| Previous episode aired:|
"The Doomsday Machine"
| Next episode aired:|
| Previous remastered episode aired:|
|TOS Remastered|| Next remastered episode aired:|
"The Trouble with Tribbles"