The Enterprise crew finds witches, black cats, and haunted castles on a distant planet.
A landing party of Sulu, Scott and crewman Jackson is overdue for routine check in, when Jackson finally answers the ship's urgent hails. His confusing message: one to beam up. And, when Jackson materializes, he immediately falls to the floor, dead. But his dead lips speak; a sonorous voice tells Captain Kirk 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 yet. He organizes a second landing party: himself, Spock, and 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. 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 discover a large castle – the source of the lifeform readings. Entering, the landing party spies a black cat, and follows it through the corridors, until the floor collapses beneath them, plunging them down to a dungeon chamber, and unconsciousness.
Awakening, the landing party discovers they are chained. Scotty 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 the 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. Kirk briefly overpowers Scotty, seizing his weapon, and when he refuses to return it, Sylvia reveals another skill: she can perform sympathetic magic. A small model of the Enterprise, held in the flame of a candle – and the real ship, orbiting above, begins to grow hot.
Seizing Sylvia's arm, Kirk removes the model from the flame, and the Enterprise from danger. When he suggests that landing parties will soon appear, Korob seals the model in a block – and above, the ship is suddenly surrounded by a field unlike anything ever encountered, a field that doesn't come from anywhere, but just... is. And, it cannot be analyzed.
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.
Elsewhere, Sylvia and Korob argue; Sylvia likes her new sensations. Wherever these aliens call home, they have nothing like it – 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 Kirk hauled back to his cell.
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.
Act FourThe cat forces the door of the cell, crushing Korob and giving Kirk an opportunity to retrieve his 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 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... 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, Mr. Spock."
- - Kirk and Spock
"Three witches, what appears to be a castle and a black cat.
"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, Mr. Spock. You'd be a natural. I'll explain it to you one day."
- - McCoy, Kirk and Spock
"Mr. Chekov, recalibrate your sensors. If you need help –"
"I can do it, sir. I'm not that green.
- - DeSalle riding Chekov during his first appearance
- - Kirk catching himself after seeing a skeleton in chains next to Dr. 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
"Jackson, the crew member who returned to the ship – you wondered what killed him. I made an image of him. In the essence of my thoughts, the image was Jackson. And when I killed the image, and knew that it was dead, he died!"
"You can't think a man to death."
- - Sylvia and 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
"I can squash you! And that would be an interesting sensation, yes."
- - Sylvia, asserting her power over Korob
"Tell me about power, captain. How does it feel?"
- - Sylvia
"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!"
- - Sylvia, as she becomes aware of Kirk's duplicity
"You will be swept away. You, your men, your ship, your worlds!"
- - Sylvia, threatening Kirk
"Captain, a little more alacrity, if you please"
- - Spock
"You're very clever, Captain – more so than I'd imagined. Clever, resourceful, and handsome."
"Don't let her touch the wand, Captain."
- - Sylvia and Spock, as she approaches Kirk and the transmuter
"All of this...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 
- Treatment by Robert Bloch, 9 March 1967
- Story outline, 14 March 1967
- Teleplay, 29 March 1967
- 2nd draft teleplay, 14 April 1967
- Filming began early May 1967
- Score recording, 21 June 1967
- Premiere airdate, 27 October 1967
- 1st rerun, 24 May 1968
- 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. DeForest Kelley's name is added to the opening credits.
- Several bloopers from this episode can be found in the second season blooper reel. 
- 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.
- James Doohan's only dialog in this episode was 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 cried "aha!" before engaging Kirk in hand-to-hand combat.
- Theo Marcuse died in a car accident one month after this episode aired.
- The role of Crewman Jackson is credited to "Jimmy Jones", apparently the brother of regular stunt performer Jay Jones. However, in a 1996 retrospective interview, Jay claimed that the role of Jackson was played by himself as his first assignment on Star Trek and makes no mention of a brother named Jimmy being involved on the show. (Science Fiction Television Series, Mark Phillips and Frank Garcia, McFarland and Co.)
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)
- The ornithoid lifeforms 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)
- 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.
- 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 short scene of crewmen in turtleneck uniforms walking on 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.
"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 lifeforms 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, catalogue 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
- Bob Bass as the stunt double for James Doohan
- Frank da Vinci as the stunt double for Leonard Nimoy
- Jimmy Jones as the stunt double for DeForest Kelley
- Carl Saxe as the stunt double for Theo Marcuse
- Vic Toyota as the stunt double for George Takei
bribery; castle; cat; credit; demon; diamond; dungeon; Earth; Earth parallel development; emerald; feather; fog; force field; ghost; Halloween; heat-dissipation unit; hypnosis; iron maiden; logic; mace; magic wand; mapping expedition; martial arts; mind probing; model; navy bean; ogre; Old Ones; Pyris VII; Pyris system; reactor; ruby; saber-toothed tiger; sapphire; Satan; skeleton; sympathetic magic; telekinesis; telepathy; transmuter; trick-or-treat; wavelength analysis; wine; witch; wizard
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