A beautiful woman escorts an alien ambassador so hideously ugly that the sight of him can drive a human mad.


The Enterprise is assigned to transport the Medusan ambassador Kollos back to its homeworld. Brilliant navigators with unique mental abilities, the Medusans are so different physically that Humans go mad at the sight of them. Vulcans however, can view them by wearing a protective visor.

The ambassador (in a protective box) beams aboard along with Dr. Miranda Jones and Larry Marvick, one of the designers of the Enterprise's engines.

Jones is a telepath who studied on Vulcan to learn (among other things) the ability to shut out the thoughts and emotions of others. She claims to be able to look upon the Medusans with no ill effects as a result of her Vulcan training.

At dinner in full dress, Dr. Jones tells Kirk, Scott (in a kilt), McCoy and Marvick that she studied on Vulcan how to temper her telepathic abilities and not go mad. Because of this training, her mission (which Spock turned down) is to attempt to establish a mind link with the Medusans as a preliminary step toward Medusans becoming navigators on starships. Marvick's part will be to adapt instrumentation to meet the needs of those navigators. She points out that Spock is wearing an IDIC, but he reassures her that he wears it to honor her and not to suggest that he could more easily use the Vulcan mind meld to communicate with the Medusans.

McCoy wonders aloud why someone would risk going mad by attempting this research. Spock chides McCoy for subscribing to the "outmoded notion promulgated by your ancient Greeks that what is good must also be beautiful." Kirk concedes that one of our last prejudices is to be attracted to what is beautiful, and makes a toast to Jones, "the most beautiful woman to grace a starship." Jones wonders why McCoy would look on disease and suffering for the rest of his life, and he then gives a toast "to whatever she wants the most." Before they take another drink, Jones receives the sensation that someone nearby is thinking of murder; the feeling passes but she excuses herself.

It turns out that Marvick loves Jones. He comes to her quarters and pleads with her not to go with Kollos, but she rejects him. She then realize that it's Marvick who wants to commit murder, and she urges him to seek help, but he leaves. Marvick tries to kill Kollos with a hand phaser, but looks upon him during the attempt. He goes mad, and taking control of the ship in Engineering, sends it beyond the galactic barrier by taking the ship past warp factor 9.5 Unable to cope with his mental ordeal, Marvick dies.

The Enterprise is now stranded in an uncharted void with no known points of reference by which to return to normal space. Spock says that in going beyond warp 9.5, the Enterprise entered a space-time continuum and left the galaxy. Kirk wonders whether Kollos with his superior navigational abilities can get the ship home; however, in order for the attempt to take place Spock must mind meld with Kollos so that Kollos can provide the navigational skill while Spock physically pilots the ship.

Jones objects to this plan, insisting that she is better trained to link with a Medusan, but Dr. McCoy has surmised her secret and reveals that she is blind and therefore unable to pilot a starship. Jones admits that she hides her blindness because she hates the pity of others. She has been using a sensor web worn over her clothes to feign sight. She is jealous of what she perceives as Spock's superior mind meld capabilities and his ability to physically look upon Kollos.

Kollos is brought to the bridge, and Spock initiates the mind meld. He speaks, with a smile, on behalf of Kollos. Spock and Kollos succeed in returning the Enterprise to normal space, but when the time comes to break the link, Spock forgets the visor. He too goes mad and may die as a result. Jones, with her Vulcan training, may be able to repair Spock's damaged mind, but she is reluctant to do so. Kirk confronts her with her jealousy and accuses her of not wanting Spock to recover. She successfully melds with and heals Spock and gains her desired ability to link with Kollos in the process.

Log Entries

  • Captain's log, stardate 5630.7. We have been assigned to convey the Medusans' ambassador to the Federation back to their home planet. While the thoughts of the Medusans are the most sublime in the galaxy, their physical appearance is exactly the opposite. They have evolved into a race of beings who are formless, so utterly hideous that the sight of a Medusan brings total madness to any human who sees one.
  • Captain’s log, stardate 5630.8. As a result of Larry Marvick's insane fears, the Enterprise lies derelict in uncharted space. We have no way to determine our position in relation to the galaxy. We are in a completely unknown void.
  • Captain’s log, supplementary. Our one chance to return to our own galaxy is dependent upon the navigational skills of the Medusan ambassador. With that end in view, Kollos has been brought to the bridge and placed behind a protective shield.

Memorable Quotes

"Don't love her! Don't love her! She'll kill you if you love her... I love you, Miranda." (at this moment Larry dies)

- Larry Marvick

"Yes, you know your rival, don't you? You couldn't keep him from making a mind-link with Kollos – something that you couldn't do yourself! ... With my words, I'll make you hear such ugliness, that Spock saw when he looked at Kollos with his naked eyes – the ugliness is within you!... Your passion to see Kollos is madness. You can never see! Never! But Spock saw Kollos, and for that he must die? Mental hatred! The stench of jealousy permeates you! Why don't you strangle him while he lies there? Kollos knows what's in your heart! You can lie to yourself, but you can't lie to Kollos."

- Kirk, rebuking Miranda in Sickbay over a dying Spock

"And Uhura, whose name means freedom. 'She walks in beauty, like the night'."
"That's not Spock."
"Are you surprised that I've read Byron, Doctor?"
"That's Spock!"

- Spock/Kollos and McCoy

"This thing you call language, though...most remarkable. You depend on it for so very much, but is any one of you really its master?"

- Spock/Kollos

Background Information

  • The Vulcan IDIC was inserted into the script and into the episode at the behest of Gene Roddenberry, who wanted to sell the prop as an item at his Lincoln Enterprises. Nimoy, Shatner, and others were outraged at this, but the IDIC symbol was used anyway.
  • According to the Star Trek 30th anniversary book, Mike Minor painted the pictures of exotic planets seen in the dining room. They reappeared in Kirk's quarters in other third-season episodes.
  • The arboretum is a re-dress of the recreation room, seen only in "And the Children Shall Lead". Actually, it is generally "assumed" that this is the arboretum. On entering, Kirk says, "I may be sentimental, but this is my favorite place: Earth" – possibly indicating that this is Roddenberry's half-hearted attempt at introducing a "holography area," for which he had plans during the third season. However, since Kirk gives Dr. Jones a non-holographic red rose at the end of the episode, indications are strong that the room was not a projection.
  • Matt Jefferies designed the box that held Ambassador Kollos.
Enterprise leaving the barrier unreversed

Leaving the barrier

  • Shots of the Enterprise in the galactic void and barrier are partially new shots and partially recycled from "Where No Man Has Gone Before".
Security team in corridor

Leslie's last watch

  • This was Eddie Paskey's last appearance in the series. He suffered a back injury on the bridge during the fight with Spock/Kollos and this, combined with the cluster headaches he had begun suffering because of the bright lights on the set, led to his departure. (citation needededit)
  • When David Frankham guest starred on the The Outer Limits episode "Do Not Open Till Doomsday", his character was also the victim of an alien hidden in a box which injured when it was looked at.
  • This is the last appearance of antigravs in the series.
  • There are several references to Shakespeare in this episode. Miranda was the name of Prospero's virginal daughter in The Tempest. Spock/Kollos and Miranda also reference the play when Kollos sees Miranda for the first time through humanoid eyes: "O brave new world, That has such creatures in't." To which Miranda answers, "'Tis new to thee." (Spock/Kollos says "...such creatures...", a common misquotation; the play's line is actually "...such people...")
  • The episode title is from a poem by the 17th century English poet and clergyman George Herbert, from his poem "Jordan (I)", line 2: "Who says that fictions only and false hair/ Become a verse? Is there in truth no beauty?"
  • A scene which shows crewman listening to the intercom in a corridor is reused from "The Corbomite Maneuver".
  • This was an unsolicited script which Robert Justman read and recommended.
  • In the third season blooper reel, Diana Muldaur blows one of her last lines by saying "We've come to the end of an eventful...trip."
  • When Miranda comes out of Kollos's cabin after screaming in the realization that he will mind meld with Spock, Shatner's face is printed backwards, his hair combed left to right.
  • During Miranda and Kollos' beam-out in the final scene, Spock dons the red visor for protection while Kirk seemingly stares at Kollos' dematerialization with unshielded eyes.
  • In a sound effects glitch, the Sickbay doors do not "whoosh" when Kirk steps out into the corridor to find Miranda after Spock staggers in.

Production Timeline

Video and DVD releases

Links and References

Main cast

Guest Stars

Uncredited Co-Stars


Antarean brandy; antigrav; dressmaker; IDIC; Kollos; Lord Byron; Medusans; Medusan homeworld; Medusan vessel; mind-link; sensor web; telepathy; visor; Vulcan; Vulcans; Vulcan salute; warp drive

External link

Previous episode produced:
"Spock's Brain"
Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 3
Next episode produced:
"The Empath"
Previous episode aired:
"And the Children Shall Lead"
Next episode aired:
"Spectre of the Gun"
Previous remastered episode aired:
"That Which Survives"
TOS Remastered Next remastered episode aired:
"Elaan of Troyius"
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