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Tantalus Penal Colony
Federation mental health facility logo.png
Insignia for the Tantalus Penal Colony
Tantalus V surface remastered.jpg
Entry site for the colony

The Tantalus Penal Colony (or simply Tantalus Colony) was a Federation penal colony, located on the planet Tantalus V, that served as a prison and hospital during the mid-23rd century. Violent criminals were imprisoned there for rehabilitation.

The facility contained a mix of surface and underground structures; patient housing, therapy, and staff offices were located underground. Above-ground structures included an elevator head, through which one could access the patient facilities as well as other buildings. Like all penal facilities, the Tantalus colony was protected by a force field that inhibited transporter traffic. To visit the planet or transfer cargo, it was necessary to contact Tantalus personnel and request the field be deactivated.

In 2266, Tantalus initially benefited from the leadership of Dr. Tristan Adams, whose theories on penology had revolutionized such facilities, transforming them from cages into "decent, clean hospitals for sick minds." Late in 2266, when Dr. Simon Van Gelder escaped from Tantalus, it was revealed that Adams had been conducting unauthorized and highly unethical experiments on patients and staff alike, subjecting them to an experimental therapy device, the neural neutralizer, in an attempt to learn more about such therapy. Ironically, Adams was killed by the neural neutralizer when an experiment he was conducting on Captain James T. Kirk went awry, and Kirk escaped. After Adams' death, Van Gelder assumed leadership of the facility and destroyed the neutralizer. (TOS: "Dagger of the Mind")

Individuals imprisoned on Tantalus were those generally deemed curable; the incurably insane of the galaxy were imprisoned in the Elba II asylum. (TOS: "Dagger of the Mind", "Whom Gods Destroy")

In 2328, this was the destination for Robert Meyer Burnett. He was traveling from Beta Eminiar VII on the SS Kogin. (TNG-R: "Inheritance", okudagram)



Background information

According to the Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 2, p. 371), the namesake planet that houses the colony, Tantalus V, was "named for the Greek mythic figure who stole ambrosia from the tables of the gods, feeding it to mortals."

In the final draft script of "Dagger of the Mind", the exterior of the colony's surface facilities was described as a "squat building" and the script went on to say, "It's small, obviously the superstructure leading to a vast underground colony."

Original complex

Ignoring this script description, the image used for the colony's surface facilities in the original aired edit of "Dagger of the Mind" was a slightly modified matte painting which had been used for a massive lithium cracking station on Delta Vega, visible in "Where No Man Has Gone Before". This made it seem as if the above ground parts of the Tantalus colony were the larger parts of the facility, including power generation, despite the opposite having been scripted.

The remastered version of "Dagger of the Mind" replaced the visual of the colony's surface facilities with a new digital matte painting, which took its cue from the script, featuring only a small building on the surface of Tantalus.

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