Enterprise crew members are stranded on a ghost planet and terrorized by the image of a beautiful woman.
The USS Enterprise investigates a planet whose size is approximately that of Earth's moon, yet mass and atmosphere are similar to Earth (implying that gravity at the surface would be around 130 newtons per kilogram, although this physically obvious extrapolation is never acknowledged in the episode). Stranger yet is that it is apparently only a few thousand years old. Its geological age is much less than the indigenous vegetation and atmospheric content would indicate. Captain Kirk is intrigued by the unexplainable planet and organizes a landing party consisting of himself, Doctor McCoy, helmsman Sulu, and senior geologist D'Amato. As the landing party transports to the surface of the planet, a mysterious woman appears, telling them that they must not go. She then touches the transporter operator, who instantly crumples to the deck as the dematerializing landing party watches helplessly. She is too late to prevent the beam down, and moments later the four men materialize on the planets surface. Once on the planet, Kirk attempts to contact the Enterprise to report the attack, but before he can do so, a powerful tremor rocks the planet. At the same instant the Enterprise is tossed about in some sort of turbulence. Both disruptions subside simultaneously, and the crew of the Enterprise quickly discovers that the planet is gone.
On the planet D'Amato's tricorder read an energy burst of almost immeasurable power. When Kirk is unable to raise the Enterprise on his communicator, Sulu discovers that the Enterprise is missing from orbit, effectively stranding the landing party on the planet.
The landing party is at a loss to explain the sudden disappearance of the Enterprise. Sulu conjectures that the Enterprise must have blown up, citing high radiation readings as evidence of a matter/anti-matter intermix explosion. Kirk dismisses Sulu's theory due to a lack of residual radiation. McCoy then suggests that the Enterprise may have crashed into the planet itself. Neither of these theories fit the facts. Recognizing that regardless of the Enterprise's fate, the landing party will soon need food and water, Kirk orders a detailed analysis of the planet. The report is not encouraging, as all plant vegetation on the planet is poisonous to humans, there is no evidence of rainfall or surface water, and the only other form of life is a virus-like plant parasite. During the survey, Sulu makes a sweep with his tricorder and registers a sudden magnetic reading that quickly dissipates, like a door opening and then closing again. McCoy also detects a powerful lifeform reading that appears and then disappears. These fluctuations are caused when the same woman who appeared in the transporter room of the Enterprise appears to D'Amato, killing him with her touch. McCoy reports that all the cells of D'Amato's body have been exploded from the inside. Kirk attempts to dig a grave for the geologist with his phaser, but the surface of the planet withstands its force. Further investigation reveals that the planet is an artificial body.In the mean time, the crew of the Enterprise attempts to discern what happened. Scott reports no damage to the ship's engines. Uhura reports that the ship is functioning normally and there are nothing more than bumps and bruises as a result of the turbulence, save one casualty; the transporter officer has been found dead. Doctor M'Benga reports that they are not yet sure of the cause of death, as Dr. Sanchez is in the middle of an autopsy. Spock orders Scott to have the transporter checked for malfunctions. Helm officer Lieutenant Rahda notes that there is no debris, which would have been left over from a planet breakup. She then reports that the position of the stars have changed. She verifies her findings by replaying a recording of the stars made just prior to the turbulence. Spock is able to interpolate that, in a manner of seconds, the Enterprise has somehow been thrown 990.7 light years from its previous position. The preliminary autopsy on the transporter officer comes in and the causes of death appears to be cellular disruption, as if every cell in the body had been blasted from inside. Spock orders that the Enterprise return to the planet at top warp speed, which turns out to be warp factor 8.
Although the ship did not appear to suffer any damage, chief engineer Montgomery Scott is disquieted, and reports that the ship feels wrong. Spock initially dismisses this as emotionalism. Still concerned, Scotty instructs crewman Watkins to check the bypass value on the matter-antimatter reaction chamber to ensure that it is not overheating. While Watkins is doing so, the woman appears in the control room, killing him in the same manner as the others. Before Watkins dies, he cries out a warning about the intruder, but she disappears.
Back on the surface of the planet, the woman appears to Sulu and, although she is able to briefly touch him, only injures his shoulder. Kirk and McCoy run to his rescue, and Sulu cries out not to let her touch them. The woman insists that she is for Sulu, and that she must touch him. When she touches Kirk, however, nothing happens. Kirk asks how she can destroy others, and she explains that she does not want to destroy. She then disappears. The landing party surmises that the woman's destructive power can only be directed at one specific person at a time. When the woman reappears to kill Kirk, the landing party is able to use this information to defend him. Kirk questions her, and she explains that she is Losira, the commander of the station. When Kirk asks how she feels about killing him, she says that killing is wrong, but that she must do so. She says that she is sent to defend the station, although the people who once lived on it are no more. Kirk presses her, sensing her confusion and loneliness, and she disappears again. Following their tricorder readings, the landing party finds an underground door into the planet-station.
Aboard the Enterprise, which is warping back to the planet, the ship's engines begin to race out of control. Scotty discovers that the emergency overload bypass of the matter-antimatter integrator has been fused, although it would have taken all the power of the ship's phasers to do so. It becomes apparent that the woman has also sabotaged the ship. With this part damaged, the Enterprise has less than fifteen minutes before its engines explode.
Spock and Scotty devise a risky plan to save the ship – Scotty will enter the crawlway leading to the matter-antimatter reaction chamber and attempt to manually shut off the flow of fuel with a magnetic probe. Scotty installs explosives at the end of the service crawlway that will permit Spock to jettison the pod if Scotty ruptures the magnetic bottle. Recalling Scotty's assertion that the ship felt wrong, Spock runs an analysis comparing the condition of the Enterprise with its ideal condition. This analysis proves crucial, for Spock discovers that the Enterprise has been put through a molecular transporter and then reassembled slightly out of phase, which will require Scott to reverse the polarity on the magnetic probe in order to seal the incision. Scott attempts to do so as the final seconds tick down, but the mechanism on the probe jams. Scotty tells Spock to jettison him, but Spock gives him a few seconds more. Scotty is able to loosen the tool and, moments before the engines go critical, accomplishes the task.
On the planet, the landing party enters a computer room, where they are confronted with three versions of the destructive woman, one programmed to kill each of them. The landing party seems to be out of options when Spock and a security officer beam into the room and destroy the computer. The women disappear and are replaced by a recorded image of Losira. In the recording, Losira welcomes her fellow Kalandans to the colony. She explains that the population of the colony has been destroyed by a disease that they accidentally produced when they created the planet. Losira is the last survivor, and because she does not believe she will survive until help arrives, has set the station defense mechanism on automatic to defend against other life forms.
McCoy surmises that the entire species was destroyed by the disease, and that the image of Losira has been waiting thousands of years to deliver her message to a people who have become extinct. It is apparent to the landing party that the computer defense mechanism called upon the only image available, that of Losira, but the replication was too perfect and projected so much of her personality that it felt regret and guilt at killing. They agree that she was a remarkable and beautiful women. Spock says that beauty is transitory, but Kirk disagrees, saying "beauty survives".
"A planet even Spock can't explain!"
- - Kirk
"I am for you, D'Amato."
- - Losira and D'Amato
"The occipital area of my head seems to have impacted with the arm of the chair."
- - Spock
"Mr. Sulu, if I had wanted a Russian history lesson I'd have brought along Mr. Chekov."
- - Kirk
"I'll sit on the warp engines myself and nurse them."
"That position, Mr. Scott, would be not only unavailing, but also... undignified."
- - Scotty and Spock, discussing the pros and cons of high-warp travel
"(The grave) looks so lonely there, "
"It would be worse if he had company"
- - Sulu and McCoy
"Well, the pattern of cellular disruption was the same, but as to the cause, well, your guess is as good as mine."
"My guess, Doctor, would be valueless. I suggest we refrain from guessing and find some facts. Spock out."
- - Dr. M'Benga and Spock
"We should reach maximum overload in about fifteen minutes."
"I would calculate 14.87 minutes, Mr. Scott."
"Those few seconds will not make any difference, Mr. Spock, because you and I and the rest of the crew will no longer be here to bandy it back and forth. This thing is going to blow up, and there's nothing in the universe can stop it."
- - Mr. Scott and Spock
"I know what time it is. I don't need a bloomin' cuckoo clock."
- - Scotty
"I must touch you. I beg it. It is my existence. You are my match, James T. Kirk."
- - Losira
"Mr. Scott; you have completed your task!"
"You could at least say 'thank 'ye'."
"For what purpose?"
- - Spock and Scotty
- In the story outline, "Survival" (8 August 1968) the image of Losira was more brutal and caused crewmembers to fight amongst themselves in a manner that seems reminiscent of the Defiant's crew in "The Tholian Web". Final draft script 16 September 1968, filmed late September, early October.
- In a change from the standard planet set that was re-used so often on the series, an entire new set was created that could be "rocked" during the planetary quake.
- Although his name is mentioned after Sulu's attempted "Russian history lesson," the character of Chekov does not appear in this episode.
- A new set was also constructed for the matter/anti-matter access crawl way.
- This is the only example in TOS of people shown moving while in a transporter beam. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, people are even able to talk while being transported.
- Sulu refers to the Tunguska Event in this episode. Although he suggests that the huge impact in Russia was a meteor, many scientists believe it might have been a comet that exploded in the Earth's atmosphere in 1908.
- The heat generated by at least one lower setting of a Type 2 phaser is established as 8,000 °C in this episode. Kirk notes the figure after his first unsuccessful attempt at "digging" a grave for D'Amato. He then adjusts the setting and makes a second attempt, without specifying what the temperature rating of the second, presumably higher, setting is.
- It is also learned that a tricorder can be set on automatic distress. Many prop-conscious fans have called this particular example a "geological tricorder," given that it was carried by D'amato. It substitutes an intermittently glowing white panel for the usual tape discs, and a small tube for the moiré-patterened left-hand disc. Franz Joseph combined elements of both varieties to depict a "medical tricorder" in the Star Fleet Technical Manual.
- Booker Bradshaw reprises his role as Dr. M'Benga in this episode.
- This is the second time Enterprise crewmembers create a resting place for a fallen comrade; it had happened before in the first season's "The Galileo Seven", where crewmembers Latimer and Gaetano were buried. Fabricated headstones were used for the Starnes expedition in "And the Children Shall Lead".
- Lt. Rahda is unique in several ways: she is the only woman in TOS to be at the helm for an entire episode (Yeoman Rand had "filled in" in "The Naked Time"). Ensign Jana Haines had been a female navigator in "The Gamesters of Triskelion" and Uhura had taken over navigation in "The Naked Time", "Balance of Terror", and "Court Martial". Rahda is also the only Indian woman to appear in the series. Captain Chandra and Lt. Singh were two males of Indian descent in previous episodes.
- The bypass valve room that Watkins enters consists of re-used pieces of the Yonada control room from "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky". The control panel was re-used from the Vians torture chamber in "The Empath".
- In this episode, Sulu mentions the Hortas of Janus VI from "The Devil in the Dark".
- The fact that the bridge was a "wild" set, with stations that could be pulled out for filming, is especially apparent in this episode (Acts 1, 3 and 4). When Spock is notified of Ensign Wyatt's death, you can plainly see the forward edge of his science station, and Spock's hand over the edge. The bridge stations flow in a circle – broken only by the turbolift and the screen; there are two large stations and one small one forward from the science station.
- The shot of Scotty manipulating the magnetic probe in the access crawl way is one of only three shots in the original series clearly showing the missing middle finger on James Doohan's right hand. He lost the finger after being shot in the hand, leg, and chest on D-Day during the the Allied invasion of Normandy as a member of the Royal Canadian Artillery. Ordinarily, Doohan's right hand was kept out of the shot or held in such a way as not to show this injury, even to the extent of using shots of other actor's hands when Scotty was manipulating the transporter. The other three original series episodes in which this is visible are "The Trouble with Tribbles", "Catspaw" and "The Enterprise Incident". It is also visible in TNG episode "Relics", and in the film Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
- The device McCoy uses to control the brainless Spock in "Spock's Brain" is reused in this episode; Mr. Spock is seen using it, perhaps to determine the time left until the Enterprise explodes. It appears to be a reworked and repainted communicator with no antenna from "The Cage".
- Series proposal, "Star Trek is...": 11 March 1964 - Mentions similar story idea "The Radiant One"
- Story outline by D.C. Fontana, 8 March 1968
- Revised story outline 12 April 1968
- Story outline, 8 August 1968
- Revised teleplay, 13 September 1968
- Final draft teleplay, 16 September 1968
- Filmed in late September 1968 and early October 1968
Video and DVD releases
- Original US Betamax release: 1988.
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 36, catalogue number VHR 2432, 7 January 1991.
- US VHS release: 15 April 1994.
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 3.5, 24 November 1997.
- Original US DVD release (single-disc): Volume 35, 23 October 2001.
- As part of the TOS Season 3 DVD collection.
Links and References
- William Shatner as Kirk
- Leonard Nimoy as Spock
- DeForest Kelley as McCoy
- James Doohan as Scott
- George Takei as Sulu
- Nichelle Nichols as Uhura
- Arthur Batanides as D'Amato
- Booker Bradshaw as M'Benga
- Lee Meriwether as Losira
- Naomi Pollack as Rahda
- Kenneth Washington as John B. Watkins
- Brad Forrest as Wyatt
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