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The Enterprise crew discovers an Eden-like paradise on Gamma Trianguli VI, controlled by a machine that is revered by the local humanoid primitives as a god.



On stardate 3715.3, the starship USS Enterprise orbits the planet Gamma Trianguli VI. A landing party comprised of Captain Kirk, Commander Spock, Ensign Chekov, Yeoman Martha Landon, and two security officers, Kaplan and Marple, beam down to the planet to scout the area, followed shortly after by Dr. McCoy and two more security officers, Hendorff and Mallory.

Spock notes that the soil on the planet is rich and fertile and that there is very little variation in temperature, even at the poles, with a planet-wide average of 76 degrees. Chekov says that it makes him homesick, because it is "just like Russia". When McCoy corrects him that it is more like the Garden of Eden, Chekov claims that the Garden of Eden was "just outside Moscow". However, almost immediately, one of the security officers, Hendorff, is shot and killed by a pod plant. "What did somebody say? That paradise must have looked like this?", Kirk says.

Act One[]

Kirk contacts Montgomery Scott on the bridge of the Enterprise, who reports that they are encountering a minor problem with the antimatter pods and that the readings on the planet's electromagnetic field are "a wee bit abnormal". At this point, it does not appear to be a major problem, but Kirk asks him to keep an eye on the situation. Spock reports that his tricorder has detected strong subsurface vibrations, coming from miles in all directions, that are "quite strong, fairly regular, [and] artificially produced".

Kirk orders two of the remaining security officers to make a full reconnaissance of the area, but to avoid contact with humanoids, be wary of other dangers, and stay in constant communication. Spock detects a humanoid lurking in the bushes nearby. Kirk goes off to investigate, and reports that "whatever it is, it moves like a cat". He advises the other members of the landing party that they are being watched, and they start heading through jungle for a nearby village in formation L.

Spock discovers a rock that has a low specific gravity, and is very brittle. After breaking it in two with his bare hands, he casually tosses aside one of the pieces, and it violently explodes. Kirk asks him to be careful when tossing his rocks from now on.

Back aboard the Enterprise, Scott contacts Kirk to report that the antimatter pods are completely inert because of something on the planet's surface that is acting "like a pail of water on a fire". Spock surmises that it may have something to do with the vibrations his tricorder picked up earlier.

McCoy shows Kirk some of the plant darts and notes that they have an extremely strong poison on the tip. While he and Kirk are talking, Spock notices one of the pod plants turning slowly and preparing to shoot, just in time to step in front of it and take a chestful of darts himself instead of Kirk. He falls to the ground and the captain fears the worst, but Spock is still alive and McCoy quickly begins treating him.

Realizing there is too much danger, Kirk orders a retreat. However, Scott reports that the ship's power systems are being drained. An attempt to beam up the landing party fails (the landing party does shimmer and dematerialize three times, but fail to vanish each time as transporter contact (unable to covert the landing party into energy) can't be made); the Enterprise's transporters don't have enough power to even transport "a fly," Scott reports.

Act Two[]

After Kirk realizes he and his party are trapped on the planet, Spock regains consciousness, reporting that the injection McCoy had used to revive him turns his stomach, but that he is otherwise "quite well" (possibly spared by his Vulcan physiology). Kirk chastises him for stepping in front of the plant and tells him to "just yell" next time. Suddenly, an electrical storm starts and Lieutenant Kaplan is struck by lightning and vaporized. The rest of the party runs for cover.

Meanwhile, security officer Mallory (who was not with the landing party when it was discovered that there were exploding rocks on the surface) has reached the village and contacts Kirk to tell him the coordinates, but his and Kirk's communicator stops working shortly afterward. Concerned for his safety, Kirk and the others rush to find him, just in time to see him step right onto an exploding rock. He is killed instantly. Kirk remarks that he knew Kaplan's family, and that Mallory's father helped him get into the Academy. Kirk has become increasingly distraught over the now multiple deaths of his crewmen. Spock and McCoy try to console him by telling him that he couldn't have foreseen any of the accidents that have happened while they were on the planet and that he was given orders to explore the planet, but Kirk is convinced that he could and should have done more to prevent the deaths.

Kirk attacks Akuta

"I won't hurt you, do you understand? I won't hurt you."

While they are talking, Spock notices that the humanoid who was spying on them before has returned. Kirk orders Spock, Chekov, and Marple to create a diversion while he ambushes the humanoid. Kirk successfully comes up behind the humanoid and punches him in the face, but is surprised when the planet native starts to cry. Kirk assures the humanoid that he won't hurt him again, and asks him why he has been following them. He says, "I am the eyes of Vaal. He must see," and introduces himself as "Akuta, the leader of the feeders of Vaal." Spock notices antennae on the back of his head, and Akuta responds they are Vaal's ears, given to him in the "dim time."

Kirk asks to speak to Vaal, but Akuta says that he is Vaal's representative and that only he speaks to Vaal. Akuta offers to take Kirk and the others to the village.

Meanwhile, Scott hails Kirk to inform him that the Enterprise is being held in orbit around the planet by an unknown source, and is unable to break free. Kirk asks again to be taken to Vaal and this time, Akuta agrees, but says that Vaal will speak only to him.

Akuta takes the landing party to Vaal, which is a large cave with a mouth, the inside of which glows red, that resembles the head of a serpent with green and yellow snake-like eyes.

Act Three[]

Spock's tricorder reads that Vaal's opening leads beneath the planet's surface and Kirk believes it may be the source of the field that is affecting the Enterprise. When he tries to approach Vaal to get a closer look, he is repelled by a powerful force field. Kirk asks Akuta how he talks to Vaal, and he says that Vaal calls him when he has something to say and that Vaal might be willing to talk when he is hungry.

Akuta leads the landing party to the village for food, drink, and rest and introduces them to the "people of Vaal" who are smiling and friendly to the landing party. A female native introduces herself as Sayana, and she and the others seem much amused upon learning Spock's name. Kirk points out that the tribe doesn't seem to have any children and asks Akuta why. Akuta at first doesn't know what children are, but finally realizes Kirk is talking about what the tribe call "replacements", and replies that Vaal has forbidden love and marriage. McCoy scans the people and sounds surprised when he discovers they are in perfect health and that they don't seem to be aging at all.

Suddenly, the villagers all begin to congregate around Vaal. Kirk and Spock follow, and spy on them from behind a bush. After observing that the villagers are able to approach Vaal, Kirk decides to try his luck. When Kirk and Spock start to get up from behind the bush, Vaal immediately notices, as apparent from suddenly glowing eyes, so they decide against it and resume their attitude of observing only. Kirk wonders whether Vaal gets weaker around feeding time and asks Spock to get an estimate from the Enterprise's astrophysics lab of the total amount of energy Vaal is expending against the ship on an hourly basis.

McCoy joins them and complains to Spock that Vaal is depriving the planet's inhabitants of their right to "a free and unchained environment" and an opportunity for growth. Spock argues that McCoy is unfairly applying Human standards to non-Human cultures, and that humanoids also have the right to choose a system that works for them.

Scott contacts Kirk to report that Vaal's power output has been slowly decreasing, and that they are working on increasing power to the ship's impulse engines, but the work will take eight hours to complete. Kirk notes that they don't have much longer than that to break orbit before they get pulled into the planet's atmosphere.

Back in the village, Kirk wonders what would happen if one of the villagers died. Yeoman Landon agrees that they would need a replacement, but she wonders where this replacement would come from, since they don't have any concept of love. Spock postulates that in that case, Vaal would provide the "necessary instructions." McCoy remarks that he would like to see that.

Out in the jungle, two of the villagers, Sayana and Makora, see Landon and Chekov embracing and kissing, become curious and decide to try it themselves. Vaal reacts by shaking the ground as Akuta catches them in the act. Vaal communicates to Akuta through his antennae, apparently telling Akuta that Kirk and the others are dangerous to the planet's inhabitants. He calls a village meeting at the clear place of the male "children of Vaal" to take place while the landing party is asleep.

Akuta tells the male villagers that Vaal has ordered them to kill the strangers. The villagers don't understand what the word "kill" means, so Akuta explains that "it is a thing to do, like feeding Vaal," and demonstrates by violently smashing a piece of fruit (representing a stranger's head) with a stick.

Act Four[]

In the hut, while the others sleep, Kirk and Spock discuss the situation. Kirk has decided that he agrees with McCoy: the villagers' society is completely stagnant and exists only to serve Vaal. Spock warns that interfering with Vaal would violate the Prime Directive, but Kirk sees no other choice. "These are people, not robots." Spock does not believe Starfleet Command would agree with Kirk's interpretation, but the captain decides to take his chances.

Kirk contacts Scott and asks for a progress report. Scott still needs half an hour to complete the modifications to the engines, but he only has 47 minutes until the Enterprise is pulled into the planet's atmosphere.

Spock announces that the people of Vaal seem to have disappeared. Kirk and Spock go to Vaal and Spock determines that the force field is down. Kirk tries to talk to Vaal, but Vaal starts another lightning storm. Spock is stunned by a bolt of lightning, and Kirk carries him back to the village, where McCoy diagnoses him second-degree burns – painful, but not serious.

Suddenly, the villagers return and successfully ambush and kill Marple but the others are able to fight off the rest of the villagers. Kirk orders Chekov, Landon, and McCoy to imprison the villagers in one of the huts.

With twelve minutes left before the ship enters the atmosphere, Scott has transferred all available power to the impulse engines and is ready to try to break orbit. He orders Kyle to apply full reverse and the ship begins to pull away enough to gain another hour but most of the ship's systems have been heavily damaged and Scott will not be able to try it again. Kirk becomes distraught at the idea of the Enterprise's entire crew of over four hundred dying because he didn't realize the danger early enough and orders McCoy and Chekov to prevent any of the villagers from feeding Vaal and Scott to concentrate all of the Enterprise's phaser power on Vaal's coordinates. The ship begins firing phasers at Vaal.

Trying to defend itself against Enterprise's phasers forces Vaal to exhaust all of its energy reserves. Spock determines that Vaal is no longer generating any power and pronounces it dead. Scott reports that potency is starting to return to the ship's antimatter pods and that engineering will be able to start repairs immediately. Kirk orders him to send an engineering detail down to the surface as soon as the transporters are fixed and then tells Chekov and McCoy to release the villagers. Later, in front of a lifeless Vaal, Akuta is at a loss as to how he and his people will survive without Vaal. Kirk tells Akuta and the rest of the natives that they will now have the freedom to live their lives as they see fit and to love.

Back aboard the Enterprise, Spock expresses his concern in one of the ship's corridors that the people of Vaal have been "driven out of paradise", as in the Biblical story of "Genesis". Kirk asks if Spock is casting him in the role of Satan, which Spock denies and then rhetorically asks Spock whether he knows of anyone on the ship who looks like Satan, while he and McCoy circle him. Spock replies, "I am not aware of anyone who fits that description, Captain." Kirk says, "No, Mr. Spock, I didn't think you would."

Log entries[]

Memorable quotes[]

"What did somebody say? That paradise must have looked like this?"

- Kirk, upon the death of Hendorff on Gamma Trianguli VI's surface

"The Garden of Eden was just outside Moscow. A very nice place. It must have made Adam and Eve very sad to leave."

- Chekov, as McCoy describes the planet as the Garden of Eden

"Garden of Eden, with land mines."

- Kirk, after Spock tosses a rock which explodes

"Dr. McCoy's potion is acting like all his potions – turning my stomach. Other than that, I am quite well."
"If your blood were red instead of green, you wouldn't have an upset stomach."

- Spock and McCoy, as McCoy treats Spock from the poisonous thorns

"Trying to get yourself killed… Do you know how much Starfleet has invested in you?"
"One hundred twenty-two thousand, two-hundred…"
"Never mind!"

- Kirk and Spock, as Spock recovers from taking an attack meant for Kirk

"Mr. Chekov, your tricorder readings are totally inefficient!"
"Uh, mind your own business, sir! For your information, I have a very high efficiency rating!"
"Ensign, I will not have you address me in that tone of voice!"
"What do you want, violins?"

- Spock and Chekov, creating a diversion for Akuta

"It, ah, does something for you."
"Yes, indeed it does, Captain. It makes me uncomfortable."

- Kirk and Spock, referring to the garlands given to Spock

"Little ones, like yourselves. They grow."

- Kirk, describing children to Akuta

"Well, there goes paradise."

- McCoy, after learning that love is forbidden by Vaal

"There are certain absolutes, Mr. Spock, and one of them is the right of humanoids to a free and unchained environment; the right to have conditions that permit growth."

- McCoy to Spock, on the stagnant condition of the humanoids serving Vaal

"I mean, how is it … done?"
"Mr. Spock, you're the science officer. Why don't you explain it to the young lady?"
"Well, I believe it's safe…" (Spock coughs) "… safe to assume that they would… receive the necessary… instructions."
"From a machine? That I'd like to see."

- Landon, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, discussing Vaalian reproduction

"It is a… thing to do, like… like feeding Vaal."

- Akuta, explaining to the followers of Vaal how they must kill Kirk and the others

"Second-degree burns. Not serious, but I bet they smart."
"Doctor, you have an unsurpassed talent for understatement."

- McCoy and Spock, after Spock is hit in the back by a lightning strike

"The good doctor was concerned that the Vaalians achieve true Human stature. I submit there is no cause for worry. They've taken the first step. They've learned to kill."

- Spock, after Marple presumably dies

"Little ones, look like you… just go on the way you're going, you'll find out."

- Kirk, explaining children to the natives

"Is there anyone on this ship… who even remotely… looks like Satan?"

- Kirk, as he and McCoy circle Spock

Background information[]

  • Spock's lightning-burned shirt was auctioned off at a science-fiction convention in 1967.
  • This is the episode in which the redshirt phenomenon comes to the fore. Every red-shirted male in the landing party dies horribly. Hendorff is killed by the plant's poisoned darts, Kaplan by the lightning, Mallory is blown up by an exploding rock, and Marple is killed by a blow to the head.
  • Of his many appearances in Star Trek's second and third seasons, this was the most dialogue Jay Jones ever delivered. In fact, his only other speaking roles are three words in "The Tholian Web" and a couple of brief voiceover lines in "Catspaw".
  • Jay Jones, a frequent stunt performer, was seriously injured while filming the "exploding rock" scene.
  • Footage of the Enterprise firing phasers down to the surface of a planet is reused from "Who Mourns for Adonais?".
  • Walter Koenig seems to have discarded the wig he used in his earlier episodes. Since his own hair was now long enough, it was not necessary for him to wear it anymore.
  • The sparkling effects as Vaal is attacked by the phaser barrage were lifted from the opticals used for the Companion in "Metamorphosis". They will appear again in the opticals for the creature in "Obsession".
  • Celeste Yarnall wore Grace Lee Whitney's costume, left over from season one. It was recut and fitted to suit her. Worrying if Whitney might return and need the costume, Bill Theiss assured her that she will never return. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Two, pp. 209-210)
  • George Takei (Sulu) and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) do not appear in this episode.
  • After reading the script giving Akuta an antennae implanted in his head, Robert H. Justman jokingly suggested they should cast Ray Walston (famous for his portrayal of "Uncle Martin" in My Favorite Martian) for the part. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Two, p. 204) Two and half decades later Walston was indeed cast in Star Trek, in the role of Boothby in "The First Duty".
  • Spock states he has an assessable value in this episode, which he begins to enumerate as "One hundred twenty-two thousand, two hundred ...", after Kirk asks if he knows how much Starfleet has invested in him.
  • McCoy describes the poison in the thorns that killed Hendorff and injured Spock to be "like saponin, only 1,000 times stronger." Given the potency of sapotoxin, this would give it an approximate LD50 of 1 mg/kg earning it a rating of a class 1 toxin (extremely toxic) on the Hodge and Sterner Scale.
  • It is established in this episode that the warp nacelles can be discarded from the ship and that it is a dangerous process.
  • This episode's original script called for an emergency saucer separation. However, due to budgeting, the effect was only mentioned but not seen. It was seen for the first time in TNG's pilot episode, "Encounter at Farpoint".
  • In a special feature on the Star Trek (2009) DVD, Anton Yelchin, who plays his alternate counterpart in the film, specifically mentions Chekov's behavior in this episode – seemingly more concerned with "macking" on Landon than completing the mission at hand – as a prime example of the eccentricities which, in Yelchin's opinion, were the best thing about the character.
  • The episode was adapted into issue thirteen of IDW Publishing's alternate reality Star Trek: Ongoing comic series, "Hendorff". In this version, the redshirts survive their ordeal, although Hendorff ("Cupcake" from the 2009 film) wonders if in another universe everyone died.
  • The 2013 video game Star Trek uses this episode's title as a chapter title.

Remastered information[]

Minimal changes were made to the special effects in the remastered version of this episode. Most notable was the new appearance of Gamma Trianguli VI and the phaser color and its effect while hitting Vaal. The sky color surrounding the storm clouds (taken from stock footage) was tinted red and orange in the DVD version, to match the red colored sound stage backdrop. In the remastered version, it's reverted to the original blue-gray and black.

Production timeline[]

Video and DVD releases[]

Links and references[]


Also starring[]


Guest star[]



Uncredited co-stars[]

Stunt double[]


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External links[]

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