(written from a Production point of view)
The Enterprise is drawn to a planet populated solely by women who dominate the male crew members' minds to the point that Uhura must assume command to rescue them.
- "Captain's log, stardate 5483.7. The Enterprise is en route through an unfamiliar sector of space, where a series of Earth-Federation ships have disappeared mysteriously during the last 150 years. Recent joint discussions with the Klingon and Romulan Empires have revealed that a starship has disappeared in this sector, precisely every 27.346 star years."
The Enterprise arrives in the region where the series of ships have all disappeared, moments before the next time period occurs. Captain Kirk orders Uhura to take the ship to yellow alert in preparation of the unknown.
At the moment they were preparing for, Uhura receives a strong subspace radio signal, which appears, to her, to sound more like music than a message. Spock, however, notes that the ship is being probed and that its source originates from a star system located twenty light years distant. Kirk notes that it must be a very powerful signal to be able to reach them from that far away. Spock further identifies the source as the Taurean system, a small star at the extreme edge of their sector. The male bridge crew, including Kirk, Spock, and Scott all feel as if the signal is calling them. Uhura notes no resemblance in the message to a summons that the male members are sensing. Kirk notes Uhura's opinion and has Lieutenant Arex continue to proceed the Enterprise to the Taurean system at warp 7.
En route, Uhura summons Nurse Chapel to the bridge to observe the male reaction to the message the Enterprise is receiving. Moments later, the male crew members begin to experience audio-visual suggestion, or dimensional visions, created by the probe. Spock receives a suggestion that likens the signal to a Vulcan marriage drum; Kirk receives one of a beautiful woman holding a flower; Dr. McCoy receives one consisting of magnolias in blossom. Both Uhura and Chapel note no visions to Kirk, who then requests Dr. McCoy to report to the bridge to make a medical scan.
- "Ship's log, stardate 5483.8. Engineering Officer Scott in command. We are in orbit around planet two in the Taurean system. Probes and sensors indicate that there was once a vast civilization here – (sigh) lovely, lovely – however, life readings are sparse and concentrated. Captain Kirk is beaming down with scouting party to investigate."
Uhura and Chapel analyze the probe data the Enterprise had been receiving, noting that their figures do not match up with Spock's, counting at least three sensor readings that are off.
On the planet's surface, the scouting party, consisting of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Lieutenant Carver, encounter a series of structures of fantastic architecture built by an incredibly advanced race. Carver offers to take tricorder readings, but Kirk assigns the task instead to Spock. McCoy notes that there is something compelling about their location, and Kirk agrees. Spock observes that the urgency of their feeling suggests visual compulsion, and advises remaining at a distance until he can determine the extent of its influence. Kirk disregards Spock's comment, noting that they do not seem to be in immediate danger, and the group enters the main complex.
Inside, they discover a great hall lined with several female statues, where several blond females greet them. Theela, the "Head Female," welcomes the scouting party, fully aware of each male's identity – as it was revealed to them by their opto-aud. Spock scans the females and observes that they are indeed humanoid, with many internal differences including endocrinology variations, noting that their bodies appear to function on an unusual psychokinesis-level.
Theela reveals the tonally-controlled opto-aud to the scouting party, noting that it will reveal whatever it is asked. She explains that they are honored that the Enterprise was able to answer their call as she invites the crew to a feast they have prepared for their guests.
- "Captain's log, stardate 5483.9. The beauty of this place is unequaled... it's the answer to all a man's dreams... exquisite in every way. We're here to investigate... to investigate... the women radiate delight..."
The male scouting party members sit on pillows as they observe some of the most beautiful women in the galaxy perform various forms of entertainment. McCoy is curious where the men are, and is told that they occupy another compound. Suddenly all the males experience fatigue and nearly faint, so the females take them to the slumber chambers to rest. McCoy states that it is probably their nectar, which he says is as potent as Saurian brandy.
After some time, the landing party is revived. Each is wearing a headband and they all appear to have greatly aged.
Back aboard the Enterprise, Chapel and Uhura coordinate with the ship's female science teams to determine an answer to what is going on. Chapel requests the computer to make a summation of medical, biological, and astrophysical scans. The computer determines that the probe from the planet's surface is very inimical to humanoid males. Exposure causes increasing weakness, possibly to point of death. Uhura assumes command of the Enterprise and calls security officer Davison, ordering her to assemble an all-woman security detail on all transporters immediately. Chapel asks Uhura what she is doing, and Uhura tells her she is taking command of the Enterprise.
On the second planet, the headbands of the landing party are now glowing, as they approach Theela and request to return to their ship so that they may resume their duties. But she will not allow them to return, noting that all the men on the Enterprise are needed (she does not specify for what) and will soon be joining the alien women.
Meanwhile, back on the bridge of the Enterprise, Scott sits in the captain's chair singing a Welsh ballad. Uhura and Chapel enter the bridge. Uhura informs Scott she has taken command of the Enterprise and assigns Nurse Chapel as chief medical officer.
- "Ship's log, supplemental. Lieutenant Uhura recording. Due to Chief Engineering Officer Scotty's euphoric state of mind, I am assuming command of the Enterprise. I accept full responsibility for my action. A detailed account will be recorded later."
On the surface, the landing party, in an aged and weakened state, discovers that they have been left alone. Discovering that he still has his medikit, McCoy attempts to find something to alleviate their condition. He determines a hypospray of cortropine, a strong stimulant, could help.
Upon taking their injections, they move about and discover that they are locked in their room. The lock is magnetic, but Spock is able to disrupt its field with the scanner of the medical tricorder. They escape the compound, only to be pursued by the females of the planet. They climb into a giant urn and successfully elude their pursuers.
Hiding in the urn, the men determine that the headbands they are wearing glow intensely when the women are nearby, and diminish when the women are not present. Spock theorizes that they may be polarized conductors, which transfer the men's vital energy, or life forces, to the bodies of the women. Spock observes that since the men arrived and acquired the headbands, the women have gone from being listless to more energetic and vital, while the men have aged rapidly, nearly ten years per day. McCoy surmises they will be dead in four days. Because of his Vulcan physiology and longer lifespan, Spock volunteers to return to the temple to find the communicators so that they can contact the ship.
Spock returns to the temple and locates the opto-aud, which he uses to request the location of their equipment. It is revealed to him that they are located under Theela's throne, where he finds them and is able to contact the Enterprise. Suddenly he is discovered and re-captured, but not before he is able to alert the Enterprise to send down an all-female security squad.
- "Ship's log, supplemental. Lieutenant Uhura commanding. We have assembled an all-female rescue party in accordance to Mr. Spock's request."
Lieutenant Uhura, Nurse Chapel, and their female security detachment transport down and, as were the men, they are immediately greeted by Theela – but this time, her attitude is hostile. Uhura demands the return of Captain Kirk, but Theela demands that they leave. The alien women approach, and are immediately stunned by the female security officers. Uhura orders the group to search the temple in parties of two. Spock senses Chapel and directs them to his location, where they locate the now extremely aged Vulcan lying in bed. They transport back to the Enterprise.
Meanwhile, outside, a thunderstorm approaches. Kirk, McCoy and Carver attempt to escape, but they are all trapped in the giant urn as it begins to fill quickly with rainwater.
In sickbay, Nurse Chapel removes the headband from Spock. He orders them to have a female engineer redirect all the Enterprise's available energy – everything except minimum life-support – into its deflector shields to block the probe coming from the planet's surface.
Uhura returns to the surface and threatens to destroy the temple unless Captain Kirk and his men are released. Theela and Dara surrender and use the opto-aud to explain to Uhura their situation.
The opto-aud reveals both sexes of the race from which they are descended, and Theela explains that they came to this planet when their homeworld began to die. They built the temple and all surrounding it, but they did not know that surface radiation which the planet emitted drained humanoid energy. The women's bodies developed a glandular secretion that enabled them to survive and to manipulate certain areas of the male's brains to influence their emotional senses, ultimately draining the men. This caused them to weaken and die. To survive the females must revitalize every 27 years. They are eternal prisoners because they neither age nor die, nor can they bear children.
Uhura still demands to know the location of the men and the opto-aud is asked to reveal their location. It shows them floating in water; however, Theela reveals that the closest body of water is many cusecs from the temple. Uhura realizes it is not a body of water but a pool or tub, and it dawns upon Theela that they must be located in the urn in the garden.
Uhura and one of her security officers locate the urn and destroy it with their phasers, on setting one, releasing the water and the trapped crew members. They are quickly returned to the sickbay of the Enterprise. Chapel tries everything she knows in her attempt to reverse the aging process, but she fails. Spock suggests that the transporter is the key to their age restoration, because it holds the molecular pattern of their original bodies when they beamed down. Although feasible, this procedure has never been attempted before. Spock states that the odds are against them, 99.7 to 1. If it fails, their patterns will break up and scatter in space.
Scott, who, despite still having a severe headache he and the other men still all have, is no longer affected by the alien probe. He transports the four aged crewmen to the planet's surface and prepares to transport them back aboard upon reprogramming the transporter. Despite a brief scare, their transport-transformation is successful.
Back in the temple on the planet, Theela destroys the opto-aud, the probe that lured men to their planet, with a phaser, as part of a prearranged agreement. Uhura explains that a crew of women will bring a ship back to transport the alien women to the first suitable planet, where, according to Dr. McCoy, their physiology will return to normal within a few months, ultimately offering them a better future than immortality.
"It seems to be calling us."
- - Scott
"I want you to observe the men here. It seemed to start when we picked up that signal, but it's gotten worse."
- - Uhura, to Nurse Chapel
"What are you doing?"
"Taking command of this ship!"
- - Chapel and Uhura, when the male crewmembers of the Enterprise are incapacitated
"We must go."
- - Kirk, prevented from leaving the planet on Theela's orders
"Fascinating, like a Vulcan marriage drum. I am experiencing audiovisual suggestion, captain."
"So am I."
- - Spock and Kirk
"Fantastic architecture. Only an incredibly advanced race could have built it."
- - Kirk
"They are here. Aah... such wondrous ones."
- - Lorelei women, about the Enterprise men
"Release Captain Kirk and his men, or we will destroy your temple!"
- - Uhura
"Did it work?"
"You're more handsome than ever."
- - Kirk, asking Uhura if he has been returned to his youthful appearance
Title, story, script, and production
- The title of this episode is a reference to the Legend of the Lorelei (also Loreley), which is an old German tale similar to the legend about the Sirens from ancient Greek mythology. Loreley is the name of one of the beautiful Rhine Maidens who lure sailors to the sandbanks and rocks with their alluring singing. (Star Trek Concordance, 2nd ed., p. 80; Star Trek: The Official Guide to the Animated Series, p. 52)
- Gene Roddenberry had previously written a similar treatment to this episode for the undeveloped TOS episode, entitled "The Venus Planet". (Star Trek: The Official Guide to the Animated Series, p. 52)
- Several elements from this episode were later reused in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Favorite Son". (Star Trek: The Official Guide to the Animated Series, p. 52) Additionally, the same solution used in this episode, of using the transporter to solve a similar premature aging dilemma, was shared in common with the solution used in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Unnatural Selection".
- Episode writer, Margaret Armen, also wrote another installment of Star Trek: The Animated Series, "The Ambergris Element". She previously wrote scripts for TOS: "The Gamesters of Triskelion", "The Paradise Syndrome" and "The Cloud Minders". Armen was invited to write this episode by D.C. Fontana. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Three, "The Cloud Minders"; Star Trek: The Official Guide to the Animated Series, p. 49) Armen once expressed that this episode (in common with "The Ambergris Element") was fun to write and that she enjoyed doing it. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 98)
- A revised draft of this episode's script was submitted on 22 May 1973, although another revision (which included the cast list) was made on 5 June 1973.
- This is one of two TAS episodes that feature the most characters voiced by Nichelle Nichols (the other installment being "The Time Trap" for which, in common with this episode, Nichols provided the voices for a total of four different roles).
- The second draft of the script featured a female engineering officer present on the bridge, a Lt. Helen Trask. 
- This is the only occasion in either TAS, the original series or the movies when Lieutenant Uhura assumes command of the Enterprise. Gene Roddenberry had always wanted to show her as a capable commander. Though that hadn't been doable in the more sexist 1960s when TOS had been produced, Roddenberry finally got his wish with this episode. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 17, p. 69) For that reason, Nichelle Nichols held a certain fondness for this installment. (Beyond Uhura, p. 205) David Gerrold remembered, "Nichelle was reading through the script [....] She says, 'I'm taking command of this ship!' And then she goes, 'At last!' She just got so excited." ("Bem" audio commentary) Gerrold also stated, "She just had so much fun with that, and that goes back to who Nichelle is." ("Drawn to the Final Frontier - The Making of Star Trek: The Animated Series", TAS DVD) Uhura also briefly assumes command, though not explicitly stated, in the episode "Bem".
- The editors of Trek magazine collectively scored this episode 3 out of 5 stars (a rating that they termed "good"). (The Best of Trek #1, p. 109)
- In the "Ultimate Guide" in Star Trek Magazine issue 163, p. 25, this episode was rated 4 out of 5 Starfleet arrowhead insignia. Also, the magazine considered the moment where Uhura leads a landing party to save several male officers from the Enterprise as being the "Best Moment" from the animated Star Trek, exclaiming, "Her stun-first-and-ask-questions-later attitude is a joy to behold. Oh, to have seen Nichelle Nichols perform this in a live-action episode."
- The reference book Star Trek 101, by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block, cites this episode as the Star Trek: The Animated Series winner of the "Spock's Brain" Award and complains that the "beautiful sirens" in this outing "aren't a lot brighter" than the Eymorgs from the episode "Spock's Brain". The book goes on to question whether the female inhabitants ever think to utilize their male-luring signal to summon help or ask a passing starship if it can take them to a safer planet.
- In the unofficial reference book Trek Navigator: The Ultimate Guide to the Entire Trek Saga (pp. 131 & 132), co-writer Mark A. Altman rates this episode 3 out of 4 stars (defined as "good") while fellow co-writer Edward Gross ranks the episode 2 out of 4 stars (described as "mediocre").
- This episode was novelized by Alan Dean Foster in Ballantine Books' Star Trek Log 2. As such, the book describes the story as being chronologically set between TAS: "The Survivor" and "The Infinite Vulcan", both of which are also novelized in the same book, although this order does not match that of the actual episodes. The novelization of this episode also names the mysterious region where ships have regularly disappeared the "Cicada Sector" and the male-luring Taurean hypnotizing equipment as the "Lura-mag". Additionally, the adaptation has an extended introduction and involves the transporter operation that returns the landing party to their original bodies actually affecting their memories, as well, requiring that they be informed of the episode's events in retrospect.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (CIC Video): Volume 2, catalog number VHR 2536, 6 December 1991
- As part of the The Animated Series LaserDisc collection
- As part of the The Animated Series DVD collection
- As part of the The Animated Series Blu-ray collection
The aging effect of the Taurean planet's surface radiation on the men who transport to the surface, accelerated though it is by the "focusing headbands," is so similar to that which the surface radiation of Gamma Hydra IV had on all who transported down except for Pavel Chekov, his bloodstream awash in adrenalin (which insulated him from it) from his terror at seeing a dead man in "The Deadly Years" that in the now-apocryphal Star Trek Maps, the depiction of the Taurean system, like that of the Gamma Hydra system, actually included orbits of comets both systems had apparently captured. Moreover, the Gamma Hydra and Taurean systems were both shown to be near Algeron Treaty Neutral Zone space, but the apparent connections of these two systems to Romulan Star Empire history, to date, have not been canonically explored.
Links and references
- George Takei as Sulu
- Nichelle Nichols as
- Majel Barrett as
- James Doohan as
- Eight planet two inhabitants
- Four female Enterprise security guards
- Female Enterprise transporter chief
2105; 2119; 2132; 2159; 2187; 2214; 2241; aging; agreement; answer; architecture; area; astrophysical scan; audio-visual suggestion; beauty; biological scan; black; body; body function; "Bones"; brain; calculation; chief engineering officer/engineering officer; chief medical officer; children; civilization; communicator; compound; computer; conductor; contact; cortropine; course; cusec; danger; day; death; deflector shield; delight; dimensional vision; discussion; distance; distress call; dream; drowning; Earth; euphoria; exposure; feast; Federation; feeling; figure; French language; garden; glandular secretion; "go ahead"; grazing; green; Gwen; headband; Head Female; hope; humanoid; idea; immortality; key; Klingon Empire; land; learning; life (aka lifeform); life force; life span; light year; lock; logic; love; magnolia; meadow; meaning; medical scan; medikit; message; Milky Way Galaxy; molecular pattern; month; music; name; nectar; odds; opinion; opto-aud; orbit; order; panel; phaser; place; prisoner; psychokinesis; result; rescue party; Romulan Star Empire; Saurian brandy; science team; scouting party; search; second; security officer; security team; sensor; slumber chamber; space; speaker; star year; starship; "state of mind"; stimulant; strength; subspace radio signal; surface; swimming pool; Taurean headband; Taurean system; Taurean system planet II; Taurean system sector; Taureean system star; Theela's homeworld; Theela's species; temple; tonal control; transporter; transporter pattern; trap; tub; urn; virgin; visual compulsion; vital energy; voice; Vulcan marriage drum; warp factor; water accumulation; Welsh; women-crewed starship; year; yellow alert; "Yr Hufen Melyn"
- "The Lorelei Signal" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "The Lorelei Signal" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "The Lorelei Signal" at Wikipedia
- "One of Our Planets is Missing" & "The Lorelei Signal" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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