Written by Michael Richards, John Meredyth Lucas, Arthur H. Singer, and Gene Roddenberry
Directed by Herb Wallerstein
The Enterprise encounters a planet that can’t be explained. It’s only a few thousand years old but has gravity, atmosphere, and vegetation like Earth. Captain Kirk (William Shatner) assembles a landing party to investigate it. As they are about to beam down, they see an unknown woman appear in the transporter room and kill the transporter operator while telling the landing party they can’t go to the planet. Too late – they’re gone!
There is a tremor on the planet that the landing party experiences upon their arrival and the Enterprise feels in space. Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) is in command of the Enterprise in the Captain’s absence and figures out they have been hurled a thousand light-years away from the planet.
Back on the planet, Captain Kirk is trying to figure out how they will survive without the Enterprise to fall back on. In all the situations they’ve been in over the last 2 1/2 years, not once has Captain Kirk worried about food and water when they’ve been cut off from the Enterprise. There’s a first time for everything.
While exploring the area looking for resources, Lt. D’Amato (Arthur Batanides), a geologist, encounters the same woman they saw in the transporter room. When Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy (DeForrest Kelley) can’t reach him, they race to his location and find him dead. Captain Kirk is distressed when he tries to carve out a grave with his phaser and the planetary rock resists the phaser fire.
Meanwhile, more than a thousand light-years away, a mysterious woman appears on the Enterprise again…
There’s a mystery to solve here, but for anyone who is a fan of the series, it’s a theme we’ve seen before. It’s also been done better, such as in Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Arsenal of Freedom. Technology does its job only too well at the cost of the intelligent life on the planet.
The interaction between Sulu (George Takei) and the Captain when the landing party first arrives on the planet seems ridiculous. The writing of the conversations in this episode is particularly awkward. Sulu jumps to the conclusion the Enterprise was blown up and Captain Kirk chides him for that. Next, he’s talking about the asteroid that blew up over Siberia for no apparent reason and Kirk cuts him to the quick. It’s not the only awkward bit of dialog. Spock and Scotty have some odd exchanges as well. This episode has the clunkiest dialog of the entire series. “Michael Richards” was the pseudonym for D.C. Fontana. This is not one of her better episodes, which is why she likely used a different name in the credits.
Lee Meriwether is the mysterious Losira. She’s not given much to do here and she seems to be flailing a lot trying to get a handle on the character. I can’t fault her when so many of the recurring cast are struggling as well. I did enjoy her costuming, although it falls in the department of low makeup budget so we’re going to try to use the costume to make her look alien (and some crazy eye shadow).
The effects show the same low-budget issues. This set has been used repeatedly throughout the series. When the landing party first beams down, they experience tremors and the rocks look like they are made of rubber and are twisting in front of the crew. There are a few good phaser shots and but there’s not a lot of action.
The problem is everything just feels tired. The story feels tired, the performances feel tired, and the effort to convince feels tired. This is a common theme as this third season winds down. The series has shown viewers so much better, that stories like this just feel hollow.
Previous episode in the series (link): Star Trek: The Original Series – The Mark of Gideon
Next episode in the series (link): Star Trek: The Original Series – The Lights of Zetar