The episode begins with the hundreds of light years from home when the Enterprise responds to an “Earth-style S.O.S.” signal. Spock reported that this signal was coming from the third planet in the system. He then rattled off the physical statistics of the planet’s makeup. After hearing this, the crew was shocked to find a world almost identical to Earth.
“Not the Earth,” said Kirk. “Another Earth.”
The captain decided to investigate the source of the signal and beamed with a landing party to the planet’s surface. When they arrived, things did appear to be Earth-like, from mid-1960. Spock said that by the evidence, the planet must have experienced deterioration and that the signal must be automated.
The party fanned out to explore the town and its contents. Dr. McCoy reached down to examine a tricycle and was attacked by an inhabitant. The man who was dressed in rags, screamed “MINE” as he wrestled the doctor. The others responded, and Kirk gave him a few pops to the face, but the man kept getting back up for more.
This person, a white male with shaggy blonde hair, showed signs of disease. His face was covered in growths. When the crew finally subdued him, he sobbed and said that someone broke his tricycle. He acted child-like.
The man started having a seizure, and when McCoy began to examine him, he pushed back saying that the crew was liars and they were not interested in helping. He promptly died.
McCoy reported that the man’s metabolic rate was running incredibly high and it was almost as if he “aged a century in the past few minutes.”
Then they heard noises from down the street and ran toward the disturbance. They found a house where the sounds were coming from and entered. They listened to a sound from a closet and opened the door to find a young girl hiding. She spoke perfect English and asked Kirk not to hurt her. Yeoman Rand talked to her in an attempt to calm her down.
“Not the Earth,” said Kirk. “Another Earth.”
Spock took two crewmen to look for signs of radiation or other potential causes of the disorder. Inside, the girl spoke with the crew as they asked her what happened to the town.
She described “yelling and burning” by the Grubs. Kirk assured her that they would not hurt her, and asked where everyone was. She said that she did not know the rules to the “foolie” and would not play. They discovered the Grubs are what becomes of people, Onlies when they get old. Rand translated to Grubs to “Grownups.”
Kirk asked more questions about the yelling, and the girl said that the screaming and fighting started when the Grubs got sick. The children hid and then all the Grubs were gone. After the “awful things,” which McCoy thought could be a plague of some sort, only the children survived, she said. She said her name was Miri, and Kirk told her that she was a pretty young woman.
Meanwhile, Spock and his team kept inspecting the town, reacting to strange noises. At one point, the team was pummeled with bricks from the top of a building.
Kirk asked Miri if she knew of any buildings were the adult doctors used to work. She said that she did, but it was a dangerous place. She said that she would take them there. She also asked the captain what his named was.
“Jim,” he said. She said that she liked that name. “I remember the Grups… but you’re nice.” He reached out to touch her face, and they both noticed that his hand was infected with a blue splotch. She became hysterical when she saw this, saying that she knew it would happen to Kirk and his crew as well.
Miri led them to the building, which also housed a transmission station. They also discovered that all of the landing party had the blue infection — except for Mr. Spock. McCoy set to work trying to determine the source of the disease in the labs at the building. He also requested more advanced equipment from the Enterprise. At this time, Kirk ordered that no one else beam down.
Kirk wondered why Spock had not been infected. McCoy said that the little bugs had no taste for green blood. Spock noted that having red blood did have its disadvantages. McCoy glanced at his hand and pointed out that the infection appeared to be spreading quickly. Miri told him that for the “old,” the virus spread very quickly.
The crew made an exciting discovery. Those who worked in the lab had been working on some drug that could “prolongate” life.
Spock began to talk the problem out. He noted that there were specific glandular changes that happen to children when they become adults. He wondered then if when the children on the planet attained puberty, would they become infected with the disease? But, since all the adults on the planet died 300 years ago, why are there still children in the streets?
McCoy asked how they kept the line going if all died at adolescence. Rand asked why Miri wanted to be around the crew. Kirk supposed that she wanted to be around responsible adults, to be told right and wrong. But McCoy and Spock said that Miri was becoming a woman, and she “liked” the captain.
The Enterprise sent calculations down to the team, which helped Spock decode the secret of the “prolongation” plans. They were trying to make their people age the equivalent of one month every 100 years. So through a miscalculation, all the adults on the planet were wiped out, leaving a generation of children who lived for hundreds of years but aged very little.
Rand asked if Miri knew what was happening to her. Kirk said that she probably did not. He told Spock that he needed to get a closer look at the other children. He took Miri and went into the town together.
The scene cut to a group of children scheming and planning on what to do about the crew of the Enterprise. There was a teenager in charge of the group, named John, who thought that if the children could get the communicators away from the crew, they would be unable to do anything further.
Just then, Kirk and Miri arrived, and the children hid themselves. But as they entered the room, an older child attacked — this one covered in the crusty, blue and white splotches. She jumped on Kirk’s back, who flipped her off and used his phaser to kill her. Miri said that this girl was just a little older than she was.
Back at the lab, Spock found some notes from one of the scientists before the disaster. Spock was working on calculating the exact time at which the crew would begin to go mad, with the help of the Enterprise’s computer. He also confirmed that the children contract the disease as they enter puberty. Spock said that Miri had perhaps five or six weeks. The crew, meanwhile, had 170 hours left. Spock himself noted that he is a carrier, and cannot go back to the ship.
Just when the crew had nearly given up hope, McCoy found a document that contained research from the dead scientists. They planned to create a series of viruses that would extend human life. Kirk said that if they could isolate the virus, then they could create a vaccine.
The crew then heard the “nyah yah yah nyah yah” singing from the children nearby. Kirk and the others scattered to find where the voices were coming from, and as they did, the teenager who viewers saw earlier, snuck into the lab and stole all of the crew’s communicators.
After the loss of their tech, the crew continued to work on a solution to the virus. But as they did, tempers flared due to the onset of the disease. At one point, Rand ran off screaming after she dropped some glass vials. She revealed to the captain the disease had spread onto her chest and legs. As he comforted Rand, Miri watched in the shadows.
Suddenly, McCoy called to the rest of them — he found the virus that started everything.
Miri snuck away, and it turns out that she was mostly a “double agent,” working as an informant for the children. She told them that the crew was working hard on something, but she was not sure of what exactly it was. They planned to kidnap Yeoman Rand, which they thought, would slow down the crew. She said when they got Rand away; Kirk would try to find her. The children then said they would attack the captain when he tried.
As McCoy and Spock zeroed in on the vaccine, the children’s plan worked perfectly. Kirk started shaking Miri, asking where Rand was. Spock and McCoy pressed on the captain that they must have the communicators back to run tests with the ship’s computers on the vaccines.
Kirk turned to Miri and told her that all of her friends would get the disease and die eventually. As soon as the children start growing up, they will get the disease and die. Miri disagreed, even when Kirk pointed out that she too was infected.
Miri led Kirk back to the children’s hideout, where Rand was being held. The leader of the children whipped them all into a chanting fury. Kirk screamed above the din and asked for his communicators back. He tried to convince them that if they didn’t help, then they would all die.
Instead of helping, they surrounded Kirk with weapons and attacked him. He worked his way out of the crowd and tried again to convince them. He asked John for help. He even told them how they would soon run out of food.
Back at the lab, McCoy said that something must be done right away. He said they only had hours left. Spock would not let him try the vaccine until the communicators had been recovered. He then went to check on the captain. As soon as Spock left the lab, McCoy tested the vaccines on himself. He fell and screamed for Spock, who came running back.
Kirk then returned with the children in time to see the blue disease blemishes fade from McCoy’s face. The cure worked.
Kirk left a medical team on the planet and noted that he called “space central,” who would send more assistance to the planet. Rand told the captain that Miri loved him — Kirk replied that he never gets involved with older women.
TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:
It is my opinion that these sorts of episodes are among my least favorite in the franchise. By “these episodes,” I mean where the Enterprise visits a duplicate of Earth somehow, and there is no explanation for how this could be. I always thought these were done to take advantage of sets that were not in use on Hollywood studio lots, but I don’t know for sure. I guess it would be helpful for the show’s writers to give us a little more detail as to why our favorite ship continues to run into duplicate Earths.
That being said — why did the crew beam down to the planet in no protective gear? It was as if they were asking to get sick. If there’s an S.O.S. from a strange world or unknown ship, wouldn’t you think that you might want some bodily protection before entering? Didn’t the learn their lesson after The Naked Time?Sigh.
The banter between Spock and McCoy was very well done this episode, and Shatner had a real opportunity to showcase his acting ability when trying to convince the children to help. But those were the highlights. Full disclosure: I like the episodes that deal with ship-to-ship issues, and the ones where we have the sweaty crew on planets making bad decisions are not my favorite.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5