I can remember watching “Operation: Annihilate!” as a summertime rerun as a child and being completely horrified. It also seemed like this one lasted longer than the usual. Something must have bothered me about the fried eggs that were attacking Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the crew. 

STARDATE: 3287.2

This one begins with Uhura trying to contact anyone on Deneva without success. Kirk asked her to try “GSK 783, subspace frequency three.” Uhura noted that it was a code for a private transmitter. Kirk said he knew and to do it.

Spock said that the wave of solar systems going crazy and losing their civilizations was following a straight line (as he pointed to a star chart). He said the ancient Beta Portolan system, which archaeologists have said may have been the start of this “mass insanity.” Next, Lavinus V, then Theta Cygni XII, with the last system to be infected was Ingraham B. 

McCoy said there was no scientific theory as to why this was happening.

Sulu warned that a Denevan ship was headed toward their sun. Kirk ordered pursuit. They tried to stop the single-man ship from destruction — but could not.

“I did it!” said the voice of the pilot on the Denevan ship. “It’s finally gone! I’m free!”

McCoy said there was no scientific theory as to why this was happening.

The Enterprise turned back to Deneva.

McCoy asked Kirk if the captain’s brother Sam, and family, were still living on Deneva. Kirk said nothing. 

Spock said that Deneva was colonized as a freighting line base, but they’d had no contact with the Federation for over a year.

Uhura said that she’d made contact with the private transmitter. They heard a woman’s voice asking for help. They broke contact before Kirk could respond to the message. He ordered Uhura to re-establish the connection. And Uhura got a little sassy with him, saying that she couldn’t because the signal had been cut from the source. 

NOTE: That was something to see! He knew he was wrong, so he just backed the hell up. Go Uhura!

The Thing
The thing, as the cast referred to it. It’s a shame they didn’t get a better name. Courtesy of CBS / Paramount

Kirk admitted to McCoy that he knew the voice. He said that his brother Sam was a research biologist, and the voice sounded like his wife (Aurelan). 

Before Kirk and the party beamed down, Spock said the human activity on the surface was strangely quiet.

NOTE: The crew beamed into the “heart of the capital city,” which was the TRW Space and Defense Park in Redondo Beach, California. It looked pretty cool! It was a believable, futuristic type of place. Kirk and the others did not look out of place there.

The party was Kirk, Spock, McCoy, a female yeoman in a red skirt (who Kirk ordered to record everything that happened) and two additional redshirts.

Kirk found his brother’s lab. As they walked toward the building, four human males ran toward them, yelling and holding transparent pipes. The party stunned them with phasers.

Spock noted that as they approached, they said that they did not want to hurt the Enterprise crew. McCoy examined them and said they had unusual brain activity for being unconscious. They heard a woman’s scream, and the crew ran toward it.

Jim and Bones
Kirk and McCoy look at the captain’s brother, Sam. Courtesy of CBS / Paramount

Inside the building, they found a woman — Kirk’s sister-in-law — screaming hysterically. McCoy gave her a hypospray shot, and she calmed. The doctor found a man on the carpet. 

NOTE: It was William Shatner in an orange jumpsuit with a mustache! 

It turned out to be Kirk’s brother, Sam. He was dead. But Kirk’s nephew, Peter, was alive but unconscious. McCoy prepared to beam them up to the ship for further treatment. He requested that Kirk be part of the group to return.

Spock actually tried to console Kirk, but the captain was all business. They figured that Aurelan was trying to keep someone out of the room by covering the air vent. Kirk left Spock in charge.

Back on the Enterprise, Bones said that he was working to determine the cause of Aurelan’s medical issue, but she was able to speak. Kirk asked Aurelan if she could help tell them what happened on the planet. 

“They came, eight months ago,” she said. “Things. Horrible things.” 

She explained that visitors from the planet Ingraham B brought the “horrible things.” 

Joan Swift as Aurelan
Joan Swift as Aurelan, Kirk’s sister-in-law. Courtesy of CBS / Paramount

Before Kirk could get her to reveal what the “things” were, she began to scream. 

“They are forcing us to build ships for them,” she said. “Don’t let them go any further!” 

Then she died. 

NOTE: All the actors seemed to have a ton of makeup on for this episode. More than usual. Shatner had an incredible amount of eyeliner on. I wonder why…

Bones said that he’d do everything he could to save Kirk’s nephew.

Kirk beamed back to the surface and found his team waiting. Spock said they hadn’t seen anyone besides the four they stunned earlier. Scotty said they hadn’t seen any aliens, but that they’d heard a strange noise. 

“Set your phasers on Force 3 — to kill,” said Kirk as they went to investigate. He told them they were looking for “some kind of creature, and we already know that it will kill.”

As they walked into a building where they could hear the noise, the quickly ducked as a pink, flying flounder-like creature flew at them. Kirk saw that there were many of them, and they fired phasers, causing one to fall. Spock said that it should have been destroyed by the phasers and that it did not register on his tricorder.

“It is not life as we know or understand it,” said Spock. “Yet it is obviously alive, it exists …”

“It is not life as we know or understand it,” said Spock. “Yet it is obviously alive, it exists …”

“And it can bear up under full phaser power,” said Kirk.

Spock wanted to beam on up to the Enterprise for further examination, but Kirk said that it could be a trap, and ordered the party to move out. As they did, one of the creatures flew onto Spock’s back.

Spock's back
Spock’s back. The fried egg grabbed a hold of our favorite alien and stung him. Courtesy of CBS / Paramount

Kirk ripped it off Spock’s back, but the Vulcan seemed almost unconscious. They beamed him back up to the Enterprise, so Bones could examine him. McCoy felt that something was fighting him from within Spock’s body. He operated on the wound but decided to close Spock up.

Nurse Chapell did not understand why he did not try to take out more material and argued with the doctor. McCoy lashed out at her, and she helped him. 

Later, McCoy showed Kirk the particle that he removed from Spock’s spinal cord. He said that tentacles were growing throughout Spock’s nervous system, which was true for Kirk’s nephew. 

McCoy said the alien attacked by putting a stinger in the victim, which takes over the victim’s body very quickly.

“I’m sorry, Jim,” said McCoy. “The lab, science departments … we’re all stumped.” 

“I’m sorry, Jim,” said McCoy. “The lab, science departments … we’re all stumped.” 

Back at sickbay, Spock writhed in pain. He sat up from his bed and whispered, “no, I won’t,” and rose. He pushed Chapell out of his way, who informed the bridge. Kirk called for a security alert on the ship.

Seconds after that announcement, Spock appeared on the bridge and threw Sulu from his chair. After a struggle, Kirk, Sulu, and two others pinned Spock down as McCoy sedated the Vulcan. 

In sickbay, McCoy was able to monitor Spock’s pain level, which was enormous. Spock regained consciousness and told Kirk and McCoy that the restraints were no longer needed. He wanted to return to duty.

Spock explained that he now understood the creature was controlling him with pain, and it wants the ship. Kirk said that they’d keep him confined longer, but if he can maintain control, they’d let him go.

Kirk ordered McCoy to do whatever it took to help his nephew. McCoy scolded Kirk, saying that there were over a million colonists on the planet in the same spot. After they left the room, Spock tried to talk himself into not feeling the pain.

“I am a Vulcan,” he said. “There is no pain.”

He then burst through the restraints and walked to the transporter room. He ordered Mr. Scott to beam him to the surface, and Scotty said: “no one” was to beam back down. Spock took out one crewman with a pinch and was about to operate the transporter controls when Scotty stopped him.

“Freeze right there, Mr. Spock!” he said. “Or I’ll put you to sleep for sure.”

Scotty got Kirk to report to the transporter room, and Spock explained that he needed to capture and analyze one of the creatures. 

“Jim, this is ridiculous! I don’t want my patients running around — he should be in bed,” McCoy exclaimed.

Kirk approved Spock’s trip. After he was gone, Bones yelled at Kirk, saying that Spock was sick. But they agreed that Spock was the only “man” for the job.

On the planet, Spock was immediately attacked — and promptly beat the attacker with a neck pinch. He returned to the area where they saw the aliens massing before. 

NOTE: These aliens made the strangest noises. Like a cow sucking on its mother’s teet. Bizarre for science fiction and unlike most “alien” noises heard in movies or television.

“Jim, this is ridiculous! I don’t want my patients running around — he should be in bed,” McCoy exclaimed.

Spock shot one of the creatures and beamed back up. In the lab, Spock showed that this fried-egg alien was like a single brain cell, part of a vast creature. All of the aliens together were one animal.

Kirk guessed that this creature was from another galaxy. Spock said that could be, and its original planet must have a different set of physical laws. Spock noted that it might be hard to destroy due to that. 

Kirk said the Denevan, who flew the ship into the sun, figured out how to beat the creature, which was their clue. He gave them one hour to figure out a cure.

When Kirk returned to the lab, McCoy said they’d tried radiation and heat to kill the creature, but neither worked. He couldn’t figure out how to kill the creature. 

“We’ve got 14 science labs on this ship,” said Kirk. “The finest equipment and computers in the galaxy!”

Kirk said that he could not let this spread beyond the colony, even if it meant killing all million of the colonists.

Spock said he could not see any other choice than killing the infected. Bones argued that “killing five to save ten” was Spock’s logic in this case.

NOTE: Could this have been the seed that Nicholas Meyer used to create the “needs of the many” argument in Star Trek II? Could be!

Kirk yelled at the science and medical teams, telling them that there had to be a third choice. Spock requested to beam to the surface, as he could not hold out much longer against the pain.

Kirk denied the request. He went back to the pilot and noted that they hadn’t tried bright light yet. Spock said they could put up a ring of satellites burning “tri-magnesite ad trevium,” which would be like bringing the sun closer to the planet. Bones said he’d rig up a test in the lab.

They tried the light test on their creature — and it worked. 

Kirk wasn’t happy. He wanted to know if this would save the infected. Spock volunteered and refused protective goggles. 

Spock sat in the chamber and took the light. McCoy told Kirk that Spock was the best first officer in the fleet, and hesitated. Kirk ordered him to proceed. When over, he sat up and said he was free of the pain. But now Spock was blind!!

Chapell came in and gave McCoy some test results, which detailed the kind of light that killed the creature. It was ultraviolet — a light that humans cannot detect, which destroyed the alien. Bones lowered his head — Spock didn’t have to be blind.

Shatner with Maurishka as Yeoman Zahra
William Shatner with Maurishka as Yeoman Zahra. Courtesy of CBS / Paramount

Kirk gritted his teeth and told McCoy to take care of Spock.

Meanwhile, Sulu deployed the satellites. They turned them on, and the light reigned down and fried the aliens… like eggs. Ewww.

Moments later, Uhura got a message from the planet, noting that the creatures were all dying. Kirk called to sickbay to tell Spock that the satellites worked. 

“Bones, it wasn’t your fault,” said the captain.

As they prepared to break orbit, Spock’s vision returned. McCoy explained that the blindness was temporary, thanks to his Vulcan physiology. 

“An hereditary trait,” said Spock. “The brightness of the Vulcan sun has caused the development of an inner eyelid which acts as a shield against high-intensity light.”

NOTE: This tidbit would come into gigantic prominence when General Oh wore sunglasses on Star Trek: Picard.

Spock sat at his station, and McCoy told Kirk not to tell Spock that he was “the best first officer in the fleet.” 

Spock whirled around and thanked McCoy for the compliment. “You’ve been so concerned about his Vulcan eyes that you forgot about his Vulcan ears,” said Kirk. 

TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:

An excellent episode, one in which the viewer was not sure if the crew would ever figure out a cure. Watching it again, the answer seems obvious — using light to beat the creatures was an easy one. But I guess not at first.

I wondered if the crew of The Next Generation might have tried to communicate with these creatures. Notice there was no attempt, even when Spock pointed out that they were basically individual brain cells, which implies intelligence. We’ll never know because through seven seasons, four feature films, and one spin-off series, they never did meet these fried-egg aliens.

These fried eggs, which we never got a name for its species (other than flying parasite), reminded me a little of the face-huggers from the Alien franchise. In a way, they operated much like those grotesque creatures. Perhaps they might have inspired Ridley Scott and the creators of their aliens. 

RATING: 3 out of 5

CREDITS

Directed by: Hershel Daughtery
Written by: Steven W. Carabatsos
Produced by: Gene L. Coon
Executive Producer: Gene Roddenberry
Associate Producer: Robert H. Justman
Music composed and conducted by: Alexander Courage
Script Consultant: D.C. Fontana
Director of Photography: Jerry Finnerman
Art Directors: Roland M. Brooks and Walter M. Jeffries

STARRING

William Shatner as Kirk
Leonard Nimoy as Spock

DeForest Kelley as Dr. McCoy

FEATURING

James Doohan … as Scott
Joan Swift … as Aurelan
Maurishka … as Yeoman Zahra
Majel Barrett … as Christine Chapell

WITH

George Takei … Sulu
Nichelle Nichols … Uhura
Craig Hundley … Peter
Fred Carson … First Denevan
Jerry Catron … Second Denevan

Film Editor … Fabien Tordjmann
Assistant to the Producer … Edward K. Milkis
Assistant Director … Michael S. Glick
Set Decorator … Marvin March
Costumes created by … William Theiss

Post Production Executive … Bill Heath
Music Editor … Jim Henrikson
Sound Editor … Douglas H. Grindstaff
Sound Mixer … Carl W. Daniels
Photographic Effects … Westheimer Company
Script Supervisor … George A. Rutter
Music Consultant … Wilbur Hatch
Music Coordinator … Julian Davidson
Special Effects … Jim Rugg
Property Master … Irving A. Feinberg
Gaffer … George H. Merhoff
Head Grip … George Rader
Production Supervisor … Bernard A. Windin
Makeup Artist … Fred B. Phillips, S.M.A.
Hair Styles by … Virginia Darcy, C.H.S.
Wardrobe Mistress … Margaret Makau
Casting … Joseph D’Agosta
Sound … Glen Glenn Sound Co.

A DesiLu Production in association with the Norway Company

Executive in Charge of Production … Herbert F. Solow