We join our heroic crew as they are on their way to Mockus 3 to deliver medical supplies. While en route, they passed by Murasaki 312, a large quasar-like formation in need of investigation. On board the ship, Captain Kirk is hosting Galactic High Commissioner Ferris, whose only role is to ensure that the supplies reach Mockus 3, which they will then be transferred to the New Paris colony.
But since their course takes them so close to the quasar, Kirk insists on stopping for a while to investigate. Ferris complains, but Kirk wins the argument, as space exploration is the mandate of all Starfleet vessels.
The captain dispatches the shuttlecraft Galileo, commanded by Mr. Spock. On board are Dr. McCoy, Mr. Scott, and several others. Suddenly, the scanners on the vessel went “haywire,” as Mr. Latimer put it. Yeoman Mears reported that the radiation was spiking on the outer hull.
Spock called the Enterprise, as Galileo got sucked into the heart of the quasar, but there was too much interference for anyone to make out the message.
On the Enterprise, Kirk supposed that the area had been “ionized” by Murasaki, which was why their sensors were not working. He told the bridge crew that finding a needle in a haystack would be much more comfortable than finding Galileo near the quasar without sensors.
Galactic High Commissioner Ferris immediately started fussing Kirk out, reminding him that they had only two days to find the shuttlecraft and that he should never have allowed them to leave the ship in the first place.
Uhura found a Type-M planet, capable of sustaining human life, named Taurus 2. Kirk ordered Sulu to set course for Taurus 2.
On the surface of Taurus 2, Spock and the rest of the Galileo crew pulled themselves together after the crash landing. They tried using their communications gear, but they were useless. Scotty got to work making a survey of the damage.
McCoy said: “remind me to tell you that I am sick and tired of your logic.”
Spock ordered Latimer and Gaetano to scout around the ship. Spock told McCoy that the Enterprise would be looking for them, but would likely only have visual, no sensors in which to locate the craft.
Above the planet, the Enterprise just made orbit and began the search. Uhura reported no signal from the planet, and Sulu said that his sensors were inoperable. Kirk asked if Sulu tried tying his sensors into auxiliary power, and Sulu noted that he had without success. The transporter staff reported that their equipment was also not working and they would not dare attempt a beam with a human. Kirk then ordered that the shuttlecraft Columbus enter the atmosphere of Taurus 2 and begin the search.
On the planet, as Spock worked on the shuttlecraft, McCoy told him that he finally had his big chance for command. Spock said that “command does have its fascinations,” but that he did not enjoy the idea of leadership and was not frightened of it either.
Mr. Scott reported that the shuttle had lost so much fuel, that they would have no chance to reach escape velocity, and that they would have to find a way to shed about 500 pounds of weight. Spock said that was the equivalent of three grown men.
“Or the equivalent weight in equipment,” said McCoy. Spock said that they had very little extra equipment on board. Mr. Boma translated that to mean that three crewmen would have to stay behind. Spock noted that unless the situation changed, then that might be a possibility. Boma asked who would decide which crew stayed. Spock replied that he would choose, as he was the commanding officer. Boma suggested drawing lots instead. Spock said that he was better qualified than a random drawing.
Boma pressed Spock on who would stay behind. Spock said that the decision would be made by logical means. Boma grimaced.
Close by, Latimer and Gaetano were scouting the terrain, and they heard an unusual noise, which appeared to come from every direction. They decided to leave. Before they could, a large creature threw a spear into the back of Latimer, who fell immediately. Gaetano fired his phaser in different directions.
Spock and Boma caught up, and Gaetano said that the attacker resembled a giant ape. The two humans grew unhappy when Spock examined the spear and did not express any feelings over their fallen crewmember. Gaetano and Boma decided to take the body back to the shuttle.
Back on the Enterprise, Ferris continued to agitate Kirk about the schedule. Kirk ordered the Columbus to widen its search on the planet’s surface.
Meanwhile, McCoy and Mears worked to move as much excess weight off of the craft, while Mr. Scott continued his fixes. Spock said they were still 150 pounds overweight.
McCoy said that he was stunned that Spock was still considering leaving one crewmember behind. Spock said it was the logical thing to do. McCoy retorted by saying he was not talking about being rational. Spock stared at him and said that it might be “wise to start.”
Boma popped into the shuttlecraft to tell Spock that they were ready for the services for Latimer. Spock said that they were working against time. Boma said that Spock needed to say a few things at the burial. Spock asked McCoy to do so, but McCoy said that it was Spock’s place, not his. McCoy then said that they may all die, and they wanted to die like men, not machines. Spock noted that he was working, so that did not happen.
Later, Scotty announced that they were entirely out of fuel. Moments later, McCoy told Spock to come outside the craft, because something was happening. Spock said that it sounded like wood scraping on leather.
Boma said that if the creatures were tribal, then they ought to have a sense of unity, which they could be used in their favor. Spock asked how this could be. Boma said to give them a “bloody nose” so they would leave the crew alone. Gaetano, Boma, and McCoy all pressed for an attack, but Spock said he wasn’t interested in the majority opinion.
Spock said there was a third choice. He ordered McCoy and Mears back to the shuttlecraft to help Scotty with the repairs. He told Gaetano and Boma that they would fire frighten, not to kill.
The three moved silently through the crags and fog, and the creatures still found and attacked them. Spock fired his phaser into a crude shield held by a monster, which held against the phaser’s rays. Spock saw where they were gathered, and ordered Gaetano and Boma to fire on either side, as not to hit the creatures. The noises ceased. Spock and Boma left Gaetano on patrol as they went back to the craft.
Mr. Scott proposed that he use the power of the phasers to power the ship. Spock weighed the risk of losing their only means of defense versus using that power to leave the planet. He agreed with Scotty’s plan and ordered Mears and McCoy to hand over their phasers.
Back aboard the Enterprise, the transporter room was making progress. Kirk ordered new landing parties to beam down to start a manual search.
On the surface, Gaetano was under attack. He lost his phaser, and the creatures cornered and killed him.
Spock, Boma, and McCoy found the scene of Gaetano’s death, where they collected his phaser. He also turned over his own phaser to McCoy for use on the ship. Spock found Gaetano’s body. As he picked up the body, the creatures returned and started launching spears his way. Spock made it back to the shuttlecraft with Gaetano’s body, and McCoy shut its doors as more spears rained down.
McCoy grilled Spock, noting that the creatures did not stay frightened very long. Spock said that they were acting very illogically, as they should have respected their superior weapons. McCoy argued that respect is a rational process, that these creatures were acting with emotion and anger. Spock said that he was not responsible for the creatures’ unpredictability. McCoy said that the aliens were entirely predictable, for anyone with feeling.
As they argued inside the ship, the creatures mounted another attack from outside. This time, they used giant boulders to smash the sides of the shuttlecraft.
Boma angrily asked Spock what they should do now. Spock said that Boma’s tone was becoming hostile. Boma told that he was sick and tired of Spock’s logic. McCoy asked Spock for a little less analysis and a little more action. Scott said that he needed one more hour to complete the conversion, perhaps two. The creature continued its attack.
On the Enterprise, Kirk endured more criticism from Ferris, who pointed out that they only had 2 more hours left to search for the missing crew. Uhura reported that the sensors were still 80% unreliable, and the radio communication was not yet ready either.
Spock asked Scotty to electrify the exterior of the shuttlecraft. The crew gathered in the center of the Galileo as Scotty used a wrench to cause sparks and discharge electricity from a panel inside.
The effect worked, as the creatures backed off. Spock said that this work only for a moment, and ordered Boma to remove everything he could from the aft compartment. Spock noted that Gaetano’s body would have to be left behind. Boma said they could not do that without a proper burial. Spock said that he would not recommend it because of the creatures.
Boma said that he would insist on a proper burial, even for Mr. Spock. McCoy and Scott gasped, and Boma pushed back, saying that he was “tired of the machine.” Spock paused and then agreed to the burial.
On the Enterprise, one of the landing parties beamed back aboard, after losing Ensign O’Neil by spear attack. The creatures pounced immediately after the team materialized on the surface. They reported that the aliens were Order 480-G, similar to the creatures discovered on Hansen’s Planet, except much more substantial.
Just then, Galactic High Commissioner Ferris charged onto the bridge and took command. He ordered Kirk to end the search and set course for Mockus 3. Kirk recalled the Columbus and ordered that the search parties be beamed back aboard. Uhura said that it would take Columbus 23 minutes to dock onboard the Enterprise. Kirk, who looked increasingly desperate, sighed and repeated “twenty-three minutes.”
On the surface, Scotty announced that he was done. He told Spock that they may be able to maintain orbit for a few hours. He also said that if timed correctly, they would be able safely land. Spock said that he did not want to land on this planet again. He called to McCoy and Boma, and gave them 10 minutes to bury Gaetano, as Mr. Scott said they could take off in 8 minutes.
Spock said that the Enterprise was likely on its way to Mockus 3 by now, and that “I, for one, do not believe in angels.”
The Columbus docked on the Enterprise, and all search party crew beamed back aboard. Kirk ordered Sulu to proceed on course for Mockus 3, at “Space Normal Speed.” Sulu looked confused and repeated the order. Kirk confirmed that order and ordered that the sensor teams continue the search.
On the surface, just after they buried Gaetano, the creatures attacked once more. Spock picked up a spear and tossed it back, and then they threw a boulder at his legs, pinning him against a wall of stone. Spock told McCoy and Boma to get back to the ship, but instead, they came back for him. McCoy and Boma freed Spock from the boulder, and all three go onboard the Galileo.
Spock ordered Scotty to lift off. Mr. Scott said that they should be moving, but was not. The creatures were holding the craft down. Spock activated the thrusters, and Scott warned that if they used the thrusters, they would not be able to maintain orbit for very long.
Once they nearly achieved orbit, Spock lectured them on their actions. He said that they should have taken off and left him behind. McCoy said: “remind me to tell you that I am sick and tired of your logic.”
Scott reported that they only had fuel enough to maintain one orbit. He also said that because they used the boosters, they did not have enough fuel for a landing. Boma asked if they would burn up; Spock said they would. Scott reminded the Vulcan that, moments ago, he said that there were always alternatives. Spock commented that he may have been mistaken.
McCoy asked if there was anything else that could be done. Spock said that the Enterprise was likely on its way to Mockus 3 by now, and that “I, for one, do not believe in angels.”
The doctor said: “so goes your first command” to Spock, who repeated “my first command” and grimaced.
Mr. Scott announced that they had about 45 minutes worth of time in orbit. Spock continued to try the radios, to no avail. He then jettisoned all fuel from the shuttlecraft, which made a fiery trail behind them in space. The rest jumped up and asked what happened, Mr. Scott explained, and also noted that they had only about 6 minutes left before the orbit decayed.
On the Enterprise, Sulu noticed something on Taurus 2 — a fiery trail, making a lateral line. Kirk ordered the Enterprise to turn around.
Scott laughed when he realized why Spock had done what he had done. Scotty said that Spock had essentially “sent up a flare.” Spock noted that there may be no one to see it. The shuttlecraft began to lose altitude and heat up, its inside smoking from the pressures.
Just at that moment, the Enterprise beamed the five survivors onto the ship before the shuttlecraft disintegrated. Kirk relaxed and then ordered that the vessel proceeded to Mockus 3 at Warp 1.
Later, Kirk asked Spock when he jettisoned the fuel in an act of desperation. Spock confirmed that it was. Kirk then supposed that “desperation” was an emotional reaction, and he asked Spock how he could explain that action logically.
Spock said that he examined the situation from all angles, and found that the only possible action would be one of desperation. Kirk reframed that statement, asking if he reasoned that it was time for “an emotional outburst?”
Spock said that he would not put it in those terms, but that was essentially what happened. Kirk pressed him again, asking if he would admit to having a purely emotional reaction for the first time in his life. Spock said, “no, sir.” Kirk said that he was a stubborn man, to which he replied: “yes, sir.”
The entire bridge crew burst out laughing.
TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:
This was a pretty good entry into Season 1, but somewhat similar in soul to “Balance of Terror,” when Spock experienced bigotry. This time, Kirk was not there to shield him, and he just had to ignore and endure. I realize that this was an allegory for what was happening in the United States at the time — when this episode aired in 1967, the Civil Rights movement was in full swing — so it probably makes sense to cover this subject matter again.
I did enjoy Kirk’s struggle with authority, and how he bent the rules when it came to leaving the system at “Space Normal Speed,” which I imagine to be one-quarter impulse power. Ferris probably didn’t know the difference, and Kirk was able to stay close by while still obeying orders.
I also enjoyed Kirk ordering Sulu to try auxiliary power for the sensors… that was Admiral Kirk’s go-to order through his Trek films. The banter between Spock and McCoy was great. Not humorous as it was in other episodes.
One item that burst out to me was Spock’s reference to “not believing in angels.” Could that line have partially inspired Star Trek: Discovery – Season 2? Perhaps. Because when Spock did meet an angel, it turned out to be his adopted sister in a time travel suit and not an immortal being. Fascinating!
Speaking of immortal beings, this episode was good for another reason — there were no beings of supreme power. It was almost like an Apollo 13-style episode, where the crew on Taurus 2 had to use their wits to engineer themselves out of a situation. But I did wonder if electric energy could be transformed into propulsion fuel, which could be set on fire above the planet. Hmmmm.
RATING: 4 out of 5