STARDATE: 3113.2

What would happen if a starship from 200 years in our future dipped into the atmosphere just for a few minutes? Precisely what happened in this episode — except with this story, no shots were fired.

Everything begins in a radar facility run by the United States Air Force. The personnel operating the equipment detect a large blip on the radar and call to scramble the jets, to intercept and identify this object.

Interestingly, the plane that responded to the possible UFO was a Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. Fascinating!

On the Enterprise, Kirk and the rest of the crew seemed tired and not aware of what happened. We learned that the ship got too close to a “black star,” which is what some called a black hole in the 1950s and 60s, and as they used all the power available to the Enterprise, a whiplash effect put them back in time.

Mr. Scott reported that the warp engines were not operating, and it would take some time to repair. After some confusion (including listening to FM Radio), the crew figured out that they were in the 20th Century and were under surveillance from a nearby aircraft.

“Suppose an unscrupulous man were to gain certain knowledge about man’s future,” said Spock. “That man could manipulate key industries, stocks, and even nations. And in so doing, change in what must be. And if it is changed, captain, you and I, and all that we know might not even exist.”

Kirk ordered Sulu to move the Enterprise out of range of view, but before he could, the pilot described the starship to the Air Force brass, who scrambled additional fighters.

The crew was able to hear the transmissions of the pilot to the airbase, which ordered him to intercept the Enterprise and force it to land. Spock said that this aircraft might have nuclear weapons aboard, which could damage the Enterprise beyond repair.

Kirk ordered Mr. Scott to hold the F-104 Starfighter with a tractor beam. As they did, the plane broke apart, forcing the captain to order the pilot to be beamed aboard. Kirk met him in the transporter room and welcomed him to the Enterprise.

Major Christopher
Roger Perry as Major Christopher. Courtesy of CBS / Paramount

“Captain John Christopher — United States Air Force — serial number 4857932,” said the pilot. Kirk told him to relax, but Christopher was stunned and asked question after question. He eventually followed the captain for a tour of the ship.

Christopher marveled at the Enterprise, and Kirk told him that there were only 12 like it in the fleet. While on the turbolift, Kirk explained to Christopher that the ship and crew were from the future. Christopher said that he could not deny that the Enterprise was there, but that he never believed in “little green men.”

The doors to the bridge opened, and the first crewmember Christopher saw was Mr. Spock.

“Neither have I,” said Spock. Christopher looked in awe at Spock. Kirk told him to look around but not to touch.

Spock pulled Kirk aside to say that the ship’s deflector shields were up now, to prevent the Enterprise from being detected again on the ground. Spock also told that they could not return Christopher to Earth.

“Suppose an unscrupulous man were to gain certain knowledge about man’s future,” said Spock. “That man could manipulate key industries, stocks, and even nations. And in so doing, change in what must be. And if it is changed, captain, you and I, and all that we know might not even exist.”

Kirk furrowed his brow and told Spock to get Christopher something else to wear.

In his quarters, Kirk recorded his log entries, and the computer’s voice gave him sultry and sassy responses.

“Computed and recorded, dear,” it said. Kirk rolled his eyes and looked at Spock who looked away. Spock noted to fix the errors, he’d need three weeks to overhaul the computer system at a starbase. He explained that computer repairs were done at Signet 14, which is a female-dominant planet, who felt that the system lacked personality.

Kirk told Christopher that they could not send him back because he knows too much about the future. Christopher pointed out that his disappearance would change things as well. Kirk looked at Spock, who said he’d scanned the historical records and found no significant contributions from John Christopher.

Christopher pushed back and said that it was his duty to report what he’d seen and asked Kirk what he would do in his place. Kirk admitted that he too would report to his superiors. Christopher argued that he had a wife and children to care for. Kirk said he was sorry.

Spock contacted Kirk to say that he had important information about Christopher. Kirk could not locate Christopher, so he alerted security, and figured that Christopher would try to beam off the ship. Kirk was right. Christopher attacked a security officer on his way to the transporter room. Armed with a phaser, he told the transporter chief that he would step onto the transporter pad and — Kirk burst through the door and disarmed him with an uppercut to the jaw. Christopher hit the floor.

In sickbay, McCoy said that Christopher would be fine, but asked the captain what would happen to the crew if they could not figure out a way to return to the 23rd Century. Kirk assured him that they are not there yet, and they were working on a solution.

Kirk said that he was most upset about Christopher, who can’t go back. He said that Christopher would be utterly useless in the 23rd Century and would have to be re-educated. Kirk asked if he could be retrained to forget his wife and children. Christopher spoke up and said that he could not.

Spock arrived and told them that while Christopher would not be missed, his son, Sean Jeffrey Christopher, would be a part of the first successful Earth / Saturn probe. Christopher spoke up and said that he did not have a son. Spock said that they must return Christopher to Earth, so Sean Jeffrey Christopher could be born.

Later, Kirk, Spock, and Christopher got together to try to figure out how they would send him back. One problem was that Christopher’s plane was utterly destroyed. Christopher said that he took photos with his wing cameras of the Enterprise, and his transmissions would be recorded on data tapes. Spock also said they were working on a plan to get the Enterprise back to their time.

Christopher offered to help get the films back as he was stationed on the Air Force base where they would likely be. Kirk said no. Christopher offered to sketch the layout of the base instead.

That evening, Kirk and Sulu beamed into the base. The snuck around and found the room which housed the computer data tapes. As Sulu and Kirk removed the reels, a security guard found them and forced them to turn over all of their technology.

While the guard was holding Kirk’s communicator, the Enterprise beamed him up. The guard stood still; almost frozen on the transporter pad. McCoy took his pistol and Kirk’s communicator from his hands as he stood.

Back on Earth, Kirk and Sulu resumed their search through the base, this time, looking for the films. They found the photo lab, and they set off a silent alarm. Three guards showed up and attacked Kirk. As he was in the darkroom while the fighting took place, Sulu beamed back up.

On the ship, Scotty fixed the warp engines, and Spock told him to fire them up. He called Christopher for a meeting.

kirk with the air force police
Captain Kirk being interrogated by Col. Fellini, who was played by Ed Peck. Courtesy of CBS / Paramount

Eventually, Kirk was subdued and questioned. He gave unsatisfactory answers to the military police, but he did give his name as “James T. Kirk.” After providing several nonsense answers, the lead investigator told Kirk that he was going to be locked up for 200 years.

“That ought to be just about right,” Kirk said.

Christopher said he knew where they were holding Kirk, but he would only show them where if he went along. Spock agreed. He, Sulu, and Christopher would beam down together.

The three made their way to the security office, and thanks to Sulu’s judo and Spock’s neck pinches, they made short work of those who stood in their way. After they rescued Kirk, Christopher grabbed a pistol and told them that he was not going back.

As Kirk tried to talk sense to Christopher, Spock snuck around and gave him a neck pinch. Then all four beamed up.

Back on the ship, Spock proposed that they use the slingshot effect to get them back to their time. Christopher asked how he and the guard would get back. Spock said that they would go “back before yesterday,” and they would be transported back “before any of this happened.”

Scotty warned that there were dangers for all, as they may overshoot their time, or break too hard, which could make for a rough trip.

They executed the slingshot maneuver, and they beamed the captain back into his aircraft, and the guard back into his body as he patrolled the base. Afterward, they arrived in the 23rd Century after some rough breaking.

TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:

An interesting question — if a black hole (or in this case, a “black star”) consumes everything that gets close, even light, can something that travels at speed greater than light get sucked in as well? According to Star Trek, the faster than light spacecraft would be able to get away. The proof is this episode, and Star Trek (2009), where the crew ejected the warp core to cause an explosion which pushed the Enterprise clear of the event horizon while crushing the Romulan ship.

Anyhow, this was a good one. But, how they got Christopher and the guard back didn’t make any sense. Unlike Back to the Future, which set the benchmark for all time travel films, Spock did not beam Christopher back into a place in time where he used to be. Christopher was beamed back into himself. That’s illogical. I guess that was the best they could come up with, as the timer for the episode was ticking away.

Speaking of Back to the Future, Spock’s parable on “the unscrupulous man” is exactly the plot of Back to the Future: Part 2. I wonder if the screenwriters of that film were Trek fans back in the day, and pocketed that plotline for future use.

I also wondered why they trusted Christopher again and again. He pointed a phaser at them, then a pistol. I guess they needed him.

Toward the end, we get a little taste some of the unfortunate effects that inspired so much parody, as the Enterprise model shakes and jerks as they try to “break” after the slingshot. I assume that was the very best they could do, but if the ship shook that much, the crew would be splattered all over the bulkhead.

RATING: 3 out of 5

CREDITS

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

STARRING

William Shatner as Kirk
Leonard Nimoy as Spock

ALSO STARRING

Roger Perry as Major Christopher

FEATURING

DeForest Kelley … as Dr. McCoy
Hal Lynch … as Air Police Sergeant
Richard Merrifield … Technician
John Winston … Transporter Chief
Ed Peck … Col. Fellini

with

James Doohan … as Scott
George Takei … Sulu
Nichelle Nichols … as Uhura
Mark Dempsey … as Air Force Captain
Jim Spencer … as Air Policeman
Sherri Townsend … as Crew Woman

Film Editor … Bruce Shoengarth
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 … Jack F. Lilly
Photographic Effects … Westheimer Company
Script Supervisor … Billy Vernon
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