When the Enterprise attempts to penetrate a space barrier, it is damaged and creates a potentially worse problem. Two crew members, including Kirk's best friend, gain psionic powers that are growing at a geometric rate. That leaves Captain Kirk with the difficult choice of either marooning them or killing before they get so powerful that they lose their humanity and become truly dangerous. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The only episode in which Captain Kirk (William Shatner) does not have the pointed sideburns that he sports throughout the series and films. In this episode, his sideburns are cut normally. See more »
When the Enterprise officers are in the boardroom discussing the increase in Gary's ESP abilities, Sulu uses the word "geometric" instead of "exponential". While both refer to growth rates of a mathematical function proportional to the function's current value, "geometric" refers to a function with discrete domain values; "exponential" refers to a continuous domain value. (Sulu's description of starting with a penny and doubling it daily is correctly geometric, but Mitchell's ESP was continually growing, so exponential would be more appropriate.) See more »
This was actually the 2nd Trek pilot filmed, after "The Cage," and so is the first appearance of Capt. Kirk, not to mention Scotty and Sulu, here a physicist. There's no Dr. McCoy yet, instead a Dr. Piper. I would venture that in the scheme of things Trek, this episode takes place about a year before the earliest episodes of the series - note the slightly different uniforms. So this is Spock's second show; his character is still forming after the rough outline in "The Cage," still raising his voice a bit too much for a Vulcan and almost smiling in one shot (during 3-level chess, also introduced). But then, the concept of Vulcan and even the Federation had not been created yet here - we're viewing the adventures of some Earth-based space fleet here, no more. The episode, like "The Cage," has a bit of an epic feel for a TV show; it was designed to impress the NBC executives, who green-lit an actual series based on this, a miniature science fiction movie when all's said and done.
Exploration is the highlighted theme, as it would be for the remainder of the series. Probing the unknown, Kirk directs the good ship Enterprise towards a mysterious galactic barrier, despite that what they know of this energy barrier makes it seem quite dangerous. Sure enough, the ship is damaged, 9 crew members are killed and 2 others, including old friend Gary, are mutated into superior beings. But, risk, as Kirk would say in a much later episode, is their business - that's what it's all about. Now begin the questions and search of another kind
how dangerous is such an ascendant man? Can he live with so-called
normal human beings? The short answers, rather quick in coming, are 'very' and 'no' - Spock's the first one to voice this opinion. Only it doesn't transpire to be just an opinion. Rather than struggling with how to cope with his new powers, Gary shows that the old adage of absolute power corrupting absolutely is essentially a basic truth - it suggests all men have the need to dominate, to rule, buried somewhere inside, no matter how decent they seem. All it takes is a little power to bring it all to the surface.
Heavy and deep concepts for a TV show, eh? It's rather impressive that all these ideas came forth in the middle of an action-oriented show. Roddenberry and his crew wanted to show the NBC execs that such an expensive-looking (for TV) sf show can be filmed in a timely manner, but they also stressed a lot of action scenes, especially in the climactic battle between Kirk and his former friend. Actor Fix played Piper the doctor as a standard crusty older member of the crew; Kelley showed what could be done with the doctor's role in the next filmed episode, "The Corbomite Maneuver." The two actors/doctors were later in the same film, "Night of the Lepus"(72). The two main guest stars went on to stellar careers: Lockwood, who played Gary, soon appeared in "2001:A Space Odyssey"(68) while Kellerman, as the other mutate, is famous for her role in "M*A*S*H"(70).
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