The second pilot for the Original Series, produced after NBC rejected "The Cage"
Kirk, Scotty, and Sulu were introduced here, along with Spock as we know him (he was in "The Cage", but with some different personality traits
). McCoy and Uhura were introduced in the first regular episode, "The Man Trap"
, along with Yeoman Rand, while Chekov didn't show up until season two (though Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
implied that he was somewhere on the Enterprise
as early as "Space Seed"
The USS Enterprise
, near the edge of the known galaxy, encounters an old-style ship recorder from the SS Valiant,
a ship that disappeared 200 years ago in the same mission to penetrate the "galactic barrier" as the Enterprise.
Spock interprets the recorder's message which indicates that the captain of the Valiant
ordered a self-destruct on the ship after trying to access information on humans with extrasensory perception (ESP). The Enterprise's
newly-arrived psychiatrist, Elizabeth Dehner, comments on the abilities of humans with high ESP ratings - abilities which don't normally go beyond mild precognition. Forewarned, the crew prepare to encounter a magnetic storm at the edge of the galaxy.
is crippled by a mysterious electric field, damaging it's engines, killing nine crewmen and shocking both Dehner and Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell. Mitchell is taken to the infirmary where he has developed strange silver eyes.
Being an old Academy friend of Kirk, the captain personally attends to Mitchell only to find that he has been speed-reading through the ship's library at the blink of an eye. Kirk and Spock consult the ship's records to find that Dehner and Mitchell scored the highest ESP ratings. Mitchell slowly begins to develop strange powers such as reading minds, telekinetic skills and clairvoyance. While Dehner is taken in by Mitchell's transformation, Spock recognizes that Mitchell is becoming colder, more ruthless and will develop powers beyond their imagination. Spock recommends that the Enterprise
head to the planet Delta Vega where a lithium-cracking station could help repair the ship's engines. Bereft of humans, Mitchell could be marooned there. Either that or execute him. Kirk, torn between his old friend and what he has become, struggles with the decision.
Mitchell becomes more confident with his abilities as the Enterprise
reach Delta Vega, commenting that he could read Kirk and Spock's minds, knowing what they have planned. Nevertheless, they succeed in incapacitating him for a moment and bringing him to Delta Vega, keeping him in a forcefield cell. Kirk continues to struggle with what to do with Mitchell, even as he becomes stronger while Dehner continues to speak of the possibilities of a new form of human. While the Enterprise
is repaired, Mitchell escapes and kills an engineer
and incapacitates Kirk and Spock. He takes Dehner with her to the hills of Delta Vega, revealing that she too has developed the silver eyes, and therefore will have the same abilities.
Kirk is woken by the chief medical officer and goes after the pair. Mitchell demonstrates his powers to Dehner by creating a garden from nothing and remarks on what the two of them could do. He senses Kirk approaching and sends Dehner to meet him. Kirk and Dehner have an argument on what Mitchell has become. Dehner tries to defend Mitchell but Kirk appeals to the psychiatrist in her to recognize what Mitchell has become. Mitchell himself appears and easily brings Kirk down. Dehner sees how Mitchell has become inhuman and attacks him with her own powers. He retaliates and deals her a blow but not before his power is sapped and Kirk attacks. A rather lame fistfight ensues and ends with Mitchell buried in the grave he had prepared for Kirk. Dehner shows remorse for her actions in her dying breath as she passes, leaving Kirk alone to return to the Enterprise."Captain's log, stardate 1313.8. Add to official losses, Dr. Elizabeth Dehner. Be it noted she gave her life in performance of her duty. Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell. Same notation(...)He didn't ask for what happened to him."
notes Kirk, prompting Spock to say that he felt sympathy for Mitchell too. Grimly amused, Kirk comments "I believe there's some hope for you after all, Mr. Spock."
- A God Am I: Gary Mitchell rather handily proclaims himself.
- Apocalyptic Log: The recorder left by the SS Valiant.
- Drunk with Power: Intially Mitchell doesn't seem all that different, but as his power grows he becomes more aloof and arrogant.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: Given that this was the second pilot, it really shows, from the less-detailed uniforms (and no red shirts!) to the lack of notable characters like Uhura and Bones.
- Initially there was no 'Space the final frontier' narration. This has been 'corrected' in the remastered version.
- Sulu is present but is not the helm officer.
- Kirk's tombstone gives his middle initial as "R" rather than "T." One of the novels explains this as an inside joke from Kirk and Gary's time together at the academy.
- The make-up on Spock is noticeably different from the rest of the show, giving him a somewhat comical appearance if you're comparing it to his "normal" look.
- Spock mentions that "one of [his] ancestors married a human female", which seems an odd way of putting it in retrospect, since it was established only an episode or two later that it was his father and mother.
- The "Materializer" (Transporter) is the Helm controls from the Bridge.
- The ship needs lithium crystals to re-energize the ship, rather than dilithium.
- Evil Gloating: When Kirk and Spock come to take Mitchell into custody for the trip to Delta Vega, he fends them off with his telekinetic powers, then starts monologuing about how much superior he now is. He gets so caught up in it that he stops paying attention to his surroundings long enough for Kirk to get the drop on him.
- Explosive Instrumentation: This being only the (second) pilot episode of Star Trek, it marks the series debut of this much-worn trope, as the Enterprise's flight through the great barrier causes every single console on the bridge to start sparking or going up in flames. Justified somewhat on this occasion by the unknown properties of the barrier frying most of the ship's systems.
- Kirk Summation: Directed at Dehner rather than Mitchell, who has pretty much gone off the deep end. Kirk reminds the doctor that for all his vaunted powers, Mitchell is still human, subject to human frailties.
- Kneel Before Zod: Mitchell demands Kirk to pray to him and then forces him to kneel.
- Mind over Matter: Mitchell is able to tinker with ship controls from his sickbed, and later uses his telekinesis to strangle Kelso with a cable.
- Mysterious Middle Initial: Doubly mysterious, considering it's the last time we'll see this middle initial for Kirk.
- Re Cut: The original edit submitted to NBC (included on the Blu-ray set) was a bit different. It opened with different music and a different narration by Shatner. The teaser was after the opening credits, and once they went to Red Alert we saw scenes of the characters rushing through the halls along with their actor credits. The act breaks had Quinn-Martin-sytle "Star Trek: Act II" cards. When the show went into production, the pilot was edited to match the style of the main series.
- Red Right Hand: Mitchell's silver eyes, denoting godlike powers. Also, his hair slowly becomes gray, starting with his sideburns.
- Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: The Enterprise goes out to explore the very edge of the galaxy, and its main engines are damaged, but it's okay because there's a planet a few light-days away with a mining station where they can make repairs. In cosmic terms, this is like driving out into the uncharted wilderness and breaking down right outside a gas station. (A light-day is approximately the diameter of the solar system; even in the denser parts of the galaxy, far in from the edge, stars are typically light-years apart.)
- Smart People Play Chess: The episode begins with Kirk and Spock playing three-dimensional chess. Spock comments that Kirk's style of playing is irritating.
- Sudden Name Change: Crewman Mitchell, possessed of near-omnipotent alien powers, fights Kirk and creates an open grave with a tombstone reading "James R. Kirk". This would normally be a minor matter but given how many times Kirk later introduces himself as "James T. Kirk" it's actually quite jarring.
- Tempting Apple: When Mitchell is attempting to persuade Dehner of his viewpoint that they're above humanity now, he summons a Kaferian apple tree out of nowhere and splits an apple with her.
- Watsonian Versus Doylist: The two explanations given for the James R. Kirk tombstone. Various Watsonian explanations include it being an in-joke between Kirk and Mitchell, or simply a goof on his part (Mitchell had god-like powers, but as Kirk points out, is still human.) The Doylist explanation? Production goof.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The scope of Mitchell's abilities pretty much drive him loony.
- Wham Shot: The shot of Dehner with silver eyes.