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Recap / Star Trek S2 E26 "Assignment: Earth"

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The mysterious Gary Seven (with Isis). So mysterious, in fact, that his TV show never even got made.

Original air date: March 29, 1968

The Enterprise goes back in time to visit the year 1968 to observe and report. Amazingly, they discover a transporter beam signal, something that didn't exist in 20th Century Earth. They intercept and beam aboard a humanoid called Gary Seven and his black cat, Isis. Mr. Seven soon escapes, sending a few Redshirts to la-la land. (No one dies in this episode. In fact, they all have blissful smiles on their faces as they're incapacitated.) As he beams down to Earth, Kirk and Spock follow to make sure he doesn't pollute the time stream since his excuse of being from a planet they never heard of and being there as an agent of protection seems far fetched.

Who is Gary Seven, and why is he so insistent on getting to McKinley Rocket Base?

Assignment: Tropes:

  • And the Adventure Continues: Kirk and Spock refer to interesting experiences Roberta and Gary will have once NBC green lights their (never realized) series.
  • As You Know: Gary Seven explains to his computer (and thereby the audience) what his mission is; the computer already knows, but insists on a demonstration that he knows, as proof that he's who he says he is.
  • Cat Girl: In human form, Isis wears her hair to vaguely look like cat ears.
  • Crapsack Only by Comparison: Gary Seven disgustedly describes the 20th century world of the episode's original audience as "primitive" and comments "It's incredible that people can exist like this."
  • Curse Cut Short: Roberta stops a computer before it can say where her star shaped mark is located. (Granted, the computer probably would've used medically acceptable terminology for whatever part of the anatomy her mark was on.)
  • Distant Sequel: The events of this episode go completely unremarked in canon for the next fifty-four real-life years (and fifty-six years in universe) before the presence of Supervisors on late-20th/early-21st century Earth becomes a major plot point in season two of Star Trek: Picard. Furthermore, the Supervisors are revealed to have been recruited by the Traveler's species.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: While time travel is possible in subsequent Star Trek works, it's never again done so easily by a Starfleet crew, and the Temporal Prime Directive would have made a mission like this unlikely.
  • Exact Time to Failure: Gary says that it's necessary to detonate the platform while it's at least a hundred miles up (it ends up being detonated at 104 miles). Possibly justified in that the nation it was about to fall on could more easily go along with sweeping the incident under the rug if it happened "in space" rather than "in our airspace".
  • Field Trip to the Past: It's a time travel story. Gary must convince the people of Earth to be excellent to each other by not blowing each other up.
  • Forcefield Door: Gary is kept locked in by one, until he opens it with a pen that's remarkably like a sonic screwdriver.
  • Good Versus Good: Kirk and Gary Seven spend the episode butting heads because, what with the risk of totally derailing the course of history, Kirk simply can't take Gary's alibi at face value.
  • Hammer and Sickle Removed for Your Protection: The U.S. is putting a nuclear warhead into orbit in response to a similar act of aggression by another power. Which power is never specified, but we all know who they're talking about, don't we? Later on, the malfunctioning warhead is headed for "the heart of the Euro-Asian continent." Look at a map from 1968, and you'll see there's pretty much only one country in that vicinity.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Gary creates a batch of fake ID cards with various police and intelligence credentials. When he realizes that he's let Roberta Lincoln see more than she should, he covers himself by claiming to be a CIA agent.
  • Informed Ability: The computer reports that despite her erratic behavior, Roberta possesses high IQ but we never actually get to see that.
  • Intelligible Unintelligible: Gary Seven responds to Isis's mewing as if it were intelligible speech.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover:
    • Gary Seven regularly holds and pets his cat Isis. He is on Earth to save it from nuclear arms race in space and saves Captain Kirk from being killed by Roberta.
    • Spock is shown petting Isis, who seems to adore the attention. Spock has an even harder time hiding his affection for her than he did with the Tribbles! Spock is presented a positive character in the series.
  • Mundanization: Again with the modern day Earth!
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The fictional McKinley Rocket Base stands in for the real-life Kennedy Space Center.
  • No Endor Holocaust: In two ways. Not only does the nuclear explosion have no consequences (compared to the crippling electromagnetic pulse and cloud of fallout that would happen in Real Life) but somehow it defuses tensions in the Cold War instead of ramping them up.
  • No-Sell: One of the first indications that Gary Seven is not a normal human is when Spock's nerve pinch has no effect on him.
  • Orbital Bombardment: The U.S. puts a nuclear warhead platform in orbit. During the episode it falls out of orbit and drops toward an enemy country: it will go off on impact.
  • Poorly-Disguised Pilot: This was meant to be a half hour show conceptualized by Roddenberry. It was written way back when Star Trek's first season was still in production. It never got off the ground, but why waste a good story? It's actually pretty obvious they barely rewrote an existing script to feature the Enterprise crew, since they only play a very limited role and have no effect on events whatsoever.
  • Punk in the Trunk: Gary hides from security in the trunk of a car.
  • Recurring Extra: Lieutenant Leslie (Eddie Paskey) wears simultaneously his usual red shirt, a yellow shirt and an engineering suit. Lieutenant Hadley (William Blackburn) is also a NASA technician.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Isis seems a bit nicer than Sylvia from "Catspaw". She's a sweetheart as cats go, as long as you don't harm Gary.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: Gary Seven's plan is to sabotage an orbital nuclear weapon platform so that it malfunctions and almost starts World War III in order to scare governments out of deploying such weapons.
  • Secret History: Suggested by the closing scene, in which Kirk notes that the Enterprise's history records for the current date describe a "never generally revealed" detonation of a nuclear-armed warhead platform exactly 104 miles above the Earth.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: The missile carrying the orbital nuclear warhead platform has a self destruct device to destroy it in case it goes off course. Gary Seven deactivates it as part of his plan to scare the Earth governments into not using such weapons.
  • Shout-Out: East 68th Street is also the street that was home to the main characters from I Love Lucy. (Recall that Star Trek was produced by Desilu Studios.)
  • The '60s: Like, man, can you dig Roberta's groovy threads? (Dig 'em? I wanna bury 'em!)
  • Special Guest: Robert Lansing is the only actor in the entire run of the series to warrant a "Special Guest Star" credit in the first act.
  • Stock Footage:
    • The establishing shot of downtown Manhattan used to open the second act is also seen in numerous episodes of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. throughout that series.
    • A closeup of Scotty behind the transporter station is recycled from "The Enemy Within". James Doohan looks noticeably thinner, and has a different hairstyle in this shot.
    • Recycled footage of the Enterprise orbiting Earth (without clouds) is taken from "Miri".
    • A shot of crewmembers on a corridor, listening to Kirk's speech on the intercom is recycled footage from "The Corbomite Maneuver". The same shot appears in "Balance of Terror" and "The Menagerie, Part I" as well.
    • A large amount of NASA stock footage is used in the episode. The Saturn V stock footage is of the SA 500f dummy and of Apollos 4 and 6.
  • The Stoic: Gary Seven is never anything less than brusque and completely focused.
  • Swiss-Army Weapon: In addition to being able to stun or kill others, Gary's servo can also disable force fields.
  • Sword of Damocles: The U.S. is about to launch an orbital nuclear warhead platform. Gary Seven's mission is to make it malfunction to scare other nations into not using them.
  • Time Police: Gary Seven implies he works for them. He's explicitly trying to preserve history by saving the rocket launch and knows humans and Vulcans will meet at some point.
  • Transplanted Humans: Gary Seven claims to come from Earth in the 20th century, but he's been on an advanced alien world for an unspecified amount of time and they've apparently done some work on him since he's physically completely flawless.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Is Isis a cat who can turn into a woman or a woman who can turn into a cat? Or something else?!
  • The Worf Effect: Gary Seven is shown to be resistant to the Vulcan neck pinch, something very few Trek characters can lay claim to.
  • You Already Changed the Past: At the end of the episode, Kirk checks the Enterprise's historical records and finds a mention of the orbital platform being destroyed exactly as it was, suggesting that not only Gary Seven's mission but also the delays caused by Kirk's interference were already part of history.