The Enterprise answers a distress call from planet Scalos, only to find there's no one there. No life forms detected, though there are signs of a great civilization- and a strange buzzing sound, though not even insect life has been detected. Then Crewman Compton breaks rule one of visiting a foreign land. "Don't drink the water!" However, instead of getting a case of Montezuma's Revenge, Compton just vanishes into thin air. Don't worry, this Red Shirt isn't dead...yet.
The rest go back to the Enterprise to find that the life support system has been infiltrated and surrounded by Some Kind of Force Field. Kirk, Spock and two Red Shirts investigate. Said force field refuses to let anybody but Spock and Kirk near. The Red Shirts breathe a sigh of relief as Kirk and Spock investigate. They don't learn much as it seems whoever is letting them in will allow them to look at the system, but not touch.
A crewman is missing. The life support system is being threatened. There's an annoying buzzing sound in the air. What's a captain to do? Why, have a cup of coffee, of course!
And that's when Kirk's troubles start getting really strange...
Tropes for this episode include:
- Absentee Actor: Chekov is seen in a recycled shot of the viewscreen with his and Hadley's back, but does not appear in the rest of the episode.
- Affectionate Pickpocket: The first time Kirk starts going along with Deela's attempts to get snuggly with him, it's an attempt to steal her phaser, but she realizes this in time to stop him getting it.
- The Air Not There: Not even an attempt at explanation.
- All There in the Manual: Semi-canonical blueprints of the Enterprise (such as the Star Fleet Technical Manual) have the bridge equipped with a stairwell or emergency floor hatch, which explains how Kirk could get to the rest of the ship after being hyper-accelerated without having to wait a subjective week or two for the turbo-lift.
- Artistic License Nuclear Physics: The only thing radiation poisoning will accelerate is the time of your own death.
- Bottle Episode: Almost the whole episode takes place on the Enterprise. The scenes on Scalos only required a city backdrop and a fountain.
- Bullet Time: Predates The Matrix! OK, so it's a phaser blast rather than a bullet, but it's the same principle.
- Caffeine Bullet Time: Deela slips Kirk a drug which speeds him up to Bullet Time, enabling him to see her and her compatriots who live in Bullet Time permanently. But since she got the drug into him by slipping it into his coffee, it ends up looking an awful lot like Caffeine Bullet Time.
- Captain Obvious: "You seem to be moving very slowly." Spock points out twice. Granted, it only seemed that way, as Spock was actually moving really fast.
- Doctor's Orders: Kirk really doesn't want to drop everything to have a physical, but Bones name drops the trope and points out that a physical for everyone on the away mission was Kirk's own order.
- Dutch Angle: The Dutch angle is used as a general indicator for when we're watching someone in the accelerated time stream. When Kirk and Spock start to hyper-accelerate, the picture tilts as the people around them slow down.
- Fashionable Asymmetry: Hey, Will, you forgot to give Deela's costume a sleeve and a pant leg!
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Deela seems to consider herself a queen, albeit of a planet where she has only four subjects. It would be folly to argue with her.
- HeelFace Revolving Door: Compton starts out as an ordinary loyal crewman. After being hyper-accelerated, he takes the Scalosians' side and tries to keep Kirk away from their alterations to the ship's environmental controls. Then when Kirk fights his way past him and is stunned by the other Scalosians, he instinctively attacks them.
- I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Deela seems disappointed when Kirk seems to have "accepted" the situation, saying she liked him better when he acted independent and exasperating.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: From the last person we'd expect:Spock: I found it an incredibly accelerating (exhilarating) experience.
- Large Ham: Kirk's slow and deliberate diction marked with...several...dramatic pauses, gets spoofed with Deela hurrying him and finishing his sentences for him.
- Magical Security Cam: When Spock reviews the events to confirm his theory about the buzzing noise, he watches footage of the away team on Scalos which is recycled from the teaser. No indication is given of who is supposed to have taken this footage in-universe.
- Must Have Caffeine: Even with the Enterprise under threat, Kirk still wants his coffee! A need for caffeine must be a constant for Starfleet captains.
- Only You Can Repopulate My Race: The condition that causes Scalosians to live at hyper speed also causes male infertility, so the Scalosians lure starships with a false distress call and then kidnap the male crew for breeding purposes.
- Plot Hole: So no one on the bridge noticed that phaser shot coming out of nowhere and aparently aimed at no one?
- Rapid Aging: When Compton is slightly hurt during his scuffle with Kirk and the Scalosians, due to having been only recently accelerated the cell damage causes rapid aging and death.
- Schmuck Bait: Kirk is told by the Ekor not to touch the life support system. He touches it, and gets shocked. So what does he do? Puts both hands on it and keeps getting shocked. In justice to Kirk the device in question is putting his crew into deep freeze to be preserved as potential breeding stock for the Alien. Naturally he's willing to endure some pain if he can only switch it off.
- Sex Dressed: We cut away from Kirk and Deela in his quarters; when we next see them, she's brushing her hair and he's putting on one of his boots. A clear-cut case of Getting Crap Past the Radar, 1960's style.
- Some Kind of Force Field: The Scalosians keep the crew away from the environmental controls with an invisible force field that makes a red flash when someone walks into it.
- Stockholm Syndrome: Compton seemed to accept the Scalosians' plan to use him as breeding stock pretty quickly; then again, from his viewpoint there was an indeterminately long period of time between his capture and his confrontation with his former captain.
- Super Speed: Deela gives Kirk this power so he can keep up with her. Spock takes advantage of his new super speed to do some repairs on the ship.
- Time Stands Still: This episode features the Scalosians, who move so fast that they're invisible to the naked eye and everyone else appears frozen to them. (Interestingly enough, so long as none of the aliens or the people they abducted into their 'timeframe' by means of a drug are actually around to watch, both they and the crew seem to function in parallel and on the same timescale just fine. This point is never addressed.)
- Wife Husbandry: Rael is jealous of the affection Deela has for Kirk. She tells Kirk "I adored him as a child."
- You Can't Go Home Again: Deela tries to convince Kirk that he is permanently time warped and might as well get used to the idea. She doesn't know Kirk very well....