The Enterprise responds to a distress call from an uncharted planet. A landing party beams down to locate the source, and finds a humanoid man and woman, who order Kirk to surrender the Enterprise.
Rojan and Kelinda of the Kelvan Empire paralyze Kirk, McCoy, Spock, and the landing party with a paralysis field. Rojan tells Kirk that he is now in control and any attempts at resistance will be severely punished.
The Kelvans originate from the Andromeda Galaxy, and have come to find planets suitable for conquest in the Milky Way Galaxy. Because their own ship was destroyed, they need the Enterprise to make the 300-year return journey.
Three other Kelvans transport aboard the Enterprise, and quickly gain control of the ship. Hanar beams down to report to Rojan, who then orders the landing party to a holding cell. Attempting to escape, First Officer Spock uses his Vulcan telepathic ability to lure Kelinda over to him, where they knock her out, and seize her control belt. Their escape is short-lived and as punishment, Rojan orders Hanar to activate his belt, reducing two of the landing team members (the security guards) to small cuboctahedral blocks of a chalk-like substance. Rojan picks up the blocks and crushes one to dust, killing Yeoman Thompson. He then transforms the other block back into human form.
To create an excuse for beaming back to the ship, Spock places himself into a deep trance and Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy requests the Kelvans allow him to take Spock to Sickbay for treatment. The Kelvans agree and transport the entire landing party and themselves to the ship.
Spock makes his way to engineering with Chief Engineer Scott, and they find that they cannot get to the Kelvans' paralysis field. Instead, Spock has Mr. Scott open the control valves to the matter/antimatter system, and they inform Kirk he can destroy the Enterprise, if needed. Kirk opts not to explode the Enterprise in hopes of finding another answer.
After the ship reaches the edge of the galaxy, the Kelvans reduce all non-essential personnel into chalk blocks to keep them out of the way. Kirk, Scott, Spock, and McCoy are the only crew left behind to battle the Kelvans. Tomar orders the doctor to assist him in sampling human cuisine which he ends up enjoying enthusiastically. Spock surmises from his mental contact with Kelinda that the Kelvans are inexperienced in human emotions and stimuli, and this could be used to overload and confuse their newfound senses, possibly leading to them inadvertently revealing their weaknesses.
Scott introduces Tomar to the pleasures of alcoholic intoxication, McCoy prescribes a course of "vitamin" injections for Hanar, and Kirk turns his amorous attentions toward Kelinda.
Back on the bridge, Hanar becomes increasingly irritated by McCoy's injections and belligerently refuses Rojan's orders. Rojan orders Hanar to confine himself to his quarters. By this time, heavy drinking has caused Tomar to pass out, but Scotty also finds he is too drunk to leave his own quarters.
Rojan finds Kirk and Kelinda together again and angrily confronts them, leading to a physical altercation between himself and Kirk. Kirk pins Rojan to the floor, telling him that his people are already becoming human. Soon, they will become so alien to the other Kelvans that in 300 years (when the Kelvans are due to return to the Andromeda Galaxy) their descendants will be alienated from their own kind.
Rojan realizes Kirk is correct, and that it will be impossible to return home. He relinquishes control of the ship to Kirk and restores the crew. Kirk turns the Enterprise around and heads back through the Galactic Barrier. Rojan accepts Kirk's offer of being a liaison for the Federation if the Kelvans should ever return. The world they were marooned on is selected as a new home world so that Rojan and his people can live in peace. Spock suggests that an unmanned robot ship could be sent to Andromeda with a Federation proposal.
Errors and ExplanationsEdit
The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic TrekkersEdit
- Why does the female Kelvan named Kelinda have a European accent? These Kelvans nave never been to Earth or even exposed to Europeans. Where would she get these speech mannerisms? For that matter, why do the rest of the Kelvans speak with American accents? Possibly a natural side effect of their conversion to human form.
- To get Spock back to the ship, Kirk has the Vulcan place himself in a deep trance. Spock prepares for a moment and then falls over into the arms of Kirk and McCoy. Wouldn't it be more logical to lie down and then put yourself into a trance? Kirk and McCoy would find it easier to catch him when he falls backwards, then picking him up from the floor.
- After the Enterprise crosses the energy barrier, the Kelvans reduce all nonessential personnel to chemical blocks. Surprisingly, they leave Kirk intact. "The Ultimate Computer" suggested that the captain of a starship is needed for command decisions only. In this episode, those activities rest with Rojan. The Kelvans needs Kirk's security clearances and starship command experience.
- It is also quite surprising that McCoy can “stimulate” one of the Kelvans by giving him hypos. Are the Kelvans so cocky about their abilities that they don't even suspect that the enemy doctor might put something detrimental in the shot? The Kelvans believe that they have the upper hand.
- At one point, Kirk visits Kelinda to apologize for hitting her when he and the others attempted to escape from the cave. After the captain “apologizes,” Ftojan strides into the room. He uses a door on the sidewall of the cabin. I think this is a first for Star Trek. This episode demonstrates that people in space really do go to the bathroom! (I have no way to absolutely prove that the door leads to a bathroom from the television series, but the “official” blueprints of Kirk's Enterprise do mark it as such.) The Kelvans are existing in human form.
- At the end of the show, Kirk suggests that Rojan make a deal with the Federation to offer the Kelvans planets in the Milky Way Galaxy for colonization. Has Kirk forgotten Rojan's attitude at the beginning of this episode? He indicated that the Kelvans were fixated on conquest. It is their way. Does the Federation really want to send an invitation to this type of race? Don't they have enough enemies to fight already? The conversion to human form may dampen their thirst for conquest.
- At one point, Spock and Scott rig the ship to explode when it contacts the energy barrier. They correctly assess that the Kelvans must be stopped before notifying their superiors of the availability of the Milky Way Galaxy for conquest. Yet when they tell Kirk of the plan, the captain replies, “Are you mad?" He seems stunned that they would even suggest such a thing. interestingly enough, several episodes later, in "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," Kirk almost destroys the ship simply because Bele temporarily seizes control of of it.The latter example is a bluff on Kirk's part, possibly inspired by the events in this episode.
Continuity And Production ProblemsEdit
- I don't think Shatner fully understood the effect that the “neural paralyzing field" was supposed to have. Rojan claims that it neutralizes nerve impulses to the voluntary muscles. Kirk's ability to move his eyes back and forth is definitely under voluntary control—and therefore should be frozen—but the dear captain glances around continuously the first. time the Kelvans entrap him with the field. Along the same line, Uhura manages to blink while under the influence. The field generator may be faulty.
- D.K. Henderson on Saturday, November 14, 1998 - 5:28 am - In The Changeling, Kirk told Nomad to stop improving the engines because the ship's structure could not withstand the higher speeds. How come that very important fact didn't come up in this episode? Mike Konczewski on Monday, November 30, 1998 - 3:27 pm - The "she can't take much more of this" scenario was one of the weakest in the original series. Surely the problem isn't velocity, it's acceleration. When you're accelerating, you've got to worry about inertia. Once you've achieved a steady velocity (and I'm talking straight line, not vector), there shouldn't be a problem. Perhaps the writers in this episode actually got it right. The Kelvans were smart enough to gradually accelerate to warp 15 (or whatever). Nomad's problem was that he put the pedal to the hullmetal.
- Keith Alan Morgan on Saturday, April 17, 1999 - 6:55 am - The dodecahedron block of chemicals is tossed onto the ground and bounces, yet amazingly when the man is restored he is standing upright facing the same direction. The block is probably configured to ensure the individual is standing up and facing a certain direction when they are restored.
- Spock says that the readings were of textbook Humans, except that dialogue indicates that the Kelvan ship broke up when it hit the Energy Barrier at the edge of our galaxy and they used a lifecraft to get to this planet, so where did the Kelvans get their 'textbook' on how to appear Human? Also how do they know that there are enough Kelva-like planets in our galaxy for the Kelvan Empire? Dialogue also indicates that the Enterprise may have been specially chosen for the return journey, but if their ship broke up and they were forced to land on this planet were did they get information about the Enterprise? The Kelvans may have had ultra long range scanning capabilities, which were lost when the original ship broke up.
- How come no one on the ship developed mental powers when they hit the Galactic Barrier like Gary Mitchell and Elizabeth Dehner did in Where No Man Has Gone Before (Better shields?) The dialogue in Where No Man states that Mitchell and Dehner developed mental powers when they hit the barrier due to their higher ESP ratings.
- John A. Lang on Saturday, July 07, 2001 - 3:35 pm - I'll never figure out why McCoy doesn't use something deadly in the hypo....I mean, the purpose is to regain control of the ship...right? It is against the terms of the Hippocratic Oath for a medic to deliberately injure or kill someone under their care.
Internet Movie DatabaseEdit
- When the Enterprise is approaching the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), the galaxy is seen from the same viewing angle as seen from Earth. It is unlikely that the Enterprise would be approaching in a line of sight direction from Earth after traveling several years in space. Unlikely, but not impossible.
Incorrectly regarded as goofsEdit
- When the Kelvans reduce the crew members to the "cuboctahedrons", their clothes are reduced with them. But items that they are holding (clipboards, pens, etc.) are not, and land beside the "cuboctahedrons". Anything these aliens can(not) do is up to the writers, so these are not goofs.