Federation Commissioner Nancy Hedford is being ferried to the Enterprise aboard the shuttlecraft Galileo. Though supposedly a seasoned diplomat, Hedford behaves in a temperamental manner. Kirk is annoyed, but McCoy explains that she has a potentially fatal condition, Sakuro's disease, and needs immediate treatment aboard the Enterprise. The ship will then transport her to Epsilon Canaris III, where she will conduct vital peace talks between the planet's warring factions. Suddenly, a strange glowing energy field appears in the shuttlecraft's path, disables its systems, and pulls it down to a nearby planetoid, which has an Earth-type atmosphere. Kirk tries to contact the Enterprise for assistance, but all signals are blocked by some unknown phenomenon and the shuttlecraft has been rendered totally inoperable.
Soon after landing, a fit, handsome young man calling himself Cochrane appears. He tells the party that he has been marooned on the planet for years, that there is a damping field in effect, and that they are stranded just as he is. Cochrane takes them to the shelter he has built from material salvaged from his crashed ship, and he explains his survival and his relationship with an alien being. When he reveals his full name, Kirk, Spock and McCoy are stunned to discover that he is none other than Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of the Federation's "warp drive" technology.
Cochrane explains that he had made a last space flight as an old man, intending to die in space, but that his crippled ship was intercepted and rescued by a strange alien entity, which has restored him to youth and can keep him alive indefinitely. He explains that has been living with the entity for 150 years, and the Enterprise crew observe that he has a symbiotic relationship with the energy force, which he calls "The Companion". When he begins to talk about this relationship, and the pleasure it gives him, Hedford becomes violently ill. After "the Companion" attacks Spock while attempting to repair the shuttle, Spock deduces that the entity is largely electrical energy. Kirk, Spock and Cochrane attempt to disable "the Companion" with an improvised electrical disruptor, but the attack fails. "The Companion" retaliates violently and only Cochrane's intervention saves Kirk and Spock from being killed.
With Hedford's condition rapidly deteriorating, Spock modifies the shuttle's universal translator to communicate with the energy force. Kirk discovers it has a female personality and is in love with Cochrane. "The Companion" declares that it has stopped them from aging, and will keep them there forever as companions for Cochrane. Cochrane is upset by the idea that he has been intimate with an alien, but when the feverish Nancy Hedford begins to slip towards death, Cochrane agrees to do anything to help. He summons "the Companion," and Kirk explains that it and Cochrane are too different for true love. "The Companion" hypothesizes about being human and disappears.
Moments later Hedford appears outside the shelter, completely restored to health, and they discover that "the Companion" merged with the dying woman's body to become one being, thereby saving Hedford, who would otherwise have died within moments. Cochrane excitedly talks about his plans for traveling the galaxy, but "the Companion"/Hedford reveals that its life-force is bound to the region of the planetoid and it cannot leave, so Cochrane promises to remain. When McCoy asks who will complete Nancy Hedford's mission, Kirk simply shrugs and says, "I'm sure the Federation can find another woman, somewhere, who'll stop that war."
Errors and ExplanationsEdit
The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic TrekkersEdit
- In the tender moment just after the Companion and Hedford join, Cochrane looks at Kirk for permission to go for a walk. Kirk nods and says, “Go ahead, Gawgrun." Gawgrun? Who is Gawgrun? The man’s name is Zefram Cochrane, and Kirk has called him “Cochrane" for the entire episode. It sounds like our beloved captain's mouth was temporarily stuck on the consonant “g." Kirk is probably trying to suppress the urge to laugh at the situation.
- Cochrane wants to stay on the planet with Companion/Hedford but tells Kirk not to mention his existence. Kirk agrees to keep it secret. What about Hedford? She is an assistant Federation commissioner. Will McCoy fill out a bogus death certificate to keep inquiring minds away? McCoy would most likely record that the circumstances of Halford’s death required a quarantine of the system containing the planetoid where she died.
- The top of the universal translator that Kirk uses to communicate with the Companion looks very much like the translating/recording/ﬁre-starting device the Metrons gave Kirk in “Arena.” Kirk could have persuaded the Metron to let him and the Gorn Captain keep the devices for study, to ensure improvements to their translation systems, in order to allow better communication with other species, thus preventing a repeat of the incident with the Gorn.
- After joining with Helford, the Companion slates that the shuttle will operate as before. The initial problem with the shuttle was the energy dampening field, but after the Companion attacked Spock. it short-circuited all the electronics on the back side of the shuttle. Did the Companion instantly repair these as well? The short circuit could have repaired itself (assuming it wasn’t being faked by the Companion)
- MattS on Thursday, May 13, 1999 - 12:59 pm: As I understand it, at the beginning of the episode, the mission of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy is to bring Commissioner Hedford to the Enterprise so she can be treated for her rare disease. Since this is interrupting her efforts to stop a war, one would think they would want to do this as quickly as possible. Then why are they fetching her with a shuttlecraft? Wouldn't it be much, much faster to bring the Enterprise directly to the planet where she was working, treat her, and then she could just go back to work? Instead, they waste time by going to fetch her in the shuttle, returning to the Enterprise in the shuttle, AND (had they made it back without incident) returning her to her planet. It is possible that the Enterprise had some urgent business that had to be completed right away elsewhere, but nothing in the episode indicates this. And if something important was going on with the Enterprise, would both Kirk and Spock go on the shuttlecraft trip? Chris Todaro on Sunday, September 24, 2000 - 12:45 pm: Fans wonder why they were using a shuttlecraft in this episode rather than have the Enterprise come and pick up the commissioner. She was in the middle of some very important negotiations in a delicate situation. They probably felt that a large, heavily armed starship charging right into the middle of an area teetering on the brink of war might just have started the conflict that Commissioner Hedford was hoping to avoid. That's my theory, anyway.
- John A. Lang on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 4:39 pm: At the end of the show McCoy asks Kirk, "What about the war on Epsilon Canaris III?" Kirk then replies, "Well, I'm sure Starfleet will find SOME WOMAN to stop that war".(emphasis mine) Please don't think me as being sexist, but why is it so important that a woman take Hedford's place? Why can't a gentleman have her job? Is it the preference of Epsilon Canaris III? Is equal opportunity employment dead in the 23rd Century? Lolar Windrunner on Thursday, July 26, 2001 - 4:14 pm: Maybe due to cultural significance, a woman would be better suited for the position. Say Epsilon was a matriarchy and a male diplomat would be looked upon as a weakling. Sorta like Angel 1.
Internet Movie DatabaseEdit
- As Zefram Cochrane was the person who first developed Warp Drive and successfully tested it on Earth, he would have been well known and immediately recognizable to all members of Starfleet, as per later Star Trek canon, warp theory is a required course at the academy, and the first chapter of that course is devoted to his biography. His appearance here is significantly different to that in the official records, possibly due to the Companion reversing the effect of radiation damage incurred during World War Three.
- In the episode, Zefram Cochrane is described as being from Alpha Centauri, not Earth (specifically Montana). He presumably moved to Alpha Centauri from Earth after developing warp drive.