The Enterprise is tracing evidence of a path of mass insanity that is destroying civilizations on several planets. The next planet in line is Deneva, and Captain Kirk has Communications Officer Lt. Uhura open a hailing frequency on a private transmitter to someone on the planet, but there is no answer. As they enter the system, they detect a ship heading for the sun. The pilot raves incoherently until he becomes lucid just as his ship is destroyed by the heat. Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy asks if Kirk's brother Sam isn't on Deneva. Kirk answers affirmatively that his brother is stationed on Deneva as a research biologist.
Kirk takes First Officer Spock and others in a landing party and find that the locals are strangely quiet, until a group of men come out. They try to warn the landing party away but then come after them in a fit of violence. The landing party stuns them, but McCoy determines that they're being violently stimulated even when unconscious. In a Denevan housing unit, they find Kirk's sister-in-law, Aurelan, trying to keep something from entering through the ventilator grille shortly before passing out. They also find Sam Kirk dead and his son Peter insensate. Kirk, McCoy and the unconscious bodies of the two surviving relatives of Kirk beam back aboard the Enterprise.
Back on the ship, McCoy determines that, despite being unconscious, Aurelan and Peter are in extreme pain and injects them with painkillers. Aurelan has a greater resistance, and they bring her around enough for her to reveal that "they" forced a ship's crew to bring them to the planet eight months ago. Before dying from the excruciating pain, Aurelan reveals that "they" are spreading, controlling people's bodies and forcing them to build ships to spread further.
Kirk beams down to join the landing party and search for the creatures responsible. Inside a building, they find single-celled organisms that are highly resistant to phaser fire. When one of them attacks Spock, they pry it off, but Spock is immobilized with pain. They take him back to the ship where McCoy determines that the creature infiltrated Spock's spinal column with pieces of living tissue that are impossible to completely remove surgically.
In Sickbay, Spock revives and storms off to the bridge, but Nurse Chapel follows him with a sedative. When Spock tries to take control of the ship, Chapel shows up with the sedative just in time. Back in Sickbay under heavy restraint, Spock asserts that as a Vulcan he can control the pain. He apologizes for his earlier outburst and aborted attempt to take control of the ship. Kirk listens to Spock's reasoning and agrees to reconsider his confinement to sick bay if Spock can demonstrate control of the pain for some unspecified amount of time.
Later Spock is shown completely overcoming the pain induced by the creatures and breaking out of his restraints. Appearing in the transporter room equipped to return to the planet surface, he is confronted and stopped by Engineer Scott. Once Kirk and McCoy arrive to the transporter room, a debate ensues between the three, Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Utilizing his logical ways and thinking, he explains that he has to capture one of the creatures in order to discover more about them and how they can be destroyed. Arguing that he is the logical choice since he is already infected, Kirk accedes to Spock's plan to return to the planet surface. When Spock returns to the planet, he goes to the building where they found the organisms. He stuns one of the creatures and takes it back to the ship.
In the laboratory with McCoy and Chapel, Spock determines the creature is part of a hive mind that has come from a different universe and is nearly immune to phaser fire. Remembering that the man piloting the Denevan ship called out that he was "free" right as the ship was destroyed by the sun, Spock and McCoy test the creature against numerous properties of the sun, to no avail
Later on, as Kirk holds a conference meeting with the life science and medical department heads of the Enterprise staff, the various options for action by the Enterprise are discussed. Becoming aggravated, Kirk summarily dismisses both of the two options laid out and demands that his staff come up with a third alternative that neither allows the creatures to advance to the next set of civilizations, nor requires the Enterprise to destroy the bodies of one million human inhabitants, even Deneva, in order to stop the creatures.
Back in the captain's quarters, Spock and McCoy both report no new solutions have been found. While pressing a button on a small device, Kirk realizes that the one property they haven't tried is light. After light destroys the specimen, Spock volunteers to be exposed to the extreme light to test if that will work. They go to put Spock in the testing unit but forget to give him the protective gogles for his eyes during the test with the result that he is free of the creature but blind. Nurse Chapel reveals that only high-end (ultraviolet) light waves were necessary, not the blinding white light that McCoy used on Spock.
The Enterprise distributes the satellites and then energizes them. All of the creatures are destroyed, and the Denevans recover. Kirk is about to request a new first officer when Spock arrives on the bridge - his vision back to normal, saying it was from his Vulcan secondary eyelid. A relieved McCoy reluctantly admits he thinks Spock is the best first officer in Starfleet and Spock, with his superior Vulcan ears, overhears him, to the chagrin of McCoy.
Errors and ExplanationsEdit
The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic TrekkersEdit
- Kirk following the sound of the creature rather than Spock. Kirk is closer to the creatures than Spock, and is used to leading from the front.
- Kirk allowing the infected Spock to beam down in order to collect a creature for study, after the Vulcan attempted to disobey an order to remain on the ship by going to the transporter room and attacking two of his fellow officers. Kirk realises that Spock's actions demonstrate how important the request is.
- Kirk insisting that the blinding light be tested on a humanoid subject as soon as possible, rather than wait ten minutes for the test results. He knows that it would be impossible for the Enterprise to blockade the entire planet on it's own.
- Spock agreeing with Kirk that it would be best to proceed before receiving the test results. The pain being inflicted upon him by the creature is probably impairing his sense of logic.
- Only one of Sam and Aurelan's three sons being present. The other two were possibly old enough to be off planet during this incident.
- Scotty allowing the hood of the transporter console to block the line of fire, giving Spock the chance to attack, knowing that the phaser beam would damage the console. Scotty knows that, if he was forced to fire through the hood, the resulting explosion would force Spock back long enough for Scotty to fire another shot.
- Stephen Mendenhall on Sunday, November 15, 1998 - 1:47 pm: They take one of the creatures up to the ship and McCoy says he's tried every known radiation, including ultraviolet radiation. At the end of the episode, ultraviolet radiation kills the creatures. So why didn't it work when McCoy tried it? Maybe the conditions of the test were at fault. Either that, or the test subject was somehow kept alive remotely by the other creatures.
|The Original Series Season 1|
|Pilot episodes: The Cage I Where No Man Has Gone Before|
|Regular episodes: The Corbomite Maneuver I Mudd's Women I The Enemy Within I The Man Trap I The Naked Time I Charlie X I Balance of Terror I What Are Little Girls Made Of? I Dagger of the Mind I Miri I The Conscience of the King I The Galileo Seven I Court Martial I The Menagerie Part 1 I The Menagerie Part 2 I Shore Leave I The Squire of Gothos I Arena I The Alternative Factor I Tomorrow Is Yesterday I The Return of the Archons I A Taste of Armageddon I Space Seed I This Side of Paradise I The Devil in the Dark I Errand of Mercy I The City on the Edge of Forever I Operation: Annihilate!|