The Naked Time

frozen colony

The Frozen Colony

For the first time, but not the last, Star Trek goes into creepy mode. Not scary like a monster or disturbing like a friend gaining godlike power and trying to kill you. Creepy like making your skin crawl. The disturbing descriptions of death on the frozen colony, and the strange actions of the now-dead science team leave your Poore Trekkies with a freaked-out feeling, partially due to the striking similarity to the Dyatlov Pass Incident of 1959. We did a little digging, and couldn’t find anywhere else that drew this parallel. Maybe it was partially inspired by the real-life incident, maybe not.

Sulu fencing

D’Artagnan…I mean, Sulu

As the alcohol-water spreads throughout the ship, some of the creepy factor is lost, as even the crisis of the disintegrating planet takes a back seat to the antics of Sulu and Riley. While the whole episode is not intended to be funny, there are some moments that do elicit a laugh, especially as Sulu runs around the ship thrusting his foil at the crew. Which sounds…nevermind. I’m leaving that alone.

Once Sulu and Riley are subdued, the tension returns and the rest of the episode does manage to recapture that feeling of dread. There really are some wonderful moments, especially with Majel Barrett and Leonard Nimoy. First, Nurse Chapel’s declaration of love for Spock, which not only sets up many interesting moments between them in later episodes but also is heartwrenching as he apologizes for not being able to reciprocate. And then Nimoy’s flawless (and unscripted) portrayal of Spock’s emotional breakdown is very powerful, and sets up the conflict between his human and Vulcan sides.

Lt. Leslie

Lt. Leslie

A few other notable moments include the famous Scotty line, “I can’t change the laws of physics!”, as well as the most lines spoken by my favorite redshirt, Lt. Leslie (as played by the lovable Eddie Paskey).

Even if you laugh a bit at a shirtless George Takei halfway through, give this episode a chance to creep you out a bit. It’s well worth it.


Where No Man Has Gone Before

This episode was the second pilot for Star Trek, so as with The Cage, you can tell that there was a lot still up in the air as compared to the rest of the series. But even though the actors had not yet quite settled into their parts, and there are still a few notable main characters yet to be introduced, it does feel very much like Star Trek.

Spock playing 3-D Chess

Spock mocks your Earth emotions

While Spock is carried over from The Cage, we start to see him becoming more like the Spock we will eventually come to know and love. His half-human heritage is mentioned, as well as his embracing of logic- though his remark about irritation being “one of your Earth emotion” is delivered with a bit of snark, so it’s still a work in progress.

I consider this episode a very good representation of what Science Fiction, as a genre, is best at: using the incredible to teach a lesson about the mundane. In this case, it’s a take on the adage that “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Gary Mitchell begins the episode as Kirk’s old friend, and by the end is trying to murder him. Along the way, he kills a random crewman and begins corrupting Dr. Dehner as well. The part I find chilling is how even Gary admits that Spock’s recommended course of action – killing Mitchell before he becomes too powerful – is the right one.

Dr. Dehner

Dr. Dehner

I’m also fascinated by the character of Elizabeth Dehner. Gary Mitchell basically calls her an ice queen because she rebuffs his sexual innuendo at the beginning of the episode. Then, as the story progresses, she seems intrigued by his growing power. At times, I almost get the feeling she’s so swept along by the power he exudes – and begins to share with her – that she almost can’t control herself. Even though she doesn’t really put up visible resistance, once he gives her his shiny-eye, she almost seems dazed, following him without really understanding why. It isn’t until she sees him trying to kill Kirk that she finally comes to herself and uses her slice of the power to distract Gary enough that Kirk can take him down. When she dies, it’s almost as if she simply gives up the will to live. I’m frankly not sure what to make of this, to be honest. I just find the character’s descent very interesting, and very sad.

On a side note, this episode also marks the first of many times that Kirk gets his shirt ripped during a fistfight. Just thought I’d throw that in there.

While canonically the source of Gary Mitchell’s power is never explained (did it leech out of the barrier at the edge of the galaxy?), I’d like to point out as a note of interest that there is a novel (which of course is not canon) that claims it came from Q. Exactly how it happens, I won’t spoil, because it’s a great story that you should read.

Gary Mitchell

The power of Gary compels you!

Considering that The Cage was rejected for basically being too “cerebral” with not enough action, I admit I’m a little surprised that Where No Man Has Gone Before was accepted. Though it does have a bit more action, it’s also a character-driven episode with a lot of meat to it. That’s not a bad thing, either. Personally, I place it among my favorite episodes of TOS. It’s a solid entry and a great example of the Sci-Fi genre at its best.