Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Recap: Where No Man Has Gone Before (2 of 4)

This is the second part of a recap of the second Star Trek pilot (and third aired episode), "Where No Man Has Gone Before", that I posted to the rec.arts.startrek.misc newsgroup back in November 2005 under the screen name Empok Nor. The first part is here.

The starship Enterprise under Captain James R. Kirk has discovered a ship's recorder from the S. S. Valiant, lost 200 years earlier. The Valiant encountered a strange energy field beyond the edge of the galaxy, and was disabled. Then, after looking up information on extra-sensory perception, the captain of the Valiant destroyed his ship. When the Enterprise encounters the same energy barrier, Second Officer Gary Mitchell and Dr. Elizabeth Dehner suffer some form of electrical shock. The shock has seemingly had no effect on Dehner, but has turned Mitchell's eyes silver.

A shot of the Enterprise as she slowly crosses the screen from left to right. Kirk's voiceover says, "Captain's Log, stardate thirteen twelve point nine. Ship's condition: heading back on impulse power only. Main engine burned out. The ship's space warp ability, gone."

Shot of the bridge as various crewmembers try to repair various consoles. "Earth bases which were only days away are now years in the distance." Kirk approaches the helm/navigation console, where Alden and Kelso are doing repairs to the navigation controls. Kelso makes an unheard comment while shaking his head. "Our overriding question now is, what destroyed the Valiant?" As Kirk makes his way over to Spock's library computer station, we see Yeoman Smith standing next to the captain's chair. "They lived through the barrier just as we have. What happened to them after that?" Spock is looking up at the viewscreen above his station.

A shot of Spock's viewscreen, showing Dr. Dehner's medical record:

Name: (last) DEHNER, P.H.D. (first) ELIZABETH
Present Address: (street) 1489 (city) DELMAN (state) NEWSTATE
Permanent Address: SAME
Birthplace: DELMAN Father's Birthplace (not visible)
Lineage: (blank) Mother's Birthplace (not visible)
Date of birth: 1089.5 Age: 21
Height: 5' 2" Weight: 116
Name: SAME

Interesting that her date of birth is given as a stardate, but no way is Dr. Dehner 21 years old. Perhaps this record page dates from when she graduated Starfleet. Also, note that her height and weight are given in English rather than metric terms. Next shot:


ESPER RATING and quotients are better than average in all cate-
gories. Subject officer's history indicates an esper orientation
pattern since childhood, evidenced in superiority at "guessing games",
reading cards et cetera. Esper-orientation and abilities are evident
through both the maternal and paternal bloodlines, but in only one
case does the indicated tendency toward ESP go back more than three

Subject officer has been aware of the high ESP rating since
secondary school days and it is, in part, the basis for interest and
vocational training as a psychiatrist. Participation in tests and
studies of other esper-oriented beings are the subject of a thesis
now being published by this officer in association with the College
of Medical Science of the Tri-Planetary Academy and was, in fact,
the reason for this officer's posting to the Aldebaron Colony.
It must be stressed this officer's interest in esper-perception
has been in relationship and pursuit to vocation as a psychiatrist.

All the underlining in the body of this report, btw, was done by hand. Also, it occurs to me that this report must have been written either by Dehner's superior at the Aldebaran Colony, or by Doctor Piper after her transfer to the Enterprise. Next shot:

Name: (last) MITCHELL, COMDR. (first) GARY
Present Address: (street) 8149 (city) ELDMAN (state) NEWSTATE
Permanent Address: SAME
Birthplace: ELDMAN Father's Birthplace (not visible)
Lineage: (blank) Mother's Birthplace (not visible)
Date of birth: 1087.7 Age: 23 Height: 5' 9" Weight: 167
Name: SAME

Again, no way is Mitchell only 23 years old. And his rank is given as full Commander, not simply Lt. Commander. Next shot:


ESPER RATING and quotients are well above average in all cate-
gories and exceptionally high in some. On planet Deneb IV, subject
officer showed a marked ability in sensing the telepathic communica-
tion used by the inhabitants of that planet. In at least three cases
(see notations on rear of report), subject officer carried on long
telepathic communication with selected Deneb IV natives and scored
80 percent or higher on comprehension.

History on subject officer from childhood shows a consistent
pattern of esper orientation, dating back to a better than average
ability at the usual childhood "guessing games", some grade school
interest and ability in elementary magicians' tricks, et cetera.
There is also a strong tendency through the maternal bloodline toward
esper-oriented abilities, dating back through at least six generations
to both males and females who dabbled in metaphysical studies and, in
at least one case, a female ancestor who was intersted in spiritual

As you can see, even better than Dehner. And some cool backstory on Mitchell's visit to the planet Deneb IV, and on that planet's telepathic natives. Which begs the question of why Mr. Spock, with his own marked Vulcan telepathic abilities, remained unaffected by the Galactic Barrier. Guess it doesn't work on Vulcans the same way as humans. The real reason, of course, is that it wasn't until the episode "Dagger of the Mind" that we found out that Spock was telepathic.

Cut back to Kirk and Spock on the bridge. Dr. Dehner emerges from the turbolift and says, "Autopsy reports, Captain." Handing Kirk a computer tape, she continues, "Each case showed damage to the body's neural circuit. An area of the brain was burned out."

"And you?" Kirk asks her. "Are you feeling all right?"

"Yes. Mitchell too, except for his eyes. We're trying to find a reason for that now, and why out of our whole crew only certain people were affected."

"I think we've found that answer, doctor," Spock interjects.

"You mentioned that tests show that you have a high degree of extra-sensory perception," Kirk reminds her. "So do the records of the others. Gary Mitchell has the highest esper rating of all."

"If you're suggeting there's anything dangerous --" Dehner begins.

"Before the Valiant was destroyed," Spock interrupts, "its captain was desperately searching for ESP information on his crew."

Dehner objects, "Espers are simply people with flashes of insight."

"Are there not also those who seem to see through solid objects?" Spock responds. "Cause fires to start spontaneously?"

"There's nothing about it that could possibly make a person dangerous," Dehner insists.

"Dr. Dehner is speaking of normal ESP power," Spock points out.

"Perhaps you know of another kind?" Dehner snarks. Well, as it happens, doctor, Spock does indeed know of another kind, but we won't find out about that until later.

"Do we know for sure, doctor, that there isn't another kind?" Kirk asks. Rather unfairly, IMHO. Of course we don't know that there isn't another kind. In fact, it's a common logical fallacy to assert the existence of some phenomenon by claiming that its existence has never been disproved. I'm surprised that Kirk's logical first officer doesn't point that out.

Is that a look of contempt on Dehner's face? It jolly well ought to be.


Close-up of a bio-monitor screen. We can see the words RESPIRATION and PULSE above circles that light up intermittently. A low beep keeps time with the pulse circle.

We cut to a wider shot of the bio-monitor screen, then pan down to Gary Mitchell resting on a bio-bed in sickbay. He's wearing a sleeveless blue jumpsuit that has an olive-branches-and-caduceus logo on the left breast. In his left hand is a small black control box with some silver buttons. His right hand is holding a monitor screen mounted on a jointed arm. The jointed arm, btw, has a niche in it that holds several computer tapes. We can see lines of text on the monitor screen. Mitchell eventually drops the control box on the bed and switches off the monitor. Picking up the control box again, he stretches, yawns, and turns over onto his side.

The door opens and Kirk enters. "Hello, Jim," says Mitchell without turning to see who it is. Finally, he turns to look at Kirk and says, "Hey, you look worried."

Kirk smiles and says, "I've been worried about you ever since that night on Deneb IV."

Mitchell laughs and says, "Yeah, she was nova, that one." Ah, this would be one of the telepathic natives of Deneb IV, would it? Hmmmmmm. "Not nearly as many aftereffects this time." Aftereffects? Double hmmmmmm. (Wikipedia notes that Deneb is a blue giant star in the constellation Cygnus, spectral class A2 Ia, and that estimates of its distance from Earth vary from 1600 to 3200 light years.) "Except for the eyes," Mitchell adds. "They kind of stare back at me when I'm shaving."

Approaching him, Kirk asks, "Do you . . . feel . . . any different?"

"In a way, I feel better than I've ever felt before in my life. Actually seems to have done me some good."

"How?" Kirk wonders.

"Well, I'm getting a chance to read some of that longhair stuff you like," says Mitchell as he hands Kirk some computer cassettes. He laughs and puts his hands behind his head as he reminisces. "Hey, man, I remember you back at the academy. A stack of books with legs. The first thing I ever heard from an upperclassman was, 'Watch out for Lieutenant Kirk. In his class you either think, or sink'."

Kirk laughs along with Mitchell and says, "I wasn't that bad, was I?"

"If I hadn't aimed that little blonde lab technician at you --"

"You what?" says a surprised Kirk. "You planned that?"

"Well, you wanted me to think, didn't you?" Mitchell chuckles. "I outlined her whole campaign for her."

"I almost married her!" says an outraged Kirk. And of course, the inevitable thought that occurs at this point is, are they talking about Carol Marcus? That would be spooky.

Still smiling, Mitchell says, "Better be good to me. I'm getting even better ideas here." He turns the monitor to face Kirk.

Kirk switches it back on and reads it, then says with a grin, "You? Spinoza?"

"Once you get into him, though, he's rather simple," says Mitchell. "Childish, almost. I don't agree with him at all." Among other things, Spinoza was a strict determinist who argued that free will was an illusion. Naturally, this is not an idea Mitchell is going to have much sympathy for.

"Go on," says Kirk.

Mitchell smiles again and says, "Hey, I'm trying to tell you I feel fine. When do I go back on duty?"

"I'm going to ask Dr. Dehner to keep you under observation for a while," says Kirk.

Mitchell is not pleased to hear this. "With almost a hundred women on board, you can do better than that, friend Captain."

Grinning again, Kirk says, "Consider it a challenge." Is this Kirk's way of getting back at Mitchell for pulling that lab technician stunt? Could be.

"That doesn't sound very friendly," Mitchell remarks. As Kirk turns to go, Mitchell adds, in a loud voice echoing with reverb, "Didn't I say you'd better --"

Kirk turns back around, shocked. Mitchell finishes in his normal voice, " . . . be good to me?"

Kirk tries to smile again, but it doesn't take. After he leaves, Mitchell returns to the monitor. He clicks through the pages about once each second, then faster and faster.


On the bridge, the pages from Mitchell's monitor also appear on the screen above Spock's station, flicking by faster and faster. As Kirk joins him, Spock says, "He's reading faster now than just a few moments ago. Is that Gary Mitchell? The one you used to know?"

Another shot of the screen, now showing Mitchell in sickbay clicking through pages.

Kirk orders, "Put a twenty-four hour watch on sickbay. Fullest possible range of examinations and tests." Spock nods and goes off to see that it's done. Kirk continues watching Mitchell. On the screen, Mitchell turns and looks back at Kirk.


Sickbay. Another shot of the biobed monitor. Piper pushes a button on the monitor a couple of times, then remarks, "Perfect. Perfect. I've never had a patient like you, Gary. Even the healthiest are generally off on some readings." Paul Fix plays Piper as completely oblivious. No wonder GR wanted DeForest Kelley to play the ship's doctor. Holding a little black bag to his side, Piper turns and exits sickbay, leaving Dehner alone with Mitchell. She's leaning against the wall next to the exit.

"I know you don't particularly like me, Mr. Mitchell," she says, "but since I am assigned to you, can we make the best of it?"

"I've got nothing against you, doctor," Mitchell says with a smile.

"Or against a 'walking freezer unit'?"

Nodding rather sheepishly for a mental superman, Mitchell says, "Well, yeah. Sorry about that." Enjoy that apology, doctor. Mitchell isn't going to be handing them out for much longer.

Smiling, Dehner approaches Mitchell, saying, "Women professionals do tend to overcompensate. Now let's talk about you. How do you feel?"

As he sits up, Mitchell says, "You know, everybody, everybody seems worried that I don't have some kind of a fever or something." Turning to look up at the biobed monitor, he adds, "Maybe if I could just change these dials . . . "

The readings immediately all shoot up, and the pulse beep sounds like a set of maracas.

Dehner is appalled, but Mitchell just has a "hmmmm" look on his face. "Now back to normal, I think," he says, and the readings do indeed go back to normal.

"How did you do that?" asks Dehner.

Looking troubled for the first time, Mitchell says, "I'm not sure." He perks up as he says, "I just thought of making it happen, and it does." With a chuckle, he adds, "Hey, uh, hey watch this, doc." The biomonitor readings all plunge to zero, and Mitchell collapses unconscious onto the bed. (This occurs at the 18:27 mark, for those of you keeping track.)

A flabbergasted Dehner looks up at the biomonitor, then down at Mitchell, then up at the biomonitor again, then down at Mitchell again. She takes his hand and says, "Stop it! Stop it!" She leans over to listen for his heart. Then she looks up at his face, at which point Mitchell's eyes open. (The time is 18:43. Mitchell has been "dead" for sixteen seconds.) As he smiles at her, she says, "You were dead for almost twenty-two seconds. There were no readings at all."

Mitchell brings his hand up to brush against Dehner's face before touching his own. Taking her hand and laughing a nervous laugh, he says, "You know, doc, there've been other things, too. Like going halfway through the ship's library in hardly a day. Yeah." Stroking her hand, he mutters, "Oh, what's happening to me?"

"Do you remember everything you read that quickly?"

Mitchell nods. "Yeah."

"On any tape?"

Nodding again, Mitchell repeats, "Sure, yeah."

Dehner picks up one of the cassetts, shows it to him, and says, "Try this one." She slots it into the reader and says, "Page three eighty-seven."

Mitchell recites, "My love has wings/slender feathered things/with grace in upswept curve/and tapered tip."

As Dehner looks over from the monitor, Mitchell notes, " 'Nightingale Woman', written by Tarbolde on the Canopus planet back in nineteen ninety-six." (Wikipedia notes that Canopus is a yellow supergiant star in the constellation Carina, spectral type F0 Ib, 310 light years from Earth. Incidentally, Mitchell actually pronounces the name "Canopius".) "It's funny you picked that one, doctor," he adds.

"Why?" asks Dehner as she switches off the monitor.

Mitchell grabs her by the arm and brings her face close to his. "That's one of the most passionate love sonnets in the past couple of centuries." Staring into her eyes, he says, "How do you feel, doctor?"

Dehner makes no attempt to pull away from Mitchell, simply responding with a dazed, "What?"

"How do you feel?"

"I just fell," Dehner says, referring to her episode on the bridge. "Nothing happened."

"Are you sure?" Mitchell whispers. "Are you sure?"

Whether Dehner is sure that nothing happened to her will never be known, because at this point the door opens and Kelso walks in, stopping short when he sees that his pal Gary is in the middle of another one of his conquests. Discreetly clearing his throat, Kelso says, "Uh, I was on my coffee break. I thought I'd, uh, check up on . . . "

As Dehner slowly straightens up, Mitchell gives Kelso an enthusiastic, "Yeah, that's okay, Lee, come on in. Don't let the light in my eyes bother you, pal. It's all for our, uh, our good looking lady doctor, here."

"Yeah, sure," says Kelso, plainly still uneasy.

"So, uh, so how go the repairs?"

"Well, the main engines are gone unless we can find some way to re-energize them."

"You better check the starboard impulse packs," Mitchell warns him. "Those points have about decayed to lead."

"Oh, yeah, sure, Mitch." That Gary, always with the funny remarks.

"I'm not joking, Lee!" Mitchell warns with an edge in his voice. "You activate those packs and you'll blow the whole impulse deck!"

Now Kelso is really freaked. "I'll, uh, I'll get on it right away. I just wanted to stop by and make sure you were okay. See you later." Kelso makes a quick exit.

"He's a fool," Mitchell says angrily as he leans back in bed. "A fool. He'd seen those points and he hadn't noticed their condition."

Dehner is staring at him. "How do you know?"

Mitchell is clearly torn between awe and fear. "The image of what he'd seen was still in his mind."


The briefing room. A close up of some gizmo lying on the table. We open out into a wide shot of the room as Kelso picks it up and says, "Well, it didn't make any sense that he'd know, but naturally I checked out the circuit anyway." Kirk and Spock are seated at one end of the table. Clockwise from Spock are Kelso on the left side of the table and Sulu, Scott and Piper at the other end. Carrying the gizmo over to Kirk, Kelso continues, "I don't know how, but he was right. This point is burned out exactly the way he described it."

You know, if you think about it, this is so straightforward it almost isn't technobabble. "Decayed almost to lead" means radioactive decay. The points on the power packs are made up of some transuranic element, and passing through the Galactic Barrier caused the rate of radioactive decay to speed up until the points were practically all lead. This prevents the energy stored in the rest of the power pack from passing through to the ship's systems. I'm not quite sure how this would cause the power packs to blow up if they were used, but that's a minor quibble compared to how much sense the rest of the explanation makes.

Anyway, as Kirk takes the gizmo from Kelso, Dehner enters and sits on the right side of the table, between Piper and Kirk, saying, "Sorry I'm late. I became so interested in observing Gary -- Mr. Mitchell -- "

"Our subject is not Gary Mitchell," Spock says. "Our concern, rather, is what he is mutating into."

Dehner doesn't like the sound of that. "I know those from your planet aren't supposed to have feelings like we do, Mr. Spock, but to talk that way about a man you've served next to for years is worse than even --"

"That's enough, doctor," Kirk interrupts her.

But Elizabeth Dehner, P.H.D. is intent on speaking her mind. "I don't think so," she tells Kirk. "I understand you least of all. Gary told me that you've been friends since he joined the service, that you asked for him aboard your first command." It would later be established that at this point, Kirk had only recently been given command of the Enterprise, though Spock had been serving on her for over ten years. However, Samuel A. Peeples couldn't know that, so he implies here that Kirk and Mitchell have been aboard, and serving with Spock, for several years.

"It is my duty, whether pleasant or unpleasant," Kirk informs her, "to listen to the reports, observations, even speculations, on any subject that might affect the safety of this vessel. And it's my Science Officer's duty to see that I'm provided with it. Go ahead, Mr. Spock."

Spock asks Dehner, "Have you noted evidence of unusual powers?"

Dehner pauses while she tries to put Mitchell's strange abilities in an unthreatening light. "He can control . . . certain autonomic reflexes." Like making his heart stop beating, and then starting it up again. "He reads very fast, retains more than most of us might consider usual." Like, everything.

Kirk drops his bombshell: "Mr. Scott, would you repeat what you just told us?"

"About an hour ago," says Scott, "the bridge controls started goin' crazy. Levers shiftin' by themselves, buttons bein' pushed, instrument readings changin'."

"And on my monitor screen," Spock adds, "I could see Mitchell smiling each time it happened, as if this ship and crew were almost a toy for his amusement."

Kirk leans forward and peers at Dehner. "Are they right, doctor? Has he shown abilities of such magnitude?" In other words, have you been bullshitting me about how powerful Mitchell is?

"I saw some such indications," Dehner weasels.

"And you didn't think it worth mentioning?"

"No one's been hurt, have they?" Dehner insists. In fact, Mitchell probably just saved a bunch of guys down in engineering. I'd say he's definitely ahead on points. You'd think they'd cut him some slack. "Don't you understand?" she continues. "A mutated superior man could be a wonderful thing, the forerunner of a new and better kind of human being!" Looks like Mitchell was right on the bridge about Dehner's desire to "improve the breed".

Of course, if Kirk wanted to, he could cite the Eugenics Wars for an example of the downside of having a new and better kind of human being around. But that, like Spock's telepathic abilities, is a bit of canon that hasn't been canonized yet. In any event, Dehner's outburst leaves everybody in the briefing room looking at her like she's just lost her mind (which is kind of ironic, actually). Eventually, Kirk says, "Mr. Sulu."

The blue-tunicked Asian astrophysicist responds by speaking his second line of the episode: "If you want the mathematics of this, Mitchell's ability is increasing geometrically. That is like having a penny, doubling it every day. In a month, you'll be a millionaire."

"In less time than that," Spock notes, "he will have attained powers we can't understand and can't cope with. Soon, we'll be not only useless to him, but actually an annoyance."

Kirk stands up: meeting over. "There'll be no discussion of this with the crew. Thank you."

As the briefing participants gather up their computer cassettes and head out, Spock pauses, then turns to speak with Kirk. "We'll never reach an Earth base with him aboard, Jim." Note that the Federation itself isn't canon yet. Enterprise is an Earth ship, visiting Earth bases and Earth colonies like the Aldebaran colony in between visits to alien worlds like Deneb IV. "You heard the mathematics of it," Spock continues. "In another month, he'll have as much in common with us as we'd have with a ship full of white mice."

Kirk, who hasn't bothered to turn around and actually face Spock, says, "What I need are recommendations, Spock, not vague warnings."

"Recommendation one: there's a planet a few light-days away from here, Delta Vega. It has a lithium cracking station. We may be able to adapt some of its power packs to our engines." A light-day is a little over sixteen billion miles, over four times the distance from Pluto to the sun. "A few light-days" is uncharacteristically imprecise of Spock, but presumably means that Delta Vega is about fifty billion miles away.

Which begs the question of just what a lithium cracking station is doing way out here on the edge of the galaxy, when the Enterprise is only the second Earth ship to make it this far out in the last 200 years. And what about that name, Delta Vega? Vega is a mere 26.5 light-years from Earth, just about as far from the edge of the galaxy as Earth itself. Maybe the station was set up by an automated mining ship sent out by the Vega colony (mentioned in the first pilot as Pike's original destination before he diverted course for Talos IV). Presumably, warp-capable automated freighters stop by every so often to load up some cracked lithium and haul it back to the Vega colony, where it can be processed and repackaged and sold to everybody in Earth's sphere of influence who needs some cracked lithium.

Anyway, Kirk responds, "And if we can't, we'll be trapped in orbit there. We haven't enough power to blast back out."

"It is the only possible way to get Mitchell off this ship," Spock points out. He doesn't point out that a much easier way to get him off the ship is to just transport him into space.

"If you mean strand Mitchell there, I won't do it!" Kirk barks. This, at last, is enough to get him to turn his head and establish a brief eye contact with Spock. Turning back, he adds, "The station is fully automated. There's not a soul on the whole planet. Even the ore ships call only once every twenty years." Wow, just how long has this place been in operation? And Earth is only now sending a starship out to have a look? The Vega colony has really got a leg up on Earth.

"Then you have one other choice," Spock states. "Kill Mitchell while you still can." Did I mention that the transporter can just beam him off the ship anytime you give the order? This, presumably, is Spock's recommendation number two.

Kirk turns and walks back to the table, still not looking at Spock. "Get out of here," he mutters.

"It is your only other choice," Spock insists. "Assuming you make it while you still have time."

"Will you try for one moment to feel?" says Kirk. "At least act like you've got a heart. We're talking about Gary."

"The captain of the Valiant probably felt the same way," Spock says. "And he waited too long to make his decision. I think we've both guessed that." Still, it wasn't a total loss. As revealed in Friedman's The Valiant, about 70 members of the Valiant's crew escaped from the ship before it was destroyed, and settled on a class-M planet on the far side of the Galactic Barrier.

Finally, Kirk makes his decision. "Set course for Delta Vega," he orders Spock, then sits at the table while Spock leaves the briefing room.

Musical sting. Fade to black.

(continue to part 3)

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