Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Recap: Where No Man Has Gone Before (3 of 4)

This is the third 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 two parts are here and 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.

While he's recovering in sickbay, Mitchell begins exhibiting paranormal powers: he can read a page of text in moments and recall it perfectly; he can stop his heart and start it up again; he can telekinetically operate controls on the ship's bridge. Dehner, who has always had a soft spot in her heart for supermen, fall in love with Mitchell. First Officer Spock, though, is worried. He thinks they either have to maroon Mitchell on a deserted planet, or kill him. Kirk orders him to set course for the deserted planet Delta Vega.

"Stardate thirteen thirteen point one," Captain Kirk voiceovers as we see the Enterprise approach a red-tinted planet. "We're now approaching Delta Vega. Course set for a standard orbit. This planet, completely uninhabited, is slightly smaller than Earth. Desolate, but rich in crystalline minerals."

We cut to a view of the main viewscreen on the bridge, over the shoulders of Kirk, Alden and Kelso. The voiceover continues: "Kelso's task: transport down with a repair party, try to regenerate the main engines, save the ship."

Another angle on the bridge as Kelso and Alden pack up some equipment and head for the turbolift. Yeoman Smith is still standing next to the Captain's chair. "Our task: transport down a man I've known for fifteen years, and if we're successful, maroon him there."

In sickbay, Mitchell is back in his peach tunic. He punches a pillow into shape before lying down on the biobed. We cut to a shot of a cup bearing an Earth logo sitting on a counter. Back to Mitchell who mutters, "I'm thirsty." Back to the cup, which slides along the counter to position itself under a tap. Water pours into the cup from the tap.

Back to Mitchell on the biobed as the cup flies through the air to his waiting hand. The door to sickbay opens, allowing Kirk, Spock and Dehner to see the last few feet of its flight. The three enter. Dehner is carrying a rust-colored bag on her shoulder. Spock is wearing a silver belt with a phaser pistol attached. The phaser pistol looks just like the hand lasers used by Captain Pike's crew in the first pilot. Spock and Dehner remain by the door, while Kirk approaches the biobed.

Mitchell drinks from the cup, looks up at Kirk, then back to the cup, which he cradles in his hands as he says, "It's like a man who has been blind all of his life suddenly being given sight. Sometimes I feel there's nothing I couldn't do . . . in time." He lets go of the cup, which floats toward Kirk. Kirk catches it. Mitchell looks back at Kirk and continues, "Some people think that makes me a monster, don't they, Jim?"

After a moment, Kirk says, "Are you reading all our thoughts, Gary?"

"I can sense mainly worry in you, Jim," says Mitchell. "Safety of your ship."

"What would you do in my place?"

"Probably just what Mr. Spock is thinking now. Kill me . . . while you can." Mitchell smiles.

Kirk turns to face Spock, and takes a couple of angry steps toward him, before turning back to face Mitchell. As Kirk approaches Mitchell again, Mitchell waves his hand and an electrical shock sends him staggering back. Another wave, and Spock is shocked.

"Stop it, Gary!" Dehner insists.

A pause, which ends when Mitchell says, "I also know we're orbiting Delta Vega, Jim. I can't let you force me down there." This isn't going the way Kirk had planned. "I may not want to leave the ship, not yet. I may want another place. I'm not sure yet just what kind of a world I can use."

Musical sting.

"Use?" says Dehner.

"I don't understand it all yet, but if I keep growing, getting stronger, why the things I could do . . . like . . . like maybe a god could do --" Mitchell approaches Dehner. As he walks past Kirk, Kirk gives him a hard elbow to the ribs. (Why didn't Mitchell see that coming? Better not to ask.) Spock follows up with a left to the breadbasket (no Vulcan neck pinch yet), and Kirk lays Mitchell out with an uppercut to the jaw.

"I want him unconscious for a while," Kirk barks to Dehner as he and Spock hold him down on the biobed. Dehner responds with a hypospray to Mitchell's left arm.


The transporter room, and dammit, yes, that is the helm/navigation console that Scott is operating. Piper, holding a hypospray, approaches the door as Kirk and Spock drag Mitchell in and up to the transporter stage, with Dehner bringing up the rear. A musical sting as Mitchell comes to and starts to struggle. "You fools! Soon I'll squash you like insects!" Mitchell manages to snarl before Piper doses him again.

The five take up positions on the transporter stage, and Kirk gives the order to energize. As a tech in an olive green jumpsuit looks on, Scott does just that.


Delta Vega. We get a three-second establishing shot that shows us a building with a pentagonal entrance to the right, a line of five saucer-shaped tanks with a forest of pipework behind them, a dingy-looking building down a ways on the left, some jagged mountains off on the horizon, and some heavy greenish clouds in the sky. (Per the Okudas, the cracking station is a matte painting created by Albert Whitlock.)

We cut to the pentagonal entrance, where Kirk's group materializes. There's a sign on the wall to their right that says GALACTIC MINING DELTA-VEGA STATION. As Kirk and Spock prop up Mitchell, Kelso and a crewman in a blue tunic known only as the Guard show up. "Can you do it, Lee?" Kirk asks.

"Maybe," says Lee, "if we can bypass the fuel bins without blowing ourselves up."

"Take him," Kirk orders the Guard, and the Guard and Spock drag Mitchell into the building, followed by Kelso and Piper.

"There's not a soul on this planet but us?" Dehner says quietly, no doubt thinking of Mitchell being stranded here for the rest of his life.

"Nobody but us chickens, doctor."

Back to the establishing shot, with the tiny figures of Dehner and Kirk standing by the pentagonal entrance. Kirk goes in, and Dehner follows him.


Inside the mining station, we see Alden lugging a dismantled console across the control room, while jumpsuited techs work behind him. Setting it down on a pile of stuff next to Kelso, he says, "I think I got the 203-R set, Lee."

"Good, Alden," says Kelso. "Transport it up with you, will you?" Kelso has set up shop in front of a big window with a view of the rocky landscape of Delta Vega.

"Okay," says Alden as he carries off the 203-R set. Kelso walks over to Kirk, standing on the other side of the room.

"The fuel bins, Lee," says Kirk. "Could they be detonated from here? A destruct switch?"

Peering at a section of console, Kelso says, "I guess I could wire one up right there."

"Do it," Kirk orders. I predict Galactic Mining is not going to be happy about having their fuel bins detonated. The subspace channel to Earth is gonna be burning up when the home office on the Vega colony hears about this.

Spock has come up during this exchange, and he says, "He's regaining consciousness." He and Kirk exit stage right as Alden walks out with the 203-R set.


Mitchell is standing quietly in a room with a force field set up in the entrance. A buzzing hum comes from the force field. There's a sign on the wall next to it that says RESTRICTED AREA. Dehner and Piper are watching Mitchell as Kirk and Spock arrive. They pass by the Guard, who is monitoring the force field from a console about twenty feet away. Piper has a black bag on a strap over his left shoulder and a hypospray in his right hand. Kirk walks up to the entrance and watches Mitchell for a few seconds. Mitchell turns and stares at him, his eyes glowing silver. Kirk turns away and calls Piper over.

"I want only one medical officer here at any one time," he tells Piper, as Mitchell continues to stare at him. "The other will monitor him on the dispensary screen."

"I'd like to stay now," says Dehner. "Try to talk to him." Piper gives her a "fine with me" look, hands her the hypospray and walks out.

Kirk notices that Mitchell is looking at him.

"My friend, James Kirk," says Mitchell. When Kirk doesn't respond, he continues, "Remember those rodent things on Dimorus, the poisoned darts they threw?" (Btw, Dimorus is pronounced DIM-a-rus.) "I took one meant for you."

"And almost died," Kirk acknowledges. "I remember."

"So why be afraid of me now?"

"You've been testing your ability to take over the Enterprise," Kirk declares. "In the transporter room, you said something about us seeming like insects by comparison, squashing us if we got in your way."

"I was drugged then," Mitchell points out.

"Yes," Kirk admits. "In the sick bay, you said if you were in my place you'd kill a mutant like yourself." Now, strictly speaking, Mitchell isn't a mutant. Mutants are born different, whereas Mitchell became different as a result of an interaction with his environment.

"Why don't you kill me, then?" wonders Mitchell.

Because I'm not drunk with power like you, Kirk refrains from saying.

"Mr. Spock is right," Mitchell adds, "and you're a fool if you can't see it."

"You don't mean that, Gary," says Dehner.

"Man cannot survive if a race of true espers is born," Mitchell tells her. "In time you'll understand that." (Foreshadowing: your clue to quality drama.) He walks into the force field and turns interesting colors. Spock, taking no chances, draws his phaser pistol.

"Please, Gary," Kirk pleads. After five seconds in the force field, Mitchell steps back, takes a deep breath, and steps back into it again. "Gary, don't!" This time, less than a second passes before the force field throws Mitchell into the room, where he falls to the floor beside the bed. His eyes lose their silver sheen. The Guard hurries up from his console, phaser pistol in hand.

"Jim," Mitchell murmurs.

"His eyes went back to normal," Kirk points out.

"Fighting the force field drained his strength, for a while at least," says Spock. "He could be handled now."

Eight seconds after it went away, the silver sheen comes back, accompanied by a musical sting. Mitchell gets up off the floor and slowly approaches the entrance. "I'll just keep getting stronger. You know that, don't you?"


The Enterprise orbiting Delta Vega.

On the bridge, Alden and Scott are fitting white components from the mining station into the black surface of the Engineering Sub-Systems Monitor. As Scott slots the last component into place, the Engineering Sub-Systems Monitor lights up, back in working order. Scott gives a little ta-da wave of the hand. Y'know, they don't call him the Miracle Worker for nothing. A smiling Scott sits down at the helm station and flips a switch, producing a communicator chirp. "It fits like a glove, Captain," he announces.

Down at the mining station's control room, Kelso and two extras are at work while Kirk holds a communicator. We hear Scott's filtered voice say, "Oh, did Mr. Spock get the phaser rifle we sent down?"

Kirk replies, "I didn't order any . . . " as Spock walks in toting the phaser rifle. He stands with the rifle in his right hand and the phaser pistol still hanging from his belt. Mr. Spock is ready to rumble. "Affirmative," Kirk finishes. "Landing party out."

Kirk leads Spock over to the window. Spock says, "He tried to get through the force field again. His eyes changed back faster. He didn't become as weak." The unspoken question: isn't it about time we finished him off?

"Doctor Dehner feels he isn't that dangerous," says Kirk. "What makes you right and a trained psychiatrist wrong?"

"Because she feels," Spock answers simply. "I don't. All I know is logic. In my opinion, we'll be lucky if we can repair this ship and get away in time."

Kirk walks back to Kelso, who gestures at a Big Red Switch and says, "Direct to the power bins. From here, you could blow up this whole valley." Kelso does not ask who will be manning the Big Red Switch. Some questions you don't need to ask.

Kirk turns and trades one last look with Spock, then says, "If Mitchell gets out . . . at your discretion, Lee, if sitting here, you think you're the last chance . . . I want you to hit that button."
Musical sting. Fade to black.

(continue to part 4)

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