It’s episodes like this that make me happy to be watching Star Trek. I’m feeling a lot of nostalgia, and it’s great. This episode also makes me glad I can pause the video. So much information can be missed if you don’t! So, you have been warned: spoilers ahead!
Season 1, Episode 3: Where No Man Has Gone Before
Original Air Date: September 22, 1966
Planet: None. Delta Vega
Featured Alien: None
Main Cast: Kirk, Spock, Scott, Sulu
Main Guest Characters: Lt. Cmdr Gary Mitchell (Gary Lockwood), Lt. Lee Kelso, Dr. Elizabeth Dehner (Sally Kellerman), Dr. Mark Piper
Things I Noticed
First off, it seems there are so many different characters. That’s because this was originally the second pilot episode, the one that was made after Lucille Ball encouraged NBC to give the show a second chance. Lucille Ball saved Star Trek! Some differences in this episode are that there are no red uniforms, instead replaced with a lighter yellow. Spock is wearing yellow and Sulu is wearing blue. In this case, Sulu is a physicist, not the helmsman.
McCoy, Uhura, and Rand are not in the pilot, but Scott is. So, this is the first time we get to see Scotty. The other main crew members that we see here are Lt. Commander Gary Mitchell, Dr. Elizabeth Dehner, Lt. Lee Kelso, and Dr. Mark Piper. Only Piper survives this episode.
Mitchell’s actor is Gary Lockwood, who is most notably in the 2001: A Space Odyssey movie as Dr. Frank Poole. Dehner’s actress is Sally Kellerman, who has had a long acting career. She’s still active! She was Major Margaret Houlihan in the M*A*S*H movie.
In this episode, Spock looks a little different. His eyebrows are slanted much more. He also smiles again. Since this was a pilot, and his character wasn’t firmly established yet, emotions slip sometimes. On the bridge, later in the episode, he shouts a lot. Very shouty Spock. We also find out that he has human ancestry.
One of the curious things I noticed is that they used zippers. If you look at Kirk’s collar at the beginning, you can see a 20th century zipper.
The first three episodes all have something to do with ESP or some other psychic ability. Isn’t that odd? Star Trek started out embracing ESP as a fact. Of course, we know this is a fairly common theme in the series, especially with Vulcans and Betazoids. But they have an ESP rating in their medical records. This is where pausing comes in handy with this. Dehner’s and Mitchell’s medical records are interesting to read. But what I found funny is that they’re typed with a typewriter, and then someone underlined key phrases with a pencil or pen.
More on technology, the S. S. Valiant used tapes, but so does the Enterprise. However, they look more like 3 1/2 inch floppy disks. Also, the communicator looks like clear plastic. It’s a bit different than the ones they use in later episodes. However, they’re still shaped like more modern flip phones.
The Enterprise went through a barrier at the edge of the galaxy, as had the Valiant. But I don’t really understand why there would be a barrier there. There’s no real scientific basis for this. That’s why it’s science fiction.
In an interesting parallel with the first episode of The Next Generation, Mitchell and Kirk talk about being at Deneb IV. That’s where TNG‘s first episode takes place. Not only that, both episodes feature beings with god-like powers: Mitchell and Q.
And finally, the sick bay’s walls are an awful shade of green. Why’d the choose that colour?
This should have been the first episode! With the major differences in cast and characters, it makes no sense for it to be the third episode. Really, it isn’t. However, it was aired after the first two. I wonder how much that confused people. But it turned out that this was a very good episode.
Gary Lockwood as Gary Mitchell was very good. He portrayed a man who was given the ultimate power and his arrogant nature was evident even before it happened. I just felt arrogance from him, and once he had those powers, he took advantage of them early on. Dehner was also affected, but exhibited the changes much later on. Both performances were good. I felt good about Kirk in this episode, too. Spock was Spock-like, but not totally.
We were treated to one of Kirk’s signature fights here, too. He’s the underdog, he gets bloodied up, and his shirt gets ripped. That always happens. He has a strange fighting style, but we love it, don’t we?
The action and tension in this episode were top notch for Star Trek. The original series never had the best fight choreography, but this was decent. And the main theme of this episode, absolute power corrupts absolutely is done well. Probably one of the better episodes, and really should have been the first.
What did you think of this episode? Let me know in the comments below. And stay tuned for a page for The Star Trek Project!