Original Air Date: October 20, 1966
Stardate: 2712.4 (2266)
Writer: Robert Bloch
Director: James Goldstone
“Aren’t you doing exactly what you hate most in Humans: killing with no more concern than when you turn off a light?”
The USS Enterprise is approaching a blue-tinted planet called Exo III –a frigid locale replete with ice fields, a frozen surface, and a deep labyrinth of underground tunnels. Exo III was once populated by an unknown race of ancient “Old Ones” who retreated underground after their sun went dark and now the planet has a surface temperature of 100 degrees below zero (the sun has been steadily retreating for a half million years or so). After being driven underground, the ancient race apparently developed a mechanical android race that is now believed to be long dead –Kirk notes that the natural, organic movement of human beings requires the light of reason which is unfortunately dimmed the further one retreats underground into caves and tunnels.
At any rate, Exo III is the last known location of Dr. Roger Korby (Michael Strong) –a renowned scientist whom Spock compares to the “Pasteur of archeological medicine.” However, no one has heard a word from Dr. Korby in years, his last message was sent over five years ago. To add another layer of complexity, Dr. Korby’s fiancé Nurse Christine Chapel (Majel Barrett) is aboard the Enterprise serving as Dr. McCoy’s assistant (we previously met Nurse Chapel in “The Naked Time” when she professed a secret infatuation for Spock). She once gave up a promising career in biological research on earth in order to venture outward into the cosmos with hopes of finding her long lost lover. After searching in vain for a communication frequency, Lt. Uhura suddenly discovers a fragmented message from Dr. Korby requesting that Kirk beam down to the planet surface alone, however at Kirk’s request he brings Nurse Chapel. When Kirk and Chapel arrive on Exo III, they find an empty, echoing network of tunnels weaving below the planet. Kirk communicates with Spock who is back aboard the Enterprise. He requests two additional security officers (of course they are classic Star Trek “redshirts”) one of whom — Matthews– is promptly killed offscreen when he is tossed down a bottomless pit, and the other –Rayburn– is soon killed while standing guard at the mouth of the cave. We sense danger is afoot.
As Capt. Kirk and Nurse Chapel are led through the network of underground tunnels, they are met by a cohort of emotionless, awkward people ultimately leading to Dr. Korby. In particular, they meet Dr. “Brownie” Brown (Harry Basch) who does not seem to recognize Nurse Chapel though they are old friends, and then they also meet a scantily-clad woman named Andrea (Sherry Jackson). It is quickly revealed that Dr. Korby has been building a unique band of androids in this underground lair, androids that are exact copies of their parent humans, complete with human memories and feelings. Dr. Korby intends to demonstrate how easily people can be copied, and so he creates an android copy of Capt. Kirk.
Why is Dr. Korby busy building this race of androids? Dr. Korby believes he can offer humanity an optimistic path toward immortality –imagine the possibilities! Like all great villains, Dr. Korby believes himself to be the hero of his own story. However the androids on Exo III were initially programmed by the “Old Ones” but the program was shut down after the androids eventually rose up and attacked the “Old Ones” for being inconsistent and illogical. To the androids, living beings are illogical by their very nature. Soon the episode’s twist is revealed –Dr. Korby is himself an android, created out of his own desire for self-preservation, a desperate thought which came to him while he lay frozen and near-death on Exo III.
Now, Dr. Korby’s intent is to secure passage aboard the Enterprise to a suitable colony wherein he can begin to develop a superior civilization ruled by androids. He sends the android Kirk aboard the Enterprise to locate a nearby colony, Midas V, and to prep for his arrival, but Spock quickly realizes something is unusual about the Captain when he angrily calls Spock a “half-breed.” But when Capt. Kirk is imprisoned he persuades the androids to rise up against their master, he particularly impresses upon a fearsome henchman named Ruk (Ted Cassidy of Lurch on The Addams Family fame) to turn on Dr. Korby. Ruk was an android left behind by the “Old Ones” until Dr. Korby found him alone in the caverns tending to the machines, an activity he had been performing for numerous centuries. And so the androids begin killing each other forcing Dr. Korby into a suicidal situation with Andrea as Kirk and Nurse Chapel watch in horror. At the last moment, Dr. Korby begs Nurse Chapel to believe he is still the same man, but it is too late. In truth, “little girls” are made of much tougher stuff than sugar and spice (as the episode title suggests). Dr. Korby and Andrea die of a self-inflicted gunshot blast together in a joint embrace.
“Survival must cancel out programming.”
Moments later, Spock and the landing party arrive asking where Dr. Korby might be. Kirk gravely responds: “Dr. Korby was never here.” Back aboard the Enterprise, Nurse Chapel decides to remain on the ship despite the death of her fiancé, while Spock takes offense at Kirk’s use of the term “half-breed.” Kirk smirks and replies, “I’ll remember that, Mr. Spock… the next time I find myself in a similar situation.”
What began as an innocent attempt to extend human life, ends in a fatal act of hubris as one man deludes himself into creating a master race of androids. Affirming life still remains a top priority for the Enterprise. Biology must be allowed to grow and evolve, unfettered by non-human machinations, and android life is still inorganic and non-sentient. The Prime Directive, which we learn about in later episodes, is still in question here. To what extent was Dr. Korby right to reinvigorate the android species developed by the “Old Ones?” Should they not be allowed to thrive, as well? If the situations were reversed, Ruk or Dr. Korby would surely have been imprisoned just as Kirk was in the episode. Perhaps in this case it becomes a battle of might vs. right, and organic life ultimately triumphs over artificial life, at least this time.
The writer of this episode, Robert Bloch (1917-1994), was a well-regarded author of science-fiction and horror. He was a Hugo Award winner, and is perhaps best remembered as the author of Psycho (1959) which later became the classic Hitchcock movie.
Director James Goldstone (1931-1999) directed a number of different movies and television shows, including an episode of The Outer Limits.
Star Trek Trivia:
- The teleplay for this episode was in poor shape by the time shooting came around, so Gene Roddenberry found himself frantically revising the script while filming was already underway.
- In the original script by Robert Bloch there was intended to be a wealthy socialite named Margo. in search of Dr. Korby not his fiancé Nurse Chapel. Gene Roddenberry felt an emotional connection from Nurse Chapel would play well against Dr. Korby’s cold indifference.
- Despite directing this episode and the classic “second pilot” episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” James Goldstone was never again re-hired for Star Trek because of the shooting delays which ran this episode over budget.
- The title for this episode is a reference to a 19th century nursery rhyme “What Are Little Boys Made Of?” It features the lines: “What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice.”
- For this episode, writer Robert Bloch gave a nod to his old mentor, H.P. Lovecraft, when referencing the “Old Ones” as well as the oblong, trapezoidal doors in Dr. Korby’s underground facility.
- There was apparently a censor behind the scenes during filming of this episode to ensure that Sherry Jackson’s scandalous outfit did not become too revealing (Jackson played one of the chief androids who somewhat ambiguously falls in love with Kirk and also has a somewhat ambiguous relationship with Dr. Korby, a relationship which understandably draws the ire of Nurse Chapel).
- The Lurch-esque android Ruk is played by Ted Cassidy in his only acting appearance in the series, however he also performed several voice-overs in other episodes. Of course, he played Lurch on The Addams Family.
- In this episode, we learn that Kirk’s brother is named George Samuel Kirk, but only Capt. Kirk refers to him as “Sam.” He saw Kirk off on this mission and wanted to be transferred to Earth Colony 2. This is all revealed when Kirk interrogates his duplicate android.
- The turtleneck worn by Dr. Korby and the lasers were all props re-used from the pilot.
- The soon-to-be-killed redshirt crewman named Rayburn who guards the cave entrance was played by Budd Albright. He previously played the ill-fated crewmen who was also killed in “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”