Stardate: 2821.5 (2267)
Original Air Date: January 5, 1967
Writer: Oliver Crawford/S. Bar-David
Director: Robert Gist
“You’ve always thought that logic was the best basis on which to build command…”
The Enterprise is en route to Makus III with a cargo of emergency medical supplies to be transferred to the new Paris colony. However the course leads them on a detour past a mysterious quasar called Murasaki 312. This rare opportunity offers the Enterprise a chance to honor its standing order to investigate any and all quasar formations. Thus the Enterprise delays its voyage to Makus III for three days. Aboard the Enterprise is a Starfleet leader who is eager to get the supplies to the new Paris colony: High Commissioner Ferris (John Crawford, who also appeared in The Twilight Zone episode “A Hundred Yards Over The Rim”). The Commissioner loudly professes his disapproval of this side quest which will delay the delivery of vital medical supplies. Nevertheless, Kirk proceeds.
The Enterprise’s Galileo shuttlecraft makes its debut, it is dispatched to investigate the quasar formation. At the helm of the craft is Spock who is accompanied by Dr. McCoy, Scotty, Lt. Gaetano (Peter Marko), Lt. Boma (television actor Don Marshall), Lt. Latimer (Rees Vaughn), and Yeoman Mears (Phyllis Boyce, who appeared in Gone With The Wind as an infant). However shortly after take-off an electromagnetic phenomena occurs, consisting of ion interference and bionic radiation which damages and isolates the shuttlecraft as it heads directly into the heart of Murasaki 312. The ion interference prevents the Enterprise from establishing communication and it also blocks use of the transporter, and so the shuttlecraft is wholly lost in an area the size of four solar systems. A disconcerted Kirk notes, “finding a needle in a haystack would be child’s play.”
Kirk quickly launches a search party to locate the missing Galileo Seven. Uhura notes there is only one planet in the quasar which might support human life, a Class M planet (or “Type M” as Uhura says in this episode). The name of the planet is Taurus II. At the same time, a leering Commissioner Ferris never fails to remind the captain that time is running short to deliver the medical supplies. With all this in mind, Kirk sends out a secondary shuttlecraft –the Columbus.
Meanwhile on Taurus II, the Galileo shuttlecraft has crash-landed and is severely damaged, though the whole crew amazingly survived. As Scotty examines the damage he mentions that a re-launch will require five hundred fewer pounds, thus certain crewmen will be forced to remain behind. As the commanding officer, Spock will need to make a difficult choice. He does not relish being in this commanding position as he endeavors to conduct all his activities according to strictly logical concerns, but as Bones notes, few things in life are purely logical. The crewmen begin to grow weary of Spock’s cold and analytical ways (this whole episode is a fascinating and nuanced character study of Spock). However, there is little time to debate the finer points of logic as the Galileo crew suddenly encounters a hostile alien race that appears like ‘giant apes,’ a primitive group of hairy creatures, brandishing rudimentary wooden spears (not unlike an old Folsom point spear discovered in 1925, according to Spock). Both Mr. Latimer and Mr. Gaetano are killed by the creatures, while Spock and Scotty work tirelessly to repair the shuttlecraft, eventually Scotty hatches a plot wherein energy from the crew’s phasers might be used to re-launch the Galileo into orbit around Taurus II.
As time runs out aboard the Enterprise, Kirk is forced to abandon the search and head for Makus III however he orders the Enterprise to proceed at “space-normal speed” rather than the usual Warp speed. The mood is sullen as the Enterprise believes it has lost its fellow crewmen. But just then, after the Galileo launched itself from Taurus II, Spock makes the risky move of jettisoning the shuttle’s fuel and igniting it, creating a visible flare around the planet. As the shuttle drains its fuel and begins to burn up in atmospheric re-entry the Galileo crew begin to wonder if the gamble was all for nought. However, Mr. Sulu spots the fuel trail on the Enterprise screen and they manage to beam back the five remaining Galileo crewmen, alive and well with only seconds to spare.
Oliver Crawford (1917-2008) wrote the story and co-wrote the teleplay for this episode with S. Bar-David. He was blacklisted during the McCarthy era but later returned and wrote for a variety of television shows including The Outer Limits.
S. Bar-David (1924-2004) or “Shimon Wincelberg” wrote many Hollywood scripts. His Trek claim to fame was in writing two scripts and inventing the Vulcan mind meld as seen in the earlier Season 1 episode “Dagger of the Mind.”
Robert Gist (1917-1998) was a Chicagoan-turned-Hollywood director. He was involved with many shows and movies including The Twilight Zone.
Star Trek Trivia:
- The title of this episode is a reference to the seven crewmen aboard the Galileo shuttlecraft when it launches from the Enterprise, though only five will return.
- This episode (conceived of by Oliver Crawford and co-written with S. Bar-David) was inspired by the film Five Came Back 1939 (starring Lucille Ball).
- This episode features the debut of the shuttlecraft. The two crafts we see are named after: Galileo Galilei and Christopher Columbus.
- What is a quasar? Quasars are highly luminous objects left over from early explosions in the universe believed to be powered by supermassive black holes. They are sometimes referred to as active galactic nuclei.
- Many Trekkies have noted that the shuttlecraft would have been helpful in earlier episodes like “The Enemy Within,” though it had not yet been developed for the show.
- Wah Chang created the ape-creature makeup for this episode. It was considered too shocking/grotesque to show in close-ups, but the faces of the creatures can still be seen in the background of a few scenes.
- This is the first episode where Spock is the main character, as he had grown wildly popular among fans of the show.
- Many have noted the crew’s remarkable degree of insubordination toward Spock in this episode.