Stardate: 3219.8 (2267)
Original Air Date: November 10, 1967
Writer: Gene L. Coon
Director: Ralph Senensky
“Immortality consists largely of boredom.”
The Enterprise Galileo shuttlecraft is transporting Assistant Federation Commissioner Nancy Hedford (Elinor Donahue) so she can receive treatment for a rare and potentially lethal disease, Sukaro’s Disease. She was initially called upon by the Federation to prevent a war on Epsilon Canaris III. However, en route to a medical facility, the shuttlecraft encounters a strange energy field which Spock dubs “a cloud of ionized hydrogen, but with strong erratic electrical impulses.” They divert and land on a nearby asteroid, an iron-nickel planetoid.
Tragically, the Galileo shuts down due to some unknown force and across the craggy desert of this barren wasteland a voice can be heard saying, “haallooo!” This man is soon revealed to be Zefram Cochrane (Glenn Corbett), a marooned scientist who crash-landed on this asteroid after leaving his home on Alpha Centauri, and curiously enough, he is actually the inventor of the Warp Drive. He disappeared some 150 years prior. He was an old man when he fled Alpha Centauri and decided he wanted to die in space but he encountered this strange beam of light he refers to as “The Companion” which has reversed his aging process. The Enterprise crewmen continue to see “The Companion” on this asteroid. Apparently, “The Companion” has brought the Galileo to this remote place in order to unite Commissioner Hedford with Zefram because he has grown lonely.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Hedford’s disease continues to grow worse. And “The Companion” begins attacking with the crewmen with electric shocks and by means of strangulation. Its only respite is being called forth by Zefram when he clears his mind in order to communicate with the being. Thankfully, the Enterprise has been searching for the Galileo under the helm of Scott, Uhura, and Sulu. However, their work is cut out for them –there are quite literally thousands of habitable planetoids in this quadrant!
Spock and Kirk devise a method of communication with “The Companion” which reveals a feminine voice, and they learn that she is a lover of Zefram. Kirk pleads with her to let the crew leave or else they will die, and he reasons that Zefram can never truly love her. “The Companion” then disappears in order to unite itself with Commissioner Hedford. She is now cured of her disease and approaches Zefram just in time for the crewmen to be rescued by the Enterprise. However, because Hedford/The Companion must remain on this planetoid to preserve her life force, and Zefram elects to remain behind with her. Kirk promises not tell anyone about what has happened to the legendary Zefram Cochrane. Bones asks Kirk about the war on Epsilon Canaris III, for which the Commissioner was initially summoned by Starfleet, however Kirk merely smirks and suggests Starfleet can find another woman to prevent the war.
What a momentous event it must have been for Kirk et al to encounter the original scientist who invented Warp Drive (The Next Generation crew also encounters Zefram Cochrane in the past in Star Trek: First Contact though in that situation Cochrane is played by James Cromwell). What might our experience be like if we had the opportunity to meet the scientists and inventors of our age: perhaps people like Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Louis Pasteur, Thomas Edison, or Robert J. Oppenheimer?
I thought the idea of “The Companion” was intriguing –a bundle of unbridled energy with curiously for romantic inclinations. This is an alien being unlike most others we have encountered thus far in the series. And unlike others, “The Companion” has undergone a unique “metamorphosis” as the episode title suggests. It has decided to transform into a human in order to choose love against effective immortality. However, do we have any moral qualms about what happens to Commissioner Hedford? Are we sure this is truly her to choice to remain on the planetoid? Or is it the “Companion” half who dictates this choice? Even though Kirk pledges not to discuss his encounter with Zefram Cochrane, what of Commissioner Hedford? How will her absence ever be explained? And, most importantly, I echo Dr. Mccoy’s concerns about the war on Epsilon Canaris III, Kirk’s response that the Federation can simply find another woman to prevent that war (perhaps the opposite of Helen of Troy) is deeply unsatisfying.
A strange twist for me is when Zefram Cochrane decides to remain behind on this planetoid, despite the fact that a whole galaxy is likely waiting to bestow honors upon him for his scientific achievements (without which Starfleet would be neutered). Instead, he decides to live a quiet, anonymous life on this remote locale with a hybrid human-alien being as his paramour. I suppose one man’s paradise is another man’s hell. In all forms of life, people need a companion.
Lastly, I would be remiss not to mention the score in this episode. I was truly struck by this one by George Duning, it inspires a certain sense of place and wonder in this far away planetoid. I sometimes find myself nostalgic for these 1960s television musical accompaniments.
This episode was written by producer/writer Gene L. Coon (1924-1973), a key member of the creative team in the first and second seasons.
Director Ralph Senensky (1923- Present) is apparently still alive as I write this review making him nearly 100 years old. He directed many episodes of classic television including an episode of The Twilight Zone and six episodes of Star Trek.
Note: I’d like to acknowledge the passing of Nichelle Nichols (1932-2022) on the day that I write this review. She was a pioneer in many respects and will be greatly missed by many across the world.
Star Trek Trivia:
- This is the first appearance in Star Trek of Zefram Cochrane, inventor/discoverer of Warp Drive and an important figure to the series. He later re-appeared in Star Trek: First Contact and in alter iterations, as well.
- Diligent viewers have noted that Zefram Cochrane would have been born around 2030, though he appears considerably older in First Contact –a minor quibble among fans.
- “The Companion” being was designed by future Star Wars Oscar-winner Richard Edlund.
- The voice of “The Companion” was completed by Elizabeth Rogers, though uncredited for some reason. She later returned to the series twice as communications officer Lt. Palmer.
- Commissioner Hedford wore a colorful scarf on the set which ironically matched the colors of “The Companion.” Apparently, it was an unplanned coincidence.