Stardate: 4657.5 (2268)
Original Air Date: February 23, 1968
Writer: D.C. Fontana/Jerome Bixby
Director: Marc Daniels
“We do not colonize. We conquer, we rule!”
Kirk, Spock, McCoy and two other crewmen –Lt. Shea (Carl Byrd) and Yeoman Thompson (Julie Cobb)– beam down to a lush planet in response to a distress call. Two “human forms” slowly approach named Rojan (Warren Stevens) and Kelinda (Barbara Bouchet). They quickly reveal themselves to be hostile aliens intent on stealing the Enterprise. They use neural impulse devices attached to their belts which create a “paralysis field” operated by a central console which freeze the Enterprise crewmen in their shoes. Rojan declares himself now in command of the Enterprise with the intent to end human existence as we know it. They are members of the Kelvan Empire, who hail from the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. Their contingent was sent on a multi-generational mission through space to discover a new planet to occupy since within ten millennia their home planet will become uninhabitable due to high levels of radiation. The Kelvans plan to takeover the Enterprise and use it to return to their home planet on a 300 year journey by installing superior technology on the Enterprise which will allow for intergalactic travel in a mere 300 years rather than the thousands of years it would currently take for the Enterprise at maximum warp. The Kelvans’ descendants will be able to complete the journey. This group of five Kelvans were born in deep space and they clearly feel most comfortable in enclosed areas, like a spaceship, rather than on open “undisciplined” planets. Their natural form is as a hundred-tentacled species though they currently wear human suits as shells.
While they speak, three other Kelvans easily commandeer the Enterprise –Hanar (Stewart Moss), Tomar (Robert Fortier), and Drea (Lezlie Dalton). Kirk and crew on the planet are imprisoned in a cave with prison bars that Spock notes are a type of metal known as diburnium but considerably more dense. They make an escape attempt with Spock telepathically reaching out to Kelinda from inside the cave but the plot ultimately backfires. The Kelvans are significantly more powerful than was initially assumed. Lt. Shea and Yeoman Thompson are transformed by the Kelvans into tiny dodecahedron shapes as punishment and shockingly, Yeoman Thompson is crumbled into a pile of and killed.
Next, the Enterprise crewmen devise a new plot wherein Spock feigns sickness –Vulcans can willingly enter a trance-like state. Dr. McCoy tells the Kelvans that he is likely suffering from a bout of Rigelian Kassaba fever, a disease Spock suffered ten years ago which flares up from time to time. At any rate, when he awakens on the Enterprise, the Kelvans are headed at Warp 11 toward the galaxy’s barrier (a violent crossing of the barrier had previously destroyed their ship). When efforts to destroy their power source (located in Engineering) prove futile, Spock and Scotty engender a new suicidal plan to prevent the Kelvans from crossing by blowing up the Enterprise –but Kirk rejects the plan.
Once passed the barrier, the Kelvans begin neutralizing the non-essential crew (i.e. transforming them into tiny dodecahedrons), however inhabiting the human suits has begun affecting the Kelvans. They begin experiencing human feelings –enjoying food, drunkenness, flirtation, kissing, jealousy, and so on. Each of the four remaining Enterprise crewmen pursue the Kelvans with their own particular weaknesses: Kirk seduces Kelinda (“there are better things for men and women to do…”), Scotty gives an enormous amount of Saurian Brandy to Tomar (“What is it?” “Well, it’s green!”), Dr. McCoy drugs up the Kelvans so they will experience human emotions more acutely, and Spock uses his superior intelligence to gaslight Rojan and drive him mad with jealousy. This time, the plan works. Following a fight between Kirk and Rojan, Kirk manages to persuade him to end hostilities and join the Federation, especially when considering that future Kelvans will have to wrestle with these unpleasant human emotions aboard the Enterprise for the 300 year journey. A robot ship can be sent from the Federation while a suitable planet is found for the Kelvans. The episode ends on a hopeful note.
My Thoughts on “By Any Other Name”
Perhaps we might imagine that the Kelvans naturally look something like Kang and Kodos, the green-tentacled aliens who regularly appear in The Simpsons, albeit with a few more tentacles. At any rate, with some parallels to the Season 2 episode “Catspaw,” “By Any Other Name” sets up an intriguing premise that leaves some open-ended questions by the time the fourth act rolls along. For example, when injecting the Kelvans, why not ask Dr. McCoy to inject them with a sedative instead? Also, at the end, will all the Enterprise crew be returned to their normal form? And is there any risk of going back through the barrier since it had previously damaged the Kelvan ship? Will the Federation be able to use the new superior Kelvan technology going forward so they can travel faster across greater distances? Generally, I found the Kelvans to be a fascinating alien species, in particular their practice of multi-generational intergalactic travel which strikes me as fascinating. This was a fun middle-of-the-road episode in Season 2, especially when Scotty is asked about his drink and he drunkenly acknowledges it is “green!” It was also nice to see some continuity in the Trek universe regarding the great barrier at the edge of the galaxy as featured in “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”
Writer Jerome Bixby (1923-1998) was a prolific fiction writer known for his 1953 short story “It’s A Good Life” which became the basis of the classic Twilight Zone episode. “By Any Other Name” was the second of four Star Trek scripts he completed. D.C. Fontana completed rewrites. Apparently, his original script was too morose, being focused on the demise of humanity. He also crafted many other Western and Science Fiction novels which inspired movies like Fantastic Voyage and Alien, and even inspiring works by Isaac Asimov. Mr. Bixby died in 1998 at the age of 75.
Director Marc Daniels (1912-1989) was a World War II veteran and notable television director for a number of different shows. During his career he was nominated for several Emmys, two Directors Guild of America awards, and four Hugo Awards. He is tied with Joseph Pevney for most TOS episodes directed.
Star Trek Trivia:
- This episode title is an allusion to Shakespeare’s famous “a rose by any other name” from Romeo and Juliet which Kirk quotes in the episode.
- The drunken scene of Scotty’s “it’s green” comment was paid homage in the TNG episode “Relics.”
- The title is taken from a line spoken by Juliet in William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet: “that which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet”
- This episode was Julie Cobb’s acting debut (she played Yeoman Thompson whose character was tragically transformed into a tiny dodecahedron and crushed to death). She later appeared in many other shows, such as The Brady Bunch and Gunsmoke. Her father was Lee J Cobb, an actor who appeared in classic movies like On the Waterfront (1954), 12 Angry Men (1957), and The Exorcist (1973) among many others.
- German-American actress Barbara Bouchet (Kelinda in this episode) regularly ranks among the top females to be featured in Star Trek by certain fans. Once a playboy model, she later appeared as Moneypenny in the notorious and haphazard production of Casino Royale (1967). Her most recent notable appearance was in Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002). She is still alive as of the time of this writing (2022).
- Actor Warren Stevens, who played Rojan in this episode, was a prolific television actor. He appeared in the classic Twilight Zone episode “Dead Man’s Shoes” and The Outer Limits episode “Keeper of the Purple Twilight,” among many other classic shows of the ’50s and ’60s. He also appeared in Hidden Planet (1956), a classic science fiction film which had a huge influence on The Twilight Zone as well as Star Trek.
- According to Kelinda, the Kelvans are familiar with rapidly growing crystals on their home planet which are like flowers. They call them “Sahsheer.”
By Any Other Name is one of the easy reminders of how human-centric the Trek universe can often be. When we occasionally had the most non-human ETs in Star Trek, like Gorns, Tholians, Mugatos, Horta, Melkots or some greater ET diversities that the animated Trek could naturally provide, it was more fascinating for me. But the Kelvans having to take human forms and get stuck with it, even to the point of emotional conversions like love and enjoying the taste of food and liquor, might now be something of a turn off. Don’t get me wrong. It’s always nice when the ETs don’t have to be human to still be somehow relatable as people. But this episode’s way of handling it felt self-defeating. It’s better to see the term ‘human’ as just our term for the same values that all cosmic life may have, as ‘Vulcan’ can be Spock’s term, as ‘Klingon’ can be Worf’s term.
Thank you for your review and trivia.
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