Stardate: 5371.3 (2269)
Original Air Date: September 22, 1973
Writer: Marc Daniels
Director: Hal Sutherland
“It is possible this cloud in which we are entrapped is a living thing. The cloud is alive!”
A huge cosmic cloud has moved into the outer fringe of the galaxy –it is unlike anything anyone has ever seen before. Starfleet Command has sent the Enterprise to investigate since it is the nearest vessel within vicinity. Presently, the Enterprise is in the Pallas 14 System which contains the planet Mantilles, the most remote inhabited planet in the entire Federation.
From a distance, the Enterprise studies the fast-moving cloud. It is irregular in shape, and 800,000 square kilometers across. Lt. Arex notes it is twice the diameter of Saturn, Jupiter, and Neptune put together. The cloud quickly consumes the nearby planet of Alondra and it changes course heading for the planet Mantilles. At Warp 8, the Enterprise heads toward the cloud hoping to prevent planetary destruction. While en route, the crew debates whether or not to notify Mantilles (population of 80 million) and risk a mass panic on the planet, or else keep it a secret and hopefully prevent a crisis from occurring. The governor of Mantilles is Bob Wesley, who left Starfleet for the governorship –as Kirk notes, “he’s no hysteric.” Uhura issues a priority one message to Governor Wesley on Antilles, and he and Kirk discuss evacuation for the 5,000 children on Mantilles (Kirk checks in on the status of Wesley’s daughter Katie).
The Enterprise then confronts the cloud which has a stream of koinoenergy, almost an ambiplasma with an usually powerful attractive force. They fire phasers into the cloud while floating inward where they encounter some strange suspended gaseous antimatter –Spock suggest perhaps this cloud is actually alive, its components are similar to those in living organisms. “It is like a huge bull, grazing here and there on the pastures of the universe” as it consumes planets to sustain its energy. If it is a living organism, the Enterprise intends to give it a bad case of indigestion by heading deeper into the cloud’s stomach.
When the ship’s power starts depleting, they capture the cloud’s digestive “villi” which are composed of regenerative antimatter which the crew then uses to power the Enterprise further along. Next, they head for the “brain” where they debate whether or not to kill the cloud since Starfleet regulations prevent the killing of innocent, intelligent creatures. Spock attempts to telepathically communicate with the cloud and after a brief mind-meld, he successfully persuades to stop consuming planets where millions of tiny beings reside.
“Spock, what did you perceive?”
“The wonders of the universe, captain. Incredible. Completely incredible.”
My Thoughts on “One of Our Planets Is Missing”
This episode gave me flashes of old children’s cartoons like The Magic School Bus, as well as TOS episodes like “The Devil in the Dark” and “The Doomsday Machine.” I thought the premise was right in line with classic Trek, however in execution this is a bit of a stale idea at this point. Still, in keeping in line with an optimistic vision of the future, diplomacy and friendship wins over the day in the end, rather than violence and destruction. Persuasion remains one of the most powerful tools in the Enterprise’s toolkit.
Typically a 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:
- Marc Daniels was inspired by the TOS episode “The Doomsday Machine” when writing this episode.
- James Doohan performed the voice of Bob Wesley in this episode, whereas in TOS he was played by Barry Russo.
- After this episode aired, D.C. Fontana sent a memo to Gene Roddenberry listing errors within the episode, such as the incorrect Starfleet uniform worn by Bob Wesley.
- Director Hal Sutherland (1929-2014) directed all episodes of the first season of TAS. He gained early career recognition working on large Disney animation movies before switching to Filmation where he worked on TAS, as well as Flash Gordon, Batman, and Superman animated shows. Notably, pink is a recurring color in TAS. This is because Sutherland was colorblind and thought he was actually selecting the color grey.