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A woman from a strange alien ship transports to the Enterprise. She stuns everyone on the bridge with a device on her forearm and takes an interest in Spock. When Kirk and McCoy wake up, they discover that that the woman has taken Spock's brain! They rig up something to control his body but even a Vulcan can only survive a limited time without a brain, so they must track down the woman's ship and recover the missing organ.
Friday September 20th, 1968
Starring RolesGuest Stars
An unidentified ion-powered alien ship approaches the Enterprise
and refuses to identify itself. Even Scotty is impressed by its design and Spock determines a single humanoid lifeform is aboard. The lifeform beams aboard the bridge and appears as an attractive woman. When security guards arrive, she stuns everyone with her wrist bracelet, first on the bridge and then across the entire ship. Smiling, she examines first Kirk, then Spock...Read the full recap
Writer 'Lee Cronin' is a pseudonym of former writer/producer Gene L. Coon. According to legend Coon wrote the script as a joke which apparently went too far.
This is generally considered to be the worst episode of the series. A number of possibilities account for some of the plot holes (see Analysis), but the sad fact is that such mental gymnastics are necessary because this episode was so poorly conceived.
This is the only time in the entire series that a rear-projected, moving image is used on the view screen. This allowed the actors to walk in front of it and added realism. In all other episodes of the series, if there is not an image matted into the view screen, then the screen was blank or contains a painted, static star field.
Nurse Chapel's collapse to the floor was recycled in "The Way to Eden".
Dr. McCoy: His brain is gone!
Kirk: Readout, Mr. Chekov.
Chekov: No structures, Captain. No mechanized objects that I can read. No surface consumption, no generation of energy. Atmosphere is perfectly all right, of course. Temperature, a high maximum of 40. Livable.
Kirk: You have a thick skin.
Kara: Brain and brain. What is brain?
Spock: While I might trust the doctor to remove a splinter or lance a boil, I do not believe he has the knowledge to restore a brain.
McCoy: Thank you.
McCoy: I'll never live this down--this Vulcan telling me how to operate.
Kirk: How do you feel, Spock?
Spock: On the whole Captain, I believe I'm quite fit. It's fascinating! A remarkable example of a retrograde civilization at the peak, advanced beyond any of our capabilities and now operating at this primitive level which you saw. And it all began thousands of years ago when a glacial age reoccurred. You see, this underground complex was developed for the women. Men remained above. And male/female schism took place. A fascinating cultural development of a kind...
McCoy: I knew it was wrong, I shouldn't have done it!
Kirk: What's that?
McCoy: I should have never reconnected his mouth!
Kirk: Well, we took the risk, Doctor.
Kara's bracelet has only three buttons but with the push of a single button it can torture only certain belt-wearers selectively. Another button selectively opens the belts but only for certain wearers.
What Changed in the Remastered Version
General improvements cited on the main series page. The orbital shots of Sigma Draconis VI get a surface upgrade and make it much clearer it's an ice planet. When the landing party beams down there is one new matte shot that shows snow and ice in the distance. The ion-propelled ship in the opening sequence is substantially upgraded and represents 21st century modern prototypes.
Kara rather neatly removes Spock's brain in this episode. McCoy notes that every nerve ending is sealed, and he is able to restore Spock's body to operation (more or less). Speaking practically, since Kara had no intention of ever returning Spock's brain, there is little reason for her to take precautions to keep his body alive. It would have been sufficient to simply transport his brain from his skull, and then connect the nerve endings into a waiting transport container - or possibly even the container designed to house the brain for the next hundred centuries or so. While she'd need to take pains to connect the brain's nerve endings carefully, there is no reason for her to take such pains with the body she left behind.
One possibility is that possessors of the Teacher's knowledge cannot innovate. That is, Kara learned a particular way to remove a brain from the data store, and this is how she did it. The method of removing the brain was designed to preserve the body (for whatever reason), and so that is how Kara performed the operation. That would be consistent with her lack of any sophisticated knowledge except what the Teacher imparted.
One might ask why a brain? We have computers now that are probably capable of running a large complex, or very nearly so. The science of Star Trek is three centuries more advanced, and the science of the precursor civilization on Sigma Draconis VI more advanced than that. So why didn't they use such a computer?
One answer might be cultural bias. If they placed a higher value on the thinking of living beings than on that of machines, they might have elected to use a brain instead of a computer. Another possibility is their fear that even their most sophisticated machine could not handle every contingency over the anticipated period of hundreds of centuries, and they felt a living, thinking brain could. Such a brain might better use flexible judgment in deciding when to use the stored knowledge, when and how to respond to problems, and even when to order its own replacement. Certainly the example of The Return of the Archons demonstrates that a computer, even will designed and programmed, might make very poor choices.
The eymorgs were shockingly dumb and it seems curious that the precursors would have permitted this. How would they ever rebuild their civilization following the ice age with such poor intellects? One possibility is that the females of this particular species were, for whatever reason, never very smart. Spock assumes their intellects declined from stagnation, but this is certainly not guaranteed to be true. Placing them within a complex engineered to look after them certainly argues that they couldn't function on an equal footing with the males on the surface, and their disinclination to resist such treatment tends to support such an argument.