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Star Trek: The Tholian Web

The Enterprise investigates the disappearance of its fellow starship the U.S.S. Defiant. Kirk takes a team over and they find the entire crew dead, having killed each other in fits of madness. The Defiant starts to vanish and everyone but Kirk makes it back before it disappears for good. Spock orders the Enterprise to stay in the area to attempt a recovery, but the crystalline Tholians launch an attack and the Enterprise crew start to experience the same madness that destroyed the Defiant crew.

Episode Info
Episode number: 3x9
Production Number: 60043-64
Airdate: Friday November 15th, 1968

Starring Roles
James DoohanJames Doohan
As Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott
George TakeiGeorge Takei
As Lt. Hikaru Sulu
Walter KoenigWalter Koenig
As Ensign Pavel Chekov
Nichelle NicholsNichelle Nichols
As Lt. Nyota Uhura
Majel BarrettMajel Barrett
As Nurse Christine Chapel

Guest Stars
Sean Morgan (1)Sean Morgan (1)
As Lt. O'Neil

Barbara BabcockBarbara Babcock
voiced Tholian / Commander Loskene
Bob BralverBob Bralver
As Berserk Engineer
Frank Da VinciFrank Da Vinci
As Brent/Vinci
Jay D. JonesJay D. Jones
As Dizzy Crewman
Jeannie MaloneJeannie Malone
As Yeoman
Louie EliasLouie Elias
As Crazed Crewman
Paul BaxleyPaul Baxley
As Defiant Captain
Roger HollowayRoger Holloway
As Mr. Lemli
William BlackburnWilliam Blackburn
As Lt. Hadley
Main Cast
William ShatnerWilliam Shatner
As Captain James Tiberius Kirk
Leonard NimoyLeonard Nimoy
As Commander Spock
DeForest KelleyDeForest Kelley
As Dr. Leonard Horatio "Bones" McCoy


The Enterprise is approaching the last known coordinates of its sister starship Defiant, which vanished three weeks ago in unsurveyed territory. Spock reports that space in the vicinity is somehow breaking up, while Scotty reports that they’re losing energy from the warp drives. They spot an object ahead but Spock can’t detect it on the sensors. They get close enough to confirm that it’s the Defiant. Kirk orders Spock, Chekov, and McCoy to accompany him to the Defiant. They transport over wearing life support suits and discover that the bridge crew are dead, apparently having killed each other...

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Episode Notes
Although they were mentioned numerous times on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Tholians would not appear on Star Trek again until the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Future Tense", almost 35 years later.

The original title of this episode was "In Essence - Nothing.".

The series was nominated for an Emmy Award for the special effects in this episode.

The Japanese title of this episode, translated into English, is "Crisis of Captain Kirk Who Was Thrown into Different Dimensional Space".

In one shot in this episode, James Doohan's hair is noticeably different than in the remainder.

Episode Quotes
McCoy: You should've known what could've happened and done everything in your power to safeguard your crew. That is the mark of a starship captain, like Jim.
Spock: Doctor, I hardly believe this is the time for comparisons.

Spock: (at Kirk's memorial service) A few hours ago, the Captain elected to remain on board the Defiant so that three members of his crew would have the best chance of returning safely to the Enterprise. His concern was not only for them, but for all the members of the crew of this ship. You all know the sequence of events: We were fired upon by the Tholian ship. At that time, Captain Kirk may have been alive. I deemed it necessary to return the Tholian fire for the safety of the Enterprise. The Tholian ship has been disabled. But, as a result of the battle, we must accept the fact that Captain Kirk is no longer alive...I shall not attempt to voice the quality of respect and admiration which Captain Kirk commanded. Each of you must evaluate the loss in the privacy of your own thoughts.

McCoy: (to Spock) The captain's last order is top priority, and you will honor that order before you take over. He was a hero in every sense of the word yet his life was sacrificed for nothing. The one thing that would have given his death meaning is the safety of the Enterprise. Now you've made that impossible.

McCoy: But you must know that if you get us out of this situation, they'll pin a medal on your chest and give you command of the Enterprise.
Spock: Doctor, I am in command of the Enterprise.
McCoy: I would like to remedy that situation.

Kirk: Bones, Spock... since you are playing this tape, we will assume that I am dead, that the tactical situation is critical, and both of you are locked in mortal combat. It means, Spock, that you have control of the ship and are probably making the most difficult decisions of your career. I can offer only one small piece of advice, for whatever it's worth--use every scrap of knowledge and logic you have to save the ship. But temper your judgment with intuitive insight. I believe you have those qualities, but if you can't find them in yourself, seek out McCoy. Ask his advice. And if you find it sound, take it. Bones, you've heard what I've just told Spock. Help him if you can, but remember, he is the captain. His decisions must be followed without question. You might find that he is capable of human insight and... human error. They are most difficult to defend, but you will find that he is deserving of the same loyalty and confidence each of you have given me. Take care.

Spock: In critical moments men sometimes see exactly what they wish to see.
McCoy: Do you suppose they're seeing Jim because they've lost confidence in you?
Spock: I am merely stating a fact.

McCoy: I... I'm sorry.
Spock: I understand, Doctor. I'm sure the captain would simply have said, "Forget it, Bones."

Scotty: You're trying to kill us all?
Spock: If I remember correctly, it only causes fatality only when used in pure form.
McCoy: That's right. And in this derivative mixed with alcohol, it merely deadens certain nerve inputs to the brain.
Scotty: Ah, well, any decent brand of Scotch will do that.
McCoy: Umm, well, one good slug of this, and you can hit a man with phaser stun and he'd never feel it or even know it.
Scotty: Does it make a good mix with Scotch?
McCoy: It should.
Scotty: (grabbing a bottle) I'll let you know.

Kirk: I had a whole universe to myself after the Defiant was thrown out. There was absolutely no one else in it. I must say I prefer a crowded universe much better.

Kirk: How'd you two get along without me?
McCoy: Oh, we managed. Mr. Spock gave the orders, and I found the answers.
Kirk: Good. No problems between you?
Spock: None worth reporting, Captain.
Kirk: Try me.
Spock: Ummm, only such minor disturbances, as are inevitable when humans are involved.
Kirk: Which humans, Mr. Spock?
McCoy: What he means that when humans become involved with Vulcans, Jim.
Kirk: Ah, yes. I understand. Well, I hope my last orders were helpful in solving any problems that you don't feel worth reporting.
Spock: Orders, Captain?
McCoy: What orders are you referring to, Jim?
Kirk: My last orders. The last orders that I left for both... for both of you. The last taped orders.
McCoy: Oh, those orders. Well, there wasn't time. We never had a chance to listen to them.
Spock: No. You see, the crisis was upon us, and then passed so quickly, Captain, that we...
Kirk: Good. Good. Well, I hope we won't have similar opportunities to test those orders... which you never heard.

Episode Goofs
It is extremely convenient that Dr. McCoy just happens to arrive on the bridge immediately after Chekov explodes with anger.

When he and Dr. McCoy tell Captain Kirk that they never viewed his "final" orders, Spock is clearly lying. However, Vulcans are incapable of lying, as mentioned in numerous previous episodes.

When Chekov screams and Spock tries to get through to him, the camera goes to a close-up of Chekov and you hear him screaming, but his mouth isn't open.

Episode References
The Defiant is the fourth of four Constellation-class starships that are destroyed during the course of the original series, although it will be seen again, although ironically in the past, in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "In a Mirror, Darkly (1)".

This is the only episode in which Spock refers to Dr. McCoy as "Bones," albeit indirectly (he quotes Kirk).

When Captain Kirk's "ghost" appears on the bridge, he is mouthing the words "Hurry, Spock!"

What Changed in the Remastered Version: The Defiant received a very nice CGI upgrade, especially including the scenes of its slow departure from normal space, depicted here as sections of the ship phasing in and out - far superior to the original shot, clearly created by using a dimmer to illuminate the model. The actual web and the Tholian ships received CGI upgrades; in a nod to consistency, the crew used the Tholian model from Enterprise for both. Somewhat disappointingly, the effects of McCoy's hand passing through a corpse and a table were not altered, although it's questionable how much could be done. Also unchanged were Kirk's fade-ins and fade-outs as he attempted to communicate with the crew. Perhaps the greatest disappointment was the failure to replace Loskene with a Tholian model similar to that used in the final season of Enterprise but costs may have been a factor.

Other Episode Crew

CreatorGene Roddenberry
Executive ProducerGene Roddenberry
ProducerFred Freiberger
Co-ProducerRobert H. Justman
Associate ProducerGregg Peters (1)  |  Edward K. Milkis
EditorBill Brame
CastingJoseph D'Agosta
Unit Production ManagerGregg Peters (1)
First Assistant DirectorClaude Binyon, Jr.
MusicFred Steiner
Music EditorRichard Lapham
Costume DesignerWilliam Ware Theiss
HairstylistPat Westmore
Make-upFred B. Phillips
GripGeorge Rader
Set DecoratorJohn M. Dwyer
Property MasterIrving A. Feinberg
Script SupervisorGeorge A. Rutter
Re-Recording MixerGordon L. Day
GafferGeorge H. Merhoff
OtherArthur H. Singer (Story Consultant)
Director of PhotographyGerald Perry Finnerman  |  Al Francis
Art DirectorWalter M. Jefferies
Sound MixerDoug Grindstaff  |  Carl Daniels
Special EffectsJames Rugg
Main Title ThemeAlexander Courage
Executive Vice President In Charge Of ProductionDouglas S. Cramer
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