The Tholian Web - Recap
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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.
The landing party assumes that a mutiny took place. They determine the ship is still functioning and the mutineers are still on board. However, Spock determines there are no signs of life on the ship. Kirk sends Chekov to Engineering and McCoy to Sickbay to investigate further. Aboard the Enterprise, Sulu warns he can’t get a fix on the Defiant and it’s drifting out of range. They adjust course to keep in range.
McCoy and Chekov find more dead bodies scattered throughout the ship. Kirk tells Chekov to return to the bridge, and he suffers a brief bout of dizziness as he proceeds. McCoy reports that everyone killed each other and the logs indicate the ship’s medical officer didn’t know what was going on. McCoy finds a corpse in the hallway and discovers that it’s dematerializing. He tests a table and determines the ship is dissolving along with the corpses.
Scotty calls the transporter room and learns that they haven’t repaired it yet. He goes to the transporter room while the landing party reassembles on the bridge. Spock uses the sensors to confirm that the same fading effect is occurring to the Enterprise. Scotty reports that he can only establish three transporter frequencies and one of them has to wait. Kirk orders the others to go back to the Enterprise. Scotty beams them aboard, almost losing them in the process. He then tries to beam Kirk aboard. However, they can only watch as the Defiant disappears… and the captain along with it.
On the bridge, Spock computes the next period of spatial interphase and learns it will occur in two hours, twelve minutes. Scotty warns he can’t hold the ship in place that long and Spock warns that if they disturb the fabric of space, they’ll lose any chance to recover Kirk. Chekov rather irritably states that he doesn’t understand. As Spock explains that the Defiant is in another universe with periods of overlap. Chekov finally snaps and attacks Spock and then Sulu. McCoy arrives and they manage to subdue Chekov. The doctor concludes that whatever drove the Defiant crew insane is communicable and Chekov brought it back with him. McCoy says the only thing they can do now is move further away but Spock insists they can’t move. He insists that the captain can still be saved because he was caught in the transporter beam when he phased out. If they fail, Kirk will soon run out of air.
An alien ship approaches the Enterprise. The ship stops and hails the Enterprise. The commander of the alien ship, a crystalline life form, introduces itself as Commander Loskene and informs them that they are trespassing in Tholian space. Spock explains and despite the fact Loskene doesn’t detect a ship in distress, it agrees to give them exactly the time they need to recover Kirk.
In Sickbay, McCoy and Chapel try to come up with a cure when an orderly goes berserk and attack them. Chapel manages to subdue him with a hypo. Meanwhile, the time of interphase arrives but Scotty is unable to lock onto Kirk at the designated coordinates. Sulu confirms that space has been disturbed by the Tholian ship. The Tholian ship promptly opens fire and Scotty warns they’ll have to open fire and have already taken damage. Spock refuses to leave the area and orders an attack on the Tholian ship. They damage it and McCoy explains that the warping in space is causing the same madness that wiped out the Defiant crew. McCoy blames Spock for not safeguarding the crew’s safety and Spock merely suggests he go to Sickbay to find a cure.
Another Tholian ship arrives and joins with the first one. The two ships generate energy filaments and begin spinning a web. Spock warns that it’s a unique energy field and that if they don’t complete repairs before the web is complete, they’ll be destroyed.
Later, Spock meets with the others and McCoy suggests that a theragen compound might work against the madness, but it will take more time to confirm. Spock gives a service for the captain but is briefly interrupted when another crewman goes berserk. Afterward, McCoy informs him that he has a duty to listen to a message tape that Kirk left in the event of his death. Spock notes that he has other matters to logically deal with, but McCoy insists he fulfill this last duty. They go to Kirk’s quarters and McCoy berates Spock for staying behind. Spock insists that he had no choice but to confirm the captain’s death. He challenges McCoy to relieve him of command if he thinks he’s incompetent. They play the tape, and Kirk tells Spock to use everything he has, including intuitive insight, and to turn to McCoy if necessary. To McCoy, he says to help Spock but to respect him as captain. Afterward, McCoy apologizes and Spock notes there’s nothing else to say.
They calculate how long they have before the Tholians complete their web. Meanwhile, Uhura is in her quarters when she’s seized by sudden pain. She looks up into her mirror and sees a brief image of Kirk. She runs out into the hall where McCoy is passing by. He assumes that she’s been driven insane by the space plague. In Engineering, another crewman goes berserk and they manage to subdue him.
In Sickbay, Chekov is still berserk while Uhura is relatively passive and questioning her own sanity. McCoy is working with theragen and trying to create a cure. In Engineering, Scotty sees an image of Kirk floating in mid-air. Spock orders him to the bridge and McCoy snaps at Spock and then collapses. As Scotty arrives, the image of Kirk appears on the bridge where everyone can see it. Spock attempts to make contact and the image fades out.
As the Tholians near completion of the web, McCoy releases Uhura now that they know what she saw. Chapel tells McCoy that the results of the last theragen test are available. He goes to Spock’s quarter where Scotty is confirming that the phaser blasts have sent the Defiant out of the interphase. Kirk, however, is still contained within the transporter lock. McCoy serves them a liquid antidote and assures them that Chekov, the first to be affected, is back to normal. The doctor explains the antidote is based on a theragen derivative of a Klingon nerve gas. Mixed with alcohol, it deadens the brain impulses. Scotty drinks it down and goes to see if it makes a good mixer with Scotch. McCoy orders Spock to drink it down… and addresses him as captain.
As the new interphase approaches, Spock returns to the bridge where Uhura and Chekov are back on duty. The Tholians close the web but Kirk’s image appears on the scanners. The tractor field activates and they’re pulled into interphase and thrown out several parsecs distant. Kirk was locked into the transporter beam and brought with them. His oxygen is running out and Scotty beams him aboard.
Later, Kirk admits he had an entire universe to himself. He asks how Spock and McCoy they did and they admit they only had a few minor difficulties… and claim they never had time to hear his last taped orders.