A Guest Blog by Mindless-Droid
This week’s classic Star Trek episode is Where No Man Has Gone Before. This was the second pilot episode even though it aired after The Man Trap and Charlie X. The Enterprise is on a mission to probe outside the galaxy but while in route picks up a recorder marker from the SS Valiant a ship lost some two centuries before. The recorder marker is analyzed and Spock discovers that the Valiant encountered some sort of energy barrier that damaged the ship and killed several crewman. As Spock continues it seems one crewman came back to life. It was then that the captain of the Valiant began requesting information on ESP. Spock then says he believes that the captain ordered the ship to self-destruct.
Kirk decides to continue the mission to see what is out there. The Enterprise encounters the energy barrier which Spock describes as negative energy. The ship is damaged and nine crewman are killed. Gary Mitchell a friend of Kirk and Elizabeth Dehner are injured after being zapped by a strange electrical charge. Dehner seems okay as does Mitchell except Mitchell now has a strange silver glow in his eyes and is taken to sick bay.
Dehner reports that the dead crewman as well as her and Mitchell all had high ESP ratings. Spock mentions the report of the Valiant captain requesting ESP information and is concerned but Dehner believes there is little danger. Kirk visits Mitchell in sick bay and reminisces about old times. Just as Kirk leaves Mitchell in a booming echoing voice warns Kirk “you’d better be good to me” which startles Kirk. Kirk returns to the bridge and Spock informs him that Mitchell is reading through the ships library at an alarming rate. Dehner next visits Mitchell and he exhibits strange powers as he can control his medical readouts and now has a photographic memory. As Mitchell and Dehner are getting close Lieutenant Kelso walks in to check on his friend. Mitchell tells him that there is damage to the impulse engines that would result in an explosion. Kelso doubts him but Mitchell insists and Kelso leaves. Mitchell tells Dehner that Kelso saw the damage but didn’t realize it and that he could see the image in Kelso’s mind.
At a briefing Kelso reports that Mitchell was right about the damage even though there was no way of him knowing. Scotty then reports that buttons and levers were moving by themselves in engineering. Sulu reports that Mitchell’s powers are expanding exponentially. Dehner defends Mitchell as she has become close to him but Spock disagrees and states that he is dangerous. Spock suggests that the ship head to Delta Vega an uninhabited planet with an automated mining operation, for repairs and tells Kirk they should leave Mitchell behind. Kirk disagrees telling Spock Mitchell is his friend but Spock convinces him that it is what’s best for the ship.
Arriving at the planet Kirk Spock and Dehner attempt to transport Mitchell to the surface Mitchell resists threatening to squash them like insects but is sedated. Mitchell is imprisoned and the crew begin salvaging parts from the facility to repair the ship. Mitchell tries to escape but the force field drains his power momentarily but it soon returns. With repairs almost complete Spock convinces Kirk that Mitchell is dangerous and Kirk orders Kelso to rig a switch to destroy the facility if Mitchell escapes. After most of the crew has returned to the ship Mitchell kills Kelso using a cable controlled by his mind and escapes with Dehner and rendering everyone else unconscious. Kirk orders everyone back to the ship and if they don’t hear from him to blast the planet with lethal radiation.
Kirk peruses Mitchell and is confronted by Dehner who now also has the power. Kirk tries reasoning with her to help him when Mitchell shows and manhandles Kirk even opening up a grave to put him in Kirk attacks him with a phaser rifle but it is ineffectual. Dehner realizing Kirk was right attacks Mitchell weakening him enough to allow Kirk a fighting chance. Kirk gains the upper hand but Mitchell regains his power as they both fall into the grave Kirk acting quickly jumps out and retrieves the phaser rifle fires it at an outcrop of rock which falls on Mitchell in the grave sealing his fate. Kirk tends to Dehner who was badly injured in her exchange with Mitchell she asks him for forgiveness before she to dies. Back on the ship Kirk enters into his log “Add to official losses, Dr. Elizabeth Dehner. Be it noted she gave her life in performance of her duty. Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell. Same notation.” Saying that Mitchell didn’t ask for what happened to him.
This was a great episode the network got the action they wanted while the show still retained the strong sci-fi element of the original pilot. I like the re-mastered effects especially planet fall and the shots of the Enterprise they are not over done here. During the chess game between kirk and Spock in the opening act Kirk says to Spock he plays an irritating game of chess to which Spock replies smiling about Earth emotion maybe they should have left out the smile. This episode being the pilot differs in some aspects like Scotty in a gold uniform Spock’s eyebrows being more upswept the uniforms are different and there are some unique camera shots and angles.
The one thing that always bothered me with this episode was is there really an edge to the galaxy wouldn’t it just fade away and if the Valiant only had old impulse engines how did it make it to the edge of the galaxy. The barrier is a cool effect though so I always overlooked that part. Glad they ditched Spock’s earpiece with the wire and why was he always yelling I guess they hadn’t gotten all aspects of his character down yet.
Mitchell’s character was interesting his friendship with Kirk made Kirk’s decisions later that much more dramatic and that lab technician he aimed at Kirk is theorized to be Carol Marcus if you like a good retcon and he was something of a jerk before the incident. When Kirk tends to him on the bridge after being zapped he has a subtle hint of evil in his voice. Then in sick bay the booming echo reinforced his evolution into something different. I also like when Mitchell tells Dehner how he knew to tell Kelso of the engine damage “The image of what he had seen was still in his mind.” I always found it funny that Kelso said he was on his coffee break I guess coffee is forever same with Sulu mentioning pennies. During his time in sick bay we see Mitchell changing but with hints of his former self very nicely done. The cup effect was a neat little spot I wonder how they pulled it off.
The contrast between Spock and Dehner is interesting Dehner being more emotional and Spock with his logic. Kirk hearing both of them knows what he must do but I like how he needs Spock’s confirmation to do it. It’s a good way to show their mutual trust and friendship.
The matte painting of the facility on Delta Vega is quite impressive but why is there a brig on a lifeless planet and why did they let Mitchell regain conciseness when they put him in there. I like the way Gary Lockwood would tilt his head and just have a sense of arrogance about him as Mitchell became more powerful. The scene in the brig when Mitchell tries to escape and the force field drains his power is very dramatic. As Mitchell looks at Kirk with normal eyes and says simply “Jim” it really emphasizes that he is not at fault for what he becomes and makes his ultimate fate that much more tragic.
I was disappointed that Kelso was killed it seemed he would have been an interesting character. Too bad they didn’t get to use the destruct button he set up that could have been a cool explosion but that wouldn’t have served the story and they probably couldn’t afford the effects budget for something like that.
The final confrontation between Kirk and Mitchell is what the network wanted lots of action. It did however show Kirk to be quite skilled in negotiation as he convinced Dehner that Mitchell was dangerous. Dehner was indeed a tragic figure in all of this but in the end sacrificed herself for the others. The battle between Mitchell and Dehner does remind one of a certain Sith skill, throwing electricity around. Kirk was put in an awful position having to kill a good friend and you see that when he says “Forgive me Gary” but that hesitation almost costs him everything.
A couple of quick notes. This is the only appearance of the Phaser rifle in the series. The tombstone Mitchell conjures has Kirk’s middle initial to be R not T. No red shirts were harmed in this episode as well.