Written by: Samuel A. Peeples
Directed by: James Goldstone
Production code: 6149-2
Principal photography: July 19th, 1965-July 29th, 1965 (8 1/2 days)
Score: Alexander Courage (recorded November 29th, 1965)
Final episode cost: $355,000 (approximately $2,674,739 in 2015 when adjusted for inflation)
First Aired: September 22nd, 1966
Initial Nielson Ratings: 20.0 Rating/33.3% share (first half hour-first place), 19.4/31.0% (second half hour-second to Bewitched)
“Enterprise log, Captain James Kirk commanding: We are leaving that vast cloud of stars and planets which we call our galaxy. Behind us, Earth, Mars, Venus, even our sun, are specks of dust. A question: What is out there in the black void beyond?
Until now, our mission has been that of space law regulation, contact with Earth colonies, and investigation of alien life. But now, a new task: A probe, out into where no man has gone before.”
“Stardate 1312.4: The impossible has happened: From directly ahead, we’re picking up a recorded distress signal. The call letters of a vessel which has been missing for over two centuries. Did another Earth ship probe outside our galaxy as we intend to do? What happened out there? Is this some warning they’ve left behind?”
The captain and Mr. Spock are playing chess as they wait to reach the source of the distress signal when Lieutenant Kelso reports that they are nearing the object, which is less than a meter in diameter. Kirk orders it beamed aboard, and he and Spock go to the transporter room to see the object, which is an old-style ship recorder that has been ejected from an apparently destroyed ship: the device is visibly burned and damaged. As Mr. Scott feeds the recorder’s data to the ship’s computer, Kirk puts the ship on alert, and he and Spock proceed to the bridge, and are joined by the ship’s navigator, Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell. Reaching the edge of the galaxy, the department heads come to the bridge, with a guest: Dr. Dehner, who is studying crew reactions in times of stress. The tapes reveal that the Earth ship, the S.S. Valiant, encountered an unknown force, which killed six crewmembers and nearly did the same to a seventh. However, after a desperate search for information on extra-sensory perception, the captain of the Valiant ordered to ship to be destroyed. Despite the questions, Kirk orders the Enterprise forward, and they encounter the force: a purple barrier which damaged the ship and causes Dehner and Mitchell to collapse. After escaping the barrier, Kirk looks over Dr. Dehner, who is fine, if woozy, and Gary who is similarly dazed. However, when the helmsman opens his eyes…..they are silver.
“Captain’s Log, Stardate 1312.9. Ship’s condition: heading back on impulse power only, main engines burned out. The ship’s space warp ability, gone. Earth bases which were only days away are now years in the distance. Our overriding question now is: what destroyed the Valiant? They lived through the barrier, just as we have, what happened to them after that?”
Dr. Dehner arrives with the autopsy reports on the members of the crew that have died as Kirk and Spock are looking over the ESP reports for both the doctor and Gary, and she informs them that each of the dead crewman have had part of their brains burned out. Everyone affected had high esper ratings, with Mitchell having the highest of all, tying into what Spock found in the Valiant‘s records. Dehner protests, as espers are generally harmless, leading the captain to ask if there isn’t a type of esper that can be dangerous. In sickbay, Gary is reading when Kirk visits. However, the captain is justifiably worried when Gary is able to greet him without even seeing him enter and considers Spinoza (whom Mitchell has never read before) simple. After reminiscing about their days at the Academy together, Kirk receives another shock as Mitchell’s voice echoes across the room when Gary repeats his joking warning about Kirk needing to be good to him. After Kirk leaves, Gary starts reading again at an incredible-and increasing-pace. Kirk and Spock watch this on the bridge and worry that Gary is not the man they knew. As Spock carries out the order to have Mitchell monitored and tested, Kirk watches his friend, who stares right back at him. The tests by Dr. Piper prove that Gary is in absolutely perfect condition, but after he leaves, Mitchell demonstrates for dr. Dehner that he can manipulate the readings, going so far as to “play dead” for nearly half a minute. His mental recall is even greater, as Gary is able to read the text of a book from memory for her. Kelso arrives just as Mitchell is confronting Dehner, and Gary immediately scolds him for having installed faulty impulse packs, simply by reading the navigator’s mind. In the briefing roof, Kelso presents the impulse pack, with its burned points to Kirk and the department heads as they debate on what should be done with Gary. Dr. Dehner arrives late and tells what she has seen, while Scotty repeats that he has observed the controls on the bridge going out of control, which Spock corroborates by noting that Mitchell smiled after every such occurrence. Dehner argues that the mutations are a good thing, while Mr. Sulu points out that Gary’s powers are growing at a geometric rate. The captain convenes the briefing, ordering that everything discussed is to be kept secret, after which Spock suggests they strand Gary on Delta Vega, a nearby mining colony, after they repair the ship. His other recommendation: kill Gary, while he still can. Kirk orders Spock to set course for Delta Vega.
“Stardate 1313.1: We’re now approaching Delta Vega, course set for a standard orbit. This planet, completely uninhabited, is slightly smaller than Earth, desolate, but rich in crystals and minerals. Kelso’s task: transport down with a repair party. Try to regenerate the engines. Save the ship. Our task: transport down a man I’ve known for 15 years, and if we’re successful, maroon him there.”
Gary, now in his normal uniform, summons a cup of water effortlessly with his mind as Kirk, Spock, and Dr. Dehner arrive to collect him. His powers are such that he’s able to attack Kirk and Spock when he realizes what Kirk plans to do. But still, the captain and Spock are able to restrain Mitchell long enough for Dr. Dehner to sedate him and transport him to the surface. Down there, Kirk asks Kelso to rig a destruct mechanism. Gary regains lucidity soon enough, and after a tense confrontation filled with posturing, he is knocked back by his cell’s force field…..but only for a moment. Later, as Scotty reports that their replacement parts work perfectly, he asks about the phaser rifle that the captain sent for, which an upset Kirk discovers was Spock’s doing. He argues that Dr. Dehner’s feelings are getting in the way of her diagnoses, when logic dictates that they’ll be lucky to get away in time. Kelso finishes the destruct mechanism, and Kirk makes it clear: if Gary escapes and he sees no other option, Lt. Kelso is to blow the installation sky high.
“Captain’s Log, Stardate 1313.3: Note commendations on Lt. Kelso and the engineering staff. In orbit above us, the engines of the Enterprise are almost fully regenerated. Balance of the party is being transported back up. Mitchell, whatever he’s become, keeps changing, growing stronger by the minute.”
Kirk checks in on Dehner, who is engaged in a staredown with Mitchell, which she says has been going on for hours. The doctor announces that she, too, will be staying behind, while Gary concentrates on Kelso, and uses his powers to strangle the navigator with some of the cable he and the engineering team have jury-rigged the station with. Kirk protests, but Gary, whose voice now echoes across the room with every word, easily knocks out both the captain and Spock before they can act and disables the force field. Dr. Dehner turns to face him, and he slowly escorts her to the cell’s mirror, where she sees that she, too, has begun to change. Later, Dr. Piper, arrives and gives Kirk a pill as he awakes, and reports on where Gary and Dehner have gone. Taking the phaser rifle, Kirk orders that Piper wait until he is gone to wake up Spock, at which time the two will beam up and, if 12 hours pass without any communication, they head to the nearest base and recommend that Delta Vega be flooded with a lethal concentration of neutron radiation. Mitchell and Dehner stop in a valley, and with a wave of his hand, the former helmsman is able to create vegetation out of thin air. Gary is able to sense Kirk’s approach, and after Dr. Dehner is able to picture him in her mind as well, he tells her to talk to the captain in order to understand just how limited humanity really is. Kirk pleads humanity’s case, and warns that they-and especially Gary-still have their human flaws. Gary arrives, and after scolding Dehner and brushing off a blast from the phaser rifle, he creates a grave for his old friend, complete with headstone, and begins to trigger a landslide. After Gary forces Kirk to pray before him, Dr. Dehner attacks, and while Gary is able to easily render her motionless, Dehner is able to drain his powers. This gives Kirk the opportunity to jump Mitchell, and a fist fight breaks out. However, Gary’s powers return before Kirk can bring himself deliver the killing blow, and the battle turns in Mitchell’s favor until Kirk is able to lure his friend into the grave long enough to retrieve the phaser rifle and fire, causing the landslide and killing Gary. With the conflict ended, Dr. Dehner apologizes for her actions…..and dies. Weary and exhausted, Kirk calls the Enterprise.
“Captain’s Log, Stardate 1313.8: Add to official losses: Dr. Elizabeth Dehner, be it noted she gave her life in performance of her duty. Lt. Cmdr. Gary Mitchell, same notation.”
Spock walks to the captain’s chair as Kirk records his log, and admits that he, too, felt for Gary after the captain explains that he wanted Mitchell’s service record to end on a positive note. With a knowing glance, and in reference to their conversation during their game of chess, Kirk states that he believes there may be hope for the alien science officer after all, as the Enterprise departs.
It’s not being hyperbolic to say that “Where No Man Has Gone Before” is the most important hour of Star Trek ever produced. If it had failed, the entire franchise would have ended right then and there. And with “Mudd’s Women” having too much sex for NBC’s taste and pretty much no one other than Gene Roddenberry liking “The Omega Glory” (something that will be discussed much later), the episode was chosen not because it was the best choice, but because it was the only choice.
Thankfully, having that second chance turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Besides having substantially better luck with casting, the show’s existing sets and costumes were revised, to great effect. Black and red paint has been liberally applied to the sets, which makes things much more interesting than the sterile-looking silver of “The Cage”. (Perhaps by design, this is also the case if you’re watching the show in black-and-white, as the majority of viewers in 1966 would have done.) The bridge and transporter sets look almost identical to their final versions, with a few exceptions: the main viewer is still rounded like a ’60s-style TV screen (though it now has a border and a series of lights above it, and a red piece of decorative whatever below), the helm console (the two positions being reversed from their final configuration) is now obviously just the transporter console, the goose-necked monitors are still present (though there are far fewer of them around), the seats lack their cushioned black backs (and are white), and there are far fewer buttons.
For costuming, the same three color shirts (green, which photographed as gold, blue, and tan, which occasionally looks peach) are used, but the insignia have been greatly revised and refined, with the familiar shape (they’re a bit smaller than the final versions) and departmental symbols (a stylized star for command, a globe for engineering, and a spiral for the yeoman and science personnel). However, zippers are all extremely visible on everyone’s shirts, with one exception: Mr. Spock, whose collar is higher and has snaps (this was done to prevent wear and tear to Leonard Nimoy’s makeup). The landing party jackets have been jettisoned (though the belts and laser pistols remain), and there are no longer glimpses of people in civilian clothing in the corridors (though there is at least one crewman with what looks to be some sort of a radiation suit).
The biggest visible chance has to be Spock. Besides trading in his science division blue for command green/gold, his makeup has been completely revised. The most noticeable changes are the much more severe eyebrows and the straight bangs. The primary reason for this is that Fred Phillips was unavailable for this episode, and was temporarily replaced by Robert Dawn, the son of pioneering makeup artist Jack Dawn. The younger Dawn was primarily known for his TV work on shows like Laramie and Thriller (and later, Mission: Impossible), but was a frequent collaborator with Alfred Hitchcock, as well. His work here helped immensely to solidify Spock as a cool, logical character, as he just looks serious and alien without muttering a word.
But perhaps the most famous innovation to be introduced in this episode with the “Captain’s Log” entries. Suggested by Herb Solow as a way to cut down on boring exposition scenes (and inspired by Gulliver’s Travels), the logs not only cut down on exposition, but they served as an excellent recap for the episodes, and with modifications, also served as a great way to preview upcoming episodes. The narrations not only play a big part in the episode (each act and the epilogue begins with one), but the version that NBC first saw opened with the one that concluded with what would be one of the show’s fateful phrases: “where no man has gone before”.
Finally, there’s a distinct change in how the show looks beginning with this episode. Since “Where No Man Has Gone Before” was shot in July, there were no union cinematographers available. So James Goldstone called in a favor, and brought in a 69-year old man with no TV experience. That man: legendary Oscar Award Winning cinematographer Ernest Haller. He came in with no resume and, as mentioned, no TV experience, but only needed to mention that he had shot Gone With the Wind to be hired. And it paid off, because this episode looks beautiful, with some interesting angles (one really nice shot involves blocking off the bridge to make it look as if Gary enters the turbolift, then removing the barrier so that we enter the bridge in one continuous take), and lighting that utilizes shadows to increase the depth of color.
The plot of this episode is classic Gene Roddenberry: man encounters God, and finds God lacking. In this instance, it’s in the form of Lt. Cmdr. Gary Mitchell, a likable (if rather blatantly womanizing) officer who gets zapped by an unknown force and is corrupted by godlike powers. And Dr. Dehner, who is tempted by Gary’s power as well, pays for her desire with her life. It’s not a very happy message, and neither is Kirk’s conflict: he has to decide whether to abandon or kill his best friend, who is by proxy endangering the crew of the Enterprise. Spock’s reasoning is, as usual, entirely sensible, but it lacks the element of compassion (and the episode makes clear its support of the human emotion of compassion). This is the central conflict of the episode, and it works because we feel sympathy for Captain Kirk. Gary, while his womanizing plays kind of badly, is inherently likable, and the stories he and Kirk share paint them in distinct tones: Mitchell as the fun-loving, creative-thinking helmsman, and Jim Kirk as the serious, career-minded captain who has risen to his position through hard work.
William Shatner and Gary Lockwood are incredibly effective here, especially as Gary Mitchell approaches godhood. Lockwood is aided by makeup, with his sideburns growing more and more gray as his power increases, and the silver contact lenses. Lockwood, who had never worn contacts, hated the thick lenses intensely, and legend states that Gary’s affected tilt of his head is because that was the only way he could see. However, the tilt was an intentional choice (Lockwood couldn’t see at all and found the lenses quite painful), and one that worked excellently. But Lockwood’s most effective choice is the sympathetic, “Jim,” he whispers when he returns to normal in his cell on Delta Vega. This one moment is the single best thing at generating sympathy for Mitchell. And Shatner, who has an unfortunate reputation for overacting, underplays his part when Lockwood is on screen, but is gravely decisive when he needs to be. Kirk cares about Gary, but he knows full well what his duty is. And Leonard Nimoy, while emotionally cool, is the force that pulls Kirk towards that duty. As the episode proceeds you can practically see Spock pulling Kirk towards his cold, cruel duty.
Sally Kellerman as Elizabeth Dehner, generates sympathy of her own because she is doomed by feeling. She (quite rightfully) shoots down Gary on the bridge, but as she falls not only for Gary Mitchell the man, but the thing he turns into, she writes her own death warrant. Instead of finding a balance between emotion and logic as Kirk does, she dives right in, and dies because she realizes her folly too late. When contrasted with Andrea Dromm, who literally just takes up space and gets in the way (she even looks bored a couple of times), the power of Kellerman’s performance is made clear. Gary Lockwood plays a character who is likable but falls into something awful; Kellerman plays an unlikable character who becomes likable. They both make mistakes driven purely by chance, and we feel sorrow for them both because Lockwood and Kellerman do their jobs well.
Of the rest of the cast, only James Doohan, George Takei, and Paul Carr really distinguish themselves. Doohan and Takei, despite having tiny parts, imbue Scotty and Sulu with the beginnings of the beloved characters they would soon become (Scotty in particular is instantly jovial and friendly). And Paul Carr…..let’s be honest: he’s not the only person who was upset over Lee Kelso getting killed off in this episode. He’s a capable, enjoyable character, and his death is made even more tragic because of it, and the rapport with see with Gary at the start of the episode. On the other hand, it’s easy to see why Lloyd Haynes and Paul Fix were not asked back: Haynes appears as barely more of a glorified extra than Andrea Dromm, and Fix, while pleasant enough as Dr. Piper, is absolutely swallowed up by Sally Kellerman’s performance.
In the end, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” succeeds because of some great performances, a strong (and tragic) storyline, excellent pacing, and some incredible action sequences. The footage with the purple barrier still wows to this day, and that sequence is marvelously edited with some wonderfully frantic camerawork. And the final fight between Kirk and Mitchell is dramatic and powerful, with superb choreographing. There’s also an excellent matte painting to represent the Delta Vega mining colony that has an excellent perspective to go along with a wonderful blue-screen insert of the beam-down point. And then there’s Alexander courage’s score which is even more stellar than his work on “The Cage”. While that episode’s score was appropriately moody, this one balances the moody elements with dynamic action cues. Moreover, this score utilizes the talents of Jack Cookerly, who was experimenting with proto-synthesizer technology at the time, including his “magic box”, which was fashioned using the shell of a Hammond organ. Cookerly was employed in the scoring of “The Cage” (and created certain sound effects for both pilots, including the transporter “beaming” sound and the medical scanner sounds), but it’s here where Cookerly shines, with electronic sounds that are at times desolate and attention grabbing. Without this amazing score and sound, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” would be a far lesser effort.
As previously mentioned, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” was re-edited when broadcast. The special prologue was excised (as well as the opening titles which do not use the series’ theme song), as well as the jaunty end credits theme and some material surrounding the unique, Quinn Martin-style act cards. Also, an Enterprise flyby in Act III was removed because the planet was improperly framed (sadly, the shot included a partially dark planet surface tying into a later line of dialogue, and the replacement footage does not). While bootlegs of the original version were traded for years (and Gene Roddenberry showed it as well as a black-and-white workprint of “The Cage” at conventions for years), it wasn’t until the third season was released on Blu-ray in a (mostly) restored form. It’s well worth checking out if you have the means to see it.
Next time, we’ll be going back to the ’80s again, and getting a bit “Super”.