Wednesday, February 10, 2010


From Wikipedia:

Metamorphosis" is a second season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series first broadcast November 10, 1967 and repeated July 19, 1968. It is episode #38, production #31, written by Gene L. Coon, and directed by Ralph Senensky.

Overview: A shuttle crew from the Enterprise encounters a castaway and his mysterious alien companion.


Okay, this one's not bad. Not particularly good, either, but worth watching if you like Star Trek. By and large, the episode's effectiveness is sabatoged by its two mediocre guest stars, 1960s TV stalwarts Glenn Corbett as the Federation's legendary warp drive creator
Zefram Cochrane, and Elinor Donahue, formerly of Father Knows Best, as yet another asshole Federation diplomat--I mean, you can tell just watching it how Corbett is about as interesting as dishwater, but when you watch Cochrane played by veteran character actor James Cromwell in the Next Generation film First Contact, you see how many opportunities Corbett missed, lots of opportunities.

But "Metamorphosis" has some good ideas, and engages my interest in spite of its shortcomings. The episode pushes a sort of anti-climactic melancholy, narratively asking what happens to a genius-hero who has lived well past his glory days--it is particularly poignant to see the faded Cochrane juxtaposed against the virile Kirk, solidly played by Shatner in this one; the two men obviously have great respect for each other, but Kirk is in his star-searching adventuring prime, while Cochrane spends his life just sort of hanging out in anonymity and obscurity. In the end, the episode is about finding a way to allow Cochrane to pass on with dignity.

The notion of the inhuman energy alien who just wants to love someone is compelling, too. The Federation principle of extreme diversity is stretched to its limit here, as Kirk desperately tries to persuade the Companion to leave Cochrane alone, insisting, in a moving speech, that an alien cannot possibly love a human being. This is also the moment finally explaining the Star Trek staple technology of the universal translator, which is why everybody, in every episode, of every version of the show, speaks English.

Like I said, not great, but not bad, either. Some interesting ideas, and some cool narrative style. A decent, solid story. Hey, they can't all be great.

Go check it out.

Communing with the companion.