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I will forever remember this episode as "The episode where the evil omelets almost kill Spock."

Actually, I really, really loved this episode as a kid. I'm not sure why. Some twisted part of me enjoyed seeing my beloved Spock in pain, I guess? Or maybe because he was awesome enough to keep under control the whole time, and then I got to feel sympathy for him. Or something. There is also some excellent interaction moments between the Big Three of the show (Kirk, Spock, and McCoy), that really, to me, make the whole episode worthwhile. Even the silly killer omelets.

One other thing that's cool about this episode is that its title sounds like something Soundwave would say.

The Enterprise tracks the spread of a civilization-destroying "madness plague" across the galaxy, and traces its path to a colony planet where Kirk's brother, sister-in-law, and nephew live. As they approach, they see a local ship heading for the sun. They try to contact the ship, but can only hear someone shouting, "I did it! I'm free! I'm free of them!" (or something akin to that) before the ship burns up.

When the Enterprise gets closer, they receive a distress signal - a woman pleading for assistance. Kirk's sister-in-law, as it turns out. They land on the planet, and find it initially deserted, before they're met by a random mob wielding blunt objects, shouting things like "Go away!" "Get out of here!" "It's not safe!" before running towards the away party in an attack posture. The away party stuns them, and they puzzle for a moment before they find the apartment of Kirk's family. Only his sister-in-law is conscious, and she screams about them being here over and over again until sedated.

They get her back to the Enterprise along with Kirk's nephew, who is unconscious. His brother is dead. She wakes up, but she's screaming, raving about how they're there, how they're controlling them, how the strangers brought them but it wasn't their fault. McCoy observes that she appears to be in a considerable amount of pain, that she seems to have to fight to say anything, and she gasps, "That's how they're controlling us." She tells them that the colonists are being forced to build spaceships for "them," begs that Kirk not allow them to spread forward, shrieks in pain, and then dies.

They go back down to the planet to figure things out, and encounter what is... supposed to be very large one-celled creatures, but which always looked to me like some sort of plastic omelet. The killer omelet fly around the away party for awhile, then Kirk orders them fired on. He hits one with a phaser, and the rest fly off. They examine the eggy thing for awhile, then turn to leave. It suddenly flies for the party, attaches itself to Spock's back, and has to be pulled out. Spock appears... out of it.

When Spock wakes up, he first attempts to take over the Enterprise. He's sedated, and McCoy gets him hooked up to medical sensors, where he notes that Spock, like Kirk's sister-in-law, appears to be in incredible pain. He wakes up and apologizes for his behavior, stating that as a Vulcan, he should have realized that pain is a thing of the mind, and therefore, controllable. Kirk is sympathetic, but commands that Spock stay strapped down in sickbay until they've had more time to observe him. Spock, after being left alone, breaks the restraining straps and heads to the transporter room, where he attempts to beam down to the surface but is stopped by Scott. The two argue, Scott insisting on needing Kirk's orders, and Spock tries to force his way past, but Kirk, McCoy, and a security team make it down there before he makes it. Spock explains that they need a sample specimen, and since he's already compromised, he's the ideal person to collect one. Kirk agrees to this logic, much to McCoy's irritation, and Spock is allowed to beam down to the planet.

Spock collects the specimen and returns, where McCoy performs experiments on it, trying to figure out what might kill it, remembering the cries of, "I'm free!" from the spaceship that had flown into the sun at the beginning. They bombard the omelet with intense solar radiation and heat, but fail to do any harm. Kirk gets increasingly agitated, and explains that if they don't find a way to kill the omelet without killing their hosts, they'll have to destroy the colony. This would kill over a million, including Spock and Kirk's nephew.

It seems hopeless (to the crew) for a bit, and Spock even goes so far as to request permission to beam down to the planet so as to be present when the colony is destroyed, but Kirk denies him and pushes for answers. But then they finally realize that in addition to putting out heat and radiation, stars also produce light (took them long enough!), and they decide to bombard their test omelet with light equivalent to what would have been produced by the star at the distance the space ship was at when the person on board declared himself free. Sure enough, that kills it. Kirk suggests a test with an infected host, but McCoy protests, not wanting to risk Spock. Then Spock walks into the room, unaware of the previous argument, and announces that he's ready to be used as a test subject. McCoy argues a little further, but concedes that Kirk and Spock are right. He offers to create protective glasses for Spock, Spock points out that they won't have those on the planet, Kirk agrees, and they shove Spock into a room and blast him with really really bright light.

He emerges and congratulates McCoy, announcing that he is free of the alien's control and free of pain. Then he walks into a chair and adds that he is also quite blind, but view the trade as equitable. Then McCoy receives the report of the first round of tests against the omelet specimen and reveals that it turns out he didn't have to blast Spock with the entire light spectrum, after all. It only took a specific frequency, one which would not have left Spock blind. Whoops!

Kirk's nephew is beamed down to the planet surface, and the Enterprise uses a series of satellites already circling the planet to bombard it with light of the right intensity and frequency, and they free the populace. At the end of the show, Spock shows up on the bridge, explains that due to the difference between the way human and Vulcan eyes work (apparently Vulcan eyes have a back-up nervous system) he can see again, and everything is fine.

SPOCK: As I speculated, Captain, the overall pattern of mass insanity destroying civilisations follows an almost straight line through this section of the galaxy. Over here the Beta Portilin system the ancient civilizations. Archaeologists have given us information indicating that they were the beginning. Two hundred years ago, Levinius Five was swept by mass insanity, then Theta Cygni Twelve. The last was Ingraham B, two years ago.
KIRK: And next in line, Deneva. Bones, what's your theory about the cause of all this?
MCCOY: There's no medical or scientific cause for what happened on those planets. Jim.
KIRK: But it follows a definite pattern, a systematic progression from planet to planet.

KIRK: Keep closing. Denevan ship, reverse your course. Do you hear me? Reverse your course. Acknowledge.
SPOCK: Outer hull temperature now four hundred and eighty degrees and rising.
SULU: He's too close, Captain.
SPOCK: So are we. Hull temperature one thousand degrees and rising. The sun's gravimetric pull increasing.
PILOT [OC]: I did it. It's finally gone. I'm free. I'm
SULU: He burned up, Captain.

UHURA: Captain. I've made contact with your private transmitter, sir.
KIRK: Put it on audio.
AURELAN [OC]: Please hurry. Help us. I don't have much time. They'll know. Please! Please help us
KIRK: Aurelan, this is Jim on the Enterprise. Repeat your message.
UHURA: Contact broken, sir.
KIRK: Re-establish.
UHURA: Sorry, sir.
KIRK: I'm not interested in your excuses, Lieutenant. Re-establish contact with that transmitter.
UHURA: I'm afraid that's impossible at the moment, Captain. They stopped broadcasting immediately. They do not acknowledge my contact signal.

Uhura gets pretty snappish right here in tone, something that isn't conveyed in text, but she's pretty justified. Kirk's being a dick. Kirk's being a dick for perfectly human reasons (that's his sister-in-law on the radio), but still, being a dick.

MEN: Go back! Get away! We don't want to hurt you! Go back! Get out of here. Go on, get away! Go away! Get out of here! We don't want to hurt you.
KIRK: Stand by to fire. Fire.
(The four attacking men are stunned.)
KIRK: Did you hear what they said, Mister Spock?
SPOCK: Indeed. They seemed most concerned for our safety.
KIRK: They tried to brain us with these clubs. Check them out, Bones.
SPOCK: Their attitude was inconsistent with their actions.
KIRK: To say the least.

MCCOY: When she answers questions, any questions, it's as if she's fighting to get the answers out. As though something is exerting pain to stop her.
AURELAN: They use it to control us. They're spreading, Jim. They need us to be their arms and legs. They're forcing us to build ships for them. Don't let them! Don't let them go any further!
(One last scream and convulsion, then all her readings plummet to zero.)

SPOCK: Incredible. Not only should it have been destroyed by our phasers, it does not even register on my tricorder.
ZAHRA: Captain, it doesn't even look real.
SPOCK: It is not life as we know or understand it. Yet t is obviously alive, it exists.
KIRK: And it can bear up under full phaser power.

SPOCK: These restraints will no longer be necessary. Nor will your sedatives, Doctor. I'll be able to return to duty. I apologize for my weakness earlier when I tried to take control of the ship. I simply did not understand.
KIRK: What is there to understand, Mister Spock?
SPOCK: I am a Vulcan, Doctor. Pain is a thing of the mind. The mind can be controlled.
KIRK: You're only half-Vulcan. What about the human half of you?
SPOCK: It is proving to be an inconvenience, but it is manageable. And the creature, with all of its thousands of parts, even now is pressuring me. (the pain indicator hits the top of the monitor) It wants this ship, but I am resisting.
KIRK: Can he control it the way he says, Bones?
MCCOY: Who knows, Jim? I know the amount of pain the creature can inflict upon him, but whether he can control it hour to hour
SPOCK: I have my own will, Captain. Let me help.
KIRK: I need you, Spock, but we can't take any chances. We'll keep you confined for a while longer. If you can maintain control, we'll see.

SCOTT: He said he was transporting down to the surface, sir. Your orders were that no one was to beam down unless you authorized it. And knowing Mister Spock's determination on some things, I thought I'd better hold him here until I got your orders.
SPOCK: One of the creatures will have to be captured and analyzed, Captain. We did not have a clear opportunity to do so earlier when I was attacked. Since my nervous system is already affected, as you pointed out, Doctor, I don't believe they can do much more to me.
MCCOY: Jim, this is ridiculous. I don't want my patients running around. He should be in bed.
SPOCK: I am in complete control of myself, Doctor. The fact that I am here proves that I do not belong in bed.
KIRK: Mister Spock, your logic, as usual, is inescapable. Beam him down. Stay in constant touch with us. Give him your phaser. He'll need that, too.

MCCOY: Jim, that man is sick. Don't give me any damnable logic about him being the only man for the job.
KIRK: I don't have to, Bones. We both know he is.

SPOCK: Unimportant at the moment, Doctor. Please observe. Interesting, gentlemen. A one-celled creature resembling, more than anything else, a huge, individual brain cell.
KIRK: Yes. That would answer a lot of questions.
SPOCK: Do you understand what I'm suggesting, Captain?
KIRK: I think so. This may be one cell in a larger organism. An incredibly huge organism, in fact.
SPOCK: And although it is not physically connected to the other cells, it is nevertheless part of the whole creature, guided by the whole, drawing its strength from the whole, which probably accounts for its unusual resistance to our phaser weapons.

I think it important to note here that this episode was made before hive minds in sci-fi settings were the hip thing.

MCCOY: I'm sorry, Captain. I've tried everything I can. Variant radiation, intense heat, even as great as nine thousand degrees.
KIRK: Then you're wasting your time. There has to be something that'll kill the creature without destroying the human host.
MCCOY: Which happens to be my point. The thing won't die, even at temperatures and radiation which would burn Spock and your nephew to ashes.
KIRK: I can't accept that, Bones. We've got fourteen science labs aboard this ship. The finest equipment and computers in the galaxy.
MCCOY: Captain, I understand your concern. Your affection for Spock, the fact that your nephew is the last survivor of your brother's family.
KIRK: No, no, Bones. There's more than two lives at stake here. I cannot let it spread beyond this colony, even if it means destroying a million people down there.

SPOCK: I regret I see no other choice for you, Captain. We already know this thing has destroyed three civilizations. Perhaps more.
MCCOY: Gentlemen, I want it stopped, too, but not at the cost of destroying over a million people.
SPOCK: Including myself, Doctor, and Captain Kirk's young nephew. Understandably upsetting, but once it spreads past here, there are dozens of colonies beyond and billions of people.
MCCOY: If killing five people saves ten, it's a bargain. Is that your simple logic, Mister Spock?
KIRK: I will accept neither of those alternatives, gentlemen. I cannot let this thing expand beyond this planet, nor do I intend to kill a million or more people to stop it. I want another answer. I'm putting you gentlemen on the hot seat with me. I want that third alternative.

MCCOY: I'm sorry, Jim. We've been over and over it, made every conceivable test.
SPOCK: I therefore request permission to beam down to the planet's surface. I also suggest that your nephew accompany me.
KIRK: Request denied.
SPOCK: Captain, I do not make this request lightly. I do not know how much longer I can hold out against the pain. But I do know what the boy will go through should he regain consciousness.
KIRK: Request denied. There must be another answer. Something in the sun killed that thing before the Denevan died.

KIRK: Your figures are, of course, accurate.
SPOCK: Of course. The light of the sun at the proximity where the Denevan declared himself free was one million candles per square inch. If this works, the satellites we orbit will produce light of such intensity that even someone in a closed, darkened area will be affected by it.

KIRK: Yes, we'd have to put someone who's infected under that light.
MCCOY: Do you have any idea of the risk?
KIRK: We have to duplicate the conditions on the planet, and Spock
SPOCK (walking in): Captain, you'll need a host for the next step in the test to determine whether the creature can be driven from the body. I am the logical choice.

MCCOY: All right. I'll rig up a protective pair of goggles.
SPOCK: There'll be none on the planet's surface, Doctor.
KIRK: I agree completely.
MCCOY: Unfortunately, you're both right. It's the only thing we can do. All right, Mister Spock.
(Spock enters the experimental chamber.)
MCCOY: Mister Spock's the best first officer in the fleet.
KIRK: Proceed.

KIRK: Spock, are you all right?
SPOCK: The creature within me is gone. I am free of it and the pain.
(He walks forward, straight into a table.)
SPOCK: And I'm also quite blind. An equitable trade, Doctor. Thank you.

MCCOY: (reading) Oh, no.
KIRK: What is it?
MCCOY: I threw the total spectrum of light at the creature. It wasn't necessary. I didn't stop to think that only one kind of light might've killed it.
SPOCK: Interesting. Just as dogs are sensitive to certain sounds which humans cannot hear, these creatures evidently are sensitive to light which we cannot see.
KIRK: Are you telling me that Spock need not have been blinded?
MCCOY: I didn't need to throw the blinding white light at all, Jim. Spock, I
SPOCK: Doctor it was my selection as well. It is done.

UHURA: The things are dying, sir. It's working.
KIRK: Sickbay.
MCCOY: McCoy here.
KIRK: Tell Spock it worked.
MCCOY: Yes, Captain. He'll be happy to hear that.
KIRK: Bones, it wasn't your fault.
KIRK [OC]: Bones.
KIRK: Bones.

KIRK: Mister Spock. Regaining eyesight would be an emotional experience for most. You, I presume, felt nothing?
SPOCK: Quite the contrary, Captain. I had a very strong reaction. My first sight was the face of Doctor McCoy bending over me.
MCCOY: 'Tis a pity your brief blindness did not increase your appreciation for beauty, Mister Spock.

MCCOY (whispering to Kirk): Unusual eye arrangement. I might've known he'd turn up with something like that.
KIRK: What's that, Doctor?
MCCOY (still whispering): I said, please don't tell Spock I said he was the best first officer in the fleet.
SPOCK (loudly, from across the room): Why, thank you, Doctor McCoy.
KIRK: You've been so concerned about his Vulcan eyes, Doctor, you forgot about his Vulcan ears.

Full transcript.

February 2012

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