Assignment: Earth

"Assignment: Earth" is a second season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. It was first broadcast on March 29, 1968 as the last original episode in the second season. It was repeated on August 9, 1968. It is episode #55, production #55, written by Art Wallace, based on a story by Wallace and Gene Roddenberry, and directed by Marc Daniels.

This episode served double duty, not only as an episode of Star Trek, but as a pilot for a proposed spin-off television series, that would have been produced by Roddenberry, under the same name, Assignment: Earth. The show would have featured actor Robert Lansing as Gary Seven, a futuristic "James Bond", as the lead character. The episode stars Teri Garr as Roberta Lincoln, who would have been a co-star in the series, had it continued on its own.

There is no stardate given in this episode.

Overview: Time traveling to 1968 Earth, the Enterprise encounters an intergalactic agent who intervenes in 20th Century events.


With a gravitational slingshot around the sun, the starship USS Enterprise time travels to 1968 Earth for historical research. The ship orbits Earth using its deflector shields to avoid detection. Suddenly, the Enterprise intercepts a highly powerful transporter beam from thousands of light-years away.

A man dressed in a business suit materializes on the transporter pad. He carries a black cat with a diamond collar with one hand and a briefcase with the other. He converses with his cat, Isis, then introduces himself to Captain Kirk as Gary Seven.

Seven tells Kirk that he is an Earth human from a far more advanced world. His ancestors are humans taken from Earth over 6,000 years ago and trained to intercede on Earth to help it survive. Seven refuses to reveal his home planet and warns Kirk that history will be changed and Earth destroyed if he is not released immediately.

Kirk demands more proof, but Seven refuses. Kirk orders him taken into custody but Seven evades attempts to subdue him, even shrugging off Spock's nerve pinch. When Seven tries to beam himself down, Kirk stuns him with a phaser.

Kirk has Seven taken to the brig and asks Spock to search the history database for any critical events that will soon occur. Spock finds that the United States will launch a nuclear weapons platform from McKinley Rocket Base. The launch is scheduled in a few hours and it may be the reason for Seven's visit.

Meanwhile, Seven awakens and finds himself in a holding cell. He removes a pen -- actually an advanced "servo" weapon -- from his pocket. He disables the force field and stuns the guard. His escape is detected, but not before Seven and Isis make their way to the transporter room, stun the technicians, and beam down to New York City. Kirk and Spock follow them.

Seven enters an office and activates a sophisticated computer hidden behind a bookcase. The computer reports that agents "201" and "347" have not been heard from in three days. With only an hour until the launch, Seven decides to complete their mission.

A young woman arrives and Seven mistakes her for agent 201. He asks her to dictate a report to an electric typewriter with speech recognition. This is technology well past the state of the art in 1968 so she becomes very flustered. Seven finally asks the computer to identify her. She is Roberta Lincoln, a secretary employed by the missing agents.

Seven realizes his blunder and, appealing to her patriotism, tells Roberta he is a secret government agent and that she should remain quiet about what she has seen. Roberta had thought her employers were doing research for a new encyclopedia. An intelligent woman, she realizes something very odd is happening.

The Beta-5 computer then informs Seven that agents 201 and 347 have died in a car accident.

Kirk and Spock, dressed in contemporary clothing, follow Seven to the office. Seven has Roberta stall them while he enters his giant walk-in safe, actually the portal to a powerful transporter, and dematerializes. As Kirk opens the door with a phaser, Roberta manages to call the police. The police arrive and the two officers are inadvertently beamed to the Enterprise along with Kirk and Spock. The two confused officers are quickly beamed back down.

Seven and Isis materialize at McKinley Rocket Base. With fake IDs, Seven easily stuns a guard and stows away in the launch director's car as he makes a final check of the pad. Riding the elevator to the top of the gantry, Seven, carrying Isis, climbs an access arm to the side of the rocket, opens it and begins to rewire it.

On the Enterprise, Kirk, Spock and Scotty try to locate Seven. Meanwhile, a curious Roberta explores the office and discovers the transporter. On the Enterprise, Mr. Scott locates Seven on the rocket gantry and tries to beam him up. But Roberta, randomly operating the office transporter controls, intercepts the beam-up. Seven materializes instead in the office.

Seven is briefly furious at being beamed away before he was done. But the computer tells him he can still take manual control of the rocket after launch.

Kirk and Spock beam down to McKinley Rocket Base and are quickly captured by security guards. The missile launches.

In the office, Seven takes control of the missile, arming its warhead and targeting it to the heart of the Euro-Asian continent. McKinley Base controllers frantically try to destroy the missile without effect. Every major power on the planet goes on missile alert, ordering retaliatory strikes as soon as the missile warhead explodes on impact. Roberta, extremely perturbed by Seven's actions, tries to call the police. Seven explodes the phone line with his servo pen. He then turns back to the computer, allowing Roberta to hit him on the head and seize the servo. Roberta threatens Seven with it, excitedly telling him to stop whatever he's doing. Seven replies, "I've got to finish what I started or in six minutes, World War III begins!"

Scotty beams Kirk and Spock away from base security and sends them to Seven's office. Roberta, now totally confused, points the servo pen at Kirk. Seven manages to take it from her and hands it to Kirk, adding that it was "set to kill".

Spock tries unsuccessfully to destroy the missile with Seven's computer. Seven pleads with Kirk to let him complete his plan to destroy the missile at a safe altitude to scare the world's leaders out of their insane arms race. Kirk, perhaps mindful that Seven had just kept Roberta from killing him with his servo, decides to trust Seven. Seven retakes control of the computer and safely detonates the warhead at 104 miles altitude, only 4 miles above the safe minimum.

In the epilogue, Spock and Kirk explain to Seven that the Enterprise was meant to be part of the day's events. Meanwhile, Roberta sees that Isis has turned into a sexy woman in a leather cat suit. When she demands an explanation, Seven answers "That, Miss Lincoln, is simply my cat." When Roberta looks again, Isis is once again a cat. Seven decides to keep Roberta employed as his assistant for any future missions. Kirk and Spock beam back to the Enterprise, much to Roberta's continuing astonishment.

Guest stars

  • This was the only episode in which a guest star's name (in this case, Robert Lansing) was listed after the initial opening credits.
  • Barbara Babcock, who appeared in two other Star Trek episodes, had a very unusual role here: voicing over Isis the cat's "meows".
  • Victoria Vetri, the 1968 Playboy Playmate of the Year, has an uncredited bit part as Isis in human form.

40th Anniversary remastering

This episode was remastered in 2006 and aired on May 3, 2008 as part of the remastered Original Series. It was preceded a week earlier by the remastered "Mudd's Women" and followed a week later by the remastered "Court Martial". Aside from remastered video and audio, and the all-CGI animation of the USS Enterprise that is standard among the revisions, specific changes to this episode also include:

  • Earth has been given a more realistic appearance, and the Moon also appears

Comic book

In 2008, IDW Publishing launched an Assignment: Earth five-issue comic book series written and drawn by John Byrne. One notable story shows Seven and Roberta's peripheral involvement in the events of a prior episode, "Tomorrow Is Yesterday"--which, due to peculiarities of time travel, happens after "Assignment: Earth" for Seven and Roberta, but before "Assignment: Earth" for the Enterprise crew. The stories show the characters up to 1974. Another series is not planned before September 2009.


Author Greg Cox has included Gary Seven and Roberta in three of his Star Trek novels, Assignment: Eternity and the two-part novel, "The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh". In the latter two novels Gary Seven and Roberta Lincoln go on to eventually stop Khan Noonien Singh and his fellow genetically engineered humans from taking over the planet. These novels also include many humorous references and inside jokes alluding to TOS, TNG, DS9 episodes, and the TOS movies, as well as references to some popular 1960's and 1970's television series not related to Star Trek (for example, meeting Jamie Sommers from The Bionic Woman.)

In real life

  • This episode has a strange double coincidence with real-life events. Spock mentions that the same day the US is launching an orbital nuclear warhead platform there will also be an important assassination. The missile shown in the episode is actually stock footage of the launch of Apollo 4, the first unmanned test of a Saturn V, easily recognizable from the CSM at the top of the rocket; this footage was not altered in the remaster to something more appropriate to an orbiting nuclear warhead and only enough Saturn rocket assembly to achieve Earth orbit. Less than a week after the episode's first airing Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated the same day as the launch of Apollo 6, the second unmanned test of a Saturn V. Spock's other "prediction" of a government coup in Asia did not happen that day.
  • The address of Gary Seven's office (811 East 68th Street, New York City) would actually fall in the middle of the East River, as that street ends at the waterfront in the 500s. This would put it near the Ricardo's apartment from I Love Lucy, at 623 East 68th Street.
  • This is the only episode of Star Trek in which time travel is treated as "routine", utilizing the solar "slingshot" time warp effect first seen in The Original Series episode "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" and later in the motion picture, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
  • There was a scene in an earlier script draft, set on the Enterprise's bridge, in which Sulu, Chekov and Uhura were watching a scene from an episode of the TV series "Bonanza" (another NBC-TV series) on the view screen. However, it was dropped before filming.

External links

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