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Obsession (Star Trek)

"Obsession" is a second season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series and was broadcast December 15, 1967. It is episode #42, production #47, written by Art Wallace, and directed by Ralph Senensky.

Overview: Captain Kirk becomes obsessed with destroying a murderous entity.

Plot

On stardate 3619.2, the starship USS Enterprise has sent down a landing team to a planet to search for tritanium deposits, an element "21.4 times" as hard as diamond. While surveying, Captain Kirk notices a sweet honey smell, and has his men go on alert. He tells them to scan for dikironium and immediately fire at anything that looks like a gaseous cloud. The landing party fans out to explore.

One group picks up a signal but loses it at which point they are immediately attacked. Kirk and Mr. Spock rush over to the scene finding three crewman down; two dead, the other, Ensign Rizzo, near death. Both men have had their red blood cells drained of hemoglobin. Kirk fears that the killer is the same space-travelling vampiric entity he had encountered 11 years before while serving aboard the USS Farragut. The encounter had killed half the ship's crew. The landing team quickly returns to the Enterprise.

Once aboard, Kirk becomes obsessed with finding this entity, feeling guilty that it caused so much damage and then eluded him. Kirk had the opportunity to shoot the creature but hesitated, even while he knew phasers seemed to have no effect. Kirk ignores his priority orders, to rendezvous with the USS Yorktown and transfer urgent medical supplies destined for Theta VII, until Dr. McCoy can confirm the cause of the men's deaths.

McCoy however, is at a loss and complains that he doesn't even know where to begin. Kirk tells him to reference the Farragut's medical logs and start there. On the bridge, Kirk has Spock look for a gaseous entity that is able to conceal itself and pass through solid matter. Spock is intrigued about such a creature, fascinated that it can move through space and time at will. He suggests that it must be able to control its molecular structure, but Kirk cuts him off, stating he doesn't want a scientific analysis and just wants the creature found.

Kirk calls Ensign Garrovick to the bridge, whose father, Captain Garrovick, was the commanding officer of the Farragut, and who also lost his life to the entity. Kirk believes Garrovick's son will be just as driven in finding the creature as he is and assigns him to the next landing party that will hunt the entity down. As soon as they prepare to leave, Dr. McCoy reports that Rizzo has died of his injuries.

Kirk returns to the planet and orders his landing party to fire at the entity as soon as it is spotted. He informs his men that the creature attacks quickly, so any hesitation will be deadly. The team spreads out and Ensign Garrovick soon encounters the creature. He aims his phaser, but hesitates to fire as he becomes frozen with fear as his partner is killed. The creature moves off just as Kirk arrives. Back on the Enterprise, Garrovick admits that he hesitated before firing his phaser and is confined to quarters.

McCoy has seen enough and confronts his Captain on his reckless obsession over the creature. He summons Spock to consider Kirk's fitness for command. Kirk justifies his actions by maintaining that the creature is an intelligent predator and a serious threat to inhabited worlds. He warns that if it manages to travel to a populated system, there is not telling how many it will kill. McCoy finally lets off as Mr. Chekov reports that he is tracking the cloud creature moving away from the planet.

The landing party quickly returns to the ship and Kirk orders a pursuit of the cloud at Warp 8. The ship gives chase, but Mr. Scott doubts the Enterprise can sustain the high speeds for long. Kirk orders a reduction of speed and curiously, the entity slows down as well. It slows as if preparing for a confrontation and allowing them to catch up. Kirk orders battle stations and as the entity cloud comes into range, he fires weapons. The phaser streams and torpedoes pass right through the being with no effect.

Not only do the weapons have no effect, but neither do the deflector shields as creature passes right through the ship's hull and into the ventilation system. Kirk orders a shutdown of life support, limiting the crew to two hours of air. He orders Scotty to close all vents and flood the system with radioactive gas.

After a conference, Spock points out to Kirk that since the creature is immune to conventional weapons fire, he needn't blame himself for hesitating to fire in the earlier incident. Firing promptly on the creature would have made no difference and the resulting deaths by the creature would have been impossible for Kirk to prevent.

Meanwhile, the creature exits the vents and kills two crewmen. It then enters the room of Ensign Garrovick, as if it remembered him from last time, and tries to attack him, but Spock had already entered shortly before the creature's entrance. The creature gets a sample of Spock's Vulcan blood, which is copper-based, and is repulsed by it. The creature quickly lets Spock go and flees the ship. Dr. McCoy comments that Spock's green blood "must have left a bad taste".

The creature makes its way to the fourth planet in the Tycho System and the Enterprise heads there. Kirk wonders if the planet is the creature's natural home since that is where the Farragut originally encountered it. Kirk plans a trap for the creature while Spock comments that the creature may be feeding in order to reproduce. If the entity is not stopped they could be facing more of them.

Kirk and Ensign Garrovick beam down to the planet with a case that holds an antimatter bomb. The two lure the creature with blood from the ship's medical supply, but it quickly gobbles up the 'bait' before they can lead it to the bomb.

Kirk decides to use himself as bait and remain behind to detonate the bomb. He orders Garrovick back to the ship, but the young officer refuses to abandon his Captain and a fight ensues before Kirk can explain that he does not mean to sacrifice himself. Garrovick winds up on report. The two ready the bomb as the creature draws near. With the creature ready to envelop them, Kirk and Garrovick beam away and the antimatter bomb explodes, annihilating the entity and most of Tycho IV with it.

Once safe aboard the ship, Kirk takes Garrovick aside to thank him and tell him a few stories about his father, Captain Garrovick.

40th Anniversary remastering

This episode was remastered in 2006 and aired April 12, 2008 as part of the remastered Original Series. It was preceded a week earlier by the remastered "The Enterprise Incident" and followed a week later by the remastered "Mudd's Women". 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:

  • The planet Tycho IV has been given a new appearance.
  • The scenes of the cloud entity in space have been reworked in CGI.
  • An enormous blast crater created by the antimatter explosion is now visible on Tycho IV's surface as the Enterprise leaves orbit

Notes

  • Like The Doomsday Machine, this episode was loosely inspired by Moby-Dick. It is also another example of the red shirt phenomenon. Many red shirt crew members die, including the most famous one of all, Lt. Leslie played by Eddie Paskey, in this episode. He later returns miraculously without any explanation, simply because he was an extra in the episode, and no one figured anyone in the audience would notice. This said, somewhat unusually, the redshirt Ensign Garrovick has a prominent role in the episode and survives, although he is not seen again in the series.
  • The character of Garrovick has met different fates in the novels and the comics. In one novel ("Home is the Hunter"), he's killed in just two pages as if he were a common redshirt; in another ("In the Name of Honor"), he is the executive officer aboard a Federation starship. In the comics he is shown to have achieved his own command, following in the footsteps of his father. The latter is noted in DC Comics Who's Who In Star Trek, and specifically written into a story in Chris Claremont's Debt of Honor graphic novel.
  • This episode features the largest redshirt body count of any Original Series episode: four killed, three wounded.

External links


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