1. I'm sorry it took me so long to get this chapter up. First I was out of town, then "Defending Vulcanity" demanded to be written, then I was sick, then I had jury duty, then I was sick some more. I don't expect there to be quite as long of a gap between future episodes (though I do spend at least half of my time too sick to write).
2. I'm a licensed clinical psychologist in real life. I've mostly practiced in university counseling centers and in private practice, with a few training stints in hospitals. I know of other psychologists, though, who work for the US Army, and most of them don't think of themselves as army officers; they think of themselves as psychologists who just happen to be working for the army at the moment. Since this fits very well with McCoy's behavior, I felt as if I wasn't doing him a disservice in ascribing this attitude to him.
3. The amygdala is a part of the brain that's essential for the feeling of fear; this is why McCoy jokes that he wants to examine that part of our fearless captain.
4. As most Star Trek fans know, this was the first Star Trek episode ever broadcast. Why did NBC choose to start with this one? Well, they couldn't start with "The Corbomite Maneuver," because making the special effects for Balok's ship took a LONG time in 1966. The special effects makers were being asked to do things they didn't usually have to do for TV, and it took them awhile to figure out how to do some things, plus it was all just much, much slower before the age of computers. "The Corbomite Maneuver" wouldn't be broadcast until the tenth episode, because it took that long to get the special effects ready.
"Where No Man Has Gone Before" didn't have the complete crew, plus the ship and the uniforms were somewhat different than the regular ones, so in some superficial respects it wouldn't give a good picture of what Star Trek would be like. "The Enemy Within" was a good episode, but having the captain be out of character for 90% of the episode also wouldn't be a great introduction to the series, back when no one had any idea who these characters were. "The Naked Time" (up next) is a wonderful episode, but it has most of the crew behaving out of character, which also isn't the best possible introduction.
That leaves "Mudd's Women" or "The Man Trap" as possible choices, and they went with "The Man Trap." Gotta say that I agree with them there. :-)
I think "Where No Man Has Gone Before" is actually a much better episode and would have made a better introduction to the series, but it IS true that the crew, the uniforms, and the appearance of the ship are all uncharacteristic in that episode.
5. Some esoteric and futuristic salt shakers were purchased for this episode, then when the time came to use them, they realized that the salt shakers wouldn't work in the plot unless the audience could recognize them as salt shakers. So they used a perfectly ordinary salt shaker in this episode, but the Star Trek production didn't have any extra money, and they had to use those futuristic salt shakers for something. They were pressed into service as McCoy's portable scanners, so when he runs that little cylindrical doohicky over people and looks at the end of it to see how they are, he's using a salt shaker. It takes real acting ability to look at the end of a salt shaker — seriously and with great concern — and report that it shows medical information. :-)
6. This episode was written by George Clayton Johnson — lightly edited by John D. F. Black and heavily edited by Gene Roddenberry — and directed by Marc Daniels. This was the first episode directed by Daniels, but it certainly wouldn't be the last; he went on to direct fourteen TOS episodes, tied with Joseph Pevney for directing the most TOS episodes. He also wrote the Star Trek Animated Series episode "One of Our Planets Is Missing." And did you know that his face was used for that of Jackson Roykirk in the episode "The Changeling"? Daniels won a Hugo award (a major science fiction award) for directing "The Menagerie."
In These Are The Voyages, Marc Cushman reports that it was Marc Daniels who thought of giving Spock green blood. Remember, in this episode, the salt vampire tries to kill Spock and can't, and Spock says this is because, ""Fortunately, my ancestors spawned in another ocean than yours did. My blood cells are quite different." Well, Marc Daniels wanted to know HOW they're different, and he thought green blood would be interestingly different, plus it would make a certain amount of sense, given the yellowish skin they were giving Spock. Daniels said that Gene Roddenberry was not enthusiastic about giving Spock green blood but eventually came around. :-)
So why have they been giving Spock pink blusher on his cheeks up till now? Because Marc Daniels didn't invent Spock's green blood until they were filming this episode. :-)
7. When we hear Nancy singing briefly in the early part of this episode, that's actually Nichelle Nichols' voice.
8. The things that Uhura suggests that Spock say to her would be considered sexual harassment if someone said them to a subordinate today. Some parts of TOS are as fresh today as the day the series was made, but some things remind us that this show was made in 1966, and things were a lot different then.
Or, as Brittany Diamond puts it, "Yay '60's!" :-)
9. Chrissie has transcripts of all of the episodes — which she laboriously typed in herself — and you can find the transcript for this episode here. She misses a line once in a very great while when two characters are speaking at once or when a character is speaking in a very soft voice, but this happens very rarely, and her transcripts are generally both extremely accurate and a wonderful resource for the community.
10. I have a chronic illness that leaves me non-functional more days than not. I will try to update regularly, and I will try to respond to any comments I receive. Unfortunately, my good intentions are frequently thwarted by my poor health.
11. I'm going to borrow Ster J's wonderful disclaimer, because it fits me so well: I don't own Star Trek; IT owns ME. :-)
12. Thanks for reading!
13. I'm no longer writing summaries of the episodes, since it seemed silly to duplicate the efforts of Memory Alpha. If you want or need a full summary of the plot of this episode, you can find one at the page for this episode on Memory Alpha, the Star Trek wiki.
I'm still doing my character and world-building notes, though; see below:
Kirk is teasing and playful in the early parts of this episode, showing both the softer side of our captain and his close relationship with McCoy. He sobers up fast, though, as soon as he hears Nancy scream.
Kirk calls McCoy both "Bones" and "Doctor" in this episode; later on, he'll use "Doctor" rarely.
Kirk snaps at McCoy when McCoy tries to talk about how Nancy looked completely different the two times he saw her, saying that he's lost a man, and that's the important thing. We'll hear quite a bit during the course of the series about how much it weighs on Kirk when he loses a member of his crew.
Kirk tries to apologize to McCoy later, showing us that although he can be snappish and autocratic when stressed, he's not too big to apologize. This Jim Kirk is already shaping up to be quite a guy ... and I say that as someone whose favorite character has always been Spock. James T. Kirk should never be underestimated.
During this episode, both Kirk and Spock assume that the creature must be killed, yet it's not dangerous as long as it has a supply of salt and as long as any future visitors to the planet were warned that the creature was present. It's still early in the first season, and the characters are still being developed. I think if this episode had been written later on, at least Spock — and possibly both Spock AND Kirk — would want to capture the creature so that it could be transported back to the planet, rather than killing it on sight.
During Spock's and Uhura's interaction on the bridge, they have this exchange:
SPOCK: Miss Uhura, your last subspace log contained an error in the frequencies column.
UHURA: Mr. Spock, sometimes I think if I hear that word "frequency" once more, I'll cry.
UHURA: I was just trying to start a conversation.
SPOCK (in a puzzled tone of voice): Well, since it is illogical for a communications officer to resent the word frequency, I have no answer.
UHURA: No, you have an answer. I'm an illogical woman who's beginning to feel too much a part of that communications console. Why don't you tell me I'm an attractive young lady, or ask me if I've ever been in love? Tell me how your planet Vulcan looks on a lazy evening when the moon is full.
SPOCK: Vulcan has no moon, Miss Uhura.
UHURA: I'm not surprised, Mr. Spock.
TRANSPORTER TECH OVER INTERCOM: Transporter room to Bridge. Landing party returning. They report one death.
SPOCK: Bridge acknowledging.
UHURA: I don't believe it.
UHURA (vehemently): You explain! That means that somebody is dead and you just sit there. It could be Captain Kirk. He's the closest thing you have to a friend.
SPOCK (in an annoyed tone of voice): Lieutenant, my demonstration of concern will not change what happened. The transporter room is very well manned, and they will call if they need my assistance.
Spock is more expressive in this episode than he will be later, but he's considerably toned down from how he was in "Mudd's Women."
When the creature attacks Spock, it doesn't kill him, and Kirk wants to know why. Spock replies, "Fortunately, my ancestors spawned in another ocean than yours did. My blood cells are quite different."
They haven't yet established that Vulcans are a lot stronger than humans, and towards the end of this episode, Spock and McCoy struggle for the phaser that McCoy is holding. Spock can't get it away from McCoy soon enough, so he changes tactics. Later on, they'd know that Spock could wrest the phaser from McCoy's grasp with almost no effort, but it looks as if they haven't decided on that aspect of Vulcan physiology yet.
When Spock is clouted on the head by the creature in this episode, we see him lying on one of those monitored beds in sickbay, with a trickle of green blood coming from the red wound in his forehead. The make-up department knew how to make wounds, since they'd made a zillion of 'em in their past work, but they didn't stop to think that the edges of the wound of a person with green blood wouldn't be RED:
Similarly, they're still putting pink blusher on Spock's cheeks; they haven't yet figured out that a man with GREEN blood wouldn't blush PINK. In the brighter images that the remastered version gives us, there are moments when Spock looks rather shockingly painted. Hard to imagine that Vulcans think make-up is logical. :-) Anyway, here's a screenshot:
McCoy calls Kirk "sir" several times during this episode. This is rare for McCoy, but they're still establishing the characters, given that this is only the fourth episode with McCoy in it.
McCoy is called the "Ship's Surgeon" during this episode, as he'll be called off and on during the entire series and into the movie era. Beginning with the second season episode "The Deadly Years," they'll also sometimes call him the ship's Chief Medical Officer.
During his examination of Robert Crater, after McCoy finishes running his portable scanner over his patient, he tells Crater to open his mouth. They have this exchange:
CRATER: Why, I thought the machine...
McCOY: The machine is capable of almost anything, but I'll still put my trust in a healthy set of tonsils. Now, open your mouth.
They're beginning to establish McCoy's distrust of machinery.
When "Nancy" disappears from the planet, McCoy is frantic to find her and wants to conduct a search, whereas Kirk wants to go back to the ship and use the ship's sensors to find her. They have this exchange:
KIRK: We're beaming aboard the ship, Doctor.
McCOY: You can't leave her!
KIRK: You could learn something from Mr. Spock, Doctor. Stop thinking with your glands. We've equipment aboard the Enterprise that could pinpoint a match lit anywhere on this planet, or the heat of a body.
Towards the end of the episode, it takes quite a long while for McCoy to accept that the person who looks like Nancy isn't Nancy at all but is a creature who can make him THINK that it's Nancy. McCoy is probably still groggy from taking that sedative, so that may be why it takes him so long to catch on. I think they're making McCoy stupider than he actually is, though, to make sure that the AUDIENCE has time to catch on. It all seems painfully obvious to us in 2015, but in 1966, most people didn't have the experience with science fiction that audiences have today, and the idea that a creature can either change its shape or can use illusion to make it seem as if it's changing its shape would have been a novel idea for most people.
The Salt Vampire
In the beginning of the episode, it seems clear that the creature is using illusion to make people see what they want to see, since Kirk, McCoy, and Darnell are all looking at the creature at exactly the same time, yet they see three different things. The creature cannot have shape-changed into three different people simultaneously, so it has to be an illusion.
Later in the episode, though, they talk about the creature as if it's actually changing its shape, rather than using illusion. It's not clear whether the writers were just confused, whether the creature is always using illusion, but Crater and Kirk's crew didn't realize that, or whether the creature is capable of both illusion AND shape-changing.
Being capable of both would be somewhat redundant, plus there are moments when the creature LOOKS human but is sucking out salt through its fingers, so it seems likely that the creature is using illusion every time. Since the captain's log entry says that they were unaware until later that each of the three men was seeing a different Nancy Crater, I think it's likely that Kirk's crew didn't realize that the creature was using illusion rather than shape-changing, and Crater either didn't realize it, himself, or he was intentionally misstating the creature's capabilities to help confuse the issue.
This episode establishes that Uhura's native tongue is Swahili; we also get a look at what her ideal man might be like.
She's now wearing the red that we'll see her in for the rest of the series:
This episode shows Sulu working in the Botany department. The Star Trek Writer's Guide has this to say about Sulu's interest in botany (words in italics quoted from that guide):
Although mixed Oriental, Sulu is contemporary American in speech and manner. His exact ancestry will probably never be indicated. However, he does have something of a Japanese characterization in one thing -- his hobby of space-botany. He is an avid collector, never goes down onto an alien world without his case, which includes microscope, testing devices, sample containers, etc. His curiosity in this field is insatiable, and he is often able to make shrewd analyses of alien planets from the botanical samples he has collected and inspected. He also maintains a "garden" aboard the Enterprise, an exotic collection of specimens from around space. He gives his prize specimens names, treats them with the solicitous care that people in our century lavish on poodle dogs. Strangely, one or two of of these specimens may seem to respond to this, as if they are capable of some kind of plant intelligence. This annoys Dr. McCoy, who lacks feeling for things vegetable and the two men are often in near-violent dispute. It's not even impossible that one of the larger plants, to Yeoman Janice Rand's horror, is capable of some movement and seems to feel an affection for her.
It's kind of a shame that they never really followed up on this; we never see Sulu use that botany case on landing parties. It would have been cool to have a quick shot of his gathering specimens in all the episodes where he's in the landing party. But then, they were making these episodes at break-neck speed, and they didn't really have time for many niceties.
When Spock calls sickbay to tell them what the library computer says about the Borgia plant, he calls it the "dispensary;" McCoy also calls it "the dispensary" when he calls Kirk on the bridge. That's funny, it was called "sickbay" in the previous episode ("The Enemy Within,") and it'll be "sickbay" again in the next episode ("The Naked Time.")
The message Uhura gets is from "Starship base on Caran IV." Looks like they haven't started calling them simply "Starbase SomeNumber" yet, but they're moving in that direction. They've finally stopped calling them "Earth" bases, at least!
When Rand takes Sulu his lunch in the garden, we see a sign reading, "Life Sciences Section -- Botany Department." They're starting to establish the size and breadth of the Enterprise's facilities.
In these early episodes, the crew carry their phasers and communicators on what appear to be brown suede sash belts around their waists. In later episodes, their equipment will stick directly onto their trousers. Evidently they rediscover Velcro partway through 2266. :-)
When Kirk realizes that the creature is on the ship, he tells Sulu to call "General Quarters, Security Condition Three." Later on in the series, they call Red Alert, Yellow Alert, Intruder Alert, and Battle Stations, but the term "General Quarters" is almost never used. At this stage in the development of Star Trek, they're still figuring out just how much naval terminology they want to use and how to adapt it for the 23rd century, so the terminology changes a lot before they settle on a standard.
This is the only episode in which we see McCoy's quarters, so take a good look. :-)