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David Darling |
Where No Man Has Gone Before
Star Trek Original series, season 1, episode 3
The Enterprise is on a mission to probe outside the Galaxy when it picks up a signal from an old style ship disaster recorder. The call letters confirm that the recorder came from the SS Valiant, an early interstellar vessel that disappeared two centuries earlier. The burned and pitted device is beamed onboard the Enterprise where its records further reveal that the Valiant ran into a magnetic space storm at the Galaxy's edge and then encountered some unknown force.
Kirk assembles his department heads on the bridge and is introduced by his chief medical officer to Dr. Elizabeth Dehner, a psychiatrist who joined the crew at the Aldebaran colony. According to the Valiant's recorder, computer records aboard the Valiant were searched for anything about ESP (extrasensory perception) following the ship's strange encounter. Dehner reveals that she herself tested as a having a high ESP score. One of the last entries in the recorder is of the Valiant's captain issuing a self-destruct command.
The Enterprise heads out of the Galaxy at warp factor 1 and meets the mysterious, glowing energy barrier that lies there. Spock announces that the values of density, radiation, and energy outside the ship are all negative. Then the Enterprise runs into the same force field that affected the Valiant. Energy discharges penetrate the ship and strike both Dehner and Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell, who is at helm control. Nine crew members are killed, all of them, together with Dehner and Mitchell, it turns out, had higher than normal ESP ratings. Upon regaining consciousness, Mitchell's eyes glisten with an eerie light.
Rapidly, Mitchell acquires astonishing powers: the ability to absorb information at fantastic speed, to move objects at will, even to die and revive himself. Dehner senses a bond with Mitchell – that she too has been affected by the phenomenon at the barrier.
Spock expresses his concern about what Mitchell is mutating into. With the Enterprise's warp engines knocked out of action by the force field, there are limited options. Kirk is persuaded by Spock that Mitchell must be left on a nearby uninhabited planet, Delta Vega, before he becomes a danger to the ship and its crew. But Mitchell reads their minds. "The things I could do – like maybe a god can do." Kirk and Spock manage to subdue him and beam down to Delta Vega where there is an unmanned mining facility. Mitchell is put in a secure cell but breaks out. Dehner begins to mutate too, and she and Mitchell escape among the rocks on the planet's surface.
Kirk pursues them. Mitchell senses him coming and says to Dehner, "Now that you are changing I want you to realize just how unimportant they are." Kirk tries to reason with Dehner. "Hang on to being a human for one moment longer," he urges.
Mitchell has prepared a grave for Kirk and now tries to force him into it. Dehner realizes she is the only one who can stop Mitchell, and the two of them exchange energy bolts, draining each other's powers in the process. Mitchell's eyes briefly return to normal and Kirk seizes his chance. Mitchell's powers return but he slips into the empty grave and Kirk triggers a rock fall with his phaser which buries him. Dehner, who is also dying, says to Kirk: "I'm sorry, but you can't know what it's like to be almost a god!"
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© David Darling