31 "Metamorphosis"

(airdate: November 10, 1967)

Writer: Gene L. Coon
Director: Ralph Senesky

Zefram Cochrane: Glenn Corbett

Commissioner Nancy Hedford:
Elinor Donahue

Voice of the Companion (uncredited): Elizabeth Rogers

Stardate: Shortly before 3219.8 [The back of the video release gives it as 3219.4, which fits.]

Captain's Log: Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are taking Commissioner Nancy Hedford to the Enterprise, where she will receive treatment for Sakuro's disease, a fantastically rare but potentially fatal disease. The shuttlecraft they are travelling in is captured by a strange energy cloud and taken to a planetoid, where they meet Zefram Cochrane, discoverer of space-warp and believed to be dead for 150 years. The Federation people have been brought here by the Companion to be company for Cochrane, who wants to leave. Hedford, however, will die without treatment. Kirk tries to escape the planetoid, first with brute force and then through discussion. It soon becomes apparent that the Companion is in love with Cochrane - something that disgusts him. After a discussion with Kirk on the nature of love, the Companion joins with Commissioner Hedford, in order to discover how humans see love. Cochrane, moved both by this and Commissioner Hedford's beauty, elects to stay on the planetoid with her for the rest of their days.

Whoops!: Commissioner Hedford has a bizarre hysterical fit after Cochrane announces that they've been brought to the planetoid to keep him company, never to leave [but then she's suffering from Sakuro's disease and stress].
     So the idea of male and female is a universal constant? Even setting aside issues of transgenderism and gender fluidity (since Gene L Coon can be forgiven for not considering things not in the wider culture at the time), what about asexual species? Species with more than two sexes?

Classic Lines: "Believe me, Captain, immortality consists largely of boredom."

Cringe Lines: McCoy: "A blind man could see it with a cane."

Technobabble: The Universal Translator analyses brainwaves as a starting point for speech translation, looking for certain ideas and concepts common to all intelligent life.

Alien Love: The Companion is in love with Zefram Cochrane. At the end, she joins with Hedford. Cochrane decides to remain on the planet with Hedford/Companion.

Library Computer: In the Gamma Canaris region of space is an asteroid belt with approximately seven thousand bodies, ranging in size from types A to N; of these, forty percent have atmospheres ranging from types H to M [presumably these are the ones capable of supporting human life, at least for a bit]. One of these was a purplish planetoid [a dull, uninspiring brown in the remastered version - which no longer matches the purple sky on the planet's surface], with an atmosphere almost identical to Earth's and similar gravity as well - unusual, given its size. The bulk of the planetoid appeared to consist of iron and nickel. Spock speculated that this planetoid was the result of a planetary breakup.
     Living on the planetoid was Zefram Cochrane, the human who discovered space-warp. [In other words, the first person to travel faster than light.] He came from Alpha Centauri [his final place of residence, as Star Trek: First Contact shows his origin as Earth]. He was said to have died about 150 years ago, although his body was never found. There are universities, cities, even planets named after him. He was 87 years old when he headed out into space, dying of old age. A space-faring creature that Cochrane subsequently called the Companion discovered him adrift and took him to the planetoid, rejuvenating him. He appeared to be 35 years old afterwards; thus his current appearance is a tall man with dark hair and blue eyes, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, with an unusual badge or gadget on his right breast [it kind of looks like an atomizer cut in half, with the pieces laid side by side]. He is unfamiliar with the Federation, but he does know of Vulcans [little wonder, since Star Trek: First Contact shows him making contact with them]. Cochrane finds the design of the Galileo shuttlecraft "simple and clean".
     The Companion is a lifeform, vaguely resembling a shimmering, sparking cloud of ionized hydrogen, but with strong erratic electrical impulses. The Companion is female. She can travel at warp speeds through space and can disable a shuttlecraft without damaging it. She appears as a yellow shimmering cloud, and she can defend herself with an electric shock of "respectable" voltage. She communicates with Cochrane non-verbally, achieving a sort of symbiosis with him, although this contact leaves Cochrane drained. Cochrane is able to initiate contact; he does so by clearing his mind. The Companion can provide Cochrane with everything he needs - food, water, plants - by creating it from the "native elements". When threatened by people, the Companion can choke them in defense. When the Companion joined with Commissioner Hedford, she lost her immortality and the ability to leave the planetoid. If she leaves for more than a few days, she will die. The Companion cannot cure Sakuro's disease [but she can purge it from the system when she joins with a human being].
     Assistant Federation Commissioner Nancy Hedford is a young woman with dark hair and a rather stern disposition. She was on Epsilon Canaris III to mediate and prevent a war when she contracted Sakuro's disease, forcing her to leave before negotiations were completed. She states that she's never been loved. She was on the verge of death when the Companion joined with her; the dying parts of Ms Hedford were "let go". She stayed with Cochrane on the planet, giving the Companion knowledge of both loneliness and love as humans understand it.
     Sakuro's disease is extremely rare. The chances of contracting it are literally billions to one. Consequently, Federation personnel are not typically inoculated against it. Sakuro's disease is fatal if not treated. The first symptom is an elevated temperature. Once fever sets in, the patient only has a few hours left to live.
     [The Federation] consists of 1000 planets and is spreading out. It is estimated that there are millions of undiscovered planets in the galaxy that have intelligent life.
     The universal translator is a device that analyses the brainwave patterns of the speaker, searching for common concepts. Once it finds them, it translates them and creates a grammar structure using the data, creating coherent speech. It is designed for lifeforms with more coherence (i.e., solidity) than the Companion, but Spock successfully modifies it to speak with her. It makes the voice masculine or feminine depending on the brainwave patterns it discovers, as the idea of male and female are "universal constants". [Er...] It's not 100% successful, however.
     Another shuttlecraft named Galileo, with the same registry (NCC-1701/7), is in use after the events of "The Galileo Seven".
     Shuttlecraft moving under powered flight leave antimatter particles as a trail.

Final Analysis: "Not exactly like a pet owner speaking to its animal, would you say?...More like love." What should have by all rights been a horrible episode with lots of clichéd, clunky dialogue, "Metamorphosis" is instead something much more. The regulars give it their usual best, Shatner in particular standing out, and the guest stars rise admirably to the occasion. "Metamorphosis" is both a simple romance and a commentary on how love can transcend races, and the result is an excellent cast giving conviction and feeling to a touching love story.

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