51 "Return to Tomorrow"

(airdate: February 9, 1968)

Writer: John Kingsbridge [pseudonym for John T. Dugan]
Director: Ralph Senensky

Dr. Ann Mulhall: Diana Muldaur

Voice of Sargon: James Doohan (uncredited)

Stardate: 4768.3

Captain's Log: The Enterprise is drawn to an unexplored part of space by a strange signal. An ancient and powerful being named Sargon requests the help of the Enterprise crew; he and two of his companions have been trapped as living minds without bodies for half a million years, and they need help to construct android bodies. However, in order to build these bodies they need to temporarily swap places with the minds of three crewmembers. The crew agrees to this, and so Kirk, Spock, and Dr. Ann Mulhall switch with Sargon, Henoch, and Thalassa, respectively. However, while the three of them go about building android bodies, Henoch has no intention of giving up Spock's body, and so he arranges for Sargon to die while in Kirk's body. Sargon, however, flees into the Enterprise computers, and tricks Henoch into leaving Spock's body. Sargon and Thalassa agree that the temptation of the flesh are too great, and they share one last kiss before consigning themselves to oblivion.

Whoops!: Spock describes Sargon's planet as being class M, despite there having been no atmosphere for the last 500 millennia; this isn't what we normally think "class M" means. [He meant it was once class M.] And it's perhaps a bit surprising that Sargon's people can't create an android capable of experiencing touch. [Maybe their standards are just too high.]
     It's also a little surprising that Kirk doesn't know who Dr. Mulhall is; this might be more plausible if she were an ensign, but she's a lieutenant commander - shouldn't he have known a fairly high-ranking officer like her was aboard his ship? And speaking of Dr. Mulhall, if she's an astrobiologist shouldn't she be wearing sciences blue?

Classic Lines: "They used to say if man could fly, he'd have wings. But he did fly. He discovered he had to. Do you wish that the first Apollo mission hadn't reached the moon, or that we hadn't gone on to Mars and then to the nearest star? That's like saying you wish that you still operated with scalpels and sewed your patients up with catgut like your great-great-great-great-grandfather used to. I'm in command. I could order this. But I'm not, because Dr. McCoy is right in pointing out the enormous danger potential in any contact with life and intelligence as fantastically advanced as this. But I must point out that the possibilities, the potential for knowledge and advancement, is equally great. Risk... risk is our business. That's what this starship is all about. That's why we're aboard her."
     Kirk: "A simple transference. Their minds and ours." McCoy, sarcastically: "Quite simple, happens every day."

Alien Love: Sargon (in Kirk's body) and Thalassa (in Dr. Mulhall's) share a few tender kisses.

Library Computer: Hundreds of light-years beyond where any Earth ships had, prior to stardate 4768.3, explored was a yellow-brown dead world. This world [called Arret in the script, though not on screen] was [once] a class M world, similar to Earth (albeit older), but half a million years ago a cataclysm ripped away the atmosphere; the surface of the planet has been dead since then.
     600,000 years earlier, the planet had been home to a very advanced space-faring civilization. This civilization had spread out through the stars, colonizing a number of other planets and developing impressive mental powers. These powers led them to think of themselves as gods, and 100,000 years later a struggle broke out among the inhabitants - an "ultimate crisis" that led to the death of their world, as the atmosphere was ripped away. The inhabitants saw what was coming too late to prevent it, but they were able to join together to preserve the "best minds" of their species - including Sargon, their leader; Thalassa, his wife; and Henoch, from the other side. They placed their minds as pure energy inside spherical receptacles buried 100 miles below the surface of the planet (in a vault constructed from an incredibly advanced substance, one harder and stronger than anything Spock had encountered), and the others slept while Sargon scanned the stars, waiting for descendants of their colonization efforts to come along so that Sargon could enlist their help. The Enterprise was the first [appropriate] ship to come by in 500,000 years, and in that time, of the eleven globes [that we see] presumably containing minds, only three minds had survived.
     The abilities of Sargon and his people included probing nearby ships such as the Enterprise with their thoughts, as well as controlling the ship's systems, activating their distress signal relays and shutting down power to the ship; speaking remotely to people aboard those ships; boosting both transporter and communicator signals to travel through 100 miles of solid rock; preventing certain people (the security guards) from beaming down; exchanging minds with an individual and thus taking control of their body; talking with an echo while inhabiting said body; reading the minds of everyone around them; and surrounding a person with purple flames, causing them physical distress. In addition, Sargon could transfer himself into the Enterprise, as well as causing someone's mind to coinhabit another's body alongside their mind. He could also convince Henoch that a harmless hypo was filled with deadly poison.
     Sargon and his people could take over a human body, but this caused a spike in metabolism; a human body experienced an increase in temperature and a doubled heartbeat, and the body would soon shut down. This also happened in a Vulcan/human body, but it was able to endure longer than a human's. Hourly injections of 10 ccs of a metabolic reduction injection would alleviate these symptoms.
     Sargon's plan was to construct android bodies for him and his people to inhabit. These bodies, while appearing humanoid, would be incredibly advanced: built with techniques and abilities far beyond Federation science (such as a negatron hydrocoil that resembled a drop of jelly), they would be twice as strong and agile as a human body and capable of lasting a thousand years. However, these bodies would be incapable of any form of tactile sensation, at least as we understand it.
     Thalassa was the wife of Sargon. She remembered a time with Sargon when they sat by a silver lake, holding hands, while breathing in flower-scented air. She was briefly tempted by the thought of living in an organic body, but she overcame the temptation and chose to consign herself to oblivion alongside her husband.
     Henoch was the third survivor of the cataclysm that had destroyed their world. He was from the opposite side of Sargon and was still opposed to Sargon and his philosophies, as almost the first thing he does when in a body is sabotage Sargon's metabolic reduction injection. This is because he would rather live in Spock's body than in an android's, and he's therefore getting Sargon out of the way so that Sargon won't be able to stop him.
     Neither a human nor a Vulcan mind is capable of generating sufficient energy to project its thoughts from inside one of Sargon's people's globes.
     Dr. Ann Mulhall was a specialist in astrobiology. She had long brown hair and blue eyes, and was chosen by Sargon (along with Kirk and Spock) as being the most suitable host for Thalassa's mind. She was a lieutenant commander in Starfleet.
     Human studies and beliefs indicate that humanity evolved independently on Earth [but see the Next Generation episode "The Chase"], and thus they were not evolved from Sargon's people; however, Spock noted that being descended in some way from Sargon's race was a possible explanation for certain parts of Vulcan prehistory.
     Federation medical science is capable of maintaining a human's vital organs for a few weeks in the absence of a living mind.
     Vulcan strength, hearing, and eyesight are above human norms.

Final Analysis: "Sargon has closed his mind to a better way, with these bodies." An interesting idea that gives Shatner and Nimoy something a little different to do this week, "Return to Tomorrow" chooses to focus itself on the relationship between the three minds inhabiting our heroes, and so we end up with an entertaining character drama with some nice moments of metaphysical discussion thrown into the mix. Recommended.

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