Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: The Original Series - Episode Guide - Season 2

While Star Trek season one generally impressed the TV critics and writers, already leaving an indelible mark on 1960s American pop culture, viewing figures weren’t great and thus CBS executives were hesitant to greenlight par two. Perhaps it was Gene Roddenberry’s enthusiasm for the production that ramrodded Star Trek onto television sets for 1967-68. The blasé attitude of execs for Star Trek was enough that episode 26, i.e. the final, was set to serve as a spinoff for an entirely different series about a mysterious time traveler named Gary Seven. (Apparently someone was catching early Doctor Who…)

In terms of watchability, season two of the original series rehashes some already worn ideas, but does bring innovative stuff like the mirror universe and Tribbles, both of which would continue to manifest themselves throughout the ST series.

1. Amok Time – Or, if you’d like, Spock vs. Kirk, round 2. The old buddies come to blows (so to speak) when Spock is nearly driven insane by the ravages on the Pon Farr. ***

2. Who Mourns for Adonis? – That’s right, it’s time for another Insane God! This one’s literal, as an all-powerful being claiming to be Apollo (!) captures the Enterprise crew. (Unless he meant Apollo form, you know, the 1970s Battlestar Galactica series…?) **

3. The Changeling – Something of a template for the Star Trek: The Motion Picture script. A 20th-century Earth probe has gained near-sentience and seeks to “find and sterilize imperfection,” such as the 4 billion citizens of a world the Enterprise was not in time to save. ***

4. Mirror, Mirror – A transporter malfunction (you knew it had to be a transporter malfunction) sends Kirk, McCoy, Scotty and Uhura into a parallel universe in which Machiavelli is probably taught in first grade and the Enterprise is on no peacekeeping mission. ****

5. The Apple – An away team loses a few Red Shirts early on to various “natural” pitfalls on a planet inhabited by Stone Age-level people controlled by An Insane God! (So much for the ol’ Prime Directive here; Janeway would be having fits, I tell ya!) **

6. The Doomsday Machine – The Enterprise comes to the assistance of the Constellation, a Federation starship nearly destroyed by a planet-sized destruction machine (so kinda like the Death Star but uncontrolled). Unfortunately, the Constellation’s captain is obsessed with wreaking vengeance on the planet-killer. A much-celebrated episode from the original series, “Doomsday Machine” has inspired video games and Star Trek novels. ****

7. Catspaw – While orbiting a seemingly dead planet, the Enterprise is captured by two Insane Gods! involved in a struggle which manifests itself in the form of traditional symbols of witchery. **

8. I, Mudd – That (humanoid trafficker) old rapscallion Harry Mudd is back, this time lording over a planet populated only by some 200,000 androids. After one such android poses as a Red Shirt to hijack the Enterprise (hey, it’s was the late 2260s), Mudd has some fun with the Enterprise bridge crew before Kirk confounds the androids with simplistic logical paradoxes. ***

9. Metamorphosis – Zefram Cochrane, inventor of Earth’s first warp drive, is found alive, sustained by a companion that he calls, well, his Companion. The episode that sent rabid fans to feverishly retconning at the cinematic release of Star Trek: First Contact. **

10. Journey to Babel – Spock’s parents Sarek and Amanda board the Enterprise on the way to mediate peace talks between the Andorians and Tellarites. And along the way, the small question of … murder! ***

11. Friday’s Child – The Federation and the Klingons compete for the economic affection of the Capella, seriously hot-headed dudes on a planet rich in dilithium. ***

12. The Deadly Years – The first in a long tradition of rapid-aging stories on Star Trek. In this one, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, etc., contract the bad space virus and as they approach senility, Romulans choose to attack. ***

13. Obsession – When Kirk spots a “gaseous entity” that destroyed a ship previously under his command, he becomes (you guessed it) obsessed with killing the thing. *

14. Wolf in the Fold – A surprisingly dark episode in which a number of grisly, savage murders are committed, apparently at Scotty’s hands – but the actual murderer is a more primal, ancient force. ***

15. The Trouble with Tribbles –Star Trek Guide is firmly of the opinion that the Tribbles are some of the most cleverly conceived aliens within the ST universe, at least until the Borg. This introduction to the balls o’ fur has everything you’d want in a great ST episode: humor, character notes, a random rogue figure, Klingons kicking ass … no wonder “Trouble with Tribbles” is so unforgettable. *****

16. The Gamesters of Triskelion – Insane Gods! or mere disembodied aliens? No matter, as the gamesters of the title are three ladies who force the Enterprise crew to participate in gladiator-style competition. ***

17. A Piece of the Action – Sorry, but once the showrunners accepted the case for “parallel evolution”, the stretching for story ideas was obvious. In “Action,” the Enterprise crew finds a planet sporting a humanoid culture resembling exactly that of 1920s Chicago. Pretty silly stuff, though Kirk and Spock’s explanation of Fizzbin is almost worth the price of admission. **

18. The Immunity Syndrome – An energy-eating creature destroys a Vulcan ship, followed by the Tn Enterprise crew rather inelegantly taking the metaphorical eye for an eye in response. **

19. A Private Little War – War with Klingons, that is! When the Federation discovers the Klingon Empire messing around with a low level of technological development, the Enterprise is dispatched to address the cultural contamination. Machinations ensue before Kirk finally chucks the ol’ Prime Directive right out the porthole. ***

20. Return to Tomorrow – Disembodied aliens take over various bodies of Enterprise crew in turn in order to build other corporeal bodies they may inhabit. **

21. Patterns of Force – When in doubt, turn to Nazis! (Hey, Voyager and Enterprise both did…) A former Starfleet professor has “assisted” the cultures of twin planets through technological advances and the adoption of fascism as a choice of government. ***

22. By Any Other Name – Kirk and his away team are attacked by aliens from the Andromeda Galaxy. They soon take over the Enterprise and begin prepping it for a 300-year mission back to Andromeda. As the ship approaches the Galactic Barrier (Hey, that thing can turn you into an Insane God!, you know…), Kirk engages one in a fistfight and rapidly convinces the rest to stay in the Milky Way. **

23. The Omega Glory – Probably the stupidest of the “parallel evolution” stories, “The Omega Glory” culminates in William Shatner giving his best/worst melodramatic reading of The Constitution and convincing everyone that the American Way is Good. *

24. The Ultimate Computer – Another tried ‘n’ true Star Trek trope gets a rerun for this episode. The Enterprise installs “a new computer system.” The so-called M-5 gets fanatical in a hurry, wreaking particular havoc during a four-ship war game. Have no fear, however: Majel Barrett’s voice is returned to the Enterprise for the next episode. ***

25. Bread and Circuses – Ready for some more “parallel evolution”? Some more gladiator games? Yeah, I thought not. *

26. Assignment: Earth – It’s incredibly unfortunate that “Assignment: Earth” was mostly produced so as to spinoff the supporting character Gary Seven into his own program, because this is one wacky, fun-filled Star Trek episode which really should have set a precedent for ST:TOS scripts. Admittedly time-traveling way too easily into the 20th century, the Enterprise crew engages in a mission involving hyper-advanced technology, Cold War paranoia, a stolen nuclear missile, a magic cat and Teri Garr. ****