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Assignment: Earth

Review

Series : The Original Series Rating : 3
Disc No : 2.7 Episode : 56
First Aired : 29 Mar 1968 Stardate : Unknown
Director : Marc Daniels Year : 2268
Writers : Art Wallace, Gene Roddenberry Season : 2
Guest Cast :
Barbara Babcock as Exceiver computer voice
Barbara Babcock as Isis's voice
Bruce Mars as Charley
Don Keefer as Mr. Cromwell
Eddie Paskey as Lieutenant Leslie
Lincoln Demyan as Sergeant Lipton
Morgan Jones as Colonel Nesvig
Paul Baxley as Ensign Freeman
Robert Lansing as Gary Seven
Ted Gehring as Second policeman
Teri Garr as Roberta Lincoln
Moral :
Trust : Sometimes you just have to trust that people will do the right thing
YATI : Kirk agonises over whether to let Seven use the computer to destroy the missile, not knowing if he can trust the mysterious agent. Why doesn't he just have the Enterprise blow the missile up instead?

In the remastered version, the Earth is rotating backwards.

In reality, the Earth was a little less in danger than this episode represents - for instance, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty had already made it illegal to place any nuclear weapon in space.

So the H Bomb was exploded high up in the atmosphere about Eurasia. But... we know now that a high altitude nuclear detonation causes a widespread electromagnetic pulse. So such a detonation would actually be massively damaging anyway! It would almost certainly be taken by those in Eurasia as the first move in an all out attack, sending one bomb to blind enemy radar and communications.

When Seven is on the Enterprise, why does nobody suggest Spock mind meld with him in order to determine his true intentions?

Great Moment : Roberta's reaction to the alien typewriter which wrote everything she said was priceless.
Body Count : Zero
Factoid : Spock's possible upcoming crises included "an important assassination" as well as the launch of a nuclear platform. Six days after the episode was aired, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Astonishingly, Apollo 6 was launched on the same day - an unmanned Saturn V rocket, which is the exact same type of rocket depicted being launched in this episode. Even more amazingly, Apollo 6 really did veer off course after launch! Of course, officially Apollo 6 was part of the "man on the moon" series of launches, nothing to do with orbiting H Bombs. However, Kirk does note that the details of the crisis were never revealed to the public. Thus, we may assume that Apollo 6 really was a military mission, and the "official story" that it was part of the moon program is false.

This episode was intended as a spin off series for Gary Seven, but it never appeared.

Teri Garr had an unpleasant experience filming this episode, possibly because Gene Roddenberry, as he often did for female guest stars, became involved in her costuming process in order to make her clothing as sexy as possible. She has flatly refused to discuss the experience ever since.

Roddenberry, never one to let an idea go, would reuse the idea of benevolent aliens secretly helping Earth for his movie "The Questor Tapes".

This episode and Enterprise's "Storm Front" are the only two Star Trek episodes that take place entirely in the past.

Interestingly, the Enterprise crew have a somewhat time-twisted experience here. In season one, they would be thrown back in time by accident and arrive in 1969. For this episode they travelled back from a point one year later, in season 2... and yet arrived in the past one year earlier in 1968. If they had only chosen to wait around for a year, they could have assisted their earlier selves when they arrived!


Plotline

The USS Enterprise has travelled back in time to 1968 in order to conduct historical research, monitoring planetary communications to discover how the planet survived the numerous problems of the era.

As they orbit Earth undetected, the ship is suddenly rocked by a transporter beam of tremendous power. Earth of the time naturally had no transporter technology, but Spock determines that the beam is originating from a point more than a thousand light years away. Scotty finds this difficult to believe, since it is well beyond even their own technology.

They use their own transporter to 'capture' the beam, and a man in a 20th century suit holding a black cat appears in the transporter room. The man demands to know who the Federation personnel are and why they have intercepted him. He appears unphased by the Enterprise, though he notes that it is certainly not from this time period. He also seems to know that Vulcans should not be in contact with Humans in this era. The man states that his name is Gary Seven, and that he has a mission on Earth which he must accomplish. He explains that although he is Human he has been on another planet, one which is highly advanced but which wishes to remain anonymous. He further adds that if Kirk does not allow him to complete his mission on Earth, the course of history will be changed.

When Kirk refuses Seven attempts to force the issue, easily overpowering the guards and even proving invulnerable to Spock's Vulcan nerve pinch. Only a phaser stun finally brings him down. Kirk has him put in the Brig, and asks McCoy to examine him.

Analysis of the transporter beam shows it to have originated in a portion of the galaxy which is unoccupied, so far as the Federation knows. Scotty notes that the beam could have crossed tremendous distances, and perhaps even travelled through time. Research of historical events of the present time reveal that there will soon be an important assassination, a government coup in Asia, and the launch of an orbital nuclear warhead platform by the United States, countering a similar launch by other powers. Any of these could be the crisis that Gary Seven claimed to wish to intervene in. Kirk and Spock note that the orbiting H Bombs were especially dangerous, since the sky would shortly be full of them - and any mistake could have brought one down onto the planet below by accident, possibly triggering a global war.

McCoy tells Kirk that Seven really is a Human, although his body appears to be in absolutely perfect condition, lacking any trace of physical flaw. As such, he may possibly be an alien in Human form.

Seven soon wakes and quickly escapes from the brig using a pen-like device called a "servo". He beams down to Earth along with his cat, Isis. On the surface, he materialises inside a hidden transport chamber inside an office. He accesses an advanced computer, asking for the location of Agents 201 and 347. He identifies himself as Supervisor 194. In order to prove his identity to the computer he recites the mission briefing - Agents 201 and 347 are the descendants of Humans taken from Earth some six thousand years ago and trained for generations to accomplish their mission. The aliens believe that Earth science and technology have outpaced its political and social knowledge, leading to a high probability that the planet will destroy itself before it can mature into a genuinely a peaceful society. The aliens wish to intervene to make sure the planet survives this crisis point.

On the Enterprise, the crew attempt to determine where Seven beamed down. Scotty pins the location to within a thousand meters. Spock points out that following him to the surface is risky, since they might accidentally alter history. Nevertheless, Kirk decides to beam down.

Seven learns that the mission of his agents was to disable the rocket that will launch the American nuclear platform. He notes that such orbital H Bomb "nonsense" almost resulted in the destruction of planet Omicron IV. However, the mission had not been accomplished for some reason, and there are now only 90 minutes until the rocket launch. Seven decides that he will accomplish the mission himself.

The computer provides Seven with materials needed for his mission, including various false IDs. As he prepares for his mission, a young woman walks into the office. Seven assumes that she is one of the missing agents, though after some confusion it becomes clear that she is just an Earth woman. Unfortunately she sees a voice-controlled typewriter at work, technology Earth does not have at this time. The computer identifies her as Roberta Lincoln, a secretary hired by Agents 347 and 201. Seven shows her a CIA identification card and tells her the typewriter was a government secret.

The computer reveals that Agents 201 and 347 were killed in an automobile accident. Meanwhile, Kirk and Spock have beamed down and located Seven's office. They burst in and demand to know where Seven is, but Roberta calls the police and refuses to cooperate. Seven beams out and vanishes, reappearing in the rocket base. Roberta manages to pull Spock's hat off, revealing his Vulcan ears.

Kirk finds a map of the McKinley Rocket Base. The police burst in and Kirk and Spock beam up - accidentally taking the two cops with them. They rapidly beam the cops back down again, leaving them perplexed as to what just happened.

With fifty minutes left to launch, Seven uses his advanced technology to avoid detection. He makes his way to the rocket, opening up a panel and setting to work sabotaging it. In orbit, the Enterprise scans the area looking for Seven as Kirk and Spock beam down to search on the ground. They are quickly captured by the base security force. Scotty locates Seven and attempts to beam him up, but in Seven's office Roberta fiddles with his own transporter and manages to override the Enterprise transporter and beam him to the office.

Back at the base, the rocket launches successfully. Seven's sabotage had been successful, allowing him to take control of it with his computer. He causes the rocket to veer off course and arms the thermonuclear warhead. Roberta, suspecting that Seven is carrying out a nefarious plan against the government, knocks him over the head with a box and grabs his servo. He begs her to let him continue, warning her that if the rocket crashes with the warhead armed it will likely start World War III.

On the ship the Enterprise notes the rocket is headed for the Eurasian landmass, and communications indicate that militaries across the world are going onto high alert. Scotty risks calling Kirk on his communicator, and Kirk and Spock are able to grab their equipment and beam straight to Seven's office. Seven, meanwhile, has told Roberta the truth about his mission. She wants to believe him, pointing out that the youth rebellion movement of the 60s was all about being scared that the world could end at any time. Kirk and Spock come in and try to destroy the missile with Seven's computer, but Spock lacks the knowledge needed to operate it. Kirk faces a stark choice - either he must trust Seven to have pure motives and allow him access to the computer, or let the rocket continue to impact. Seven grabs the servo off Roberta, noting that it was set to kill. He hands the weapon to Kirk, proving his benign nature. Kirk lets Seven continue, and he destroys the rocket 104 miles short of the target.

later, Spock notes that history does indeed record that the rocket had exploded 104 miles from the target, and that this means everything they did was part of what was supposed to happen. The incident also provoked the world governments into re-examining the policy of using orbital H Bombs, increasing the stability of the political situation considerably.

Roberta looks over at Seven's cat, Isis, which for unexplained reasons has transformed into a beautiful woman. She looks back a moment later to find Isis in cat form again.

Spock notes that according to their history tapes, Seven and Roberta have some interesting times ahead of them as they work to preserve the world. The Enterprise officers beam back aboard and the ship prepares to return to its proper time.

Analysis

A decent episode, this, with an interesting premise. But it never really rises to anything special, to my mind. The whole thing seems a little contrived, rather obviously just being a vehicle to set up adventures for Seven and Roberta after Kirk and the Enterprise has left. As such, we get a resolution to this story but plenty of dangling threads left - who sent Gary Seven? What's with Isis, the shapeshifting cat? Are there other such agents on Earth? And so on.

Isis is an especially weird touch, I always thought. The idea that the cat is more than it seems is an intriguing one, though one has to wonder just how much use even an intelligent, mutli-talented cat could be. But then we find that it can shape shift into a person... something thrown in entirely out of the blue in the last few minutes of the episode. It has no effect on the plot at all, it's just kind of there. And if there had been a spin off, what would this have added? Again, we have to wonder what good a cat will be to Seven. Why not just have her as a female agent who helps him, if that's what he needs? Very odd choice.

Our reviewer Indefatigable makes an interesting observation, that Gary Seven's "servo" looks rather like a sonic screwdriver from Doctor Who. Could this mean that the mysterious aliens who sent Seven are the Time Lords? Somebody needs to write a crossover fanfic for that!

Of course, it's interesting to note that apparently, Gary Seven and his cohorts (if any) do appear to fail in their mission. After all, a large portion of the world will be conquered by Khan and the other genetic supermen in the 1990s, prompting the Eugenics Wars - in which whole populations will be bombed out of existence. And beyond that, World War III will come along a few decades later and kill hundreds of millions. It's only when the Vulcans arrive that Humans will start to put their differences aside and unite.

Special Edition

The usual improved effects.
Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 12,073 Last updated : 19 Feb 2017