“Where No Man Has Gone Before” is the third episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series, Star Trek.
In the episode, after the Enterprise attempts to cross the Great Barrier at the edge of the galaxy, two crew members develop powerful ESP abilities which threaten the safety of the crew.
The episode was the second pilot, produced in 1965 after the first pilot, “The Cage“, was rejected by NBC. Reportedly, Lucille Ball, who owned Desilu Productions (where the pilot was produced), persuaded NBC management to consider a second pilot, thereby exercising a special option agreement it had with Desilu, because she liked Gene Roddenberry and believed in the project. The episode was eventually broadcast third in sequence, and it was the first episode to be shown in the UK by the BBC on 12 July 12, 1969.
“Where No Man Has Gone Before” was the first episode of Star Trek to feature William Shatner as Captain James Kirk, James Doohan as Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, and George Takei as Lieutenant Sulu (in this episode, the ship’s physicist, whose character became helmsman in subsequent episodes).
The episode title is the final phrase in the opening voice-over which characterises the series and has entered popular culture.
The Federation starship Enterprise is on an exploratory mission to leave the galaxy. En route, a damaged ship’s recorder of the SS Valiant, an Earth spaceship lost 200 years earlier, is found. Its record is incomplete, but it reveals that the Valiant had been swept from its path by a “magnetic space storm,” and that the crew had frantically searched for information about extrasensory perception (ESP) in the ship’s library computer. The recording ends with the captain of the Valiant apparently giving a self-destruct order.
Captain Kirk decides that they need to know what happened to the Valiant, and the Enterprise crosses the edge of the galaxy. There, it encounters a strange barrier which damages the ship’s systems and warp drive, forcing a retreat. At the same time, nine crew members are killed and both helmsman Gary Mitchell (Gary Lockwood) and the ship’s psychiatrist Dr. Elizabeth Dehner (Sally Kellerman) are knocked unconscious by the barrier’s effect. When he awakens, Mitchell’s eyes glow silver, and he begins to display remarkable psychic powers.
Mitchell becomes increasingly arrogant and hostile toward the rest of the crew, declaring that he has become godlike, enforcing his desires with fearsome displays of telepathic and telekinetic power. Science Officer Spock comes to believe that the Valiant crew members may have experienced the same phenomenon, and destroyed the ship to keep the power from spreading. He advises Kirk that Mitchell may have to be killed before his powers develop further, but Kirk angrily disagrees.
Alarmed that Mitchell may take over the Enterprise, Kirk decides to maroon him at an unmanned lithium-cracking facility on the remote planet of Delta Vega. Once there, the landing party tries to confine Mitchell, but his powers have become too great. He kills navigator Lieutenant Kelso and escapes by knocking out Kirk and Spock, taking with him Dr. Dehner, who has now developed similar powers.
Kirk follows and appeals to Dr. Dehner’s humanity for help. Before Mitchell can kill Kirk, the doctor attacks and weakens him. Mitchell fatally injures Dehner, but before he can recover from the effort, Kirk uses a phaser rifle to create a rock slide, killing Mitchell.
Back on the Enterprise, Kirk makes a log entry that both Dehner and Mitchell gave their lives “in performance of duty”. He explains to Spock that he wants his friend’s service record to end positively: “He didn’t ask for what happened to him.”
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): James Goldstone.
- Production: Desilu Productions (1966-1967) and Paramount Television (1968-1969).
- Distributor(s): Paramount Pictures (1966-2006), CBS Paramount Television (2006-2007), and CBS Television Distribution (2007-Present).
- Original Network: NBC.
- Release Date: 22 September 1966.
- Running Time: 50 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.