Star Trek (1968): S03E01 – Spock’s Brain


“Spock’s Brain” is the third season premiere episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek.

Written by Gene L. Coon (under the pseudonym Lee Cronin) and directed by Marc Daniels, it was first broadcast on 20 September 1968.

In the episode, an alien female beams aboard the Enterprise and, after incapacitating the rest of the crew, surgically removes Spock’s brain. Captain Kirk and the crew have just hours to locate and restore it before Spock’s body dies. The episode is widely regarded as the worst episode of the series.

It was the first episode to air after NBC moved the show from 8:30 P.M. to 10 P.M. on Friday nights.


The Federation starship USS Enterprise, under the command of Captain Kirk, encounters an alien ship. Upon approach, a mysterious woman appears on the Enterprise bridge. She stuns the entire crew then examines each of them, taking particular interest in the Vulcan First Officer Spock. When the crew awakens, Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy finds Spock in sick bay with his brain surgically removed. Because of his unusual Vulcan physiology, Spock’s body can be kept alive in this state for twenty-four hours, giving Captain Kirk that much time to recover his stolen brain.

The Enterprise follows the alien ship’s ion trail to the sixth planet of the Sigma Draconis system. The planet is a harsh world in the middle of an ice age and the all-male inhabitants attack them on sight. A captured attacker warns Kirk about the “others”, also known as “the givers of pain and delight”. Kirk asks about the females of his kind, but is only met with the man’s bewilderment.

The landing party is joined by Dr. McCoy, accompanied by Spock’s mobile body, controlled by a device McCoy has fashioned. The party travels deep underground and encounter a woman named Luma. When questioned, Luma shows she has the mentality of a child. Spock’s voice is heard through a communicator, but before the conversation goes further, Kirk and his party are captured. The party is brought before the leader of the women, Kara, who is the same woman who appeared on the Enterprise bridge. Kirk demands to know what they have done with Spock’s brain, but Kara claims not to understand what a brain is. As they try to explain the function of a brain, she realises that what they are seeking is the “Controller”, on which the underground civilisation is completely dependent.

The landing party escapes and follow Spock’s signals to a control room where his brain has been placed. Kara tells them that the skills needed to remove a brain were provided by a machine called the “Teacher”, and that knowledge so obtained lasts no more than three hours. McCoy decides to use the Teacher himself, and then quickly begins the procedure to restore Spock’s brain. His new knowledge begins to leave him before the operation is complete, but Spock provides assistance after McCoy reestablishes his ability to speak.

Without their Controller, Kara fears for the women’s existence. Kirk assures Kara that the men and women can learn to survive together on the surface.

Star Trek TV Series

You can find a full index of Star Trek TV series here.

Star Trek TV Series, Films, and Documentaries

You can find a full index of all Star Trek TV series, films, documentaries here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Marc Daniels.
  • Writer(s): Lee Cronin.
  • 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: 20 September 1968.
  • Running Time: 50 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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