“The Survivor” is the sixth episode of the first season of the American animated science fiction television series Star Trek: The Animated Series.
It first aired on NBC on 13 October 1973, and was written by James Schmerer and was directed by Hal Sutherland. Schmerer pitched an idea for an episode to producer D.C. Fontana called “The Chameleon”, and together with the series creator Gene Roddenberry, it was developed into the final script.
Set in the 23rd century, the series follows the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk (voiced by William Shatner) and the crew of the Starfleet starship Enterprise. In this episode, the crew rescue a shapeshifting alien called the Vendorian from a damaged spacecraft who has disguised himself as a missing philanthropist. Once on board the vessel, he transforms himself into Captain Kirk and tries to take the ship into a Romulan trap. But after falling in love with Lieutenant Anne Nored (voiced by Nichelle Nichols), the Vendorian saves the Enterprise and Kirk agrees to take his actions into account.
Schmerer and Roddenberry disagreed over some of the changes to the script, as the writer wanted to avoid repeating things that had previously been seen in Star Trek: The Original Series. Critics felt that the episode was similar to those of The Original Series, but it was considered one of the best episodes seen in The Animated Series by Chris Cummins of the website Topless Robot. “The Survivor” was adapted into a novelisation by Alan Dean Foster and was released on several different home media formats.
On stardate 5143.3, while patrolling near the Romulan Neutral Zone, the Federation starship Enterprise finds a small private ship manned by a Vendorian, an alien species that can transform its shape at will. The alien dupes the crew on board the Enterprise into thinking that it is actually Carter Winston (voiced by Ted Knight), a Federation citizen and philanthropist who has been missing for five years.
Once aboard, the Vendorian renders Captain James T. Kirk (voiced by William Shatner) unconscious, takes his form and orders the helmsman, Lt. Hikaru Sulu (voiced by George Takei) to steer the Enterprise into the Neutral Zone, where Romulan warbirds lie in wait. When the real Kirk eventually regains consciousness, he orders the Enterprise to get out of the Neutral Zone at Warp 8. The Vendorian who has been shapeshifting himself into other members of the Enterprise’s crew eventually reveals itself to Lieutenant Anne Nored (voiced by Nichelle Nichols), Carter Winston’s fiancee who serves as a security officer aboard the Enterprise; the alien further states that the real Winston is dead but, because it has absorbed Carter’s feelings for her, it can love her.
Around this time, the Romulans attack the Enterprise, and the Vendorian – realizing that his actions have placed the ship in danger – decides to betray his Romulan masters for love. He takes the form of the Enterprise’s main deflector shield and the Romulans retreat. The Vendorian is arrested and would face trial but Kirk informs him that his actions to protect the Enterprise would be taken into consideration. Nored informs the Vendorian that it is very similar to Winston in personality and she offers to return to Earth with the alien. When Chief Medical Officer Leonard McCoy (voiced by DeForest Kelley) jokes that if the Vendorian had turned himself into a second Spock “it would have been too much to take”, Spock (voiced by Leonard Nimoy) quickly replies that “two Dr. McCoys just might bring the level of medical efficiency on this ship to acceptable levels.”
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Hal Sutherland.
- Writer(s): James Schmerer.
- Release Date: 13 October 1973.
- Running Time: 30 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.