“The Eye of the Beholder” is the fifteenth and penultimate episode of the first season of the American animated science fiction television series Star Trek.
It first aired in the NBC Saturday morning lineup on 05 January 1974, and was written by David P. Harmon. Harmon also worked on the original Star Trek series, writing the episode “The Deadly Years” and co-writing “A Piece of the Action” with Gene L. Coon.
In this episode, while investigating the disappearance of a Federation starship, the Enterprise command crew become imprisoned as part of an exhibit in an alien zoo.
On stardate 5501.2, the USS Enterprise investigates the disappearance of a scientific team near Lactra VII. The starship Ariel is located there, abandoned, with its captain having transported to the planet’s surface.
The Enterprise crew beams down to discover a series of unusual environments. On the planet the crew meets the Lactrans, a group of twenty foot slugs with intellectual capacities far beyond their own. Science Officer Spock senses that they are telepathic but communicating at a rate of speed far too fast for the Vulcan to comprehend. The team is captured by the Lactrans to be made part of a zoo collection.
Once in the human exhibit, they find the surviving crewmembers of the Ariel, one of whom is deathly ill. Enterprise Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy determines he could cure her easily if he only had access to his medical equipment currently held in a display case just outside the exhibit window. Discussing the problem with the Ariel crew, Captain Kirk comes up with a plan where they all focus their mental images on their need for help, hoping the Lactrans will comply. Their first effort only gains them a supply of food, but a second attempt successfully gets McCoy’s medical supplies and he is able to treat their dying comrade.
Having seen the success of their effort to get help, Kirk suggests trying to similarly focus on a communicator as an object they direly need. A young Lactran responds, and Kirk signals the Enterprise for a beam-up but the youngster snatches away the communicator at the last second and is itself beamed aboard the ship.
The adult Lactrans, not realising exactly what has happened except that their child has disappeared, begin focusing all their telepathic energy on Kirk trying to find an explanation.
Aboard the Enterprise, the youth reaches the bridge bearing Chief Engineer Scott in its tentacle. Having probed Scott’s mind and processed the ship’s entire library system, it proceeds to take the Enterprise galloping out of orbit.
On the surface, the other Starfleet officers try to project a mental barrier to protect Kirk from the overwhelming telepathic assault of the adult Lactrans, when the child beams back down still carrying Scotty. The youngster communicates what it has learned, and the adults decide that although still extremely primitive, the Enterprise crew are too intelligent to be kept as zoo exhibits and are set free.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Hal Sutherland.
- Writer(s): David P. Harmon.
- Release Date: 05 January 1974.
- Running Time: 30 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.