|||[Boldly Going]||| Star Trek: The Original Series—Season One: Ep. 1.29 “Operation – Annihilate!” – (Original air date: Thursday, April 13, 1967)


Welcome to my rewatching of the original 79 episodes of the series that launched the franchise. Below are the bulletpointed notes I jotted down while watching “Operation – Annihilate!”

  • On this date in history: The Turtles’ “Happy Together” was knocked out of the #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 by “Something Stupid,” by Frank & Nancy Sinatra. It’s an okay tune, but it ain’t rock-‘n’-roll, Pally.
  • In London, David Niven premiered as James Bond, for his first-and-only time, in Casino Royale, which was a comedy intended to be a spoof of Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel.
  • This is the last episode of the first season of Star Trek: The Original Series.
  • In the teaser, the USS Enterprise is heading for the planet Deneva. Uhura has been unable to contact anyone on the planet. Kirk has a vested interest in Deneva, because that’s where his brother Sam lives, with his wife and son.
  • Spock has identified a pattern of mass insanity that has spread in a straight line through this part of the galaxy. Deneva is the next planet in line.
  • Sulu picks up a ship on sensors, heading directly for the Denevan sun.
  • Kirk orders his ship to follow, but they quickly get too close to the sun. At the last moment, the occupant of the Denevan ship says, “I did it. It’s finally gone. I’m—”
  • And, he’s dead.
  • The Enterprise reverses course and doesn’t burn up.
  • As the teaser ends, Dr. McCoy asks Kirk if his brother Sam and his family are stationed on Deneva.
  • Four cool pings, the Shatner monologue, and then we skip the rest and head for Act One, Warp Factor 8.
  • Uhura finally manages to make brief contact with the private transmitter frequency that Kirk gave her for his brother. A female voice, which Kirk identifies as Aurelan, his brother Sam’s wife, says, “Please hurry. Help us. I don’t have much time. They’ll know. Please! Please help us.”
  • Deneva was colonized more than a century ago and is considered to be one of the most beautiful planets in the galaxy.
  • The landing party beams down, consisting of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, this episode’s pretty female yeoman and a couple of security guards.
  • This is an outside shot, with grass, ponds and sculpture in front of a concrete and glass building. This scene was shot at TRW Space and Defense Park (currently the HQ of Northrop Grumman Space Technology) in Redondo Beach, California. The establishing shot of Kirk’s brother’s lab was a building at the UCLA campus. I thought this looked like a university campus.
  • There’s supposed to be more than 100,000 people in this city. Spock says they are there, in the buildings, strangely quiescent.
  • Quiescent” is defined as “in a state or period of inactivity or dormancy.”
  • There is, however, a crazy welcoming committee of four men in solid color coveralls waving clear Lucite clubs and shouting things like “Go Back!”, “Get Away!”, and “We don’t want to hurt you.”
  • The four men are phaser-stunned into quiescence. Spock says that their attitude was inconsistent with their actions. The men warned them and said they didn’t want to hurt them, and then tried to cave their skulls in.
  • McCoy finds something wrong with the unconscious men, naturally. Even while unconscious, their brains are being violently stimulated somehow.
  • A woman’s scream draws them to Sam Kirk’s lab. Sam is lying dead on the floor. His wife—Captain Kirk’s sister-in-law Aurelan—is hysterical, and their child Peter is unconscious nearby.
  • It appears they were trying to keep something from getting inside the lab through the ventilation grid.
  • Aurelan and Peter are beamed aboard the Enterprise. In sickbay, her hair in a perfect bouffant, Aurelan tells Kirk about the horrible “things” that arrived from Ingraham B eight months before. Something is causing Aurelan great pain while she tries to warn Kirk about the “things.”
  • Incidentally, McCoy makes a comment to Kirk about being unable to give him the exact cause of his family’s issues until he gets the plates back from the lab. That makes it sound like X-Ray plates, which seems anachronistic. I retcon this in my head and think of them as quantum dilithium trillium plates, used to measure biometric energy fluctuations.  
  • Aurelan manages to blurt out that the “things” use pain to control them and they’re spreading. They need humans to be their arms and legs, and they’re forcing them to build ships for them.
  • She pleads with Kirk to keep them from going any further. Then she dies.
  • McCoy tells Kirk that he’ll do everything he can to save his nephew, who is a freckle-faced redheaded boy. I was once a freckle-faced redheaded boy, so I’m rooting for him.
  • Kirk rejoins the landing party at what continues to look like a university campus.
  • Spock tells the captain that they are about to investigate a peculiar buzzing sound that they’ve heard.
  • Kirk orders the men to set their phasers on Force Three, to kill. He’s not messing around with peaceful solutions this time. It’s personal.
  • The creatures—the “things” Aurelan was talking about—look like bloody chicken breasts that can fly as if suspended on monofilament fishing line. In a shadowy courtyard, several of the creatures are attached to a wall in the shade.
  • The Starfleet officers blast the chicken breast colony. One falls to the ground and the others fly off.
  • Spock is fascinated by the creature, of course. He says it should have been destroyed by the phasers. It doesn’t even register on his tricorder. Spock suggests they risk taking it aboard the Enterprise.
  • The chicken breast that fell to the ground suddenly revives, flies through the air and attacks Spock, attaching itself to his back. It doesn’t know that Vulcans are vegetarians.
  • As Spock, in great pain, looks upward, Kirk removes the creature from his back and asks him if he’s all right. He’s not all right. End of Act One.
  • In the Captain’s Log that opens Act Two, Kirk refers to McCoy as “ship’s surgeon” again. I don’t know why this bothers me. I guess I just always want him to be called Chief Medical Officer.
  • McCoy is examining the strange puncture wound left on Spock’s back. He removes some tissue from the wound, then tells Nurse Chapel to prepare to close. Nurse Chapel initially objects, since there is more of that strange alien tissue all through Spock’s body.
  • McCoy, on the bridge, shows the alien tissue to Kirk. He tells the captain that when the chicken breast monsters attack, they leave their stingers much like a bee or a wasp, which then infests the host body with what he calls tentacles that entwine and grow around the entire nervous system. The entwining is far too involved for conventional surgery to remove.
  • McCoy adds that the lab and the science departments are all stumped.
  • Spock, under the influence of the alien chicken breast, leaves sickbay and goes to the bridge to attempt to take over the ship. He fights everyone except for Scotty and McCoy, who look on as spectators.
  • Nurse Chapel comes on the bridge and hands McCoy a hypo, which the doctor uses to sedate Spock again. Kirk says to get Spock back to sickbay and use security restraints.
  • Later, in sickbay, Spock claims that his Vulcan brain has given him the ability to conquer the pain. Kirk isn’t ready to test this and wants him continued to be confined in sickbay.
  • Spock easily breaks his restraints and leaves on his own after everyone has left.
  • He goes to the transporter room and orders Scotty to transport him to the surface. Scotty refuses. I’m convinced that Montgomery Scott is the bravest man in Starfleet.
  • Spock pushes Scotty aside and uses the Vulcan Nerve Pinch on his assistant. He should have reversed this since Scotty has a phaser in his hand when he gets back up.
  • Freeze right there, Mister Spock,” Scotty says, “Or I’ll put you to sleep for sure.” Tough as nails.
  • Kirk arrives in the transporter room and allows Spock to convince him that he needs to go to the surface to capture one of the creatures so that it can be analyzed. Since Spock is already affected, he doesn’t believe they can do much more to him.
  • Kirk accepts this logic, over McCoy’s expected objections. He also gives him a phaser. Spock beams down alone to the planet surface and into Act Three.
  • This is a good place for a break. Rich, pure country cream. There’s nearly double the cream of ordinary milk in a can of Pet evaporated milk. Also, you can soothe your upset stomach with Pepto Bismol, which has coatability for soft, smooth coating action that spreads like a creamy blanket of relief throughout your irritated stomach.
  • Spock is almost immediately attacked by one of the colonists when he beams down again. The Vulcan Nerve Pinch comes to the rescue again.
  • Spock uses his phaser on one of the meat moths and puts the specimen in what appears to be a tool box.
  • Back on the ship, in the science lab, Spock shows Kirk and McCoy the specimen, which he says is a one-celled creature resembling, more than anything else, a huge individual brain cell.
  • Kirk extrapolates that this could mean that the creature is just one cell in an incredibly huge organism.
  • Spock says they may find it difficult to destroy, especially if the creature comes from a place where their physical laws do not apply.
  • Kirk references the Denevan who flew into the sun and cried out that he was free. That’s the angle to work on. He wants an analysis from Medical and Life Sciences departments within an hour.
  • Later, McCoy tells Kirk that neither heat nor radiation seem to affect the creature. Kirk says they have to kill the creatures or he’ll be forced to destroy Deneva to prevent their spread. It’s no longer just about his nephew for him; he needs to prevent the millions of deaths that will result if they are unsuccessful.
  • And on to Act Four.
  • When it looks like they’ve run out of alternatives, Spock volunteers to beam down to the planet surface with Kirk’s nephew. The two of them will have to be destroyed along with all of the Denevans to prevent the spread of the tainted chicken breasts.  Food contamination and foodborne illness prevention is no joke.
  • It is Kirk who stumbles on to the idea that it is light itself, not heat or radiation, that affects the meat moths. Spock suggests that a string of satellites around the planet with burning tri-magnesite and trevium could produce enough light to do the trick.
  • They test it on the specimen and it works. Then, they test it on Spock.
  • When Spock gets into the chamber, McCoy says, “Mister Spock’s the best first officer in the fleet.”
  • Afterward, the creature within Spock is gone and he is free of pain.
  • He’s also quite blind.
  • McCoy then discovers, to his chagrin, that he didn’t need the blinding white light at all. It was the ultraviolet spectrum that affected the creatures.
  • The satellites are rigged to douse the planet with ultraviolet light. It works. All the creatures are dying of severe sunburn.
  • During the customary bridge outro, Spock returns, his sight miraculously restored. The blindness was temporary. You see, Vulcans have an inner eyelid that protected his eyes automatically. What a happy coincidence.
  • McCoy asks Kirk not to mention his “best first officer” statement, which causes Spock to turn from the science station and thank the doctor for the compliment. Kirk quips that McCoy forgot about his Vulcan ears.
  • Ha-ha, chortle, guffaw. End of episode.

Operation – Annihilate!” is an okay monster-of-the-week episode, and the only TOS episode with an exclamation point in the title, I think. Kirk’s brother Sam was mentioned in an earlier episode, then killed off in this one. I can’t remember if we ever find out about any other Kirk family members. A scene showing that Kirk’s nephew Peter ended up staying with another family on Deneva was cut from the episode, which seems an odd choice since no one mentions the boy again at all.  I bump up my rating half a point just for giving Kirk a personal stake in this episode about planet-hopping flying parasites.  

Tri-magnesite and trevium join the growing list of Trek-specific nouns that include dilithium, kevas and trillium, among others.

This was the last episode of Season One. The series would not return until September 1967 and jumps from Thursdays to Fridays.

I give this one a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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