The most interesting thing about “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” our fourth episode, is that it’s really the second episode.
That is to say, “WNMHGB” was the second Star Trek pilot. Produced after “The Cage” was deemed “too cerebral” (says Wikipedia, which is never not accurate), this episode feels like a sort of limbo: The characters are all over the place; costumes are reused from “The Cage”; Spock is not quite pilot Spock, but he’s not really proper Spock either. These things might not have been so obvious (grating, glaring, frustrating) if the episodes were viewed in a different, more chronological order. But I’ve put myself at the mercy of Netflix, so I must suffer the ordering.
The plot is as follows: the crew of the Enterprise stumble across a ship’s recorder that clues them in to the fate of a lost earth vessel. The Valiant’s crew ran afoul of a magnetic storm and started screaming about ESP. Surprisingly, the same thing happens to the Enterprise and helmsman Mitchell ends up with silver eyes and can read super fast. Much like Charlie of “Charlie X” fame, his powers cause shit to get real and they must 86 Mitchell before his speed reading morphs into more dangerous telekinetic and telepathic tricks.
And they do, get rid of him that is. They bring him to an abandoned planet (that felt a lot like Serenity‘s Miranda) and decisions are made for the greater good and everything works out. Apart from the numerous lives lost.
Plot wise, “WNMHGB” is spot on. It’s not as deep and “cerebral” as its predecessor, but it’s not as schlocky as salt monsters. It’s really a glowing example of the timeless plight of men. Kirk is fiercely loyal and is actually subject to this line of dialogue: “Command and compassion is a fools mixture.” The Kirk we’ve seem thus far is not this captain. We’ve been shown very little to make us believe this man is willing to go down with his ship. Pike, on the other hand, immediately felt like a man we could put our faith in. I’m pleased to see our captain being taken down this path.
Another key player in this episode is Dr. Dehner aka “Hot Lips.” She is the one who truly falls on her sword. This is a wonderfully drawn character that I don’t want to over-discuss as her arc is better experienced than yammered about.
The only negatives are purely personal. The rotating characters make my head spin. Even if I had watched the two pilots back to back, it would have been only slightly less evident. There is no Dr. Boyce or Dr. McCoy but instead we have Dr. Piper. Uhura is MIA, Sulu is there but doing something different, and Scotty is present, but for how long as he wasn’t in “The Cage” or the other two installments we’ve looked at. Not to mention the other folks missing from the first pilot and the show proper that are just sort of here. Some die, but others just float around.
It’s ridiculous to get so hung up these sorts of things, I know. I’m just very much looking forward to when the show will inevitably hit its stride. Clearly I yearn for consistency.
Up next we have “The Naked Time,” which I have a feeling is not as kinky as it sounds.