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Whom Gods Destroy

Star Trek TOS Episode 2: "Where No Man Has Gone Before."

By Tom BakerPublished 30 days ago Updated 28 days ago 7 min read
Gary Lockwood and Sally Kellerman in Star Trek: "Where No Man Has Gone Before"

I had a dream last night I shoplifted an old DVD of "Star Trek," so I got up this morning, signed into my telephone job, and watched the second episode (the second pilot, after "The Cage"), which by now featured familiar faces acting in familiar ways, including Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), a now emotionless Mr. Spock (the late, great Leonard Nimoy), Sulu (George Takei), Scotty (James Doohan), etc. However, still no Bones (the late, great DeForest Kelley, who died back in 1999). Instead, we have the brief (very brief) tenure of Paul Fix as "Dr. Piper."

I hadn't seen the episode in decades. It stars the late Sally Kellerman (known for being the original "Hot Lips" Houlihan in Robert Altman's film Mash (1970), starring beside Eliot Gould and Donald Sutherland), and Gary Lockwood, who is still alive at an amazing eighty-four, and who went on to star in another sci-fi titan, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, a cinematic classic. (His co-star there was Keir Dullea.)

The episode features the Enterprise beaming aboard a huge, cylindrical "flight recorder" that chronicles the disaster aboard a 200-year-old vessel, whose captain becomes increasingly alarmed as his crew members are killed off, one by one, after crossing an energy field in space. Wherein, incidentally, the Enterprise is headed herself.

The "captain's log" of the beamed-aboard cylinder records that the captain became increasingly preoccupied with the subject of ESP, and, after the Enterprise goes through the energy field, and Lt. Cmdr Gary Mitchell (Lockwood, with a very astronaut-appropriate name) and Dr. Dehner (Kellerman) all get exposed to it and begin to glow in a color that can only be described as "photographic negative" (maybe you could name it "Shroud of Turin White"), the viewer begins to understand why. Mitchell very quickly gets some weird, reptilian, straight from the miniseries V eyes-- and he also develops very strong psychic abilities. He knows, for instance, when a certain whatsit on the engine deck or whatever is going to blow, and warns an engineer about it.

He can control his heart rate and respiration, read thoughts, levitate silver-painted styrofoam drinking cups, and terrify Kirk and Spock. It's all doubly hard for Kirk because he knew Gary "back at the Academy," where Kirk, despite his reputation for being a lady's man, had "a stack of books as tall as himself"; thus, already establishing for the new "Star Trek" viewer of 1967 that this Kirk was a no-nonsense guy that was a little unusual; a space cowboy superhero two-fisted dude that knew his shit and would not hesitate (as Tom Cruise might say), "To put ethics in on someone."

(But as comedian Waco O'Guin additionally observed in his Tom Cruise parody video, "Maybe just the tip of ethics!")

At any rate, Gary Mitchell, He of the Quintessentially Astronautical Name, gets to be very arrogant and starts talking as if he is a Greek God and everyone else is just a wee, wee, wee little insignificant butterfly--whose wings he'd just love to tear off. Kirk and Spock get together, over the protests of Dehner, to lay the smack down on that bitch, and they get him to the transporter room and beam him down to a planet where they crush Dlithium Crystals and where they're trying to salvage enough gear to fix the wrecked Enterprise and warp away at warp speed. As L. Ron proclaimed in The Invader's Plan: "Willbe Wuz. Will be FUCKING...Wuz."

(There's an apocryphal story, by the way, in which, right after "The Cage" was screened for a bunch of soulless, bourgeois, television execs (boo hiss), they decided to pass on STAR TREK because they thought, as tacky and cheapjack as the special effects and costumes and sets were, they'd still be TOO FUCKING EXPENSIVE. Run that one through your Vulcan mind-meld, Captain.

Anyway, Lucille Ball, Lucy Herself, in the flesh, was so upset (it was her studio that produced "Star Trek") that she personally phoned the "boys" and gave them holy Hell. "Look," she is said to have said to the execs, "you guys are going to RUE the day you passed on "Star Trek"! This show is going to be one of the biggest hits of all time!" And, of course, she was right. Anyway, it was her influence that got them to finally see the light. The rest, as they say, is rerun history.)

So now Mitchell is on the planet with Dehner, and they both are god-like Adam and Eves on the barren bit of rock, and for some reason, I can't remember Kirk goes down there with a phaser rifle and orders that, should he not return, kill everything on the planet and take off. That seems reasonable, I guess.

Kirk and Mitchell spar after Mitchell dreams up a grave and gravestone with Kirk's name on it. Dr. Dehner, realizing this "being a god" gig is for the birds, drains Mitchell psychically. Kirk uses the phaser rifle to blast the rocks above Mitchell's head, and they fall over, trapping his old buddy (who is now a raging, arrogant psychically attuned monster) in the grave he meant for James Tiberius. Anyway, the thing ends, and Kellerman and Lockwood's characters both die.

Not happy. But perceptive.

Non's album God and Beast has, as a theme, the idea that Man (non-generative) is comprised of both mundane, carnal, and divine natures; that, in point of fact, "man is a god, man is a beast." The Satanic Bible says as much when it states: "Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his 'divine spiritual and intellectual development,' has become the most vicious animal of all!" I've probably alienated all two of my readers by referencing the two, but he must needs go WHOM THE DEVIL DRIVES, EH?

(Sinister laughter. Lightning flash. Thunder rumbles in the distance.)

Today, the world burns. Israel is locked in a Catch-22 situation, bombing the HELL out of Gaza, no doubt in flagrant violation of many international laws (but, really, I fail to see, after some consideration, how they could possibly have reacted differently after the October 7th Hamas atrocities), and the world may well soon align up in a wider war, some say the Final War. "World War 3," proclaimed Einstein, "I don't know what that will be fought with. But World War Four will be fought with sticks and stones." Maybe not an exact quote, but you get the picture.

We are on the cusp of bringing a new, sentient form of life into being, with AI. The possibilities of reshaping the world we live in are now endless--we've been handed the keys to the kingdom in a sense. The future could be one of utopian brilliance and scientific breakthroughs unparalleled. It could rain down prosperity upon the heads of our posterity.

Instead, to borrow a line from those poet-philosophers in Slayer, it's "raining blood, from a lacerated sky, bleeding its horror..." And it may get a whole lot worse.

Man is a God, Man is a Beast. Gary Mitchell was handed the keys to the kingdom in a "Star Trek" story. It drove him to arrogant madness. He became "too big for his breeches," and it destroyed him. Will we suffer the same fate?

Watch the skies. Everyone. Keep watching the skies.

Note: It is interesting to note that William Shatner's famous opening monolog, where he speaks of "space, the final frontier [...] to boldly go where no man has gone before!", is absent here. The monolog is often the subject of jokes when it is pointed out that it is grammatically incorrect, as it SHOULD be: to "go boldly," NOT, "boldly go". "Boldly go" is a split-infinitive. Ah well.

Star Trek - Where No Man Has Gone Before - deleted scenes

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About the Creator

Tom Baker

Author of Haunted Indianapolis, Indiana Ghost Folklore, Midwest Maniacs, Midwest UFOs and Beyond, Scary Urban Legends, 50 Famous Fables and Folk Tales, and Notorious Crimes of the Upper Midwest.: http://tombakerbooks.weebly.com

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  • Randy Wayne Jellison-Knock30 days ago

    Excellent ruminations, my friend. And no, commenting on the unadulterated hubris of human-all-too-often-not-so-kind & our capacity for visiting self-serving (in the short term) atrocities upon one another does not phase me one bit. The evidence is far too abundant & clear.

  • Lamar Wiggins30 days ago

    Man! I'm impressed with your knowledge of movies and Tv shows. I can't imagine how many your brain has retained. I'm surprised you're not a critic professionally, are you?

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