Metamorphosis (Star Trek: The Original Series)

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"Metamorphosis"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 9
Directed by Ralph Senensky
Written by Gene L. Coon
Featured music George Duning
Cinematography by Jerry Finnerman
Production code 031
Original air date November 10, 1967 (1967-11-10)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"Metamorphosis" is a second season episode of the original science fiction television series Star Trek first broadcast November 10, 1967 and repeated July 19, 1968. It is episode #38, production #31, written by Gene L. Coon, and directed by Ralph Senensky.

In this episode, a shuttle crew from the USS Enterprise encounters a man out of history and his mysterious alien companion.

Plot[edit]

Federation Commissioner Nancy Hedford is being ferried to the Enterprise aboard the shuttlecraft Galileo. Though supposedly a seasoned diplomat, Hedford behaves in a temperamental manner. Kirk is annoyed, but McCoy explains that she has a potentially fatal condition, Sakuro's Disease, and needs immediate treatment aboard the "Enterprise". The ship will then transport her to Epsilon Canaris III, where she will conduct vital peace talks between the planet's warring factions. Suddenly, a strange glowing energy field appears in the shuttlecraft's path, disables its systems, and pulls it down to a nearby planetoid, which has an Earth-type atmosphere. Kirk tries to contact the "Enterprise" for assistance, but all signals are blocked by some unknown phenomenon, and the shuttlecraft has been rendered totally inoperable.

Soon after landing, a fit, handsome young man calling himself Cochrane appears. He tells the party that he has been marooned on the planet for years, that there is a dampening field in effect, and that they are stranded just as he is. Cochrane takes them to the shelter he has built from material salvaged from his crashed ship, and he explains his survival and his relationship with the alien being. When he reveals his full name, Kirk, Spock and McCoy are stunned to discover that he is none other than Zefram Cochrane, the fabled developer of the Federation's 'warp drive' technology. Cochrane explains that he had made a last space flight as an old man, intending to die in space, but that his crippled ship was intercepted and rescued by a strange alien entity, which has restored him to youth and can keep him alive indefinitely. He explains that has been living with the entity for over 100 years, and the Enterprise crew observe that he has a symbiotic relationship with the energy force, which he calls "The Companion." When he begins to talk about this relationship, and the pleasure it gives him, Hedford becomes violently ill. After the Companion attacks Spock while attempting to repair the shuttle, Spock deduces that the entity is largely electrical energy. Kirk, Spock and Cochrane attempt to disable the Companion with an improvised electrical disruptor, but the attack fails. The Companion retaliates violently and only Cochrane's intervention saves Kirk and Spock from being killed.

With Hedford's condition rapidly deteriorating, Spock modifies the shuttle's universal translator to communicate with the energy force. Kirk discovers it has a female personality and is in love with Cochrane. The Companion declares that it has stopped them from ageing, and will keep them there forever as companions for Cochrane. Cochrane is upset by the idea that he has been intimate with an alien, but when the feverish Nancy Hedford begins to slip towards death, Cochrane agrees to do anything to help. He summons "The Companion," and Kirk explains that love is important but men don't like being manipulated and need their freedom. "The Companion" promises to save Hedford's life provided that it can use Hedford's body and share Cochrane with her on a permanent basis. Moments later Hedford appears outside the shelter, completely restored to health, and they discover that she and the Companion have merged to become one being, thereby saving Hedford, who would otherwise have died within moments. Cochrane excitedly talks about his plans for travelling the galaxy, but the Companion/Hedford reveals that its life-force is bound to the region of the planetoid and it cannot leave, so Cochrane promises to remain. When McCoy asks who will complete Nancy Hedford's mission, Kirk simply shrugs and says, "Someone else, I guess."

Production notes[edit]

"Metamorphosis" marks the Star Trek debut of the character of inventor Zefram Cochrane (created by writer Gene L. Coon), one of the key figures in the fictional history of the Star Trek 'universe'. In this episode, Cochrane is defined as the developer of the "warp drive" technology which has enabled Earth to achieve interstellar travel with faster-than-light starships, leading to Earth's first encounters with alien civilisations, and the formation of the United Federation of Planets. In the series timeline (as it had evolved by 1967) Cochrane had vanished, presumed dead, more than 100 years earlier. The character explains that, old and tired, he had taken his starship on a final voyage, wishing to die in deep space, but that he was rescued and given renewed youth by the alien entity he calls "The Companion". Commissioner Hedford, who embodies The Companion, was portrayed by Elinor Donahue who was widely known for the 1950s sitcom Father Knows Best, where she played Jane Wyatt's eldest daughter. On the very next Star Trek episode, Jane Wyatt was the guest actor, playing Spock's mother Amanda.

Cochrane reappears as the focal character of the 1996 movie Star Trek: First Contact, in which he is played by James Cromwell, although his casting created a discrepancy in the fictional Star Trek timeline. As played by Glenn Corbett (who was 37 at the time), Cochrane was depicted as having been returned to the age he was when he made his space flight (33), whereas Cromwell (who 56 when First Contact was made) was nearly 20 years older than the character was supposed to have been by 'canon' TOS reckoning.

In First Contact, the Cochrane character is expanded to become a pivotal figure of Earth and Federation history. After the Federation narrowly defeats a Borg invasion of Earth, the Borg go back in time and try to alter Earth's history, to eliminate the Federation as an obstacle in their plan to conquer the galaxy. The Enterprise pursues the fleeing Borg Queen through a time warp to 21st century Earth, where the Enterprise team encounters Cochrane on the eve of the first flight-test of his warp drive, and discovers that the Borg plan to destroy Cochrane's ship before its warp signature can be detected by a passing Vulcan survey vessel - the event that precipitates Earth's first contact with aliens.

This episode also marked the first time in the original series that Kirk does not appear on board the Enterprise at any point.

External links[edit]