Metamorphosis (Star Trek: The Original Series)

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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 appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Journey to Babel"
List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"Metamorphosis" is a second season episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek, first broadcast on 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 the episode, a shuttle crew from the USS Enterprise encounters a man out of history and his mysterious alien companion.


Federation Commissioner Nancy Hedford is being ferried by shuttlecraft to the Enterprise, to be treated for Sukaro's disease, a potentially fatal condition, before resuming a peacemaking mission. A glowing energy field appears in the shuttlecraft's path, and pulls it down to a nearby planetoid with an Earth-type atmosphere. All communications are blocked, and the shuttlecraft is totally inoperable.

Soon afterward, a young man calling himself Cochrane appears. He tells the party that he has been marooned on the planet for years and that a damping field is preventing their systems from working. Cochrane takes them to a shelter built from material salvaged from his crashed ship, and in the course of their visit, Kirk notices a glowing mass resembling the phenomenon that brought them to the planetoid. Cochrane calls this entity "the Companion", and explains that as an old man, he took one last flight, intending to die in space, but his crippled ship was intercepted and rescued by the entity, which restored him to youth and has been keeping him alive since. When he reveals his full name, Kirk, Spock and McCoy are stunned to discover that he is Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of warp drive.

When the Companion attacks Spock as he is working on the shuttle, Spock deduces that the entity is largely composed of electrical energy. Kirk, and Spock attempt to disable the Companion with an improvised electrical disruptor, but 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 all of them from aging, and will keep them there forever as companions for Cochrane. Cochrane, for his part, is disgusted by the idea of an intimate relationship with an alien.

Cochrane summons the Companion again, and Kirk explains that it and Cochrane are too different for true love. The Companion hypothesizes about being human and disappears. Moments later, Hedford appears outside the shelter, completely restored to health, and they realize that the Companion has merged with Hedford's body, which would otherwise have died within moments. Cochrane excitedly talks about his plans for traveling the galaxy, but the Companion/Hedford reveals that its life-force is bound to the planetoid; it cannot leave, so Cochrane chooses to remain with her. When McCoy asks who will complete Nancy Hedford's mission, Kirk shrugs and says, "I'm sure the Federation can find another woman, somewhere, who'll stop that war."

Production notes[edit]

"Metamorphosis" was the Star Trek debut of 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, "of Alpha Centauri," had vanished, presumed dead, 150 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 known for the 1950s sitcom Father Knows Best, where she played Jane Wyatt's eldest daughter. On the next broadcast Star Trek episode, Jane Wyatt guested, playing Spock's mother Amanda.

Cochrane reappears as the focal character of the movie Star Trek: First Contact (1996), 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 34 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 was 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.

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