Obsession (Star Trek: The Original Series)

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Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 13
Directed by Ralph Senensky
Written by Art Wallace
Featured music Sol Kaplan
Cinematography by Jerry Finnerman
Production code 047
Original air date December 15, 1967 (1967-12-15)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"The Deadly Years"
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"Wolf in the Fold"
List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"Obsession" is a second season episode of the American science fiction television series, Star Trek and was broadcast on December 15, 1967. It is episode No. 42, production No. 47, written by Art Wallace, and directed by Ralph Senensky.

In the episode, Captain James T. Kirk becomes obsessed with destroying a deadly entity he once encountered in his youth.

The episode deals with several human emotions: guilt, fear, obsession and, ultimately, redemption. While Captain Kirk is the primary focus, the viewer sees glimpses of these emotions in other members of the ship. At various times the "fight or flight" instinct is shown as an internal battle which one has to overcome in order to find emotional peace.


The Federation starship USS Enterprise has sent a landing team to a planet to search for tritanium deposits. While surveying, Captain Kirk notices a sweet honey smell and has his men go on alert. He tells them to scan for dikironium and immediately fire at anything that looks like a gaseous cloud. The landing party fans out to explore.

One group picks up a signal but loses it, at which point they are attacked. Kirk and Science Officer Spock rush over to the scene, finding three crewmen down; two dead, the other, Ensign Rizzo, near death. All of the men have had their red blood cells drained of hemoglobin. Kirk fears that the killer is the same entity he had encountered 11 years before while serving aboard the USS Farragut. As a young lieutenant, Kirk had hesitated in firing the ship's phasers at the creature, which attacked. The encounter killed half the Farragut crew (including Captain Garrovick, who was a hero and role model to Kirk), with Kirk and the ship's first officer among the survivors. Even though Kirk was given a commendation by the first officer for bravery in battle, Kirk has felt terrible guilt over this incident ever since.

The landing team returns to the Enterprise. Once aboard, Kirk becomes obsessed with finding this entity, feeling guilty that it caused so much damage and then eluded him. He ignores his priority orders to rendezvous with the USS Yorktown, to transfer urgent medical supplies destined for Theta VII, until Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy can confirm the cause of the men's deaths. Kirk tells him to reference the Farragut's medical logs. On the bridge, Kirk has Spock look for a gaseous entity that is able to conceal itself and pass through solid matter.

Kirk calls one of the security officers, Ensign Garrovick, to the bridge. Kirk believes the ensign (who is the son of the late Captain Garrovick) will be as driven in finding the creature as he is, and assigns him to the next landing party to hunt the entity down.

Kirk orders his landing party to fire at the entity as soon as it is spotted. The team spreads out, and Ensign Garrovick encounters the creature. He aims his phaser but hesitates, becoming frozen with fear as his partner is killed. The creature moves off just as Kirk arrives. Back on the Enterprise, Garrovick admits that he hesitated before firing his phaser and is confined to quarters.

McCoy confronts the Captain on his reckless obsession over the creature. Kirk justifies his actions by maintaining that the creature is an intelligent predator and a serious threat to inhabited worlds. McCoy backs off as Ensign Chekov reports that he is tracking the cloud creature moving away from the planet.

The landing party returns to the ship, and Kirk orders a pursuit of the cloud at Warp 8. The ship gives chase, but Chief Engineer Scott doubts the Enterprise can sustain the high speeds for long. Kirk orders a reduction of speed, and the entity slows as well. Kirk orders battle stations as the entity cloud comes into range and gives the order to fire their weapons. The phasers and photon torpedoes pass through the being. Not only do the weapons have no effect, but neither do the deflector shields - the creature passes through the ship's hull and into the ventilation system.

The creature exits the vents and kills two crewmen. As Kirk, McCoy and Spock discuss how to respond to this invasion, Spock explains that he now concurs with Kirk's concern about the creature: it displayed the intelligence to recognize an attack, to retaliate effectively, and is obviously aggressive. Kirk orders Scotty to close all vents and flood the system with radioactive waste to see it can affect the creature. Afterwards, Spock privately attempts to reassure Kirk that, since the creature cannot be harmed with conventional weapons, the captain has nothing to regret about his earlier encounter on the Farragut - firing immediately back then would have made no difference. Kirk, however, tacitly rebuffs Spock, claiming his concern is only for the safety of the ship and the crew. However, when Spock visits Ensign Garrovick about the matter, the gaseous creature enters through the ventilation system. Spock orders the Ensign out and attempts to stop the creature. Fortunately for Spock, the creature gets a taste of Spock's Vulcan blood, which repels it due to its alien copper-based composition. The creature lets Spock go and flees the ship. Kirk, realizing that neither he nor Ensign Garrovick could have harmed the creature, allows the ensign to return to duty.

The creature makes its way to the fourth planet in the Tycho system, and the Enterprise heads there in pursuit. Kirk and Ensign Garrovick beam down to the planet with a case that holds an antimatter bomb. The two lure the creature with human blood from the ship's medical supply, but it gobbles the "bait" before they can lead it to the bomb.

Kirk uses himself as a lure and remains behind to detonate the bomb. He orders Garrovick back to the ship, but the ensign refuses to abandon his captain. The two ready the bomb as the creature draws near. With the creature ready to envelop them, Kirk and Garrovick beam away and the antimatter bomb explodes, annihilating the entity.

Safe aboard the Enterprise, Kirk takes Ensign Garrovick aside to thank him, and invites him to his quarters to tell him about his father, Captain Garrovick of the USS Farragut.

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