Operation: Annihilate!

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"Operation: Annihilate!"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 29
Directed by Herschel Daugherty
Written by Steven W. Carabatsos
Featured music Alexander Courage
Cinematography by Jerry Finnerman
Production code 029
Original air date April 13, 1967 (1967-04-13)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The City on the Edge of Forever"
Next →
"Amok Time"

"Operation: Annihilate!" is the last original episode from the first season of the original American science fiction television series Star Trek. It is episode #29, production #29, and was broadcast April 13, 1967. It is written by Stephen W. Carabatsos, and directed by Herschel Daugherty.

In this episode, the crew of the USS Enterprise must find a way to exterminate malevolent parasitic creatures that have taken over the bodies of residents of a Federation colony.


Stardate 3287.2: The Federation starship Enterprise is tracing evidence of a path of mass insanity that is destroying civilizations on several planets. The next planet in line is Deneva, and Captain Kirk (William Shatner) has Communications Officer Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) open a hailing frequency on a private transmitter to someone on the planet but there is no answer. As they enter the system, they detect a ship heading for the sun. The pilot raves incoherently until he becomes lucid just as his ship is destroyed by the heat. Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) asks if Kirk's brother Sam isn't on Deneva. Kirk answers affirmatively that his brother is stationed on Deneva as a research biologist.

Kirk takes First Officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and others in a landing party and find that the locals are strangely quiet, until a group of men come out. They try to warn the landing party away but then come after them in a fit of violence. The landing party stuns them, but McCoy determines that they're being violently stimulated even when unconscious. In a Denevan housing unit, they find Kirk's sister-in-law, Aurelan (Joan Swift), trying to keep something from entering through the ventilator grille shortly before passing out. They also find Sam Kirk (William Shatner) dead and his son Peter (Craig Hundley) insensate. Kirk, McCoy and the unconscious bodies of the two surviving relatives of Kirk beam back aboard the Enterprise.

Back on the ship, McCoy determines that, despite being unconscious, Aurelan and Peter are in extreme pain and injects them with painkillers. Aurelan has a greater resistance, and they bring her around enough for her to reveal that "they" forced a ship's crew to bring them to the planet eight months ago. Before dying from the excruciating pain, Aurelan reveals that "they" are spreading, controlling people's bodies and forcing them to build ships to spread further.

Kirk beams down to join the landing party and search for the creatures responsible. Inside a building, they find single-celled organisms that are highly resistant to phaser fire. When one of them attacks Spock, they pry it off, but Spock is immobilized with pain. They take him back to the ship where McCoy determines that the creature infiltrated Spock's spinal column with pieces of living tissue that are impossible to completely remove surgically.

In Sickbay, Spock revives and storms off to the bridge, but Nurse Chapel (Majel Barrett) follows him with a sedative. When Spock tries to take control of the ship, Chapel shows up with the sedative just in time. Back in Sickbay under heavy restraint, Spock asserts that as a Vulcan he can control the pain. He apologizes for his earlier outburst and aborted attempt to take control of the ship. Kirk listens to Spock's reasoning and agrees to reconsider his confinement to sick bay if Spock can demonstrate control of the pain for some unspecified amount of time.

Later Spock is shown completely overcoming the pain induced by the creatures and breaking out of his restraints. Appearing in the transporter room equipped to return to the planet surface, he is confronted and stopped by Engineer Scott. Once Kirk and McCoy arrive to the transporter room, a debate ensues between the three, Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Utilizing his logical ways and thinking, he explains that he has to capture one of the creatures in order to discover more about them and how they can be destroyed. Arguing that he is the logical choice since he is already infected, Kirk accedes to Spock's plan to return to the planet surface. When Spock returns to the planet, he goes to the building where they found the organisms. He stuns one of the creatures and takes it back to the ship.

In the laboratory with McCoy and Chapel, Spock determines the creature is part of a hive mind that has come from a different universe and is nearly immune to phaser fire. Remembering that the man piloting the Denevan ship called out that he was "free" right as the ship was destroyed by the sun, Spock and McCoy test the creature against numerous properties of the sun, to no avail.

Later on, as Kirk holds a conference meeting with the life science and medical department heads of the Enterprise staff, the various options for action by the Enterprise are discussed. Becoming aggravated, Kirk summarily dismisses both of the two options laid out and demands that his staff come up with a third alternative that neither allows the creatures to advance to the next set of civilizations, nor requires the Enterprise to destroy the bodies of one million human inhabitants, even Deneva, in order to stop the creatures.

Back in the captain's quarters, Spock and McCoy both report no new solutions have been found. While pressing a button on a small device, Kirk realizes that the one property they haven't tried is light. After light destroys the specimen, Spock volunteers to be exposed to the extreme light to test if that will work. They go to put Spock in the testing unit but forget to give him the protective gogles for his eyes during the test with the result that he is free of the creature but blind. Nurse Chapel reveals that only high-end (ultraviolet) light waves were necessary, not the blinding white light that McCoy used on Spock.

The Enterprise distributes the satellites and then energizes them. All of the creatures are destroyed, and the Denevans recover. Kirk is about to request a new first officer when Spock arrives on the bridge - his vision back to normal, saying it was from his Vulcan secondary eyelid. A relieved McCoy reluctantly admits he thinks Spock is the best first officer in Starfleet and Spock, with his superior Vulcan ears, overhears him, to the chagrin of McCoy.

Production notes[edit]

William Shatner "played" the dead body of Sam Kirk, with added age makeup and facial hair.

The script, which was written by Steven W. Carabatsos, was originally titled "Operation: Destroy". Aurelan was a Denevan woman in love with a man named Kartan, and it was Kartan who flew the ship into the Denevan sun in the cold open sequence. Aurelan's father was also a major character in the teleplay, and the two colonists were not infected by the "Denevan neural parasites". Instead, they helped Dr. McCoy and Mr. Spock with the research into how light could destroy the parasites.[1] The script did not originally end with the Enterprise crew using light to destroy the parasites. Instead, the ship learns the location of the aliens' home world, and destroys the central controlling "brain" located there. Author James Blish used this draft of the script when adapting the episode for print, and this ending appears in the chapter "Operation: Annihilate!" in the anthology Star Trek 2.[2]

This was the first episode of the series to be directed by Herschel Daugherty. Daugherty would later direct Season Three's "The Savage Curtain" as well.[3] It was also the first appearance in Star Trek for child actor Craig Hundley, who played "Peter Kirk". He would also portray "Tommy Starnes" in the third season episode "And the Children Shall Lead".[4]

Location shooting occurred in two places. The scene where the Enterprise away-team beams down to the surface was filmed at the TRW Space and Defense Park (now the Northrop Grumman Space Technology headquarters) in Redondo Beach, California.[5] The entrance of Sam Kirk's laboratory is the cafeteria on the TRW campus.[5][6] The exterior of Sam Kirk's laboratory, which features white pylons, is Schoenberg Hall at the University of California, Los Angeles.[7] Filming at TRW occurred on February 15, 1967.[6]

The neural parasites were created by prop designer Wah Chang from bags of fake vomit.[8]

The episode aired on April 13, 1967, and was the final episode to air in the series' first season.[9] One scene did not make it into the episode. This scene came at the end of the story, and featured Peter Kirk (dressed in a captain's shirt) sitting in the captain's chair on the bridge while his uncle, James T. Kirk, agrees to let him return to Deneva to live with Sam Kirk's research partner and friend. Although filmed, it was edited out due to time constraints.[10]


Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode an 'B+' rating, describing it as "a little rocky in places" but otherwise praising the alien menace and Nimoy's acting.[11]

The show is popular for revealing new facts about Vulcan physiology. Galaxie 500, an American alternative rock band, wrote a song about the episode for their 1990 album This Is Our Music. The song was titled "Spook", but the band secretly used the title "Spock" since the lyrics referred to Spock's blindiness in this episode:[12]

When you went blind

Then I nearly lost my mind It didn't last

'Cause you have another eyelid


  1. ^ Asherman, p. 65.
  2. ^ Blish, p. 82.
  3. ^ Clark, p. 221.
  4. ^ Schuster and Rathbone, p. 211.
  5. ^ a b Okuda, Mirek, and Okuda, p. 530.
  6. ^ a b Morison, Jeanette. "May I See Your Badge, Mister - Uh, Spock?" The Retirees Association. No date. Accessed 2014-01-02.
  7. ^ Okuda, Mirek, and Okuda, p. 530.
  8. ^ Clark, p. 167, 237.
  9. ^ Schuster and Rathbone, p. 349.
  10. ^ "Peter Kirk." Memory-Alpha.org. No date. Accessed 2014-01-02.
  11. ^ Handlen, Zack. "The City On The Edge Of Forever" / "Operation--Annihilate!" The A.V. Club. April 24, 2009. Accessed 2012-07-15.
  12. ^ Wareham, p. 143.


  • Asherman, Alan. The Star Trek Compendium. New York: Pocket Books, 1981.
  • Blish, James. Star Trek 2. New York: Bantam Books, 1968.
  • Clark, Mark. Star Trek FAQ: Everything Left to Know about the First Voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Milwaukee, Wisc.: Applause Theatre & Cinema, 2012.
  • Okuda, Denise; Mirek, Debbie; and Okuda, Michael. The Star Trek Encyclopedia. New York: Pocket Books, 2011.
  • Schuster, Hal and Rathbone, Wendy. Trek: The Unauthorized A-Z. New York: HarperPrism, 1994.
  • Wareham, Dean. Black Postcards: A Memoir. New York: Penguin Books, 2009.

External links[edit]