Yesteryear (Star Trek: The Animated Series)
|Star Trek: The Animated Series episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1|
|Directed by||Hal Sutherland|
|Written by||D. C. Fontana|
|Original air date||September 15, 1973|
"Yesteryear" is the second episode of the first season of the animated American science fiction television series Star Trek. It first aired in the NBC Saturday morning lineup on September 15, 1973, and was written by veteran Star Trek writer D. C. Fontana.[note 1] Widely regarded as one of the best episodes of the series, it was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award. "Yesteryear" guest-starred Mark Lenard in the role of Spock's father, Sarek.
On stardate 5373.4, Captain Kirk and Spock return from a time-traveling research project they have been conducting with the use of the Guardian of Forever and Starfleet historians. When they emerge from the portal, they discover that no one on board the Federation starship Enterprise recognizes Spock. Kirk and Spock are further surprised to see that an Andorian officer, Commander Thelin, has replaced Spock as first officer.
In the new timeline, history has recorded that Spock died at age seven undergoing the Kahs-wan ordeal on Vulcan. However, Spock remembers that when he took the Kahs-wan, his life was saved by Selek - an adult relative - when a desert creature with poisonous claws called a le-matya had attacked them. While Kirk and Spock were in the portal, the Guardian and historians had run a scan of recent Vulcan history. The pair quickly realize that as they were observing the birth of Orion at the time, Spock could not have been in two places at once to save himself as a child. Spock must go back through the time gate to his childhood, and save the life of the child he was. For his part, Thelin is supportive of Spock's efforts despite its consequences on his own existence and the officers respectfully wish each other long and prosperous lives in whatever circumstances the hopefully repaired timeline would put them in.
At first, this proceeds smoothly: Spock assumes the identity of Selek, a distant cousin of Sarek, and is welcomed into the home of Sarek and Amanda Grayson.[note 2] "Selek" journeys into the desert to find his younger self, and saves the boy. However, I Chaya - Spock's pet sehlat - has been gravely wounded and "Selek" sends the younger Spock back to fetch a Healer. Spock returns with the Healer who tends to I Chaya and informs Selek and Spock that there is nothing he can do. Young Spock is offered a choice: either I Chaya can be treated with medicines (but will still die slowly in obvious pain) or his pet can be allowed to die quickly with dignity. Young Spock chooses the latter, and I Chaya dies peacefully. By making this choice, Spock has thus chosen the Vulcan way of life - logic and emotional control - and his elder self, successful in repairing history, returns to the restored present day, but not before teaching his younger self how to perform the Vulcan nerve pinch.
The network, NBC, expressed concern about the episode's depiction of a pet being euthanised. However, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry approved of writer D. C. Fontana's handling of the issue, and since NBC had given Roddenberry full creative control of the series, they had little choice but to broadcast the episode as it was. The Animated Series' co-producer Lou Scheimer later said "Yesteryear" was "probably my favorite episode. It sent a message to kids to be positive in the face of death."
Los Angeles-area stations aired this episode as the series premiere, instead of "Beyond the Farthest Star", to avoid violating the United States' FCC's equal-time rule, because one of the voice actors in "Beyond the Farthest Star", George Takei, was running for public office at the time.
References in other media
- Several concepts that first appeared in The Animated Series episode "Yesteryear", including the Forge and the city of ShiKahr, were later included in the Enterprise three-part story that started with "The Forge".
- In the 2009 film Star Trek, young Spock is bullied by three fellow Vulcan students in the same manner as is seen happening in this episode.
The episode was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in the category Outstanding Entertainment Children's Series. "Yesteryear" is noted as one of the most celebrated episodes of the animated series. The episode content has some influence on later productions, and fictional Vulcan city of ShiKahr was featured in Star Trek: Enterprise.
The 2008 book Star Trek 101: A Practical Guide to Who, What, Where, and Why notes writer D.C. Fontana's contributions to the Vulcan story, and that she also wrote the "Journey to Babel" episode, which also further established this species. They also note that despite being planned for presentation as a children's cartoon, it has a sci-fi plot and emotional impact that ranks among the best of live-action Star Trek episodes.
In 2013, The Guardian recommended this episode as one of six Star Trek episodes, out of all episodes of the franchise up to that time. They were impressed with the plot for what was basically a Saturday morning children's cartoon, remarking "Spock finds out that the timeline has been changed and he died as a child on Vulcan. He must go back in time to become the man who saved the younger version of himself."
In 2019, The Verge called this an "episode to watch" with Star Trek: Discovery. They note that writer Dorothy C. Fontana wrote ten episodes of the original Star Trek, and recommended this episode for both veteran and rookie Star Trek watchers. They also note how the cartoon medium allowed the depictions of aliens and expressions that would be difficult to replicate in a live-action show. They praised Gene Roddenberry for maintaining a high-quality in Star Trek merchandise such as comic books, and noted this episode for exploring the origins of the character Spock.
- "Journey to Babel" - an Original Series episode where Spock's parents, Sarek and Amanda, first appeared.
- Mangels, Andy (Summer 2018). "Star Trek: The Animated Series". RetroFan. TwoMorrows Publishing (1): 25–37.
- Text Commentary, "Yesteryear" as written by Michael and Denise Okuda, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Paramount Home Entertainment, 2006
- "The script even owes itself in no small measure to the animated episode "Yesteryear" written by D.C. Fontana—when Spock goes back in time to meet himself as a child—and that is where the term "Forge" is first used. [...] Among other things, the Earth embassy is located in the city of Shi'Khar, which in "Yesteryear" is identified as Spock's hometown." Production Report: "The Forge" Begins Three-Part Vulcan Saga article at the official Star Trek website. URL retrieved 16 June 2007.
- Clark, Mark (April 1, 2012). Star Trek FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the First Voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781557839640.
- Erdmann, Terry J. (September 23, 2008). Star Trek 101: A Practical Guide to Who, What, Where, and Why. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781439117873.
- O'Neill, Phelim (May 9, 2013). "Six to watch: Star Trek episodes". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
- Hollywood Reporter 'Star Trek': 100 Greatest Episodes
- Granshaw, Lisa (November 15, 2016). "Ranking the 15 best Star Trek time travel episodes". SYFY WIRE. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
- "Star Trek: An Episode Roadmap for Beginners". Den of Geek. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
- "Star Trek: Ranking the 20 Best Time-Travel Episodes". CBR. November 30, 2018. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
- "The 10 Best STAR TREK Time Travel Episodes, Ranked". Nerdist. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
- Murray, Noel (January 18, 2019). "Celebrate Star Trek: Discovery's return with the Animated Series". The Verge. Retrieved July 31, 2019.