After a run of more so-so episodes, things bounce back with this enchanting story.
I went in to this episode knowing little about it, with it seeming to be one of the very few 'Star Trek' episodes that I had not seen (at least, not recent enough for me to remember; I am currently in the process of putting that right, watching right from the Original Series through to 'Enterprise'). To my pleasant surprise, I personally found it to be an unexpected favourite. It is, in my opinion, a much underrated episode. I was very surprised to find it didn't have a higher rating on this site. It did seem a bit convenient that the shuttlecraft was carrying the three main characters – Kirk, Spock and McCoy – but I'll let that one pass.
There are some continuity problems regarding Zefram Cochrane, being somewhat different here to his later (or should that be earlier!) appearance in the movie 'Star Trek: First Contact'. In that movie, set before this episode, he appears to be a somewhat different character, but I don't think there's much that couldn't be explained away with some creative reasoning. After all, he's been living alone on the planetoid for 150 years in this episode, that's bound to change a man!
There are also other little niggles, such as Cochrane being said to come from Alpha Centauri, but what's to say that didn't become his home after the events of 'First Contact'? (And if anything, surely it is the movie that breaks the continuity, not this episode?)
But anyway, this episode boasts some great performances, and a story that unfolds really well. There are no enemies to battle with or anything like that, no 'monster of the week', but a quite different story, and kudos to 'Trek' for brining to life such a different tale.
The only character I didn't warm to was the ill (and very miserable) Commissioner Nancy Hedford. Okay dear, we know you're dying, but even so...!
One thing that must be mentioned is the music. Most of it was recorded for this episode (unlike some others, which consist of standard, pre-recorded 'Trek' scores), and was wonderful. It really brought the episode to life.
I love the way that the story unfolds, and we find out more about "The Companion", and her love for "The Man". Some episodes in the second (and third!) season are ones I only really care to watch once before moving on, but this episode really has a re-watchable appeal.
I'm surprised this episode isn't held in higher regard. Personally I love it. But as I've said before, that's one of the appeals about 'Star Trek', there is something for everybody. If you don't like one episode, odds on there will be something for you in the next one. Personally, this one might even make my Top 10 favourite episodes. I know others with disagree.