Star Trek

Season 2 Episode 13


Aired Unknown Dec 15, 1967 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
147 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The Enterprise must deal with a creature from Kirk's past that feeds on human blood.

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  • Kirk appears to become obsessed when he encounters a gaseous creature taht feeds on human blood cells.

    Star Trek's second take on Moby Dick is often called a unsung classic by fans, with the captain-driven episode offering some rare Kirk-backstory and featuring some of the most contentious Kirk, Spock, and McCoy scenes of the series.

    There's no doubt that Art Wallace delivers a tight script, with all the elements of the story nicely set up and paid off, and many fans like it when Star Trek dispenses with morality plays and simply pits the good guys versus a monster. Ralph Senensky shoots the ship-based story with gorgeous cinematography, highlighting the colors of the Enterprise's interior, and he keeps the attention on a central through-line, lending clarity to the plot. Yet all the same, the episode doesn't crack top ten lists, probably because it lacks the urgency, plot development, and special effects of "The Doomsday Machine" and comes across as the poor man's version of that episode as a result. (It doesn't help that the script feels it necessary to justify Kirk's decisions before the end, which is the right thing to do for the series but makes for a less compelling study of obsession as a result).

    The episode is probably most famous for killing off as many redshirts as "The Apple", although a couple of them (Leslie and Rizzo) return later in the series (with Rizzo appearing in the next episode).

    So for Captain Kirk, it might a memorable adventure, but for the rest of us, it's somewhat forgettable, though somewhat unique and satisfactory at the same time.

    Remastered: With the adventure spanning two planets and featuring a strange, gaseous creature, you might think there's a lot for CBS Digital to do here, but really it's just a vanilla episode needing a small facelift. The shots of the Enterprise in orbit, originally borrowed from "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and "Amok Time", are replaced with two barren looking planets, with the latter eventually showing damage caused by the climax of the episode. When the Enterprise flies through space at ungodly speeds to catch the creature, the upgraded shots show the stars whizzing by. Lastly, the special effects for the gaseous creature (and the ship's battle with it) in space are redone via CGI to match the practical effect of the creature on the planets.moreless
  • The Enterprise battles another strange alien creature

    This is a kind of interesting episode - in this we discover that Kirk is haunted by an incident from twelve years earlier, when a strange gaseous creature, that was causing strange vampire-style deaths aboard the U.S.S. Farragut. Kirk, serving as a junior officer on the ship, had the creature in his phaser sights but hesitated to fire and has blamed himself for the deaths ever since.

    When a junior crewman from the Enterprise similarly hesitates to fire upon the creature when the Enterprise comes across it again, Kirk is unnecessarily harsh. But as the Enterprise crew battle the creature, it becomes apparent that Kirk's hesitation years earlier would have made no difference to the outcome at all.

    Interestingly, Spock's blood is revealed to be based on copper rather than human iron, which gives the gaseous creature bad indigestion and allows Spock to come into contact with the creature without danger. Though one minor niggle is that the creature is able to gain access to a presumably airtight starship from outside in space.

    Finally, Kirk and the junior crewman face the creature alone and destroy it with a dose of ant-matter. And they all lived happily ever after ...

    Overall, quite a tense episode that may not mine new dramatic material, but is nonetheless effective as a thriller.moreless
  • The writers go crazy and have a field day knocking off red shirts faster than you can say “Di-kronium”

    I found it too much of a coincidence that both Kirk and the son of the U.S.S. Farragut just happen to be on board as a member of the U.S.S. Enterprise and be fighting that gaseous creature from 11 years ago. Furthermore, Garrovick just happens to be assigned to duty on the planet surface. And isn't it kind of silly that Kirk didn't even know that his x-captain's son was assigned to his ship? After getting by that, the rest of the episode is quite good. The scene where McCoy comes into Kirk's quarters with Spock hiding outside is done quite well. Kirk's reaction is terrific as is the dialog of the three for that scene.moreless
  • Attack of the Blood-Sucking Smog!

    One of the Star Trek's better "Monsters Attack" episodes is Obsession. Lays some pipe for Capt. Kirk and explains the origin of his nervous disorders. Introduces us to some new elements on the periodic table, including a substance even harder than the armor used for Outpost IV (Balance of Terror).

    Plotline: Capt. Kirk's latent PTSD is awakened when one is killed, another critically injured by a fantastic hemoglobin-absorbing gaseous creature. We then get our backstory, chase the cloud across deep space, Enterprise attacks without result then fends off the cloud creature's counterattack. Cloud is repulsed with nuclear waste and flees. By intuition, Kirk sets course for the creature's nest. Then we resolve the conflict by destroying the cloud with the universal solution, an anti-matter bomb. Tension enhanced in the final scene with insubordination and battery on a superior officer by Ens. Garrovick.

    It is apparent to all who have studied the rise of motor vehicles in the 20th century that any killer cloud story must have had its origin in Southern California of the late 1960s, in the days before the Clean Air Act and California Air Resources Board. Technology, such as the catalytic converter, would eventually dispel the real-life lethal smogs of nitrogen oxide and partially-combusted hydrocarbons that writer Art Wallace breathed on a regular basis.

    Overall, a fairly good story, slightly above-average performance by the late Stephen Brooks as Ens. Garrovick. Incidental music recycled from previous Season 2 episodes. Original opticals only fair, almost cartoon-like, CGI a big improvement. Worth a look, but don't pay to see it. I rank it around number 32 of the 79 original Star Trek episodes.

  • When a landing party is killed by a cloud-like creature, Kirk recognises it from a past encounter where it committed mass murder, and becomes hell-bent on destroying the creature. Some fair moments, but not one of the best...moreless

    This episode doesn't really rank as one of my favourites.

    The story, loosely based on 'Moby Dick', sees Kirk becoming obsessed with killing a murderous creature from his past. This makes way for a few decent moments, but also makes for some weak ones, as well as a few unintentionally amusing moments.

    William Shatner is good as the obsessed Kirk, but I did feel that his cranky, "don't question me" mood felt very much the same as we had just seen in "The Deadly Years", and would probably have fared slightly better placed after another episode.

    The episode marks a huge count of redshirt deaths and injuries. And as per usual, no one really seems all that upset, not for very long.

    There is also the notable 'death' of Lt. Leslie, who would go on to reappear in a later episode. This can actually be explained away, as he could be said to be one of the injured crewmembers who managed to survive (no names to the survivor(s) was given). But even so, it is still sloppy from a series that is usually so sharp in the continuity department.

    I also agree with a fellow reviewer that it was far too convenient that the son of the commander of the U.S.S. Farragut, who was killed by the cloud, just happened to be assigned to the Enterprise, at that very point in time.

    Also, I found it a bit too convenient that Mr. Spock was affected differently by the 'cloud'. It seems as if whenever the writers got stuck on how to get around a certain situation, they'd decide that the way out was to have Spock react in a different way to humans!

    One of the few genuinely good moments comes at the climax to the story, with Kirk and Garrovick beaming up away from the 'evil cloud' just in time, and the transporter desperately trying to lock on to them.

    All-in-all, not one of the series' best outings. At some points it almost feels like a filler episode.

    "What's that sweet, sickly smell?" "It's Obsession for men"moreless
William Shatner

William Shatner

Captain James Tiberius Kirk

Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy

Mr. Spock

DeForest Kelley

DeForest Kelley

Dr. Leonard Horatio "Bones" McCoy

Stephen Brooks

Stephen Brooks

Ensign Garrovick

Guest Star

Jerry Ayres

Jerry Ayres

Ensign Rizzo

Guest Star

Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols

Lt. Nyota Uhura

Recurring Role

Majel Barrett

Majel Barrett

Nurse Christine Chapel

Recurring Role

Walter Koenig

Walter Koenig

Ensign Pavel Chekov

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • When Kirk and Garrovick are fighting, Kirk throws the ensign up against a heavy rock wall. The wall noticeably moves from the impact.

    • Lt. Leslie, one of the security guards who appears in a number of episodes, is seen lying on the ground having been attacked by the creature - yet he comes back later, in "The Ultimate Computer," for one. It's not totally impossible, maybe he was one of the ones in "critical condition" and managed to pull through, but it seems awfully callous that he'd be one of those "killed off."

    • Ensign Garrovick describes a gaseous creature as being "several cubic meters" in size, but his distance as "about twenty feet away". These discrepancies continue through all the Star Trek series and movies.

    • Why is Spock trying to prevent the entry of the gaseous creature using his bare hands - this doesn't seem very logical.

    • When Spock opens a channel for Kirk to talk to the bridge at the end, the activation light on the intercom doesn't go on.

    • Dr. McCoy's medical tunic had an engineering patch on it instead of the sciences patch is should have.

  • QUOTES (11)

  • NOTES (4)

    • This episode holds the all-time record for Enterprise crew casualties and a number of bit players and stuntmen were brought in to play the extra red-shirted victims.

    • This episode originally aired the same night as the collapse of the Silver Bridge (connecting Gallipolis, OH and Point Pleasant, WV). NBC delayed the broadcast of Star Trek because of a special report, but showed it in its entirety.

    • This episode establishes that Vulcan blood is copper based, not iron as it is with humans.

    • Desilu No: 5149-47.