Star Trek

Season 3 Episode 17

That Which Survives

Aired Unknown Jan 24, 1969 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
136 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Kirk, McCoy, and Sulu are stranded on a barren planet where a mysterious woman attempts to kill them one at a time, while the Enterprise must travel halfway across the galaxy to rescue them.

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  • The crew of the Enterprise encounters a beautiful woman who attempts to kill each individual one by one.

    Guest starring former Miss America Lee Meriwether as a strange alien chick, this joyless mystery goes in circles (much like the third season) while she hunts down the Enterprise crew on a planet and simultaneously disrupts the ship.

    Basically a sci fi ghost story, it avoids being blatantly bad like "And the Children Shall Lead" by offering a unique sort of charm. The alien woman herself is suitably creepy, appearing and disappearing with the look of an old time TV image when the set is turned on and off while a haunting musical stinger lends accompaniment. Unfortunately, she doesn't really have anything to say except "I come for you", and her scenes remain redundant until the big reveal at the end where all is explained.

    The main cast itself is split, with Kirk, Bones, Sulu, and an extra down on a planet (one of whom dies to establish the danger, though I won't give away who), and Spock and the rest on the ship, which ends up rigged to destruct, establishing a countdown clock. In the hands of former Star Trek producer John Meredyth Lucas, all the principals stay within character, but with too little story to work with, he exaggerates their personalities to supply filler. Kirk is in such a Kirk-mode, he's obnoxious, treating his officers like they're third graders on a field trip. Spock is in such a jerk-mode, no one can say anything without getting a smart aleck reply. (Heck, Uhura asks him a question about odds, and Spock says "Lieutenant, we are not engaged in as if he doesn't spend the first two seasons telling everyone the odds for everything down to two decimal points. Screw you, Mr. Spock!)

    In the end, . Fontana was so unhappy with the teleplay, she combined the first names of her brothers into a pseudonym for her story credit. (She needn't have worried; no one remembers the episode anyway).

    Meriwether, who won the Miss America crown in 1955 as Miss California, would go on to better things as the secretary/daughter-in law in Barnaby Jones, a hit TV show in the 1970s.

    Remastered Version:

    Like the episode itself, there's not much of note here, just an upgraded starship and planet (replacing planet footage borrowed from Operation: Annhililate).

  • Kirk and Spock have a jerk competition

    This is one of those episodes that used to weird me out when I was a kid. I mean the woman who's touch would kill you and who turned into a thin black line then was pretty scary stuff. But having just watched it, I have to agree with one of the other posts concerning how irritable Spock was acting. Kirk acted the same way towards Sulu. Every time Sulu made a suggestion Kirk had a snide response "If I had wanted a lesson in Russian history Mr. Sulu I would have brought Mr. Chekov". Yeesh.moreless
  • Was there a point?

    I'm a sucker for this series (as are most of us writing here) but I take exception to this and a few other episodes. I mean, what were they TRYING to tell us here?!

    Was there a point?

    And somehow, growing up in the 70's and 80's THIS episode was one of those that ways ALWAYS on
  • Weird science, but creepy effect

    This episode tends to be one of the "average" third season episode in that most despised of seasons. The idea of some indestructible woman running around causing every cell in your body to rupture (ouch!), who is intimately familiar with you, and can appear anytime and anywhere, is suitably creepy. Lee Meriwether actually has the acting chops to handle the role of a computer programmed with the conscience of its Commander. Although the Kalandrans (who we'll never hear of again) sound like a pretty nasty bunch. Losira too, since she programmed the outpost computer to kill anybody who wasn't a Kalandran. She was compassionate enough for her duplicate to hesitate in killing... but not to program the thing to brutally kill people in the first place. Okay...

    You'd think there'd be a more efficient way to kill intruders, though. Like "Spectre of the Gun," aliens need to come up with quicker ways to kill the outsiders.

    The secondary crewmen are actually mildly interesting here, which is rare in the third season. D'Amato is played by 60s stalwart Arthur Batanides, and his line about not being frightened of geological phenomena is kind of amusing. The doomed Watkins actually gets a moment to try and bluff the Losira program: wish he'd succeeded. And Rahda (the show's first vaguely Indian crewmember) gets to be the one to figure out what really happened to the planet (even if it's kind of "duh"). Dr. M'Benga doesn't make much of his second appearance on the show but at least he gets to do something.

    Sulu gets short shrift: Kirk gives him a hard time at least twice: comparing him to Chekov, Ouch! again.

    Kirk and McCoy don't have much to do (and McCoy seems rather facetious). But watching Leonard Nimoy and James Doohan bounce off each other is pretty funny. Spock doesn't seem to have learned much from his failed captaincy in "The Galileo Seven." He gives Rahda a hard time for not knowing the precise time, and seems more concerned with his head then where what happened to the Enterprise.

    Both climaxes are pretty climactic: Doohan milks the drama and last-minute save for all its worth, and its glad to see 23rd century tools still jam. Although this part doesn't make sense: okay, what's jettisoning the access tube going to do? If it's going to stop the ship's destruction, then why don't they just do it and not send Scotty in, in the first place? If it isn't, what difference does it make whether they jettison Scotty or not. And yes, the Enterprise gets to exceed its top speed yet again.

    The climax on the planet is equally creepy although more because of the implied threat of a painful death. The landing party seems reluctant to actually _touch_ the Losiras. And there's a kind of "Well, we're going to starve anyway, so let's go into the Cave O'Doom and... die?"

    Still, I generally give this a high rating based on Meriwether's performance, the generally creepy ambiance, the secondary crew getting a chance to shine this late in the game. It's enough to overcome the plotholes.moreless
  • Pretty mediocre episode with an irritating depiction of Spock

    Lets get something straight first. The script for this episode was actually created by DC Fontana but the producers bungled the execution of this episode that she removed her name from its credits and used the pseudonym of 'Michael Richards' instead. An incredibly powerful (and now extinct) alien force named the Kalandans hurl the USS Enterprise 990.7 light years away from the planet that they are investigating and yet fail to destroy the 4 Enterprise beam down crew members on the Kalandan planet in an instant. Is this remotely plausible?

    Instead the Kalandans' computer send various manifestations of Losira, the sole likeness that the computer access to to'touch' and thus kill the Enterprise beam down crew which consists of Sulu, Kirk, McCoy and D'Amato. Once D'Amato dies and the crew learns how Losira is killing them they move around and protect one another....which is strange when the Kalandan computer could have easily vaporised them with several laser blasts or trapped them in a life suffocating forcefield. This is just boring.

    Meanwhile on the Enterprise, Spock is in charge and he proceeds to berate the crew for getting the slightest error in their calculations...including lecturing poor Scotty. This must be the most irritating depiction of Spock I've seen and one almost wants to beat him into his senses. Instead of displaying leadership and reassurance--as he did in The Tholian Web--he makes everyone tense especially when they learn thatthe ship could explode due to Losira's sabotage ofthe matter-antimatter units aboard the Enterprise if it wasn't for Scotty's heroics. And Scotty's reward is another lecture from Spock...instead of a short thank you.In the end, Spock returns to the planet in time to save Kirk, Sulu and McCoy from being killed by the computers creation of 3 deadly to the touch Losiras but the episode overall is just mediocre sadly. The only interesting development is that we see Sulu with Kirk on a mission together for the first time.

Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy

Mr. Spock

William Shatner

William Shatner

Captain James Tiberius Kirk

DeForest Kelley

DeForest Kelley

Dr. Leonard Horatio "Bones" McCoy

Kenneth Washington

Kenneth Washington

John B. Watkins

Guest Star

Brad Forrest

Brad Forrest

Ensign Wyatt

Guest Star

Booker Bradshaw

Booker Bradshaw

Dr. M'Benga

Guest Star

Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols

Lt. Nyota Uhura

Recurring Role

George Takei

George Takei

Lt. Hikaru Sulu

Recurring Role

James Doohan

James Doohan

Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (12)

    • Trivia: This episode establishes that people can move and are still aware of their surroundings while in the midst of being dematerialized by the transporter. This concept would be continued in the following movies and series, such as in Wrath of Khan in which Kirk manages to continue a conversation with Lt. Saavik while beaming; and the Next Generation episode "Realm of Fear" in which Lt. Barclay becomes aware of beings existing within the transporter beam.

    • The Enterprise is able to travel 1000 light years to retrieve the Captain in approximately 12 hours. This is a much faster speed than we have seen in previous episodes. It would make it possible for the Enterprise to reach Andromeda in a year and a half, whereas in "By Any Other Name" such a journey would have taken thousands of years.

    • When Kirk and the crew land on the planet and an earthquake hits, the stones bounce and roll around like the lightweight objects they are.

    • Trivia: While the landing party discusses the fact that the tricorder cannot detect Losira, Sulu suggests that she might be a silicon based lifeform like the one encountered on Janus VI. He is referring to the Horta from "Devil in the Dark."

    • When Losira sabotages the Enterprise engines, Scotty states "This thing is going to blow up, and there's nothing in the universe that can stop it". However, a few minutes later, Spock figures out a solution to the problem.

    • When Kirk tries to dig D'Amato a grave, he only takes two shots of the soil with his phaser before McCoy says "This entire planet must be made up of this substance, covered over by topsoil". That a pretty big assumption. That would be like landing on Earth in the Sahara Desert and then saying "This entire planet must be a desert!" This happens all the time in Star Trek.

    • In this episode, when Kirk's phaser was on overload, it made a small explosion, but in "The Conscience of the King", a phaser on overload would destroy 2-3 decks of the Enterprise!

    • The first time Losira shows up and attacks D'Amato, McCoy registered a tremendous biological lifeform, but when she comes for Kirk, McCoy doesn't detect anything - why the difference?

    • Scotty continues to work on the engines after the deadline of the Enterprise's engines comes and goes - so was Spock wrong in his estimate?

    • As the Enterprise prepares to blow up, Spock first tells Scotty they have 14.87 minutes left, then "12 minutes and 27 seconds" - you'd think Spock of all people would be consistent.

    • It's not totally impossible, but...what did Kirk write D'Amato's name on his gravestone with? It's clearly written, not carved, but we've never seen a Starfleet crewmember carry paint or a magic marker.

    • Kirk sends the landing party out to do a "detailed" analysis of the planet. Then they get together, report, and Kirk sends D'Amato out to look for water - shouldn't that have been part of the analysis?

  • QUOTES (18)

    • Uhura: Mr. Spock! Are you all right?
      Spock: Yes. I believe no permanent damage was done.
      Uhura: What happened?
      Spock: The occipital area of my head seems to have impacted with the arm of the chair.
      Uhura: No, Mr. Spock. I meant what happened to us?

    • Kirk: Mr. Sulu, if I had wanted a Russian history lesson I'd have brought along Mr. Chekov.

    • Rahda: Hmm. A positional change. It doesn't make any sense. But somehow I'd say that in a flash we've been knocked 1,000 light-years away from where we were.
      Spock: 990.7 light-years to be exact, Lieutenant.
      Scotty: But that's not possible. Nothing can do that.
      Spock: Mr. Scott, since we are here, your statement is not only illogical but also unworthy of refutation.

    • Spock: Can you give me warp 8?
      Scotty: Aye, sir. And maybe a wee bit more. I'll sit on the warp engines myself and nurse them.
      Spock: That position, Mr. Scott, would be not only unavailing, but also... undignified.

    • Rahda: We're holding warp 8.4, sir. If we can maintain it, our estimated time of arrival is 11 and 1/2 solar hours.
      Spock: 11.337 hours, Lieutenant. I wish you would be more precise.

    • Scotty: Mr. Spock, the ship feels wrong.
      Spock: "Feels," Mr. Scott?
      Scotty: I know it doesn't make sense. Instrumentation reads correct, but the feel is wrong! It's something I can't put into words.
      Spock: That is obvious, Mr. Scott. Avoid emotionalism and simply keep your instruments correct. Spock out.

    • Dr. M'Benga: Well, the pattern of cellular disruption was the same, but as to the cause, well, your guess is as good as mine.
      Spock: My guess, Doctor, would be valueless. I suggest we refrain from guessing and find some facts. Spock out.

    • Uhura: Mr. Spock what are the chances of the captain and the others being alive?
      Spock: Lieutenant, we are not engaged in gambling. We are proceeding in the only logical way to return to the place they were last seen, and factually ascertain whether or not they still live.

    • Spock: Interesting.
      Scotty: I find nothing interesting in the fact we're about to blow up.
      Spock: No, but the method is fascinating.

    • Scotty: I'm so close to the flow now, and it feels like ants crawling all over my body.
      Spock: Mr. Scott, I suggest you refrain from any further subjective descriptions. You now have 10 minutes and 1 9 seconds in which to perform your task.

    • Spock: You have 8 minutes, 41 seconds.
      Scotty: I know what time it is. I don't need a bloomin' cuckoo clock.

    • Losira: I am for you, D'Amato.
      D'Amato: Lucky D'Amato.

    • Kirk: A remarkable woman.
      McCoy: And beautiful.
      Spock: Beauty is transitory, Doctor. She was however, quite intelligent.
      Kirk: I don't agree with you, Mr. Spock.
      Spock: Indeed, Captain?
      Kirk: Beauty...survives.

    • Spock: What is it in you humans that requires an overwhelming display of emotion in a situation such as this? Two men pursue the only reasonable course of action indicated, and yet you feel that something else is necessary.

    • (Scotty and Spock are discussing a repair procedure.)
      Scotty: Any matter that comes in contact with antimatter triggers the explosion! And I'm not even sure a man can live in the crawlway in the energy stream of the magnetic field that bottles up the antimatter!

    • (Scotty is concerned because the ship "feels" wrong)
      Scotty: Watkins. Check the bypass valve on the matter-antimatter reaction chamber. Make sure it's not overheating.
      John Watkins: But Mr. Scott, the board shows correct.
      Scotty: I didn't ask ye to check the board, lad!

    • Sulu: Poor D'Amato. What a terrible way to die.
      Kirk: There are no good ways, Sulu.

    • Scotty: Aye, Mr. Spock, and I found out why. The emergency bypass control of the matter/antimatter integrator is fused. it's completely useless. The engines are running wild. there is no way to get at them. We should reach maximum overload in 15 minutes.
      Spock: I would calculate 14.87 minutes Mr. Scott.
      Scotty: Those few seconds won't make any difference Mr. Spock. because you and I and the rest of the crew will no longer be here to bandy it back and forth. this thing is going to blow up, and there's nothing in the universe that can stop it.

  • NOTES (3)

    • Dr. M'Benga makes his second and last appearance. He was previously seen as the backup physician with special knowledge of Vulcans in "A Private Little War."

    • A phaser set to disintegrate apparently generates a temperature of 8,000 degrees Centigrade (just under 14,500 degrees Farenheit). By comparison, the surface temperature of the Sun (based on blackbody radiation theory) is around 5,500 degrees Centigrade (note that the core temperature is far higher -- well into the millions of degrees).

    • D.C. Fontana wrote the story for this episode under the pseudonymn Michael Richards.