We start with a nameless, garden-variety tropical island. Nelson, Sharkey, and Dunlap, the sacrificial lamb, row up to the shoreline. Dr. Thompson had placed a call for help, and the Seaview responded. Nelson is aware of what Thompson was doing; he instructs Dunlap to search for a cultivated patch of ground in this jungle. Before they can really begin searching, a shaky voice calls Nelson's name, and a man staggers out and collapses, still calling for Nelson and begging help. Weakly, he tells Nelson of an alien invader that plans to destroy mankind. Nelson has a rather skeptical look on his face, but questions Thompson further. Frantic now, Thompson says that they only have eight hours, and they must destroy the alien. Finally he slumps down, dead. Nelson sends Dunlap to to find the cultivated patch and Thompson's base, while he and Sharkey attend to the body. Dunlap comes into a clearing. There is a large orange flower in a pot, sitting beneath a glass dome. Dunlap looks it over, then turns away. The plant's blossom turns to orient on Dunlap, and shoots a rainbow beam of light into his neck. Dunlap seems to react in pain, as we hear the sound of glass breaking. Dunlap straightens up, with an intense expression on his face. Having presumably carried Thompson's body to the dinghy, Nelson and Sharkey walk back through the jungle. Dunlap spots them, and starts to bring up his gun, as Sharkey notices him. Personally, if I saw anyone, even a friend, aiming a loaded weapon in my direction, my first impulse would be to duck. Sharkey just stands there, reaching a hand to tap Nelson. "Hey, Admiral, get a look at this interesting situation, will you?" Nelson also stands there, ordering Dunlap to put the gun down. It's only when Dunlap opens fire that they finally get the idea that some self-preservation is in order.
Lucky for them, Dunlap's a rotten shot--or perhaps he's struggling against whatever is controlling him. As he reloads, Sharkey moves off to the side, while Nelson rises, gun in hand. Dunlap is looking exhausted and in pain. Nelson orders him again to drop the gun. Dunlap starts to lift the gun (at this point winging him in the arm would have been a useful thing to do, but maybe I've been watching too much "Have Gun--Will Travel"). Nelson does fire, but it seems to be a warning shot; at any rate, he says nothing later about shooting his crewman. Dunlap staggers and starts to fall as he drops the gun. He recovers somewhat, trying to reach Nelson, then drops. Horribly, he starts screeching--whether in pain or rage is hard to tell--as he tries to crawl forward, then finally collapses. A ball of rainbow light emerges, hovers a bit, then whips off to the side and vanishes. Nelson examines Dunlap as Sharkey comes up. Nelson seems rather indifferent to the death of his crewman, but perhaps that's because he's concentrating on the ball of light that he saw. (The whole business of the two dead men is hard to explain. Just what happened to Thompson? He seems not to have been taken over, yet he's aware of the alien and its plans. If he had been taken over, wouldn't we (and Nelson, Sharkey and Dunlap) have seen the light exit the body? So what killed him? And what was the purpose in taking over Dunlap and trying to kill the other two men? Did Dunlap die because he was struggling, or did the alien recognize a more useful body, and abandon him, perhaps killing him to keep him from talking?) Nelson's communicator beeps. Crane is checking in. As Nelson starts to order an armed detail to the island, electrical interference sets in. Crane cannot hear the details. Sparks boosts things up a bit, but Crane is still barely audible--and then Nelson's communicator spits smoke. Nelson throws it, and it bursts. Sharkey is mystified, but Nelson links it to the two killings. (Plainly, if he had any skepticism about Thompson's last words, he's set it aside.) They come to the clearing, and, as we had already guessed, the glass dome over the flower had shattered. Nelson has never seen this species before, and decides to take it to the Seaview. He finds another dome handy nearby and recovers the flower for Sharkey to carry, while he gathers up Dr. Thompson's notes.
Back on the Seaview, Kowalski is ordered to carry the plant to the lab. 'Ski looks a little leery of the business, but perhaps that's because the covered plant is awkward to carry. Nelson tells of the light he saw--which apparently moved off in the direction of the clearing. The flower was the only oddity he found at Thompson's camp, so he brought it in. Hopefully, some of the men at his Institute will be able to tell them something. Crane makes a maddeningly obscure reference to "some of our best men" working on "those experiments". What experiments? Just what was Thompson doing out there? Nelson tells Sparks to call the Institute and get the Botany Department. In the lab, Kowalski sets the plant on a table. He seems creeped out by the thing, giving it a long look, and then a backward look as he leaves. (Anybody besides me expect him to get nailed by that light?) The flower turns to face the door, firing a burst of light at it. There is a small explosion. I thought it was breaking open the door, but apparently not; elsewhere, in the Reactor Room, one of two men (who, for a change, are properly suited up for the occasion) reacts to a flash of light. (I'm not sure what light he saw; the reactor panel light just seemed to be waxing and waning as usual.) The light seems to have bothered him; he yanks off his hood (dumb move) and rubs at his eyes. The second man moves to help him to Sickbay, although the first man claims he's all right. It might be radiation poisoning. He collapses as the equipment starts beeping, and the second man leaves him to make some adjustments. The first suddenly moves over and starts pulling out the rods. The second man naturally objects to this, and they have quite a long fight of it, knocking each other all around the room, pulling rods out, pushing them back in, and so forth, until the second man finally knocks the first one down long enough to put the rods firmly back. The first man wakes up, seemingly normal, although we did not see any light leaving him, so just what happened to him? He claims that he felt compelled to pull out the rods. (There's no indication that the second man reported this incident, or sent the first man to Sickbay.) Suddenly there's a sound like a rapid burst of thunder. The men in the Reactor Room hear it, although the source is (where else?) the Circuitry Room. There's a major shortout, and an instant lurch. Crane calls down. Sharkey, who was checking things in the Circuitry Room, yells to Patterson to check the Master Control Box. (Any relation to the power switch from the last episode?) Seaview abruptly stabilizes, but not from anything Patterson did; Sharkey reports that the problem seemed to correct itself. Nelson fears that he knows what's going on. He starts to head to the lab, but Sparks suddenly calls him back with an idea. (They seem to have edited something out here; there was no indication that Sparks had failed to reach the Institute. He suggests that they surface, so he can bounce a signal off a communications satellite. (This is one of those throwaway lines that I find delightful, not to mention prophetic. Nowadays, the thought of bouncing a signal off a satellite would be taken for granted.) Nelson doesn't quite pat him on the back, but he's pleased with the idea. Sparks gets through to the Institute, and reaches botanist Dr. Brink. (Think that's the name.) Nelson asks if he had read the reports that Thompson was to send electronically (yet another prophetic notion). They were send, and Brink had just finished with them. He had mentioned a strange orchid, but his last transmission was somewhat garbled. He mentioned a strange species that rejected sunlight (if that were the case, it shouldn't have had green leaves for photosynthesis) but thrived on emanations from the electrical equipment. Nelson heads to the lab, followed by Crane. He takes the dome off the plant, then reaches for a portable radiation detector. They hear the ominous clicking sounds before the detector itself sparks, smokes, and bursts. Nelson yells for Crane to get a certain gun (I thought he said "solder" but in view of later events, it was probably "sonic"). He remains in the lab as Crane hastens away. Bad idea. He gets hit full in the head by the burst of rainbow light. (I wonder if that made a difference in the nature of the "possession"?) As Crane returns, Nelson strikes the gun out of his hand, then starts to throttle him.
Crane's reaction is unusual. In cases like this, the normal thing is for the attacked man to fight back. Crane, when he first threw Nelson off, instantly jumped for the door, only to get pulled back. When he got free a few moments later, he again went for the door--and again got pulled back. Sharkey and Patterson (done with whatever they were doing in the Circuitry Room) hear the fracas and come running. They manage to pull Nelson away, but he promptly gets loose. All three men together are unable to hold him, and he throws them all across the lab, then runs out. Crane is the first to recover. His first act should have been to sound an alert, but instead he grabbed the gun and went after Nelson. Nelson hears people both before and behind him in the corridor, and ducks into a storage room. A crewman walks past. Inside the room, a curious crewman speaks to Nelson. Nelson doesn't trouble to answer the man's question; instead he asks about the box the man is standing beside. It's a core, which is going to the Reactor Room. Nelson asks him to open it. Surprised, the man protests that it is dangerous. Nelson repeats the order, and the man flatly refuses. Nelson starts to open the box, knocking the man aside as he tries to intervene. He opens the box all the way, and basks in the radiation. The man rushes to the room's mike, but Nelson puts out a hand and both cuts the communication and knocks the man to the ground. Nelson soaks up some more radiation, then closes the box and leaves. Crane returns to the lab, where Patterson has recovered, and finally calls the Control Room to report the situation. He says that the Admiral has "gone beserk"; seemingly "taken over". He orders a full emergency alert (but you know, I didn't notice anyone but the major characters looking particularly alert for the duration of the show) and a full search of the ship, with the men armed with stun guns. Chip has Kowalski issue guns to the Control Room crew. As he starts a general broadcast, he spots Nelson coming down the staircase. Nelson swiftly knocks out 'Ski at the weapons cabinet, then starts throttling Chip (considering what he can do with a wave of the hand, why does he go for this close-up stuff?) Down in the lab, Sharkey has finally recovered. Before they head for the control room, Crane turns and shoots the plant, which evaporates. Nelson reacts instantly, spinning around, dropping to his knees, and then slowly (very slowly) falling on his face. They watch as the light emerges. At first it feints towards Kowalski, then Chip, and then suddenly darts into one of the work stations, setting off sparks, smoke, and a hard lurch. One crewman immediately jumps to with an extinguisher (they must go through a lot of those on this ship--dozens in the Control Room alone, not to mention the Circuitry Room). Crane, Sharkey and Patterson arrive as Chip and Kowalski bend over Nelson. (A touching tableau of all the main characters; how nice.) Nelson awakens, and it seems as though he's still affected--he snaps at them in a rage. Crane tries to reason with him. Calming a bit, Nelson tells Crane to shoot him before it's too late. Crane assures him that the flower has been destroyed. Kowalski chimes in, saying that they saw the light leave Nelson, and Chip concurs. (However, neither of them mention what happened to it afterwards.) Nelson gets off the floor, finally accepting that he's no longer under alien control. As usual, he refuses to go to Sickbay, although the whole experience must have been traumatic to say the least. He wants to talk to Crane privately, and has them close off the nose section. Chip is a little worried about this, as a good exec should be. Nelson quietly states that the alien is still aboard. Crane scoffs at this. Nelson goes on to say that it came from the outer rim of the galaxy (how?) and is incredibly malign. Nelson knows this because their experiences merged when the alien possessed him. It had done so because it needed information. It wants a place to live, multiply, and take over the world. (Quite an ambitious little posy.) Nelson is certain that it can do so; it's going to start reproducing in four hours. Nelson starts to waver at this point, making us wonder if he's being taken over again. The Seaview has a perfect combination of pressure, humidity, and radiation. Crane tries to make him get some rest, but there's no time--they must find it, isolate it, and kill it. Crane repeats that it has already been done. Nelson says that it will seek out a body it's familiar with--and once it has invaded that body, they will have to disintegrate it to destroy the alien. Crane points out the obvious--Nelson is the only body it's familiar with. Nelson is grimly prepared to sacrifice himself, and orders Crane to be ready also. He leaves, ready to leave himself open to the alien. Crane is left pondering the terrible order he has been given. He calls in Sharkey (not Chip?) and tells him that they must be ready to shoot to kill. (Nelson mentioned disintegration, but Crane does not bring that up.) Nelson returns to the lab, looking at the flower pot, full of ash. He starts to leave, then spins as he hears a strange sound. The plant suddenly pops back into existance. (It would have looked cooler to have it rapidly grow, but I guess that would have entailed some expensive FX.) The flower immediately turns and fires the light at him. (What happened to the light that went into the machinery? Would have been nice to see it go back into the pot.) Sharkey comes up to the door. Nelson quickly tells him to shoot him, but Sharkey--who had been given the order--just stands there, and keeps standing as Nelson begs him. Nelson finally clobbers him and runs. Sharkey calls the Control Room, claiming that he tried to stop Nelson, and failed. (Bull.) Nelson's heading towards "B" deck, and Sharkey goes after him. Crane orders a detail of armed men, and repeats the "shoot to kill" order. (No mention of using disintegrating guns.) Nelson moves fast; he gets to the nose, and closes the door. He moves towards the front, and we know without seeing that he's headed for the FS1. Trapped on the other side, they call for Engineering to work on the door. (How about just going up and around?) Nelson powers up the FS1. Kowalski spots this. Crane orders the controls locked, but they can't. Crane then orders sea-to-air missiles prepped, and the Radar station to lock on the FS1. Nelson exits Seaview, and with him gone, they are able to open the doors, just in time to see him leave. But he's not heading for the surface. Crane has Sparks activate the sail camera (why would that be in the radio shack, I wonder?) They watch the FS1 turn, and realize that he's going to attack. (I recall it being mentioned elsewhere that the FS1, for its size, is more powerful than the Seaview.) Crane orders them all head flank (for a head-on collision?) while Nelson adjusts the laser system, fires, and sends Seaview into another lurch as he hits dead on.
It's nail-nibbling time. Seaview stabilizes, while the FS1 hovers menacingly. Crane has them fire back with Seaview's laser. It's a near miss, and FS1 lurches a bit as it comes around for another pass. Crane orders a crash dive, but there's no response. Damage Control reports (on request) that they've lost maneuvering due to a short in Generator 2, which means they have no laser, either. Crane calls for forward torpedos. Patterson, on station (he's a busy boy, today) calls the range and bearing. FS1 is closing fast. Chip wonders why Nelson is not just trying to escape, and Crane snaps that he wants the Seaview for a "glorified greenhouse". The torpedoes are launched as Nelson aims his laser...and there is an ugly explosion. Seaview lurches yet again. There's no sign of the FS1 as the stirred up sand settles. Chip awkwardly comments that Crane cannot be blamed, which is true enough, but when has that knowledge ever been a comfort? Crane quickly leaves the room, ostensibly to check on repairs. The audience is left wondering how the heck they are going to pull this one out.
Down in the Missile Room, Sharkey and 'Ski are making checks. 'Ski starts to ask about what happened, and Sharkey snaps at him. Normally, that would be enough to quell 'Ski, but he keeps digging at it--couldn't they have done something else? Sharkey almost blows up, then gets an iron grip on himself. Over at the escape hatch, the water level starts to rise. 'Ski didn't know that they had divers out. Sharkey mentions that Crane had spoken of sending out a salvage party--but surely he should have known if they had actually done so? They wait to assist the men in, and are stunned when the hatch opens on a soaked and furious Nelson, who shoves them aside before stalking out the door. His fury apparently burned hot enough to dry his uniform in a matter of moments. (Or maybe it was all that radiation he sucked up.) Nelson hides as two suited-up men come out of a room and enter the Reactor Room. Back in the Missile Room, Sharkey gets up and reports in. Crane has Kowalski stay in the room to head up a guard detail, while Sharkey comes to the Control Room. He also sounds General Quarters, which seems like a darned good idea. Nelson comes to the lab, picks up the flower, and carries it out (apparently not meeting up with any of the men we usually see dashing about during GQ). As Sharkey reaches the Control Room, all the men are being armed. (Actually, they should have been armed from before. How much time has passed since the FS1 blew up?) Down in the Reactor Room, Nelson enters and immediately knocks out the men. He tenderly places the flower pot on the floor, then pulls the rods out.
The Master-at-Arms has reported that security is on standby at all points. Chip starts to give an order, and there is an explosion and lurch (but, amazingly, no sparks!) They call Damage Control. The power feed from the reactors has been cut off, and radiation, not surprisingly, is climbing. Crane knows that this is the work of the alien (brilliant deduction, Holmes!) Chip starts to send a detail down, but Crane belays it. They need to think this out. Crane and Sharkey will recconoiter, armed with sonic guns (I guess Crane finally remembered that bit about disintegration). They reach the Reactor Room, and prepare to look in the viewport. The hatch starts to open, and the suited men come out. Crane asks about the Admiral, and gets a blank look. They were the only ones inside, Crane can look for himself. As Crane starts to do so, Nelson's voice echos in the corridor, saying that "we" are all around. Crane challenges him, and Nelson appears in the corridor. He steps past them and opens the door, showing a room full of plants (and radiation). The reactor will help the plants mature in just an hour. Some will take over the crew, some will continue to mature and reproduce, and then Seaview will carry them to a major city, where they can start spreading out. Crane tries to shoot Nelson, but the sonic gun has no effect. At this point, we learn that the two men had been taken over, not just deprived of their memory. Crane desperately tries to reach the Nelson trapped inside, which, considering Nelson's strength of mind, was a pretty good idea. Alas, although Nelson does seem to react a bit, the alien is still too strong. Nelson may fight, but it's useless. They start to push Crane and Sharkey into the Reactor Room, just as an explosion goes off inside.
Seaview lurches still another time. (Allen must have been delighted.) Strangely, the two taken-over men abruptly vanish. Crane and Sharkey take off down the hall. Nelson calmly picks up a mike and broadcasts to Crane (and the rest of the ship). He can't see the point in their running (the enemy never does) as the whole ship will be taken over within the hour. Chip, up in the Control Room, orders up the heavy artillery--laser guns, nerve gas, and stun grenades. Crane belays it as he rushes in, making me think for a moment that he had been taken over, but he simply believes that weapons will be useless. The Reactor Room is full of flowers, and it's only a matter of time. Game to the last, though, Crane asks Sharkey his opinion of what just happened down in the Reactor Room. Sharkey slowly answers that he's only seen such an explosion happen when the dampening rods had been pulled, causing a reactor overload and the blowing of the safety valve. Crane jumps on the word "overload". That's what destroyed the two men. Crane is suddenly acting like a Nelson by proxy, coming up with an idea for a weapon, something to cause a reverse polarity overload. (Nelson would be proud.) There's another explosion, another lurch. The Admiral is at it again. They've got less than an hour. Crane and Sharkey rush off to cobble things together.
Down at the Reactor Room, Nelson watches through the viewport as the plants luxuriate in the radiation. Seaview lurches some more. The anxious Chip calls Crane; the ship can't take much more. (And yet, she always does.) Crane and Sharkey are nearly ready. Chip's mike suddenly starts smoking and he drops it hastily. Nelson suddenly comes down the stairs and shows off a new talent: he can read Chip's mind. (Although maybe he's just a good guesser.) Chip disregards the warning, and the whole Control Room crew prepare to jump--and then vanish, as Nelson raises his hand. Crane and Sharkey finish up, but bang the piece of machinery against the hatch as Seaview lurches again, just to give us the disquieting idea that they broke it. For some reason, they go first to the Control Room. The only reason I can find for them doing so is simply to let them discover that the crew is missing, just to take a little more heart out of them. Still more lurching. Sharkey points out that with the reactor going wild, it soon won't make a difference if they get the aliens or not. Crane would settle for the Seaview blowing up--but he's certain that it would not stop the aliens. They head for the Reactor Room, where they should have gone in the first place. As they prepare to go in, Nelson's voice sounds again, and he appears. The crew has been taken over. When the reactor explodes, it will provide the aliens with a permanent breeding ground in the depths of the ocean. (He seems to have forgotten that he wanted the Seaview for transportation, too.) Crane calls again to the inner Nelson. Nelson starts to raise his hand, and Crane activates his gadget. Nelson staggers back. Sharkey opens the hatch, and Crane goes in, waving his device like a weedkiller spray. The plants start to burn. Sharkey, watching from the hatch, does not see Nelson pulling himself together, but he turns as Nelson starts forward. This next bit was hard to see--I couldn't tell if Nelson fired two separate beams, or if one went through Sharkey to Crane. Sharkey drops, but Crane hangs on to his gadget and fires it at Nelson, who reacts a bit, then a bit more, then finally collapses. The light emerges, then blows up, which looks as though it should have wiped out all three men in the process. Crane recovers first, then Sharkey, who grabs for the gadget as Nelson starts to come to. Crane holds him back. Nelson is himself again. More lurching warns them that they're not out of the woods yet, and they race inside the Reactor Room to shove the rods back in. (There's not a trace of plant life left inside.)
Some time later (hopefully after the three men, not to mention the ship, have had full anti-radiation treatment) Crane comes to the Control Room with the glad tidings that everyone is present and accounted for, even the two Reactor Room men who vanished. (Then why did they vanish? If the overload only killed the aliens inside them, they should have stayed where they were. And if the overload didn't kill them, then Crane's brilliant idea shouldn't have worked. Considering the number of crewmen slaughtered on this ship over four seasons, I'm not sure why they felt it necessary to resurrect these two.) Crane is curious as to why Nelson didn't kill Crane down at the Reactor Room when he had the chance. Nelson, without being too mushy about it, says that Crane's encouragement to the inner Nelson, plus Nelson's own struggles, delayed the alien just long enough. A good combination, which has worked before (and undoubtedly will again.)
A very exciting, tension-filled episode.