The concept was intriguing enough but the mechanics of the story just didn't ring true. A politician has a mass hypnosis skill on everyone he meets and can distort their perceptions to whatever he chooses. The problem with this is when they read their instruments. Sometimes the instruments agree with their misperceptions, sometimes not. There was no consistency. What was the point of the huge octopus illusion as nothing came of it. How can they all see the same illusion at the same time? When Nelson and crew were in New York under the illusion it was abandoned, couldn't they have been hit by a car racing back and forth across the street? Wouldn't they have bumped into a New Yorker? Poorly thought out script and cheaply-made looking episode. But Voyage's budget was cut in the third season (reminiscent of Star Trek's budget cut in it's third), and the scripts as well as the actors suffered for it.
Don't you just love Skip Homeier's political grin and polished style? The man is perfect for the role of Senator William Dennis.
Dennis is a new member of the Armed Forces Committee, and has come to the Seaview for a look at Nelson's newest invention. We get a hint of something unusual when Kowalski, who is one of the Senator's constituents, tells Sharkey that Dennis had been a nobody who suddenly won by a landslide, causing the biggest upset in the state's history.
Dennis springs aboard in full political mode, eagerly shaking hands with one man after another. (Probably disppointed that there were no babies to kiss.) He meets up with Kowalski, who is on guard outside the component room of Nelson's new toy, and is disappointed when he is refused entry. He gives 'Ski a long look, and 'Ski responds with some confusion. Moments after the group leaves, 'Ski hears a growling sound. He immediately abandons his post, moving quite a distance away down the corridors before suddenly confronting a big, bloated balloon, looking strikingly similar to the extraterrestrial accidently brought on board last season. Kowalski naturally opens fire.
Good thing he's such a lousy shot. Everyone comes running to find 'Ski frozen in the corridor, with his friend Patterson lying unconcious and bleeding from a gunshot. It's hard to say if Kowalski was in shock from what he thought he had seen, or the knowledge that he had shot his best friend, or both. Patterson is hastened off to Sickbay, while Nelson tactfully draws the Senator away. Sharkey wants to take 'Ski to Sickbay as well--there's obviously something wrong--but Crane wants to question him first. 'Ski can only repeat what he's already said--he thought he saw "something" in the corridor, and did not see Patterson--until after Patterson was hit. Crane sends him down to Sickbay--alone, which under the circumstances seems a pretty idiotic thing to do.
Nelson brings Dennis into another Restricted room. This one has the viewing panel for his toy, the X-4, which is a device for tracking every nuclear submarine in the world. Nelson demonstrates by having Dennis pick a submarine (the SSM Thomas Paine) and then calling the sub to confirm its location. Dennis is awestruck by the defensive possibilities...until the indicator light for the Thomas Paine goes out.
Down in Sickbay, Patterson is doing well, in spite of having a full clip of ammo emptied at him at point-blank range. He'll be up and around in just a short time. (Lousy shot isn't the word for it.) He and Kowalski have an awkward moment of apology and forgiveness, watched over by the Doc and Sharkey. The Doc is awfully blithe about just what happened to 'Ski. He seems to think it was a delusion brought on by shock--but he never ascertains what caused the shock in the first place!
Things get stranger and stranger. All of the indicator lights on the X-4 go out, one by one, first the green "Us" lights, then all the rest, allies and enemies. A check in the component room indicates everything's fine. Sparks cannot raise anyone on the radio. All sea life outside the ship has vanished. There are no television signals. No ships can be seen in a main shipping lane, no planes in the sky, no birds. Nothing comes up on radar. Everyone is getting unnerved.
After a meeting where Nelson sums up the situation, he decides to take the Senator and Sharkey and head for Washington, while the Seaview will proceed up the coast to Norfolk and the naval base there.
Kowalski turns up for duty, which is utterly ridiculous. Even if he's not charged for injuring Patterson, he should have been confined to Sickbay or quarters until the situation could be properly investigated. Chip Morton begins to think that 'Ski should have been kept off duty when some of his readings do not mesh with the chart. Crane runs a check himself, and finds that the readings are accurate...but so is the chart. Putting up the periscope, Crane is stupified to see the city of San Francisco on the Atlantic coast. Later readings from the navigation satellite will confirm that they are, in fact, properly on course, which is a small drop of comfort in the growing sea of confusion.
Meanwhile, in Washington, Nelson's group finds the city deserted. Dennis theorises that the city has been evacuated pending some terrible threat, and urges them to return to the Seaview. Nelson insists on investigating some more, and heads for New York. He calls Seaview and orders them to meet with him there.
Crane has an idea, and arranges with Kowalski to help him check it out. He tells Chip to make the corridor near the component room, and the corridor near his own cabin, off limits to the crew, and stations Kowalski where he was before, telling him to come to Crane's cabin in fifteen minutes. Right on schedule, the same bloated balloon bursts into Crane's cabin and attacks him. Crane comes to in the Sickbay--to find that no one else saw the creature, and that his allegedly broken-in door was closed and locked. This, apparently, was what Crane was trying to prove--that it was definitely an hallucination. The Flying Sub arrives in New York, with a really magnificent shot of it flying past a building, before setting down in the harbor. From their viewpoint, New York is also deserted. Dennis wants to leave immediately, but Nelson is having none of it. He calls Crane and arranges for at least half the crew to form a shore party once they arrive, in order to search across the entire island of Manhatten. Dennis again tries to persuade him to stop, sounding quite ominous as he declares that Nelson is going to regret his actions. Nelson gives him a "So what?" expression and leaves the FS1.
Hastening towards New York, sonar picks up a large object. Crane heads to the nose to see if he can see it, getting a lot more than he bargained for--a giant octopus seems to be right outside. He yells for Chip--and then nothing is there. David Hedison's baffled reactions were superb in this scene. Chip, obviously very concerned for his captain, suggests that feedback from the X-4 might have messed up the sonar. Crane suddenly has a revelation--all the problems started after Nelson had turned on the X-4. There must be some unknown element from the machinery that's affecting their minds. He orders that the X-4 be dismantled and set adrift.
Wandering through a deserted patch of New York, Dennis is getting fed up with Nelson's stubbornness. Nelson and Sharkey follow up a noise, which turns out to be a hanging telephone receiver, but then they suddenly hear a burst of applause from nearby. They enter a theater (showing "The Taming of the Shrew") but find no one there. They emerge to find that Dennis has disappeared.
Crane is called to Sickbay to investigate another odd phenomenon--Patterson, now able to sit up, is happily passing the time by listening to a radio. When Crane points out that there are no radio transmissions, Patterson protests that he can hear them just fine. Crane's swift deductive reasoning would do credit to Sherlock Holmes--he asks Patterson about his meeting with Senator Dennis, and finds that Patterson, all greasy from the work he'd been doing, had not shaken hands with Dennis, and, in fact, had not even seen him. Crane immediately belays his order to dismantle the X-4.
Nelson and Sharkey return to the FS1, to find that Dennis has sabotaged it. Dennis confronts them at gunpoint. Naturally, as the villain, he just has to boast of what he's done--a case of mass hypnotism on the Seaview's crew, to make them think that all life had vanished, and to eventually get control of the X-4, control of the government, and..."tomorrow, the world!"
Sharkey, not unreasonably, objects to being strapped in and helpless while getting killed. This diverts Dennis long enough for Nelson to grab for the gun. I would dearly like to know how that gun going off caused a mortal wound in Dennis--it looked like it was pointing straight down between them. With Dennis dead, his control of them ceases, and Nelson turns for a look at the living, bustling view of New York. The government is going to want to keep Dennis' activities secret, so Nelson and Crane will be attending the state funeral--which doesn't bother Crane. Perhaps he wants to make sure the man is buried.
A very exciting plot--but, as I said, it leaves questions. Mass hypnotism is all very well and good, and Dennis smugly assures us that he is probably the world's foremost expert--but just how did he make his suggestions? It almost seemed more like telepathy than hypnosis. All that handshaking--was his hand impregnated with some sort of hypnotic drug? And given that Dennis' plan was to have the crew think that the world as they knew it was coming to an end, how did that coincide with Kowalski seeing a big bloated whatever in the corridor? What did it accomplish? It would have been nice if they'd thrown in a line indicating that Dennis knew that there was a crewman who had not come under his influence, and that he had caused Kowalski (seemingly by simply staring at him) to try and murder him, so that he could not give the show away. And just how did Crane manage to conciously call up a specific hallucination? And knowing that it was an hallucination (and knowing that Kowalski was going to be coming on the scene) why would he get a gun out? If his cabin door hadn't been locked, he might have come to and found that he'd killed Kowalski. Another point--why did Nelson and Sharkey hear that sound of applause? Was Dennis' control slipping a bit? It's also interesting to consider how the rest of the world was reacting to the Seaview's crew--responding to their calls over the radio and getting no answer, seeing Nelson and Sharkey staring through people as though they were invisible, and talking about them as though they were not there, acting as though some great catastrophe had occurred when, for everyone else, it was just business as usual.
A truly fine episode--but I wish they'd explained things. Just a little.
Please read the following before uploading
Do not upload anything which you do not own or are fully licensed to upload. The images should not contain any sexually explicit content, race hatred material or other offensive symbols or images. Remember: Abuse of the TV.com image system may result in you being banned from uploading images or from the entire site – so, play nice and respect the rules!