Very thrifty episode--they were also able to make use of the snow shots from the pilot episode, as well as some footage from the movie.
At Arctic Listening Station XZ5, Dr. Bergstrom, a Norwegian scientist, has been attempting to make contact with alien intelligences for 10 years. At long last, he seems to have done so, and the message has finally become coherent: "Laser beam". Bergstrom takes this to mean that the alien wants him to activate the laser beam at the station so that it can travel along it (which leads one to wonder what sort of information Bergstrom has been tossing out into the vacuum of space--how did it know that they had a laser beam?) Overjoyed, he at once prepares to do so. His more pragmatic assistant, Sven (compare to Crane with Nelson) wants to get more information before they invite this unknown entity down from wherever. Bergstrom impatiently brushes him aside and activates the beam. Almost instantaneously (now, that's a fast ride!) the door to the station suddenly glows red hot. Bergstrom is thrilled. Sven dives for the radio and sends a distress call (Bergstrom, enthralled, does not even seem to notice this). The door suddenly bursts open and the radio panel explodes.
Seaview is near the area (actually, she looks as though she's stuck in the ice). Sparks has not been able to resume contact with the station, although he is certain that Sven spoke of being attacked with heat. Seaview gets underway at once, and we get to see that lovely broaching shot out of the water again. Crane and Sharkey head out and find the wrecked station. No heat; quite the opposite, for the door is hanging open. They find Sven dead, but Bergstrom alive, and send for the Snow Cat to fetch him back to the Seaview. They then spot what looks like a giant, glowing ice cube.
Back on Seaview, the revived Bergstrom excitedly tells Nelson and Crane how he had begun hearing what sounded like voices in the wind, which that day had finally become clear. Despite the death of his assistant, he is convinced that the alien's intentions are friendly--after all, coming to an unknown world, it would be natural to make a few mistakes. Bergstrom decides that he was spared because the creature needed him. (The corollary, that Sven was killed because he was useless, does not occur to him.) Crane informs him that he had brought the strange ice cube on board. Bergstrom is indifferent, until Crane mentions that it was glowing like fire. Just as Bergstrom asks where it has been stored, a fire detail is called to Section D-7. (Anyone care to guess where the ice cube was?) There has been a sudden, major rise in temperature.
Sharkey and Kowalski find that the door to the storage area is red hot, and sensibly elect to wait for Nelson, Crane and Bergstrom to arrive. Nelson wants whatever it is confined until they know more. Bergstrom, rather arrogantly, assumes that he should be in charge. The door blows open, but they see nothing. Bergstrom steps forward and leans on the wall beside the door (which should have burned his hands immediately.) He pleads with the alien to respond to him. The temperature is still rising, easily thwarting the air conditioner's attempts to control it. Crane decides that the creature must be destroyed, which seems just a trifle hasty. Bergstrom quite reasonably protests. Suddenly a large flame appears in the corridor--some distance from the door. It would have look pretty (well, I can hardly say "cool" under the circumstances, but you know what I mean) if they could have given it the effect of having eyes, but it looked very well--a completely alien form. (This show actually managed to present a fairly decent mix of aliens.) Bergstrom tries to talk to it, to no avail, while Crane orders Sharkey and 'Ski to try and put it out. They chase it down with CO2 cannisters, and, after flaring up once,. it seems to go out.
Bergstrom is outraged; he considers that they have murdered it. Actually, up to this point, Bergstrom's attitude is quite reasonable; his arguments in favor of the alien have been rational. The others are simply relieved, but only for a few moments. The temperature has dropped in section D-7, but it's rising amidships. Crane asked Chip Morton to get back to him when he had pinpointed the location, which seemed a little odd, because the map panel Chip consulted showed a bright spot in the area distinctly marked "Lab". Sparks reports that he is hearing sounds like voices in the wind--and the one clear word he can get is "Bergstrom". Bergstrom, of course, becomes very "I told you so."
The flame is on the move (having apparently left the lab). It comes down a corridor, swerving to the side whenever it passes a door, which I thought was a very nice touch. The temperature amidships has risen to 123 degrees Centigrade. The flame comes to a room marked "Engine Control". The door somehow opens, and it goes inside. This room looks quite different from any room I've previously seen dealing with the engines. Also, there are no crewmen on duty. A voice suddenly speaks up, loud and clear, asking for Bergstrom. There's an interesting point here--the original voice, calling for the laser, was a "light" sounding voice; sounding, in fact, quite friendly. This second voice sounds nothing like it, being firm and demanding. So were there two aliens involved, or had it deliberately tried to mislead Bergstrom? The voice claims that it will not allow the temperature to rise any further--IF Bergstrom comes to talk with it. This is where Bergstrom's rationality starts to slide--he sees nothing wrong with this distinct threat. Nelson goes along with it, but he insists that Bergstrom not go alone.
Kowalski and Patterson enter a room to check the electronic controls. (I'm not sure what room it is--there are signs marked "Radiation Area" but it's not laid out like the generator room.) It's very warm inside, and Patterson quickly becomes nervous. Too much so. Patterson is normally unflappable. It's pretty obvious that this scene was originally written for a guest star, and that they decided (saving money all around on this episode) to use a regular. I wish they'd taken the time to rewrite the scene to make it more suitable for Patterson, because he comes across as a cringing chicken. They discover that the panels are getting into the "danger zone". Preparing to leave, Kowalski prudently decides to pull out the primary circuits, and Patterson agrees (now, that's more like him). The flame appears in the room, and circuitry starts to blow. The flame slips out under the door (rather than opening it this time) but reappears as they try to leave. 'Ski finds that the microphone is too hot to handle. He grabs a rag (but for some reason, doesn't use it to hold the microphone). Pulling away some insulation, he uses it as a shield to get them past the flame, first speaking sharply to the craven Patterson. (Man, that was irritating. We know Patterson.)
They meet up with Nelson, Crane, and Bergstrom, and promptly collapse. For some reason, Kowalski's forearms were smoking, although they had been behind the shield--it was his bare hands which should have been burned. After calling for medical assistance, they spot odd, smoking prints in the floor. Very odd, considering that we have seen this flame glide along the floor, and the prints look like a bipedal stride. Coming to the room they had pinpointed, Crane sensibly wants to go in protected and armed. Nelson thinks that there would be no point in the thing attacking them (and it had a point in attacking Kowalski and Patterson?) By the way, although Crane refers to Patterson as "Malloy" it's quite possible that this scene was shot prior to the change in actors, although it does make Crane look as though he doesn't even know who his men are. In spite of the fact that everyone's noticing the heat, Bergstrom at this point is still wearing layers of warm clothing. The flame is annoyed that Bergstrom is not alone. It wants proof of their friendly intentions--and the best way they can do that is to simply do what it wants. Nelson naturally asks what that is. The flame wants them to use the nuclear reactor to shoot a thermal blast (3,000 degrees C) under the ice where the station stands. Nelson protests that it will take 2 hours to power up the reactor for that amount of heat. The flame allows them the time, but makes it clear that it's an order, not a request. Nelson nearly laughs at it--he's not going to take an order without knowing the reason why. The flame refuses to give a reason. All they need to know is that they will be destroyed if they don't obey. Bergstrom is disconcerted that the alien has not spoken with him--but speaking to Nelson, the highest authority, was sufficient. Nelson asks again for an explanation, and the flame sets his arm on fire.
The temperature in the Engine Room remains relatively cool, but elsewhere it's rising high and fast. They have to evacuate men from one section. Bergstrom finally takes notice of the heat and removes his jacket--leaving his nice warm sweater on. Sparks (as usual) cannnot communicate outside--the circuits have been damaged by the heat. Bergstrom thinks that they should just do what the alien wants--he still cannot accept that it is hostile, perhaps because he is so anxious to learn things from it. Nelson wants to know the purpose behind the thermal blast. Bergstrom thinks that it is invincible, and therefore must be obeyed, but Nelson recalls how it was found in a block of ice, and only became a threat after it thawed out. Cold must be the answer. (Given that it's living flame, it shouldn't have taken a genius to figure that out.) Nelson plans to flood the room where the creature is with water, which should chill it sufficiently. Considering Bergstrom's attitude, Nelson really should have set a guard on him. Bergstrom slips out of the Control Room, in a very ostentatiously furtive manner, if that makes any sense. Obviously, he's going to try and help the alien.
Bergstrom knocks Crane out with a vicious blow. He's delayed in reaching the alien by two crewmen getting equipment, but then gets inside the room to warn it of Nelson's intentions. The flame seems astonished that they would attempt to kill it. Bergstrom wants to learn from it--starting with why it wants the thermal blast. Perhaps Nelson would be more cooperative if he just knew what was going on. The flame still refuses to answer, although it sort of implies that it could teach Bergstrom--if he does what it wants. By the time he returns to the Control Room, Crane has awakened and warned Nelson about Bergstrom, and tells him to put Bergstrom in the brig. Bergstrom is easily captured, even armed, by two crewman, and Bergstrom starts babbling frantically. Nelson orders him to the restraint ward, rather than the brig.
Nelson and Crane attack the flame with CO2, but it doesn't work. (Should have remembered that it didn't work the first time, either.) Crane thinks that they're faced with doing what the thing wants--or abandoning ship. Nelson has another idea--bombing the ice station. He thinks that there might be more aliens there, frozen as the first one was, and that the blast is to free them. His orders seem a little confusing--when Crane protests that the bomb will kill them, too, Nelson answers that they will abandon ship after flooding the Seaview. Just where and how is a good question, considering that he had earlier pointed out that they would all freeze to death out on the open Arctic.
The flame comes to the restraint ward. Bergstrom is still willing to assist--even though the alien wants him to kill the men (Crane and Sharkey) who have gone to the station. It makes Bergstrom invisible (and presumably unlocks the door, although we don't see this.) Bergstrom leaves the ship. Nelson hears the hatch open again, but apparently decided that he was hearing things. (Perhaps the alien also made Bergstrom impervious to cold, because he went out wearing just a sweater.)
More ice cubes have appeared in the station. Did Bergstrom leave the laser beam turned on, and did Crane and Sharkey not notice it was on when they first arrived? Sharkey starts looking around the room as though he's suspicious of something, but nothing comes of it. It's only afterwards that the door suddenly opens and shuts, and they assume it's the wind. The bomb is set--and then Bergstrom speaks. If he'd been sensible, he would have just shot the two of them, using the gun that he somehow acquired after leaving the restraint ward. (I would certainly hope that they disamed him before locking him up!) Terry Becker has some fun wrestling with nothing. Crane miraculously manages to shoot the gun out of Bergstrom's hand (which would be quite a trick even if he could see him). Bergstrom gives up and runs.
Crane and Sharkey return to an abandoned Control Room. The flame has taken up position in the nose. Nelson and the others had fled to the Missile Room, where two men are suiting up. The intention was to cut their way out of the escape hatch, as all the hatches have welded shut with the heat. (Except, of course, the main hatch in the Control Room.) Crane and Sharkey arrive in time to learn that it would be impossible to cut out through the escape hatch--it's too firmly sealed.
Bergstrom confronts the flame. Having failed to kill Crane and Sharkey, he has lost his usefulness. It has finally dawned on Bergstrom that the alien's actions are not the result of a little misunderstanding. He realizes that it must be destroyed--but how? The flame expands itself, and Bergstrom is knocked down by the heat. The flame calls to Nelson and Crane, demanding that the bomb be deactivated, or they will all die. Bergstrom staggers to his feet. Apparently being knocked down has somehow made him aware of what Nelson guessed earlier--that cold will kill the flame. Nelson just didn't take it far enough--Bergstrom asks if they have freezing equipment on board. Nelson remembers the liquid oxygen (which he's used before--Nelson's a bit slow on the uptake today). Before he can say more, Bergstrom is hit by a long distance double thrust of flame and dies. Nelson and Crane quickly put on heat-resistant suits and head for the Control Room. The flame, at this point, sounds as though it's gone completely mad, but it quickly withers (physically and vocally) when doused with the liquid oxygen. Certain that it's dead, Nelson and Crane prepare to dive--fortunately the men are still in condition to respond, as is the sub herself. We're treated to a rare sight of the ship's top officers in the drivers' seats, as they hurry to escape the blast. At least this time, with the explosion, the footage of falling ice was reasonable.
Quite a good episode all around, except for poor Patterson.