“Where No Man Has Gone Before” was written by Samuel A. Peeples, was directed by James Goldstone, was produced by Gene Roddenberry, held production code 2, was the 3rd episode of Star Trek Season 1, and was originally broadcast on 22 September 1966.
The third episode of Star Trek is interesting to note that it was the second pilot, so it is apparent from what was filmed to be working with a lower budget than the other two episodes we have seen thus far. This only becomes apparent with the final act of the episode containing sets that wouldn’t look out of place in a low budget 1980s Doctor Who serial. The episode also only includes three cast members to appear in the other two episodes, Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and Sulu (George Takei), which all culminate to make this episode feel like it’s a prequel to the series proper, shown three weeks into the show.
“Where No Man Has Gone Before” begins with the Enterprise bringing on a capsule from a ship that went missing 200 years previous. It is a memory bank warning the crew of a magnetic energy storm which then appears and destroys half the ship’s components, keeping them traveling at the rate of a car, in space. Two members of the crew, Gary Mitchell played by Gary Lockwood, and Dr. Elizabeth Dehner, played by Sally Kellerman, are affected by the storm. Mitchell’s eyes turn silver and he begins to develop extra-sensory powers, much like Charlie Evans in “Charlie X”. The episode resists becoming an accidental rehash of “Charlie X”, focusing not on a teenager who doesn’t know how to act around others, but a good man corrupted by power and changing into something that he is not. The plot is nothing short of a standard science fiction trope of a man with a god complex in the form of Mitchell, which is pulled off by the writing well. Samuel A. Peeples writes a script that uses classic tropes to get across a character piece showing the breakdown of the relationship between Captain Kirk and Mitchell.
Shatner plays Kirk with subtlety for the first half of the episode, before hamming up the second half of the episode, where it begins to fall apart. The writing makes Mitchell begin to create things out of nothing and become the god of his own planet and it is Dr. Dehner who is slowly becoming a god herself, and Mitchell creating a world is what the focus shifts to. The writing feels like the show is trying to find its feet, feeling not confident in what it wants to focus on for the show. The episode introduces the character of Scotty played by James Doohan, who has one line and is mainly in the background. If it wasn’t for the Wikipedia page for this episode pointing out he will become an important character, I would have thought he was just an extra with a few lines to himself. This is really the extent of the development for the characters outside of Kirk and it really doesn’t feel like the other two episodes.
“Where No Man Has Gone Before” is an episode that feels like it is a pilot. The writing uses stock tropes to give the show somewhere to go and has a solid enough plot with William Shatner just being the only hook with Leonard Nimoy’s Spock being there to have dialogue bounced off. It is a good episode, but has definite room for improvement. 70/100