Time travel is one of the most common (and popular) topics in sci-fi. No doubt many of you have watched the Back to the Future movies (starring a young Michael J. Fox) and/or the TV series Quantum Leap (starring Scott Bakula- the captain in Star Trek: Enterprise). In this ep, Capt. Kirk says the first moon shot was in the late ’60s (which turned out to be accurate)! A fan noted that the day after this ep originally aired astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee perished in a flash fire in their Apollo Command module during a launch rehearsal.
When the Enterprise is flung back in time while trying to escape the gravitational pull of a black star (black hole), they find themselves in orbit around Earth- late 1960s. When they are seen by a U.S. Air Force pilot, Capt. John Christopher (guest star Roger Perry), they beam him aboard. They face the dilemma of what to do with him, as he learns more and more about the future. Lucille Ball (who started Desilu Productions) chose Perry for this role; he was a Broadway actor and had guest roles on many TV series.
Spock: We cannot return him to Earth, Captain. He already knows too much about us and is learning more. I do not specifically refer to Captain Christopher; but suppose an unscrupulous man were to gain certain knowledge of man’s future. Such a man could manipulate key industries, stocks, and even nations, and in so doing, change what must be. And if it is changed, Captain, you and I, and all that we know, might not even exist.
Kirk: Your logic can be most… annoying.
There is also some humor (as we expect) in this ep. The ship’s computer (voiced by Majel Barrett) has a glitch; it’s addressing Capt. Kirk as “dear” in an “affectionate” tone. Roddenberry was fascinated by the potential of a matriarchal society, and explored this theme in later eps and series.
Capt. Christopher: I take it that a lady computer is not routine.
Spock: We’d put into Cygnet XIV for general repair and maintenance. Cygnet XIV is a planet dominated by women. They seemed to feel the ship’s computer system lacked personality. They gave it one. Female, of course.
Capt. Christopher: [laughing] Well, you, you people certainly have interesting problems. I’d, uh… I’d love to stay around to see how your girlfriend works out, but…
Of course, Capt. Christopher is surprised to see the advanced tech, women working onboard, and (esp.) an alien- Spock. Capt. Kirk is fascinated by the pilot; he is probably much like what he would be (if he’d grown up in the 20th century). Later in the story, when Capt. Kirk is in danger, Spock and Capt. Christopher have to work together to rescue him. Spock’s response (and delivery) were very effective in this little scene.
Capt. Christopher: You don’t trust me, do you Spock?
Spock: In fact, I do. [Pause] But only to a certain point.