“Star Trek”: Season 3, Episode 9 (“The Tholian Web”)

[Speaking over communicators aboard the USS Defiant]

Dr. McCoy: Jim, this ship is dissolving. My hand just passed through a man and a table.

The Enterprise enters a region of space where space itself phases in and out. Another starship, the Defiant, and her crew have already fallen victim to this interphase. Kirk beams over to the Defiant w/ Spock, McCoy and Chekov. We see the environmental suits for the first time. They were created by Costume Designer Bill Theiss and consisted of silver lamé w/ a fabric helmet w/ screen mesh visor. The ship’s crew appears to have killed each other; this space affects the brain, causing insanity. Scotty is able to beam back only 3 of them at a time, and the Defiant fades away before they can get Kirk back. They even hold a funeral service for Kirk later, thinking he is lost for good! Then the Tholians show up in patrol ships and start building a force field around the Enterprise. Spock makes the (controversial) decision to stay put and keep searching for Kirk.

Dr. McCoy: What did you have to gain by fighting the Tholians? You could have assured yourself of a captaincy by leaving the area. But you chose to stay. Why?

Mr. Spock: I need not explain my rationale to you, or to any other member of this crew. There is a margin of variation in any experiment. While there was a chance, I was bound, legally and morally, to ascertain the Captain’s status.

Dr. McCoy: You mean, to be sure if he was dead. Well, you made certain of that.

This is a (rare) good ep of S3 that shows the continuing rivalry (and begrudging respect) between Spock and McCoy. I esp. liked the touching/sad scene where Spock and McCoy hear the “Final Orders” (part of their obligation to Kirk) in the captain’s quarters. Nimoy and Kelley do a fine job; they have chemistry w/ each other (as well as w/ Shatner). They realize how important it is that they both work together to deal with the dangerous/unknown situation.

[Scott has just reported seeing the Captain, who is presumed dead, in Engineering]

Mr. Spock: In critical moments men sometimes see exactly what they wish to see.

Dr. McCoy: Do you suppose they’re seeing Jim because they’ve lost confidence in you?

Mr. Spock: I was merely stating a fact, Doctor.

Chekov starts acting irrational and McCoy gets angry (at Spock); they are somewhat affected by the space sickness. When Uhura sees Kirk’s ghostly appearance in her mirror, she thinks she is going crazy. Scotty sees the image in Engineering. Later on, Spock himself sees Kirk floating throughout the ship. He manages to beam and hold onto the signature traces of Kirk’s latest appearance (before the captain’s oxygen supply is finished). Then, the ship warps out of danger just before the Tholian Web is finished.

Judy Burns (a freelance writer) co-wrote this story w/ her husband Chet Richards, to earn money for a study trip to Africa. According to a TV Guide interview from 1970, this was the first script that Burns ever wrote! Star Trek was nominated for an Emmy for the special effects in this ep. The remastered version contains some effects shots that are virtual recreations of the original footage; others are more dynamic and show angles of both starships. The Tholian ship retained the essential design elements of the original model, but more detail and interior lights were added. The scene involving Cmdr. Loskene was left intact.

One thought on ““Star Trek”: Season 3, Episode 9 (“The Tholian Web”)

  1. I remember being impressed by the effects in this as a child, too — before I saw Star Wars, of course, which sort of reset the terms of everyone’s perceptions. (I was amused that Star Wars had its effects remastered, too, before we saw it as rereleased in the late 90s).

    Liked by 1 person

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