Star Trek: The Original Series


3 stars

Air date: 11/10/1967
Written by Gene L. Coon
Directed by Ralph Senensky

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

A shuttle carrying Kirk, Spock, Bones, and Federation representative Nancy Hedford (Elinor Donahue) is pulled toward a small celestial body by a mysterious entity. Upon landing on the planetoid, the shuttle passengers discover Zefram Cochrane (Glenn Corbett), the inventor of warp drive, who had been presumed dead two centuries earlier. He had somehow been revitalized and kept in an eternal state of youth by the entity, known as the Companion (voice supplied by the frequently utilized Majel Barrett).

The episode is another analysis of life, discovery, and understanding in the tradition the classic-themed "The Devil in the Dark." The Companion and Cochrane have an interesting, affectionate relationship that might best be described as mutual co-dependence. Strangely, the episode's most interesting (and in some ways puzzling) notion is Cochrane's reaction when he learns the Companion is actually female. In fact, this reaction prompts us to rethink how love is defined, and even how gender might be defined. Since this lifeform is so utterly different from a human, how does the gender issue even apply? Is Cochrane or any human's love dependent upon the need for another human form?

In "Metamorphosis," Cochrane can't come to terms with the Companion's love for him until it merges into one with the body of the dying Nancy Hedford. "Metamorphosis" doesn't know all the answers, but it certainly poses some intelligent and probing questions.

Previous episode: I, Mudd
Next episode: Journey to Babel

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

66 comments on this post

Tue, Jun 8, 2010, 9:00pm (UTC -6)
Actually, Elizabeth Rogers did the voice of the Companion. For some reason, she was not credited:
Tue, Oct 15, 2013, 3:55pm (UTC -6)
I believe that Cochrane's reaction to learning the gender of the Companion was intended to demonstrate disgust regarding love between species. When he thought the relationship was one of friendship or at the minimum, caretaker, he was able to process it. Considering that the alien had something to gain, be it emotional, if not sexual, gratification caused him to feel victimized and certainly embarrassment. He never really acknowledged the terms of his capture.
Take it easy
Mon, Oct 28, 2013, 2:41am (UTC -6)
Ms. Hedford was taken over by the companion without her permission and decided to stay behind. And nobody blinked that her life has changed. I don't think she would have been willing to this (what reason there could be to stay behind? and she was so anxious to get to the war region to prevent it).

Kirk promised he won't tell about Cochrane. How will he explain Hedford's absence? Lie?

Sad that TOS episodes bring out so many interesting ideas but falls miserably half way through.
Fri, Jan 3, 2014, 3:58pm (UTC -6)
Zefram Cochrane being "the inventor of warp drive" really has no meaning beyond Earth. We know that Vulcans had warp way before us...whoever invented it on their world did it long before Zefram did, and Spock almost certainly knows who did so. Every indication is that the Klingons had warp before us as well, and Romulans must've as well, in order to leave Vulcan when they supposedly did.
Thu, Apr 10, 2014, 2:25pm (UTC -6)
It bothered me that no one batted an eye about essentially sacrificing Ms. Hedford in this way. The companion said she was "still there" in a sense, but it seems like it was just the companion in Hedford's body. You could argue that Hedford was about to die anyway, but she wouldn't have been if the companion hadn't trapped them in the first place. To make it all the worse/insulting, Kirk has a one-liner where he said "I'm sure the Federation can find another diplomat to prevent that war." Like ambassadors are a dime a dozen.

Other than that the episode was thought-provoking on its own.

As part of Trek canon, it shows the fate of Zefram Cochrane, who we saw as a somewhat old dude in First Contact, and then was referenced in Enterprise as being off on some ship somewhere, lost. Apparently he got captured by the companion, reverted to youthfulness, and then eventually died with "her". Kirk/McCoy/Spock probably the last people to see him alive.
William B
Mon, Aug 4, 2014, 5:32pm (UTC -6)
This is one of those episodes of TOS that works more as a dream than as a "realistic" episode. The sacrifice of Ms. Hedford is obviously wrong in any moral, principled, ethical evaluation, if we take it "literally." And for the most part, Trek is...well, I don't know about "realistic," but it's at least closer to it than this episode. But here, I think we're meant to take from Ms. Hedford's comment that she has had a full life but sacrificed her love that her merging with the Companion is a "positive" fate for her -- as if the Companion is a disembodied spirit of eternal, endless love without flesh, and Ms. Hedford is a human with flesh and plans and a career but has been missing love all along. Because she's female and TOS doesn't have a great track record with women, this is pretty uncomfortable -- first that it's happening at all, second at the implication that career women really want nothing more than to shack up with a good-looking dude and are only pretending to care about preventing war or whatever. In a literal sense, there's no way Hedford "dying" and then the Companion animating her body without her consent is a reasonable course of action the Enterprise crew should support.

But then, in a literal sense, there's no way Kirk shouldn't make at least some mild steps to ensure that Cochrane's "love" for the Companion who literally kept him captive against his will for over a century wasn't simply an advanced case of Stockholm Syndrome. Here, too, I think it's best to meet the episode halfway: we're meant to see, I think, that the Companion genuinely has no ability to perceive that it hurt Cochrane, and also to believe that her act of entrapment was in some sense an act of love; and that, once she has bonded with Hedford and "become" human, she is able to understand the error of her ways and Cochrane is able to make an educated decision about whether to stay or not.

This episode really fascinates me because there is so much that seems more, for lack of a better term, "progressive" than our society, and other parts that seem far less; the implication that real love, romantic love, could exist seemingly without a sexual component, between intelligent life forms even if one is not only non-human, but completely non-humanoid, is kind of revolutionary -- not that it's never been thought before, but it's presented here as almost an obvious matter of course by Kirk, Spock and McCoy, with Cochrane being something more like what a modern-day human would think if an energy cloud fell in love with them. That what we think of as romantic love, which is so tied with the sex drive, and which is so..."just between humans," is maybe not tied to species at all, is kind of extreme. And yes, Trek has interspecies relationships all the time -- but still between humanoids, between people who are "essentially" human. And yet, it combines this with the notion that any sentient/intelligent species in the universe, even if it's an energy cloud made of electricity, would be divided into male and female, and (by implication) that any female energy cloud would fall for a man -- that interspecies relationships can exist, but they are still obviously and totally heterosexual.

In terms of Trek history, I think this episode shares some genealogy with TNG's "Tin Man" and DS9's "Chimera"; "Tin Man" has Tam and Tin Man matched up and away from the rest of civilization, even if it's not explicitly presented as a romance; "Chimera" takes the time to investigate how truly different Kira and Odo are from each other and what gender means within this context. I wonder why the specific choice was made to have Cochrane be the "inventor of the warp drive" rather than just any other guy; I think the clue is that Cochrane has to be famous enough, and successful enough, that he will be admired and loved when he gets off the planet, so that his decision to stay with Companion/Hedford is much more meaningful. ST:FC's (re)interpretation of Cochrane as a guy who wanted to make the warp drive purely in order to gain fame and shallow pleasures makes this all the more poignant.

Favourite moment: Companion/Hedford lifting the fabric up to look at Cochrane at the end of the episode, as if she's trying to recreate the visual of what it looked like (what it must have looked like, from afar) when the Companion's colour-field was bonding with Cochrane, and while she realizes that that intimacy is now gone -- that she must stay on the planet and can't go with him. Moments like this are why I think of episodes like this as more dream-logic than, uh, logic-logic, and think they have to be evaluated differently.

High 3 stars -- it misses out on higher because the implications are uncomfortable, and not as clearly discussed as they could be, but there is something touching and mysterious in this episode. It's fun to compare/contrast this with the episode immediately preceding, because both, after all, are about a solitary individual (Cochrane, Mudd) being held captive by a predominantly female force (either the large group of "female model" androids, or the Companion) and bringing the Enterprise crew by force so that the man doesn't die of loneliness. One, obviously, is pure comedy, the other dramatic.
Fri, Aug 21, 2015, 2:52pm (UTC -6)
I agree with others here. Episode has fascinating ideas, but is ultimately marred by incomplete, problematic conclusion.
Wed, Feb 17, 2016, 6:57pm (UTC -6)
Hello.I'm 29 and just watched this episode.
By watching this episode you can notice a a cultural difference between the 70s and present day.This is a 70s stereotype that woman to be accomplished must love a men.
Thu, Feb 18, 2016, 3:48pm (UTC -6)

Not just the 70's, because this show was on from 66-69. Much has changed since then. :)

Regards... RT
Sat, Aug 6, 2016, 2:30pm (UTC -6)
Remember that birth control had just been legalized in 1961. The first feminism was to allow women to be real sexual objects. Before they were only house wives. It was not until the mid seventies that feminism began to discard the sexual objrct as a sign of feminine freedom. We see this everywhere in the '60's. Robert Heinlin had a man's brain in a woman's body.

So metamorphasis is consistabt with the culture of its age, but still manages to provoke very interesting questions.
Thu, Mar 2, 2017, 3:22pm (UTC -6)
I really enjoyed this episode - very creative and thought-provoking. In fact, I'd say it's a top-10 Trek TOS episode for me -- a science fiction love story at its best.
Many themes touched upon and coming after it began to seem Trek TOS had run out of ideas with certain storylines being revisited in different guises.
I don't have an issue with the Companion taking over Hedford as she's about to die -- who knows what went down between them. Maybe Hedford was a willing participant as she's never loved before and the Companion wanted to be human in order to love Cochrane.
The episode does have a certain quality that is hard to define -- the planetoid with its purple skies and the sort of romantic soundtrack from George Duning -- I hesitate to use the word "enchanting" but maybe that's what it is. Certainly agree with William B. on "touching and mysterious" -- certainly get that feeling from the soundtrack. And I can't think of another Trek TOS episode that achieves that quality like this one (maybe "Return to Tomorrow"?)
It's up to the viewer to make out what Trek is trying to say about love and who it should be between. Cochrane's reaction is justified in that he believes it should be between a man and a woman. The character that is the Companion is the star of the episode in making the sacrifice just to experience human love even if it might have been for a short while had Cochrane decided to leave.
The part where he decides to stay is touching and well enacted.
I think this is a highly under-rated episode and I give it 4/4 stars. It's one of the rare episodes I could not remember seeing as a kid in the late 70s/early 80s. So when I saw it for the first time a few months back, I was very impressed and I watched it again a few days later. Just saw it for the third time in a few months now prior to writing this comment.
Fri, Mar 3, 2017, 10:17pm (UTC -6)
This episode was interesting but ultimately disturbing for me. The Companion's actions can be interpreted as being evil in the way that a cat can play with a baby mouse. She clearly knew that the woman was dying yet still diverted the shuttle. I find it hard to believe that she could stop aging in Cochrane while not being able to do anything for Hedford (letting her go in the shuttle for one thing).
She would have likely killed Kirk and Spock if Cochran had not intervened. Then she takes Hedford's body while claiming that it was a joint decision. She tricks Cochran into staying with her and even convincing Kirk not to report back anything. When she is looking through the dress at Cochrane it showed how childish she was - which convinced me that she wasn't evil and makes me give her some possibility that she wasn't lying about giving up immortality. But really I think she was willing to do anything to keep Cochrane with her including to lie and kill so I don't trust anything she has said. The Companion is a childish Siren but a Siren nonetheless.
As an aside, Kirk's attitude about Hedford was decidedly callous. She was trying to stop a war! His statement that surely Star Fleet can find another woman to do the job was jarring, especially while winking to Cochrane that he wouldn't tell anyone where he was. Not Kirk's finest hour but little help from Bones or McCoy either.
Wed, Mar 8, 2017, 9:22pm (UTC -6)
hmmm. After reading a lot of comments on Jammer's Reviews about Trek, I'm shocked that many fans misinterpret or completely miss things.

@BrooklynJ You assume The Companion knew Ms. Hedford was dying when the shuttle was intercepted. I didn't think that at all since Kirk asked Cochrane to explain her illness to the entity sometime after they had crashed. When he asked if The Companion could cure her, I don't see why the entity would be lying as there would be no motivation to do so. The Companion didn't understand love between humans and therefore couldn't be jealous of Ms. Hedford. She brought Kirk and company to the planet because Cochrane was lonely and missing his own kind. She sensed his thoughts and wanted to please him (as an act of love).

The Companion's attack of Kirk and Spock was self defense since they were attempting to disrupt the entity's energy pattern. Justified.

I get a sense that the joining of Ms. Hedford was a mutual agreement and that her soul was still inside hence the line "We are one."

She did not trick Cochrane into staying and was willing to let him go with the others saying that just knowing what human love was for a few moments made her impeding isolation on the asteroid all the worthwhile. The whole "if you love something let it go" line of thinking so definitely not a siren. It's Cochrane who agreed to stay realizing that he did love her.

Childish for looking through the dress? Well the joined life form of Ms. Hedford/Companion was newly created but I think William B.'s comment was on target regarding that scene.

Kirk's attitude about a new aide? She would have died anyway because of her illness so finding a replacement was inevitable. Maybe he was happy that in the end she didn't die despite the odds.
Wed, May 10, 2017, 7:32am (UTC -6)
The episode would have been better if Hedford had officially died but the companion was able to then somehow inhabit her body, at least kirk could then justify leaving her there.

The ending to this was so odd. Kirk and the crew just abandon that poor woman on the planet to be a lover to some guy she doesn't even know? What the hell is the message here? They just let the companion steal her body and force her to live on the planet forever? Then he claims he can "find another woman", the slight sexist tone aside, what about the woman he just let be imprisoned for the rest of her life?!

The companion claims to not be able to cure her earlier in the episode, which we can argue might be a lie, it just doesn't care about her, but then manages to cure her at the end.

The episode left me with a big WTF moment and rather outraged at the behaviour of the crew. What does Kirk say to starfleet about the ambassador he lost, or to the poor woman's family? "Don't worry... she's stil... walking around... on the planet... imprisoned there... forever...with a guy...who is... nearly 5 times... her age"

And how quickly does Cochrane change his tune? He gets annoyed/frustrated at the prospect of the energy being being in love with him, saying "it's wrong" because they are different species but as soon as it takes human form he's perfectly fine with it and calls her beautiful like that's all that really matters.

For all of Star Trek's idealism and moralising, the lessons here are savage and make no sense for the star trek canon.
Sun, Jun 18, 2017, 12:48pm (UTC -6)
"The idea of male and female are universal constants" ohhhhh my god.

Buddy, that's not even true on Earth. And I'm not talking asexually reproducing lizards- though that is a good counterargument- I'm talking plants. Literally. Just plants. Not every living thing is an animal, Kirk. I'm just- I'm blown away by that comment. I know TOS is a product of it's time and I'm not really criticizing the writing here, I'm just shocked that no one else seems to be as blown away by this comment as I am.
Trek fan
Wed, Oct 25, 2017, 8:12pm (UTC -6)
One of the all-time great TOS episodes, "Metamorphosis" is Michael and Denise Okuda's favorite TOS episode, and it's a great boundary-breaking romance story told by analogy as only Star Trek can do. What appears initially to be a simple Shuttlecraft Crash Episode (TM) turns out to be a fascinating look at inter-species romance, enhancing the Zefrem Cochrane character as well. I give it 3 1/2 or 4 stars.

Some great lines and discussions here, including Spock's humorously matter-of-fact surprise at Cochrane's "parochial attitude" in refusing love simply because the lover is non-corporeal and alien. The "so what" attitude of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy (and Kirk has experience) at having an alien lover seems like the embodiment of 1960s free love to me. And there's something charming about that.

The episode does represent the 1950s attitude that men only find their fulfillment in the right woman, and vice versa, but that's an attitude that continues in romcoms to this day -- so we can hardly fault the story for following romance movie tropes which are still used. If you watch a movie like "Love Actually" or just about any Disney princess story today, you find these attitudes are still very much in vogue, not a relic of the 1960s at all. And there's a certain haunting, mystical charm to the Companion-Cochrane symbiosis joining scenes. Their relationship based on total union, physical and emotional and spiritual, comes across as deeply moving by the end.

Far from being a travesty, the fusing of the Companion and Hedford is actually Trek's first look at a symbiotic life form, to be toyed with later on TNG and fully realized in the Dax character on DS9. While the selfishness of the Companion in drawing the shuttle off-course can be explained by the selfishness all lovers experience in sacrificing everything to please their beloved, it also tries to make up for it by merging with Hedford at the end. Are the Companion's motives in merging mixed? Absolutely: It wants to be with Cochrane physically as much as it wants to help Hedford. But to be honest, Hedford had no other choice at this point, and we can't fault the characters for "sacrificing" her as if it were a moral choice to kill her. Hedford's dilemma is indeed disturbing, but the notion that the Companion also sacrifices her own immortality for her lover is also super romantic, and this show is definitely one of the better "chick flick" TOS episodes -- much more so than, say, the testosterone-dripping "Doomsday Machine" or the "the woman I love must die to save humanity" story (see if you can find a worse Trek episode for a date night, I dare you) of "City on the Edge of Forever." Anyway, I love this one for its originality.
Tue, Dec 26, 2017, 10:08pm (UTC -6)
Okay so, this is was what the book Federations got most of its material from? Interesting differences in portrayals btw, the First Contact version is a drunken lunatic and this one is for the most part bland but decent. The argument could be made that living in a post nuclear war situation would make everyone a little liny and living in effective stasis for 150 years dull...
Tue, Dec 26, 2017, 10:09pm (UTC -6)
Tue, Feb 20, 2018, 8:18pm (UTC -6)
I found this a great, atmospheric, lush and expressionistic episode. Loved the style of Cochrane's little house, and the moody, hyper-romantic style of the episode.

Some commenters above have taken issue with the Companion inhabiting Hedford's body, but there is a line of dialogue in the episode which makes it clear that Hedford was mere moments away from dying before the Companion inhabited her.

I agree with those pointing out several sexist tropes in the episode (Hedford's the stiff careerist who only finds happiness after settling down for a life of domesticicty with a hunky man), but the episode's intra-species love affair (betwen an alien and what is essentially a suicidal old man) is touching and interestingly weird.
Wed, Dec 19, 2018, 4:54pm (UTC -6)

"To make it all the worse/insulting, Kirk has a one-liner where he said 'I'm sure the Federation can find another diplomat to prevent that war.'"

Actually, he said, "I'm sure the Federation can find another woman to prevent that war." Which of course is worse.
Tue, Mar 5, 2019, 1:07am (UTC -6)
Wow. The interpretation that Hedford was sacrificed does not in any way match the show I just watched.
Sat, Mar 9, 2019, 9:08pm (UTC -6)
I don't understand all the fuss about the end of the episode. Hedford is basically the same as an organ donor today. She finds happiness with Cockrane.
Sun, Apr 28, 2019, 5:06pm (UTC -6)
I liked meeting Zephram Cochrane. The idea that sparkly, gaseous(?) being had fallen in love with Cochrane was pretty silly. And they knew that the being was "in love" instantly when the voice turned out to be female. Because . . . ah, let's not think too hard about it.

Mandatory Sexy Lady is not impressed with any particular regular character in this episode. But on her death bed, she regrets being so devoted to her job, and therefore never loving or being loved (never, ever, at all?). Isn't this what we see with every starship captain we've ever met, though? Even the widowed-with-child and remarried Sisko ultimately puts duty before family with seemingly no regrets. Certainly Kirk does. Picard and Janeway, too. And Archer. But not Our Lady of the SIxties, who is portrayed as having missed the boat, being in anguish, because she chose to put her career first.

Ah, well. At least she wasn't wearing a tight mini dress.

It didn't bother me that the being took over Hedford's body. She was moments from death. I think it is heavily implied that she DID consent to the takeover (really, sharing, more than takeover). She's happy with the decision to live in this fashion, rather than die. She's smiling and there seems to be no part of her that regrets the decision.

So anyhow, lonely Miss Sparkly Gas and lonely Miss Career-Driven combine to become Fulfilled Mrs Cochrane.

Cochrane is good-looking but as portrayed, it was hard to understand what was so enchanting about him. He was bored after 150 yrs? What about Miss Sparkly Gas? How could she not be bored stupid with that guy? Maybe a different, more animated and charismatic actor might have sold this all a little better.

Average to slightly above.
Wes B.
Wed, Jun 5, 2019, 11:34pm (UTC -6)
Great thoughts, everyone. The joining of Cochrane and the Companion-Hedford reminded me of the joining between Decker and the Ilia probe in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (1979).

On another note-- For those of you who may not know, the director of this episode and others, Ralph Senensky, has written about his directorial experiences on his blog. Here's the one on "Metamorphosis," which was his favorite TOS episode to direct:
Thu, Jun 6, 2019, 9:33am (UTC -6)
@Wes B.

Thanks so much for sharing Senensky's blog site. I thoroughly enjoyed reading how he (and Jerry Finnerman) came up with the look for the planetoid Cochrane was on. So many good little details in there. Definitely will check out what he had to say about some of the other TOS episodes he directed.
Sarjenka's Brother
Sun, Jun 16, 2019, 2:08pm (UTC -6)
Wes B. -- I had the exact same thought on the Deck/Ilia probe.

I've also wondered how folks would have felt if that had been Uhura or Chapel in the shuttle dying and left behind to make sure handsome Mr. Cochrane had someone to knock boots with.
Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 10:43am (UTC -6)
I don't think any commenters yet have gotten to the heart of the episode. We have Cochrane who gave up his whole life to the pursuit of space travel and in the end nearly died lonely. This juxtaposes well with Bedford who also gave her life to establish peace in the galaxy Cochrane "discovered". Cochrane can never rest until he finds peace - represented by Bedford. These two need each other for peaceful existence, just as the companion and Cochrane needed each other.
Peter G.
Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 11:00am (UTC -6)
@ Chrome,

Aha! So you are saying that the message is that space travel (i.e. technology) is incomplete without the proper values to go with it (i.e. peaceful co-existence)? If so it really is a Trek message, along similar lines to other episodes where the message is that it's not about capability, but rather how that capability is used.

That said, I wonder what we could make of the companion pre-merge in terms of the message there. I suppose my take on it would be that the companion to space travel is living side-by-side with unknown life forms and inexplicable mysteries. The 'love' the companion has for Cochrane could maybe be seen as the fact that when you go out there exploring into the unknown you end of inextricably connected to whatever's out there, almost as if it was waiting for you to go out and bond with it (for better or worse). The trouble is that you may perceive it as disgusting or dangerous if you don't trust or understand it.
Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 11:48am (UTC -6)
@Peter G.

I like that idea as it plays well to Cochrane's curiosity and disgust as he adapts to the wonders of space. Much of Trek discusses how space will change the way we live and think. If things become too extreme and different for humanity though, we may find that like Cochrane, it will be a change that is impossible to accept. Indeed, Bedford becomes incidentally ill from spending too much time in the struggles of space. There needs to be a sort of well-guided compromise of human and alien values for this exploration to work. This speaks much to the idea of using the "carrot" as Bones suggested to get the companion to both learn from us as we learn from her.
Wed, Sep 18, 2019, 8:17pm (UTC -6)
So Nancy Hedford had no friends, relatives, or colleagues who would have liked the opportunity to visit her, or at least communicate with her? It was all right to tell them that she was dead, even though she is actually alive as half of a joined being, not because she asked to drop out of sight, but because Cochrane did?
Bobbington Mc Bob
Sun, Oct 6, 2019, 12:38pm (UTC -6)
Cochrane: "What? That alien thing loves me? Gross. Screw that"

Companion: "Hey its ok, I possessed the body of a woman whose deterioration I was primarily responsible for, who found you repulsive and immoral but was hot, a bit lonely and on the verge of death, so now we can bone forever"

Cochrane: "Cool Imma plant a fig tree"

Senior crew: "Oh lol"
Harry's Swollen Throat
Fri, Oct 25, 2019, 11:02pm (UTC -6)

Oml legit what I said.

But seriously though. This episode would have been half believable if Cochran didn't throw a massive spat finding out what they were doing for 150 years was mindf**king each other literally. Then he yells at kirk and co for pointing it out. He was in denial and pissed off. "Let that thing crawl inside me". That "thing " a few hours later ends up living the rest of her life together with him.....OKAY.

Not only that but so much of this episode is illogical.

IF the companion wasn't evil then why keep them there until she gets what she wants at the cost of an ambassador trying to prevent a war. Suddenly she has the ability to save her for her own use. Bones could have saved her. That was made so damn clear. They begged and pleaded. But inevitably she died because of the companion not because of her "disease" that was curable. Plus Cochran on the verge of dying can be cured but not this woman. Really? Are we really going to believe that?

Are we going to ignore that the companion brought down the shuttle, shocked spock, almost killed spock and kirk and refused to let them leave. Something sinister about this being even if it is in the name of love.

Not really illogical but damn SPOCK is one heckin' smartass. Just whips up a translator for a superior being that they could not make contact with. Kirk tells him to do it so he DOES IT. Just like he whipped up a computer to see the future during the 1930s Depression. 😂 Can we please give Spock a round of applause.

4. Kirk's last comment about finding another (specifically) "woman" to stop the war was shocking!
I turned to my partner as he turned to me. Baffled. Like hmmmm why a woman specifically? Was the woman going to be married off or something? Is she really that expendable and disposable? Do they have another one of her laying around? She seemed pretty damn important in the beginning..... the part where she starts rambling on about regretting to not love was just weird and out of character. Even though she knew she was dying all she was worried about was the war and how frustrated/uncomfortable she was. Could see her and Bones being a better love story than the companion and Cochran....No sense. She gave Cochran no interest when he first flirted with her, but was willing to give her body up so he can plant his fig tree in her? Okaaaayyyy???

That's my rant over. Have to give it 2 stars as it had potential if they kept up the continuity even a little bit.
Thu, Jan 2, 2020, 11:14am (UTC -6)
Everyone is losing their crap about how the Companion took over the ambassador's body "against her will" I think that if you think that, you most certainly didn't watch the episode. They CLEARLY state that they are both in control. And yet, no one is acknowledging that she was vital to stopping a fricking war, and now they don't have an ambassador. That's the real problem of the episode. And yet they just brush it off and conveniently forget it, with no lasting consequences.
Sun, Jun 21, 2020, 10:57pm (UTC -6)
Hopefully that giant war she absolutely had to return to and try to itself out eventually. Hopefully her pesky family didn't ask any questions
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 1:01am (UTC -6)

Star Trek season 2 episode 9

"I don't want to die. I've been good at my job, but I've never been loved. Never. What kind of life is that?”

- Assistant Federation Commissioner Nancy Hedford

3 stars (out of 4)

First of all, let me get my biggest complaint about this episode out of the way: what the fuck is up with the title?!? Almost anything would be better. How about “What is love, baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me”? Or perhaps in our increasingly fluid age, something enigmatic, but along the lines of the original title, maybe “Transitions”? Or perhaps “What are little girls made of?” (you say that one’s taken??).

That said, this hour is a subtle study in love. Shatner's bombastic last scene not withstanding (and his overacting was part of The Plan), the themes covered are timeless. Witness this exchange,

MCCOY: A blind man could see it with a cane. You're not a pet. You're not a specimen kept in a cage. You're a lover.

COCHRANE: I'm a what?

SPOCK: Her attitude when she approaches you is profoundly different than when she contacts us. Her appearance is soft, gentle. Her voice is melodic, pleasing. I do not totally understand the emotion, but it obviously exists. The Companion loves you.

COCHRANE: Do you know what you're saying? For all these years, I've let something as alien as that crawl around inside me, into my mind, my feelings.

Doesn’t take Freud to figure out what Cochrane means when he says he let something as alien as that crawl inside him! (Wait, does the name COCK-RAIN have any deeper meaning??)

KIRK: What are you complaining about? It kept you alive.

COCHRANE: That thing fed on me. It used me. It's disgusting.

Disgusting? (h/t @SpiceRak2). How un-PC Mr. Cochrane.

MCCOY: There's nothing disgusting about it. It's just another life form, that's all. You get used to those things.

COCHRANE: You're as bad as it is.

SPOCK: Your highly emotional reaction is most illogical. Your relationship with the Companion has for one hundred and fifty years been emotionally satisfying, eminently practical, and totally harmless. It may indeed have been quite beneficial.

COCHRANE: Is this what the future holds? Men who have no notion of decency or morality? Maybe I'm a hundred and fifty years out of style, but I'm not going to be fodder for any inhuman monster.

Is this what the future holds?

Well, given the notions of decency and morality in the current iterations of Star Trek (Discovery and Picard), let’s just say that some proclivities would have only been appropriate for the mirror universe not more than 20 years ago. Nice to see that Star Trek, at least, was open to inter-species mating 50 years ago.

From inter-species mating, we gradually came to inter-racial mating.

Would it surprise you to learn that Loving vs. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court opinion that said people in America have a right to marry across racial lines if that’s what they want, was handed down in 1967. Yes 1967, the same year this very episode of Star Trek first aired. Wrap your brain around that. Today we take Tiger Woods & Halle Berry for granted (or are deeply grateful their parents mated ;)

And today, as we speak, on Discovery, they have opened the next door, from inter-racial mating, to inter-sex mating.

What’s next?

Polygamy was already explored (and quite well at that, if you ask me) on Enterprise - with Phlox, his wives, and for some super sexy reason, Tucker, in “Stigma”. So folks, your guess as to what the final frontier still holds for us, is as good as mine. The only thing I am sure of, is that it will involve sex.

In every debate, there were will those who sympathize with Cochrane ("If you only knew how good it is to see you. And a woman. A beautiful one at that.”) and Beverly Crusher ("Perhaps it is a human failing, but we are not accustomed to these kinds of changes. I can't keep up. How long will you have this host? What would the next one be? I can't live with that kind of uncertainty. Perhaps, someday, our ability to love won't be so limited.”). And there will be those who sympathize with Adira Tal, the newest trill on Star Trek. Or Odo and Laas (thanks @William B for that lovely write up).

And then there will be those who insist on being the cool outside observer of all this, like Mr. Spock or @Trek fan ("Fascinating. A totally parochial attitude.”).

Perhaps our ability to have the debate in a civil manner in the future is yet one more fantastical element of fiction in Star Trek, like transporters or warp drives. A man can dream, can’t he?

@Rahul, I agree with you that this is a top episode. But I don’t think it is 4 stars. It is flawed, especially the pacing. That’s what makes it beautiful. That, and the purple skies.

@TB, you might feel differently if you look at The Companion as one of those arc-type Loathly Ladies, like the Lady of Bath. These are ancient traditions of story telling, and Star Trek did a great job of using them back in the day.

Thank you @Wes B.! Makes so much sense. This Side of Paradise was an equally compelling tale. And I love how he freely gives credit where credit is due, "It was Jerry who decided that the sky would be purple.” These guys were classy.

Parting question, is Cochrane now in a thruple?
Fri, Mar 5, 2021, 4:31am (UTC -6)
So we finally know why young pharmacist Ellie Walker suddenly disappeared from Mayberry. She was transported to the future and became an ambassador! :)
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 2:07am (UTC -6)
An interesting standalone sci-fi story. It would have made a v good Outer Limits episode, but perhaps not quite so good for TOS, as the central theme does not really need Kirk Bones and Spock.

The interesting Trek things are the first appearance of the Universal Translator, and Zephram Cochran who would play such a pivotal role in the movie.

Apart from the quite appallingly sentimental “Hollywood romance 1940s” music score, this made a fairly absorbing episode with thoughtful ideas behind it. 3 stars, just about!
Sun, May 2, 2021, 5:36am (UTC -6)
Just to clarify some misinformation in Jammers's original post/review:
The voice of The Companion was NOT supplied by Majel Barret. According to the episode's director Ralph Senensky, actress Lisabeth Hush was brought in by him to replace the vo that had originally been recorded without his overseeing by another actress (listed as Elizabeth Rogers) because it was too monotoned and robotic. Apparently it wasn't necessarily unusual that the voice would've been recorded without his input, but when he saw/heard the results at a first screening he was adamant that it wasn't right. He had worked previously with Ms Hush on an episode of The FBI and remembered her voice in particular and chose her to come in and re-record all the Companion dialogue.
Chris Long
Tue, May 18, 2021, 3:40pm (UTC -6)
Good lord people! Get off your high horses!
TOS treated women the way they mostly were and, more often than not, still are!

Of course, there are smart competent women in the world! There are more, I'll wager, who are simply scatter-brained and emotional exactly as portrayed in the series! I know! I've met several of them!

The notion of some gaseous alien entertaining notions (or even caring) about human wants, needs, or frailties is beyond stupid. IT'S AN INTELLIGENT ALIEN FART, PERHAPS ONE OF TRELANE'S, for all you know!
Hedford was gonna die. The alien ultimately saves her and gives the love she had been unconsciously craving while focusing on, and being good at her job!

TOS has had myriad examples of smart competent women. Uhura, even if Nomad disagrees was viewed by it as not to dissimilar to the male humans it encountered. It liked Spock's ordered mind, as it referred to him, far above everyone else!
There was Janet Lester, a famed scientist who wanted to be a man! I've met quite a few women exactly like her! Except that these days, engineering confuses the issue a lot more than it should.
There was Dr Mulhall, a very beautiful and competent scientist.
Even early on, the Psychiatrist, Dr Dehner was a major component in the story.

I'm actually surprised that the new Picard series doesn't have him wearing some chick uniform since that is how the world has unravelled from sanity lately.
Tue, May 18, 2021, 4:59pm (UTC -6)
Another day.
Another culture war pusher.
Thu, Aug 19, 2021, 11:52am (UTC -6)
@Jack from many years ago.

I think the idea of Cochrane inventing warp drive for Earth only is a retcon First Contact made. I think the idea at the time of this episode is that he brought it to everyone. But of course, the world building in Star Trek, even at its best, has been a little hokey.

The bigger problem is how The Man needed to be Zefram Cochrane in the first place. It has no real bearing on the story.
Thu, Aug 19, 2021, 12:49pm (UTC -6)

I think it is sufficient for us to believe Cochrane invented warp drive just for humanity (and is thus revered etc.) but I don't see how he brought it to everyone (meaning other races). Other races must have developed it on their own -- as Jack was saying years ago. I'd say the Vulcans, Klingons developed it ahead of us but the Romulans did so after us (based on "Balance of Terror").

As for why the man had to be Cochrane -- it all has to do with how he left Earth as he was aging/dying and went wandering around in space until the Companion found him. What other human could realistically do what he did, given that he invented warp drive? So I think it "makes sense" with the overall story here.
Mon, Dec 27, 2021, 2:05pm (UTC -6)
@MJTG from May 2021
Never knew that the voice of The Companion in TOS' Metamorphosis was done by Lisabeth Hush! Thanks belatedly for that. "The man must continue." (I usually apply it to my pet terrier: "The dog must continue.") : )

Hush was a good actress and projected a mixture of goody two shoes and a slightly eerie presence. She appeared in several episodes of the Perry Mason series (the one with Raymond Burr as Perry). BTW, That series is a gold mine for finding actors who also appear in Star Trek TOS including Nimoy!
Mon, Apr 11, 2022, 2:15am (UTC -6)
Well this is rather mind bending.

I'm sure I haven't seen this in over 30 years because I thought it was boring.

I'm plenty enough of a Trek geek to remember this episode, and particularly the soft retcon that First Contact did many years later. I don't know if this story was obvious in the 60s, but it was in the 80s when I saw it.

I do DISTINCTLY remember Hedford being a miserable ambassador hag, and I'm sure that's the intent, but watching it now, it didn't seem that at all.

There is something compelling about a story that is both quite progressive yet extremely conservative at the same time.

It's nice seeing a somewhat "lost" episode from my point of view. And while I'm certainly not a fan of Trek "romance" stories, this is one of the most touching ones. And certainly one of the most haunting.
Mon, Apr 11, 2022, 2:16am (UTC -6)
(Barring Beverly and her sex candle)
Mon, Apr 11, 2022, 5:56am (UTC -6)
@Rahul "As for why the man had to be Cochrane -- it all has to do with how he left Earth as he was aging/dying and went wandering around in space until the Companion found him. What other human could realistically do what he did, given that he invented warp drive? So I think it "makes sense" with the overall story here."

Yes...he's the only Earthling who, in his day could have reached far enough out to have made contact with an alien intelligence. This is a landmark episode which makes sense. It gives the first details about warp and Cochrane's importance as its inventor.

As wooden as the actor who played Cochrane seems, he delivers his lines well, especially when he's ticked off. He also is does a good job in the loving part.

Ultimately, this episode is about accepting mortality as something almost beautiful and shows that too much emphasis on one's career might cause you to miss your life (like Hedford) and that even fame is a mere fetish, if one sacrifices one's love for it.
Neo the Beagle
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 7:18pm (UTC -6)
The shuttlecraft that was diverted to Cochrane's planet was named "Galileo". The previous "Galileo" was destroyed last season (The Galileo Seven).
Unlucky? Makes you think twice next time, eh Bones?
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 7:50pm (UTC -6)
@ Neo the Beagle

Indeed, perhaps the name "Galileo" is the shuttlecraft equivalent of a red shirt!
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 8:13pm (UTC -6)
I had kind of forgotten that this was one of the many episodes in which Kirk praises the virtues of hardship and declares paradise to be deadly (or a fate worse than death). Kirk is a master of the theologically paradoxical but liturgically traditional cry, "Oh, happy fault!" In fact, I kind of wonder if the reference to the fig tree at the end might be an allusion to the temptation of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.

But I had not forgotten that it was an example of the idea common at its time (and not just in Trek) that a woman, unlike a man, is less what she was born to be if she is competent at and dedicated to her work. It's not often anymore (thankfully) that you hear lines about a female character being so busy being a (fill in profession) that she forgot about being a woman, but it, or its implication, was used a lot in those days. Men who focused on their career were sometimes portrayed as being drawn into family life when they fell head over heels in love, but it was never assumed that they could be either "men" or professionals, not both.
Peter G.
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 10:09pm (UTC -6)
@ Trish,

" Men who focused on their career were sometimes portrayed as being drawn into family life when they fell head over heels in love, but it was never assumed that they could be either "men" or professionals, not both."

While your point is probably taken in a general sense in the 60's, TOS seems to be exceptional in this regard because the men on the show are routinely portrayed as having a hard choice between family life and career, and likewise between being men in a romantic sense and being professionals. Kirk has dalliances, but can never fall for someone without that being a threat to his duty. Spock and McCoy seem similar, and only when McCoy has a terminal diagnosis does he even entertain settling down. On the occasions that Chekhov is pursuing women it seems to be portrayed as childish and immature, and in Scotty's case we're often shown an older man dreaming of things he can't have.

I think we may observe that some episodes do seem to treat a career woman as being more unstable than a career man, due to her almost inevitable desire to ultimately go have a family. And indeed this reality is borne out in our time in high octane professions, so it may not even be a mere artifact of the 60's to suppose that a highly ambitious career woman has a smaller chance than her equal and opposite man of staying in that career for the long haul.

I do like your idea of TOS channeling "Oh happy fault" though; it creates an interesting parallel between Trek's secular humanism and the religious tradition. TOS and TNG did seem to have the power to capture the imagination of all kinds of viewers, so there must be something in it that rings true across social groups.
Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 12:58am (UTC -6)
I guess this is more about the still fairly common notion that if a woman doesn't want a family and especially children or puts more value on her professional life then there must be something deeply wrong while for a man it is more accepted that they can do whatever they want. Family, career or other pursuits. In Germany we even have a special word for "bad mothers": Rabenmutter (raven mother). No comparable word for men. :)

For a long time it was also common for men to basically not do any unpaid care work, meaning for example caring for children. So if a women wanted to have children then she basically had to give up her job.

It seems though that especially younger men have a greater need to participate more in the upbringing of their children and I think that will be beneficial for the emotional health of those men and also give them a deeper connection with their children which will also be a big positive later in life. Bonus for women, a little more free time for their own careers.
Tue, Jul 12, 2022, 9:47pm (UTC -6)

Oh, no question, Trek very much hits hard on the trope of the man who is married to his work and sometimes wonders about the road not traveled. Picard, for example, has not only his family in The Inner Light, but also his experience in the Nexus during the movie Generations.

But I don't think, even in all of those stories, that there is ever spoken the line, "You've been so busy being a captain that you've forgotten to be a man." Being a captain, even to the exclusion of carrying on the family line, was not seen as being at odds with masculinity.
Proud Capitalist Pig
Mon, Aug 1, 2022, 7:45pm (UTC -6)
The word "metamorphosis" is most recognized by how it is used in biology as the name of the process by which an insect develops -- incomplete metamorphosis (egg, nymph, adult) for most insects and even complete metamorphosis (egg, larva, pupa/cocoon, adult) for a select few. But you may also be aware of the two famous literary works -- The Book of Metamophoses by Ovid (among its 15 epic stories that are all about shape-shifting/transformations or change/transitioning is the one called "Pyramus and Thisbe" which was the forerunner of "Romeo and Juliet," not to mention another story that's the original Pygmalion), and of course Frank Kafka's Metamorphosis. Both works (especially Kafka's), incidentally, commonly explore the themes of exile and love--but mostly exile and how it affects love and change.

It's telling how Cochrane has come to embrace his own exile of a sort, and is able to live in harmony with the Companion, grateful that it rejuvenated him, until he realizes that it loves him, and then the objections ensue. I don't blame him, really--if you've read through my recent comments lately, you know how I feel about otherworldly machinery and AI. It's also telling how he changes his tune when the Companion merges with Commissioner Hedford (whose early attitude often lives up to her title, by the way--but I kid), creating quite the pleasing alternative that makes him able to love in return. Now that's a "metamorphosis."

I actually found the scene where Hedford is pining with regret over "never having loved" to be the point of the episode. While it can be read as a smart, viable woman giving up her career to settle down for a quiet life with a man, it does really seem like something Hedford would want in this case that's personal to her. So I think it gets a pass. She gets to experience the road not taken, in a way. It's quite poetic for Star Trek.

Indeed, I agree with William B that this episode evokes an ethereal dream state. It's steeped in metaphor even more so than the typical Star Trek episode--and almost to a pretentious fault. It's a tone piece--and a well-produced one at that--just like Kafka's body-horror piece is (not to mention Ovid's poetry). It's nice but plods along slowly. Sometimes it's good to be contemplative, but this one meanders all over the place for a while until finally settling down on its point.

Peter G touches on something that he also noticed in "The City on the Edge of Forever" -- in the Star Trek world, it seems like all the career-minded officers have no personal lives at all, practically. "Metamorphosis," while quite distant from the character of Kirk, at least gives him yet another taste of the different kind of quiet life that he'll probably never be able to have. He and Cochrane have some nice scenes together.

Speak Freely:

Spock -- "This is a marvelous opportunity to add to our knowledge. Ask it about its nature, its history."
Kirk -- "This isn't a classroom. I'm trying to get us out of here."

My Grade: C+
Peter G.
Mon, Aug 1, 2022, 11:41pm (UTC -6)
@ PCP.

I guess we might ask which metamorphosis the title is referring to. The Companion obviously changes during the merge with Hedford, becoming a new merged creature. There is also a metamorphosis in the relationship between Cochrane and the Companion, from one of companionship to one of romantic bonding. But there's also a metamorphosis in the viewer's conception of love itself: can it really exist between different species, one of which doesn't even have a body?

I have to say that as a kid I didn't find this episode troubling in the least. I just accepted it as a given that the Companion really loved him and that he couldn't handle it; I found neither the Companion's love nor his rejection of it objectionable. I wonder whether there's a reading of this episode that could serve as a proto-version of what we later get in The Host, since both are asking how much it matters which body or outward appearance a being has if it loves another being. Isn't love just love? This episode seems to land on it mattering a lot to Cochrane, and unlike The Host, I'm not at all sure it's trying to show him as being backward for thinking so. Maybe I'd have to watch it again to be sure about that. Certainly the Enterprise crew aren't horrified about it like Cochrane is, but then again they have no skin in the game (so to speak). In The Host it's really just about whether Beverly can handle it (putting aside the issue of Odan using someone else's body to pursue a fling). In that one the author seems to have been trying to show that we have a ways to go before being able to accept love and not be worried about who has which body. Maybe someone else has an opinion about whether this episode is saying something similar or not. Maybe the metamorphosis is supposed to be in our perception of love. I could imagine an analogous scenario where Cochrane is rooming with a human man and is likewise horrified to find the man in love with him; could this possibly be what Gene Coon had in mind?
Tue, Aug 2, 2022, 11:58am (UTC -6)
@PCP / Peter G.
Concerning the title, thanks for pointing out the literary references (though both Ovid and Kafka are not exactly what I’d call happy memories from schooltime) and the ambiguousness. I’ve never thought of another “metamorphosis” than the obvious one of Hedford merging with the Companion, but the others make sense as well.
On the subject of love and perception: I agree that this episode tries to deal with the question of love as an abstract thing, regardless of the physical side of it – but it feels like they can’t make up their mind (or maybe I just didn’t get it). At the beginning, Cochrane describes his feelings towards the Companion as a “kind of affection”, so he clearly feels an emotional bond to this alien being. Kirk and McCoy, when watching him communicate with the Companion, interpret their relationship as “more like love” even BEFORE they learn that the Companion is female. So that would be a point for what you’ve been saying: accept love without worrying about the physical appearance. Then they find out that the Companion is female, and that seems to be a turning point, at least for Cochrane: He is horrified. It’s maybe not so much the physical appearance of the Companion, to which he should be used by then, but rather the discovery that what he has regarded as a sort of “platonic” relationship is being perceived as a “romantic” one by his partner. So the point of love being love regardless of different bodies could still be argued for at that moment of the episode, especially since Kirk, Spock and McCoy try to convince him accordingly.
But if that’s the position, the rest of the episode undermines it. When talking to the Companion, Kirk says: „But you can't really love him. (…) You are the Companion. He is the man. You are two different things. You can't join. You can't love. You may keep him here forever, but you will always be separate, apart from him.” Now he argues that there can be no love between them because they are different lifeforms. I get that it makes some sense given that he’s trying to talk the Companion into releasing Cochrane, but if it is the episode’s intention to make a statement about love, it’s starting to get muddled at this point… and even more so at the end, when the solution of the dilemma is to put the Companion into a human body. At that moment, being human (and more: being female and, of course, beautiful!) has become a necessary condition for love. Which seems to be quite the contrary of what has been said in the first half of the episode.
Now I’m not going to argue for one or the other or try to reason out what the writers had in mind, but the inconsistency of it disturbs me...
Peter G.
Tue, Aug 2, 2022, 12:09pm (UTC -6)
@ Lannion,

Good point. I think there's a distinction made in the episode about whether the Companion's feelings for Cochrane are good/bad, versus whether they're actionable. Cochrane isn't specifically horrified at the thought of having sex with a gas cloud, but seems offended merely at the idea of such a being wanting him. Let's say this was a gay metaphor - it would be like being upset (as a man) that another man was in love with you. The other issue is what that other man should do about his own feelings, and I suppose a reasonable piece of advice would be that if the object of your love literally cannot reciprocate (let's say because they're not gay) then you might do well to try to get over it or find someone else. In the episode this advice would run afoul of the fact that they're alone on some distant planet, but IRL I think one would likely receive such advice from friends. So it's not inconsistent to both say the Companion's love is ok, but also that it's impractical. Most modern people are not up for the Middle Ages unrequited chaste love thing.

I suppose (with The Host on my mind) we could try to dovetail the merge at the ending with the issue of impracticality: if you can't physically realize your love in your current body, you could get a new one. Now that's not exactly (afaik) a major talking point in transitioning right now, but I suppose one could make the argument that so long as Cochrane was happy to couple up with the Companion if it had a body he could love, then it had the option open to it of making that happen. I am *not* making any personal statement about this topic, just noting that one could perhaps observe this message in the episode.
Wed, Aug 3, 2022, 4:12pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G.

Agreed - it didn't seem to me that the episode is judging whether the relationship between Cochrane and the Companion is right or wrong, and you're also right that, if we presume that love has a physical element, (im)practicality may be an issue. Like every metaphor, this is open for all kinds of interpretations.
My problem with this episode is rather that there is no clear message, or, as I've tried to explain, the one it gives is contradicted at the end. For quite a while, it seems to make an argument for broadening one's ideas of love and lovers, but at the end it is again narrowed down to the traditional concept. And I really wonder if this turn is intentional or not. To me, it almost feels like clumsy writing... as if they were vaguely aware that such matters would probably be different in the 23rd century and tried to show something "progressive", but although TOS proves to be able to invent great utopic concepts in almost every field (technology, sociology etc.), their handling of topics like the image of women, gender roles etc. is less skillful, to put it mildly.
Peter G.
Wed, Aug 3, 2022, 5:04pm (UTC -6)
@ Lannion,

The main reason I mentioned the possibility of seeing the 'metamorphosis' as a being transitioning between bodies is so that we can imagine an accord of the main episode with its ending. So long as we assume that the physical side matters, *and* that what's inside counts in ways we can't judge, then you can almost imagine a technological plug-and-play situation like maybe in Altered Carbon or that Bruce Willis (bad) movie, where your exterior avatar becomes a thing you can pick and choose. In this case it was a merging between an alien and a human, but if we wanted to ride the transition metaphor all the way down then I think the gas cloud would be a stand-in for the 'person inside' who isn't defined by a particular body but has some kind of essence. Again, I'm not saying what I think of such possibilities, only that on this type of reading the ending is not contradictory after all.
Wed, Sep 28, 2022, 7:30pm (UTC -6)
Elinor Donahue made such an impression on me that any time I saw her in any other role, I expected her to be extremely pissed and b*tchy.
Peter G.
Sun, Oct 16, 2022, 12:45pm (UTC -6)
One super-interesting line that jumped out at me the other night was this:

KIRK: Companion, do you love the man?
COMPANION: I do not understand.
KIRK: Is he important to you, more important than anything? Is he as though he were a part of you?
COMPANION: He is part of me. The man must continue.
KIRK: He will not continue. He will cease to exist. By your feeling for him, you are condemning him to an existence he will find unbearable. He will cease to exist.
COMPANION: He does not age. He remains forever.
KIRK: You speak of his body. I speak of his spirit. Companion, inside the shelter, a female of our species is dying. She will not continue. That is what will happen to the man unless you release all of us.
COMPANION: I do not understand.
KIRK: Our species can only survive if we have obstacles to overcome. You take away all obstacles. Without them to strengthen us, we will weaken and die. You regard the man only as a toy. You amuse yourself with him.
COMPANION: You are wrong. The man is the centre of all things. I care for him.
KIRK: But you can't really love him. You haven't the slightest knowledge of love, the total union of two people. You are the Companion. He is the man. You are two different things. You can't join. You can't love. You may keep him here forever, but you will always be separate, apart from him.
COMPANION: If I were human there can be love? (vanishes)

So two points: First, there's "He's part of me. The man must continue." And then there's "The man is the centre of all things. This is when Kirk accuses the Companion of keeping Cochrane around as a toy. And then there's the issue of what Kirk (or the Companion) mean by love, which seems to be more than just affection since clearly the Companion can have that as a gas cloud. Here's more:

SPOCK: Companion, you do not have the power to create life.
NANCY: That is for the Maker of all things.

So the Companion believes in God! And then there's this:

NANCY: Zefram, we frighten you. We've never frightened you before. Loneliness. This is loneliness. Oh, what a bitter thing. Oh, Zefram, it's so sad. How do you bear it, this loneliness?
KIRK: Spock, check out the shuttlecraft. Engine, communications, everything.
NANCY: That will not be necessary, Captain. Your vehicle will operate as before, so will the communications device.
COCHRANE: You're letting us go?
NANCY: We could do nothing now to stop you. You said we would not know love because we were not human. Now we are human. We'll know the change of days. We will know death. But to touch the hand of man, nothing is as important.

So the Companion starts to experience human feelings as a human feels them, and says "to touch the hand of man, nothing is as important."

Some of the posts above were concerned with sexuality, or maybe transitioning, and how the main thrust of the episode is a man/woman issue. But I can't help but feel that there's maybe some meta-story running parallel of a Christian bent, where "metamorphosis" is more about a being choosing incarnation in order to protect "man". Maybe "man" can have a double meaning in the Companion's statements, as also meaning mankind (in the meta-narrative, that is). Something about the line "to touch the hand of man, nothing is as important" strikes me as having connotations that go beyond a slightly inarticulate entity describing holding hands for a walk in the park. And Kirk's argument was also a bit too peculiar, about how the Companion can't love without a body; even Spock points out how strange this argument is. But it's not strange at all if you're looking through a Christian lens, which I can't help but feel the writing is doing. The fact that the Companion refers to God unnecessarily is maybe a clue? There is more here than was necessary just to show a human/alien love story with a happy ending.
Sun, Dec 18, 2022, 12:09pm (UTC -6)
> "The idea of male and female are universal constants" ohhhhh my god.
> Buddy, that's not even true on Earth.

That line also bothers me the most among all the sexist lines in this episode. I am more bothered, perhaps as you were, that few others note this.

Despite talk of progressive ideas of what gender is, this whole conversation reinforces my conviction that "progressive" ideas of gender are retrograde as all get out.

Someone in 1967 or in 2017 saying that one can have a female personality/personhood/identity is laughable to me.

Did the feminist movement never happen? Is it now the "Feminine Mystique, but Woke(TM)"?

Being female is like being freckled or 5'8" or black-haired or blond-haired. It is just a physical attribute. Women can be as callous or compassionate as men, just as short men can be just as intelligent or stupid as tall men.

To say that female-ness is an eternal, universal thing and to have that female-ness be a non-corporeal form? Betty Friedan, eat your heart out!

I miss the 70s-90s strawman of the butch, man-dominating or even lesbian feminist stereotype. As uncharitable as the trope is, at least the author usually doesn't say such types are some other gender. Such women are not "proper ladies" according to the arbitrary standards of that time and culture, but almost no one thought that those women were somehow not literally female any more than anyone thought that dainty men were literally female. Compare that to today, when womanhood is (yet again) a je ne sais quoi that exists independently of the body.

Is curly haired-ness going to be some intangible marker of one's soul, too? Curly hair is a subjective lived experience defined as hair on anyone who claims to be curly. (Do I win Bingo?)

Sadly, sexism never left America. It retreated in the late 20th century and then came back with a neoliberal makeover. Sorry, ladies, your personality is determined by your female body and pesky hormones or the reverse, your female body is determined by your personality in a given cultural context. The former is conservative. The latter is "progressive." The idea of women being just people inhabiting bodies of type X is dead.
Peter G.
Sun, Dec 18, 2022, 2:35pm (UTC -6)
@ Jonathan,

Putting aside whether I agree with your particular points, I think you're omitting one area of examination that may bear on this line in the episode, which is the possibility that male/female are attributes that exist in the abstract regardless culture or biology. Just an an example, Jewish mysticism holds masculine/feminine to be forces which are baked into the very construction of the universe, perhaps even defining the modes of being of God. One could also imagine a 'secular' version of this, such as a Platonic form of the masculine or feminine. I'm not suggesting you have to believe any of this yourself, but rather that it's possible for someone (e.g. a writer) to have beliefs about male/female and their respective functions that do in fact go beyond the idiosyncratic cultures of a particular time or place. In other words, it's not required to assume that because someone says "such and such is female, which is an eternal property" that they are merely reflecting a zeitgeist.
Sat, Jan 28, 2023, 12:48pm (UTC -6)

))The bigger problem is how The Man needed to be Zefram Cochrane in the first place. It has no real bearing on the story.((

As someone else pointed out above: It contributes to the impact of the story. If you don't think so, just substitute "Jack Johnson, night janitor on Space Station 118" for "Zephram Cochrane of Alpha Centauri, inventor of Warp Drive." Imagine how the closing dialog would then have been. Instead of:
KIRK: Think it over, Mister Cochrane. There's a whole galaxy out there waiting to honor you.
COCHRANE: I have honors enough. would have been:
KIRK: Think it over, Mister Cochrane. There's a whole galaxy out there - full of blocked toilets - waiting for you to unblock them!
Sun, Mar 12, 2023, 5:11pm (UTC -6)
Seeing the set of Mayberry from 'The City on the Edge of Forever (and others) and then seeing Elinor Donahue is cool.

But James Cromwell back in the day. wow. (tee hee) .
Sat, Apr 8, 2023, 1:51pm (UTC -6)
""Everyone is losing their crap about how the Companion took over the ambassador's body "against her will" I think that if you think that, you most certainly didn't watch the episode. They CLEARLY state that they are both in control.""

I'm not so sure about that. It's the Companion who makes that statements, "We are both here", "We are one", and "Now we are human".

But Cochrane never treats this being as though "they are both there". He treats this new being like the Companion, humanized, for him.

Furthermore, the Companion doesn't respond to him as though, "they are both there". She treats him like the man, and "to touch the hand of the man, nothing is more important".

What's even more troubling is we know the Companion is doing all of the talking in her reverb voice. If Hedford is still alive, the Companion doesn't let her get a word or feeling in, edgewise.

Can the Companion lie? Most certainly, and if she didn't know what lying was before Cochrane, she would have learned it from him. There's no proof that Hedford didn't die. We only have the Companion's word on the subject.
Thu, Jun 29, 2023, 5:57pm (UTC -6)
Here we have yet another rejection of paradise theme, albeit one couched in a much more personalized context. That’s half the episodes of season two digging in to the need of humanity to be free, and to struggle, suffer, and grow. Pretty interesting. I suppose it should be noted that here Cochran and Companion/hedford choose to stay in paradise, which is a variation from the norm, although the clock is ticking.

This episode is tough to gage, it has such an ethereal quality, and presents a quartet of competing dilemmas resulting is a large array of possible interpretations.

First we have the companion’s conundrum of keeping Cochran alive and happy in an unsustainable situation. Perhaps exploring how far one is willing to go to please or protect the ones you love. For the companion, she’s willing to sacrifice just about anything, including both the lives/freedom of our crew and her own status as non-corporeally immortal being. This sets the episode as a love story centered on the nature of true devotion. And I think the companion is the most interesting aspect of this episode, exploring a non-humanoid lifeform and it’s perspective on love.

Then we have cochran’s reawakening, where he goes from a dream-like, static existence to a forced examination of his circumstances. When he realizes the companion is female and in love with him it’s as though he feels violated. This alien was crawling around inside him as he says, using him for purposes that he didn’t understand. Personally I think he overreacted a bit, what did he think was happening? I find it interesting that it was only through the contrast of the companion in relation to Kirk and co, a phenomenon he had never witnessed before, that Cochran was able to see the true nature of his and the companion’s relationship. For Cochran, I suppose his symbiosis with the companion was more pragmatic in nature, generating affection borne from gratitude, but not romantic. Upon seeing his situation for what it really was, he was left with a choice to accept love unconditionally or to stand on the ceremony of his own parochial world view, a viewpoint he had been living happily in defiance of for 150 years. Of course, the choice becomes much easier in the end, at least for him.

Next we have Hedford and her work/life balance issues. Oh yeah, also she’s fucking dying. She’s got problems. It’s here where the episode finds some rocky ground. I find it very difficult to rationalize the actions of the companion here in an ethical way enough to not have the whole setup and ending detract from the headier ideas at play. When we boil it down, the companion more or less kills hedford, perhaps not directly but by denying her medical care, and then weekend-at-Bernie’s her body so she can keep Cochran around. Yeah, allegedly hedford agreed to this, but if the choice is “let me jump into your brain so I can bang this hot dude…or die” then it’s not much of a choice. While I get that hedford realized she wanted love in her life, I have trouble with her just punting everything else, particularly given how dedicated she seemed to be to her job. I mean, she was kind of a dick about all that ambassador stuff, feels weird that she would completely jettison the whole thing.

Lastly, we have Kirk and co’s perspective, which is pretty much centered around “let’s get the heck out of here.” I don’t think we can reliably take Kirk’s challenge to the companion as being straight episode message text, since he’s pretty much just desperately trying to psych her out. Incidentally, this is yet another “Kirk logics his adversary into submission” example, usually reserved for computers and runaway AI, but here deployed against a sentient gas cloud. The ending becomes a bit muddied by Kirk’s seemingly cool acceptance of hedford’s metamorphosis(titular line drop!), including his toss away about popping over to the diplomat store to see if they still have any churlishly-curt-angry-career-woman models left. I hope that war wasn’t, like, a big deal or anything. Its an oddly tone deaf wrap up to an otherwise impactful episode.

There’s quite a lot to think about with this episode, which is always something I appreciate and scores it some points.
3/4 weird fig tree references.

Submit a comment

I agree to the terms of use

◄ Season Index

▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2023 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. Terms of use.