In “Metamorphosis,” Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy meet Zephram Cochrane. That would be the man who invented warp drive. And he looks a lot younger and healthier than he did over in Star Trek: First Contact. Then again, if Cochrane did somehow reference Captain Picard’s crew, that would be really weird. I know TV didn’t think that far ahead in the 1960s, but that would be thinking really, really far ahead.
And this episode is pretty weird to begin with.
How weird is it? We start off with Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and a woman ambassador taking a shuttlecraft back to the Enterprise. The woman is Commissioner Nancy Hedford. The Federation needs her to stop a war, but she didn’t get a vaccine for a rare illness. McCoy can treat her easily enough back on the Enterprise, but the disease will kill her if he doesn’t get her there somewhat soon. She’s concerned and wants to get this whole killer illness taken care of. No one else seems to be,
No one else seeming to be all that concerned is a major theme to this episode as near as I can make out.
But then some glowy alien thing shows up, grabs the shuttlecraft, and takes it down to a small planetoid. That’s where Zephram Cochrane has been living for the past 150 years. The entity, that he calls the Companion, keeps him alive and young. But right now, Cochrane needs company. As such, the Companion brings him four people. Sure, one of them is dying, but that doesn’t seem to bother the Companion too much. Possibly because the Companion doesn’t really understand death.
Oh, Cochrane, it should be noted, recognizes Vulcans and some other vague stuff, but he’s a bit behind the times otherwise.
Now, Hedford is dying. McCoy needs to get her to the Enterprise, but Kirk and Spock don’t seem to be in too big a hurry. Cochrane would also like to leave the planet, so he is mostly inclined to help, but this episode just kinda creeps along. Late in the episode, we get a flash to the Enterprise. Scotty is running things back there, and he’s tracking where the Shuttlecraft went. It probably won’t take him too long to eventually find Kirk and the others, but given how late in the episode Scotty even appears, well, it goes back to the slow pace thing.
By the by, while Hedford may come across as a little impatient to get things done, I would like to point out two things. First, she wants to get better so she can go back to the negotiations. It isn’t about her at all. Second, she isn’t much different from every other ambassador, commissioner, or commodore the Enterprise has encountered so far. They all act that way.
Now, here’s where things get a little weird. After a failed attempt to kill the Companion, Kirk and Spock decide to try talking to it. Yes, the universal translator works. And even though the Companion is just a glowing yellow blur, it’s also apparently female. That means one thing for Kirk. The Companion is in love with Cochrane.
And here we go.
Now, I suppose there’s nothing wrong with the Companion being in love with Cochrane. Cochrane’s own feelings on the Companion are all over the place. He wants to get away from it/her, but he also doesn’t want to hurt or kill it/her. And the love theory really bothers him. Considering the two merge somehow to communicate, I guess I don’t blame him there. And here’s where Kirk comes in, basically explaining that the Companion and Cochrane can never be together because…
Um, I think he says it because they can’t have sex.
I mean, I know there’s almost certainly more to it than that. Kirk says to the Companion that humans need to be with other humans. He’s more specific about it being men with women, but this was still 1967. George Takei understood that for the most part according to interviews I’ve seen. Still, while it could be Kirk is simply explaining that love between a solid person and some kind of energy being wouldn’t work because they understood existence in such different ways, it didn’t sound like that in certain respects. It really sounded like Kirk said Cochrane needs to be with a member of his own species, and of the opposite sex to boot.
So, the Companion merges with Hedford, someone Cochrane already called beautiful. That cures her, but she can’t leave the planet. Cochrane opts to stay with her, but they ask Kirk not to say anything to anyone else. That is, uh, really weird.
Anyway, that seems to wrap up everything except that war. McCoy asks about it, so someone remembered. Kirk just figures Starfleet will send some other woman to take care of it. Why get worked up about anything now, you know?
It’s that kind of episode.