“Scotty, you’ve just given the Enterprise, and Mantilles, a chance to live.”
First article of the new year! “One of Our Planets is Missing” incorporates elements of the second season’s “The Doomsday Machine” and “The Immunity Syndrome”, but written by series regular director Marc Daniels. The Enterprise is tracking an unusual cosmic cloud that seems to trail planet debris on a course toward Mantilles, the farthest inhabited planet of the Federation. Mantilles is governed by an old friend, the former Commodore Bob Wesley (last seen in “The Ultimate Computer” calling Kirk a dunsel). Spock surmises that the cosmic cloud is alive and sucking power out of the ship.
We had a “living” ship with “Beyond the Farthest Star,” and now a “living” cloud of matter and energy in this episode. I wonder how much of this went into the script of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Wesley is resigned to annihilation. He wants to save the planet’s children. Kirk needs another alternative. Kirk plunges the Enterprise into the digestive tract of the cosmic cloud in an attempt to give the cloud an “upset stomach.” McCoy notes that the cloud has villi, which breaks down food and reduces it to nutrients, but Spock believes the villi contain anti-matter. It occurs to me that The Animated Series had a lot more relatable techno-babble than the original show which communicated ideas with easy-to-understand metaphors (It’s like a balloon popping!).
Scotty has an idea to cut off some of that previous villi and beam it aboard the ship so he can adapt it to the ship’s engines. This seems dangerous, but Scotty’s plan works. Kirk wants to destroy the cloud, but Spock objects to killing off what could possibly be a sentient life-form. This puts Kirk in conflict with his primary duty to the Federation. He asks Spock to mind-meld with the cloud in an effort to divert its deadly course, and the cloud speaks to Spock in a voice that recalls the “Companion” from the episode, “Metamorphosis.” This isn’t a terrible episode, but it borrows from other, better stories.
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