Director: Ralph Senensky
Writer: Gene L. Coon
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Glenn Corbett, Elinor Donahue, James Doohan, George Takei, and Nichelle Nichols
Composer: George Duning
Air Date: 11/10/1967
Production #: 60331
While transporting the gravely ill Commissioner Nancy Hedford (Elinor Donahue) back to the Enterprise, the Galileo is pulled to the planetoid Gamma Canaris N by a cloud-like phenomenon. After exiting the shuttlecraft, Captain Kirk and his crew are greeted by the legendary Zephram Cochrane (Glenn Corbett), who claims to have survived the past hundred and fifty years thanks to the rejuvenating efforts of an alien known simply as “The Companion.”
Arguably the most emotionally stirring episode in the original series, “Metamorphosis” explores the concept of immortality as it relates to human beings. In addition to its insightful commentary on the above topic, this entry benefits from a touching, albeit unorthodox, love story.
A nobler character than his intoxicated counterpart from Star Trek: First Contact, Glenn Corbett’s portrayal of Cochrane embodies the spirit of a true visionary. After a fluke event renders Cochrane a mere anachronism in the 23rd century, the inventor of warp drive is forced to choose between a solitary existence with only a disembodied alien at his side, and living out his days as a relic of an era long past. George Duning’s poignant score accentuates Cochrane’s personal conflict quite beautifully, thus making this fantastic situation more relatable to audiences of a sensitive inclination.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
When the Companion merges with Nancy Hedford, no indication is given as to whether the commissioner will retain the essence of her personality following this transformation. Though Nancy’s existence prior to joining with the alien was clearly a miserable one, certain viewers might find the apparent replacement of her original consciousness to be disturbing.
It should be noted that a general lack of action allows the romance narrative to maintain central focus from start to finish. That being said, the pacing tends to progress sluggishly at times due to a near absence of physical conflict.
Like many Star Trek episodes, “Metamorphosis” suggests that respect for the unknown is an essential aspect of scientific progress. Whereas Spock views the Companion as little more than a phenomenon to be studied, Kirk attempts to understand the motivations and desires that drive this bizarre lifeform to act as it does. In the end, the captain’s nuanced approach allows him to establish communication with the alien, who turns out to be just as sentient as her human companion.
One of season two’s more delicate offerings, “Metamorphosis” will appeal to fans of the romance and science fiction genres alike. Also, those who would prefer a respectable Cochrane over James Cromwell’s oafish take on the character are advised to view this episode for its subtle qualities.
Overall Quality: 9/10
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