Director: Ralph Senensky
Writer: Art Wallace
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Stephen Brooks, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Jerry Ayres, Majel Barrett, and Walter Koenig
Composer: Sol Kaplan
Air Date: 12/15/1967
Production #: 60347
While surveying the planet Argus X, the crew encounters a cloud entity that feeds on hemoglobin. Realizing that the same monster killed his captain eleven years earlier, Kirk develops an unquenchable thirst for vengeance. Meanwhile, Ensign Garrovick (Stephen Brooks)—the son of Kirk’s slain former captain—reports for duty on the Enterprise.
A commentary on how personal demons can haunt even the greatest of men, “Obsession” should be commended for blending themes of revenge with science fiction elements. Likewise, Star Trek fans will appreciate this offering for its rare insight into Kirk’s innermost conflicts.
Though simple in appearance, the target of Kirk’s obsession produces an unsettling impact on the minds of characters and audiences alike. By lacking the solid properties one would expect of a traditional horror creature, the gaseous being remains entirely unpredictable in its attack methods. Similar to the Jaws theme, Sol Kaplan’s suspenseful composition helps to enhance the uncertainty that viewers will feel while awaiting the monster’s next move. Overall, the above factors result in a more ominous atmosphere than that of Star Trek’s Halloween special from several weeks prior.
While many Star Trek episodes and movies have tackled the Moby Dick in space premise, “Obsession” adds an intriguing new layer to this dynamic. Specifically, Ensign Garrovick serves to remind Kirk of his former self, thus giving the captain a chance to relive his past while avoiding the most devastating mistake of his career. Things therefore take a turn for the worse when Kirk, filling the role of Captain Ahab in this case, watches Garrovick make the same error that resulted in his father’s death on the USS Farragut. As a result, both individuals become plagued with guilt that can only be overcome by accepting their faults as a natural aspect of character growth.
By combining elements of Herman Melville’s most famous novel with spacefaring science fiction, “Obsession” succeeds as a riveting character piece. Though a mere smoke cloud is often used to represent a homicidal alien capable of outrunning a starship warp drive, this crude effect actually accentuates the abstract nature of Kirk’s antagonist, which exists both as a physical entity and as a destructive force within the captain’s soul.
Overall Quality: 10/10
If you enjoyed this post, please click the follow button or enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.