Director: Ralph Senensky
Writer: John Kingsbridge
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Diana Muldaur, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Cindy Lou, and Majel Barrett
Composer: George Duning
Air Date: 2/9/1968
Production #: 60351
Shortly after arriving at a devastated planet called Arret, the Enterprise crew encounters a group of formless beings who decide to borrow the bodies of Kirk, Spock, and Lieutenant Commander Ann Mulhall (Diana Muldaur) for the purpose of constructing androids in which their minds can reside. The alien leader Sargon promises to share his extraordinary scientific knowledge with his new hosts in exchange for their compliance, an offer which Kirk gladly accepts; however, Sargon’s old rival Henoch has a more nefarious plan in mind.
By exemplifying the essence of Gene Roddenberry’s vision, “Return to Tomorrow” makes for a classic episode of Star Trek. Especially commendable are the scenes involving Sargon and his wife Thalassa, which complement John T. Dugan’s science fiction concepts with poignant overtones.
Similar to “Mirror, Mirror,” “Return to Tomorrow” gave Leonard Nimoy the opportunity to play an uncharacteristically evil version of Spock. In contrast to Spock’s counterpart from the mirror universe, however, Henoch (in Spock’s body) is governed by passions and self-serving motivations alone, which allowed Nimoy to act with more emotion than usual.
Sargon’s possession of Captain Kirk is occasionally difficult to take seriously as a result of William Shatner’s hammy acting.
A brilliant commentary on transhumanism, “Return to Tomorrow” offers an analysis regarding the pros and cons of extending life through artificial means. On one hand, Sargon demonstrates a willingness to relinquish his corporeal form in order to pursue knowledge and altruistic objectives for centuries to come. Henoch, on the other hand, finds the prospect of residing permanently in Spock’s “superior” body to be more tempting than the alternative, thus resulting in a conflict that will appeal to viewers who enjoy Star Trek for its humanist implications (Kirk’s inspirational speech in an earlier scene will also appeal to this group of fans for obvious reasons).
Though Shatner’s goofy antics result in several unintentionally humorous moments, fans of the original series should nonetheless appreciate this episode for capturing the spirit of Star Trek in its purest form. Also worth mentioning is Nimoy’s ability to portray a villainous character with chilling efficiency, which provided Spock with a much darker personality than what most audiences would likely expect.
Overall Quality: 9/10
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