Director: Herb Wallerstein
Writers: Judy Burns and Chet Richards
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Majel Barrett, and Sean Morgan
Composer: Fred Steiner
Air Date: 11/15/1968
Production #: 60043-64
Upon beaming aboard the USS Defiant, a landing party discovers the ship’s crew strangled by one another. Spock, McCoy, and Chekov return to the Enterprise, but Captain Kirk fails to escape from the Defiant before it blinks out of existence. Realizing that an interdimensional rift may be responsible for the above phenomenon, Spock makes an effort to recover the captain; however, complications arise when Commander Loskene of the Tholian Assembly accuses the first officer of trespassing and spins a massive energy web around the Enterprise.
A classic entry, “The Tholian Web” generates tension by literally wrapping the Enterprise crew in a predicament of epic proportions. In addition, Star Trek fans will appreciate the intense but ever insightful interactions between Spock and McCoy as detailed in this offering.
By afflicting various crew members with mental derangement in a seemingly random fashion, “The Tholian Web” maintains an element of uncertainty from start to finish. Notably, viewers can never predict which characters will succumb to the effects of interspatial travel, nor if McCoy’s remarkable stubbornness is merely a symptom of this condition. The central conflict reaches its climax when Scotty and Uhura claim to have witnessed an apparition of Captain Kirk, yet cannot prove as much and therefore appear just as imbalanced as Chekov and the others.
“The Tholian Web” operates on a narrative in which Kirk is all but absent save for the first and final acts, thus allowing the animosity between Spock and McCoy to reach its most heated point in the entire series. Specifically, Spock chooses to remain in interphase long enough to disable the Tholian vessel and potentially retrieve Kirk, which, under most circumstances, would be met with McCoy’s approval. However, even when Spock makes a “human” decision by attempting to save Jim, McCoy condemns Spock for not transporting the Enterprise to safety while the opportunity was still available. Spock and McCoy cease their rivalry only when faced with a posthumous message from the captain, indicating that Kirk’s role as a balancing force between the Vulcan scientist and chief medical officer cannot be overstated.
Similar to many season three installments, “The Tholian Web” suffers from occasionally uneven pacing when a swifter approach would be more appropriate. That being said, science fiction fans should enjoy Gene Roddenberry’s theme concerning a parallel universe and its non-humanoid inhabitants. Likewise, the passionate discussions held by Spock and McCoy will appeal to audiences who enjoy this show for its rich character dynamics.
Overall Quality: 10/10
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