|"Return to Tomorrow"|
|Star Trek: The Original Series episode|
Spock, McCoy, Dr. Ann Mulhall and Kirk
|Episode no.||Episode 49|
|Written by||John Kingsbridge|
|Directed by||Ralph Senensky|
|Original airdate||February 9, 1968|
"Return to Tomorrow" is a second season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, first broadcast February 9, 1968 and repeated August 2, 1968. It is episode #49, production #51, written by John Kingsbridge, and directed by Ralph Senensky.
On stardate 4768.3, the starship USS Enterprise picks up a curious distress call from a distant planet that was presumed uninhabited; the supposed victim of an ancient global disaster. Upon their arrival, the crew makes contact with a telepathic being who speaks to Captain Kirk's and Mr. Spock's minds, addressing them as "my children". The being identifies himself as Sargon and requests Kirk and Spock to come down to the planet.
Spock locates a remote power source deep within the planet. Sargon indicates that is where he can be found. At first, Kirk says he will go alone, but Sargon shuts the ship's power down. It comes back on only when he agrees to take Spock with him. Kirk and Spock go to the transporter room and find Dr. McCoy and Dr. Ann Mulhall waiting for them. The two have also been "summoned" by Sargon. The coordinates to which they are to be transported to are determined to be underneath 100 miles of solid rock.
The four enter the transporter accompanied by two armed security officers, but when the transports begins, only the requested four beam away leaving the bewildered security guards behind. The landing party materializes in a deep subterranean vault where they find a glowing sphere sitting on a pedestal. The sphere indicates that it is Sargon. He and two other spheres hold the last of the greatest surviving minds of his ancient people. They were stored here after a world war devastated the planet half a million years ago. Sargon explains that they once had physical bodies, but they now exist as beings of pure thought, contained inside the spheres like the one they see before them.
Kirk asks why Sargon refers to the humans as "my children", and Sargon says it is probable that human beings actually are descendants of his people. Six thousand centuries ago, they explored and colonized the galaxy just as Earth people do now; he speculates that Adam and Eve were two of their travellers. Dr. Mulhall objects that life on Earth evolved independently, but Spock says the colonist idea would explain certain enigmas in Vulcan pre-history.
After introductions, Sargon takes control of Kirk; transferring his mind into Kirk's body and moving Kirk's mind to the sphere. As Sargon adjusts to his new form, Dr. McCoy scans him and realizes Kirk's body is already rejecting Sargon's presence. Kirk's metabolism and temperature rise to dangerous levels, but Sargon refuses to leave the body, insisting his control will only be temporary - just long enough for him and his companions to construct artificial bodies they will later occupy. He indicates he will need Mr. Spock's, and Dr. Mulhall's bodies for his remaining companions.
Sargon leads the party to another room where more spheres are found. Only two of them are glowing; the others are dark and cold. Sargon indicates the two active spheres hold the minds of Thalassa, his wife, and Henoch, a former enemy of his. Sargon explains that this is how they stored their minds after the war, and have been lying in wait for someone to find them. Kirk's body becomes too drained, so Sargon returns to the sphere and Kirk pops back into his body. While McCoy is disturbed by the prospect of alien possession, Kirk states that during the brief exchange, he learned what Sargon is and what he wants, and he is not afraid. In an impassioned speech in the briefing room, Kirk reminds his reluctant officers that "risk is our business" and suggests amazing technological advances which Sargon and his people might be able to provide. Finally voting yes, the team gathers the active spheres and brings them to the Enterprise.
Kirk, Spock and Dr. Mulhall take the spheres to sickbay where Dr. McCoy closely monitors the transfer of minds. Sargon returns to Kirk's body, while Henoch enters Spock, and Thalassa enters Mulhall. The three look over their new bodies, happy to finally be able to touch and feel again. Henoch prepares three hypospray injectors with a serum to ease their metabolic increases, but Nurse Chapel notices Sargon's injector looks different and points out that Kirk will die without the proper formula. Henoch uses mind control to force her to be oblivious to the fact.
The three aliens begin to manufacture their artificial bodies, but Sargon weakens and returns for another hypo injector. When he leaves, Henoch tries to persuade Thalassa that they should keep their living bodies, since the artificial ones will be unable to have physical sensations.
Later the three aliens meet in the briefing room and make a case to keep their living bodies, but Sargon is far too weak and falls unconscious. McCoy rushes over to find Kirk's body near death. His body is moved to sickbay where McCoy is able to keep it alive, but Kirk's mind is still trapped inside Sargon's sphere.
Henoch has completed an artificial body for Thalassa, but she refuses to transfer her consciousness into it. She would rather keep Ann Mulhall's body. McCoy refuses to sanction such a thing and Thalassa briefly attacks him with her mind, but realizes what she is doing and stops. Suddenly, Sargon's mental voice returns and he claims he has taken refuge within the ship itself. He indicates he has a plan to save Kirk, and Thalassa tells Dr. McCoy to leave the room.
McCoy leaves, and moments later he feels the ship tremble. He then sees Nurse Chapel as she exits sickbay in a daze. McCoy rushes in to see all three spheres have been destroyed and that Kirk and Dr. Mulhall have their original personalities back. Meanwhile, Henoch has fled to the bridge and taken control of the ship. Kirk has McCoy prepare a lethal injection for Henoch, who is still in Spock's body since the sphere that contained Spock's mind has now been destroyed.
McCoy rushes to the bridge and tries to inject Henoch, but Henoch freezes him in place. Henoch orders Nurse Chapel to inject McCoy with the deadly compound, but when she picks up the hypo she slams it into Spock's body. Henoch panics and tries desperately to possess someone else as Spock's body begins to collapse. Thalassa and Sargon - now both occupying the ship - manage to destroy Henoch during his attempt to flee Spock's body.
Kirk leans over Spock's lifeless body and shudders for a moment, then moves back as Spock pops to life. McCoy is shocked when Spock reveals he never transferred his mind to the sphere. Instead, he transferred to Nurse Chapel. They kept the secret from Dr. McCoy since Henoch would have discovered Spock's plan if he had read McCoy's mind. Chapel informs McCoy that she had also switched the lethal hypo for one with a fast acting sedative which would trick Henoch into thinking Spock's body was dying.
Meanwhile, Sargon and Thalassa decide to leave the Enterprise, but before they depart, they occupy Kirk and Mulhall's bodies one last time so they can enjoy a final kiss before they die.
This episode was re-mastered in 2006 and was first aired July 7, 2007 as part of the remastered 40th Anniversary original series. It was preceded two weeks earlier by the remastered version of "The Omega Glory" and followed a week later by the remastered version of "Charlie X". Aside from remastered video and audio, and the all-CGI animation of the Enterprise that is standard among the revisions, specific changes to this episode also include:
This is the first mention aired in Star Trek of the concept that humanoids are prevalent throughout the galaxy because they are descendants of a race that "seeded" them. In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Chase", it is confirmed that humanoids were "seeded" as Sargon described, although Sargon's people are not specifically named as responsible.
Regular extra William (Billy) Blackburn played the android prototype that Doctor Mulhall/Thalassa conducts function tests. His "parts" were later re-used by Doctor McCoy in "Spock's Brain". Blackburn recounts this experience in "Billy Blackburn's Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories" on the original seres' remastered second season DVD set.(references: Star Trek Encyclopedia, Star Trek Compendium)