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"The Lights of Zetar"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Lt. Romaine becomes possessed by aliens
Episode no. Episode 73
Written by Jeremy Tarcher
Shari Lewis
Directed by Herb Kenwith
Production no. 073
Original airdate January 31, 1969
Guest stars

Majel Barrett
Jan Shutan
John Winston
Libby Erwin
Frank da Vinci
William Blackburn
Roger Holloway

Episode chronology
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"That Which Survives" "Requiem for Methuselah"

"The Lights of Zetar" is a third season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, first broadcast January 31, 1969 and repeated on August 26, 1969. It is episode #73, production #73, written by Jeremy Tarcher and Shari Lewis, and directed by Herb Kenwith.

Overview: Strange incorporeal aliens threaten the Memory Alpha station and the Enterprise.



On stardate 5725.3, the Enterprise heads for Memory Alpha, a planetoid where the Federation has set up a storehouse of computer databases containing all cultural history and scientific data it has acquired. While en route, the ship detects a strange energy storm moving at warp factor 2.6 and on a course to the planetoid. Given the storm's speed, it is believed that it cannot be a natural phenomenon.

The Enterprise intercepts the storm which bypasses the ship's shields and penetrates the hull. The exposure to the storm begins to affect crew members' nervous systems differently; Lt. Uhura is unable to move her hands, Mr. Chekov is unable to control his eyes, and Mr. Sulu is unable to speak.

Lieutenant Mira Romaine, aboard to oversee the transmission of newly acquired data from the Enterprise to the Memory Alpha station, faints from the effects of the storm, much to Mr. Scott's dismay, as he is also madly in love with Mira. Dr. McCoy examines Mira who seems paralyzed and unresponsive and makes strange grunting sounds as she lies on the deck of the bridge. Mira soon recovers in sickbay and refuses to be examined any further.

The storm continues straight for Memory Alpha and the Enterprise gives chase. The storm manages to penetrate the station and destroys the main computer core, wiping out the crucial stores of data. Captain Kirk, along with Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy, beam down to the station to inspect the damage. Meanwhile, Mira has a strange premonition of dead people, apparently of various Federation races.

The landing party finds the Memory Alpha staff have been killed—except for one, a woman who lies unconscious on the floor. She makes the same strange guttural noises as Mira did and her skin seems to be charged with a mysterious colored energy. As the energy fades, she dies from what McCoy determines to be a brain hemorrhage.

Kirk then has Mira beamed to the station who is terrified to see the exact scene about which she had the premonition. She then warns that the storm is returning, and the landing party returns to the ship. Scans of the storm determine that it may be a life form and Kirk tries to communicate with it through the Universal Translator, but gets no response. He then fires phaser warning shots, but the storm still approaches. Kirk then orders a full attack and blasts phaser streams through the core of the storm.

This action seems to cause Mira considerable pain and she crumples to the floor. Scott believes Mira and the storm are connected and begs Kirk to stop his attack. Kirk backs off and Mira is taken back to sickbay. McCoy reveals that Mira's medical records show her to have an extremely flexible ability to assimilate new knowledge and experiences. A neural scan shows her mental pathways have been adjusted to match those of the intelligence pattern of the storm. It appears the beings are trying to possess her body and completely take over her mind. Lying weak on the examining table, Mira manages to confess her latest vision to Scotty: seeing him dying.

Making an attempt to rid her of the alien influence, Kirk has Mira taken to a gravity pressure chamber. The alien force however, enters the ship and finishes its invasion of Mira's mind and have now completely taken over her body. The aliens speak through Mira, identifying themselves as survivors from the long dead planet of Zetar. The creatures have evolved to shed their physical bodies and now seek one tuned to their mental capacity, as Mira, to live out their remaining existence.

Scotty refuses to allow the aliens to fulfill their plan and places Mira in the chamber, exposing her body to conditions that drive out and kill the aliens before they can completely wipe her mind.

With the conclusion of the crisis, Kirk, Spock, Scotty and McCoy all agree to allow Mira to complete her original assignment on Memory Alpha, which will now involve overseeing the salvaging and repairs. Kirk laughingly remarks that this is an Enterprise first: Spock, Scotty and McCoy all agree.

40th Anniversary remastering

This episode was remastered in 2006 and aired June 7, 2008 as part of the remastered Original Series. It was preceded a week earlier by the remastered "The Mark of Gideon" and followed a week later by the remastered "The Way to Eden". Aside from remastered video and audio, and the all-CGI animation of the USS Enterprise that is standard among the revisions, specific changes to this episode also include:

  • The Memory Alpha planetoid appears as a small moon with a cluster of structures visible on the surface.
  • Exterior scenes of the Enterprise being chased by the Zetar alien cloud have been redone in CGI.
  • The appearance of the Zetar is sharper and better defined, but fairly true to the original
  • The "goof" of the female scientist breathing after being pronounced dead has been fixed by a freeze-frame at the moment of death.


  • The (non-canonical) novel Memory Prime by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens was written as a sequel to "The Lights of Zetar", featuring Scotty's reunion with Mira Romaine and a successor facility to Memory Alpha equipped with about a dozen sentient artificially intelligent systems.
  • Strange New Worlds VII later established that Romaine married Morgan Bateson from the TNG episode "Cause and Effect", a fact that Scott disliked intensely.

External links



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