So let’s return to Star Trek The Original Series, shall we? The very first episode to air was titled “The Man Trap,” and it’s clear there have been some cast changes since “The Cage.” Here, we meet the characters we know from Star Trek’s Original Series: Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Uhura, Sulu, Rand, etc. And of course, Spock returns.
The plot of “The Man Trap” goes something like this: Kirk, McCoy, and a third crewman beam down to a planet. It’s supposed to be a routine mission to deliver supplies and do a medical checkup on an archeologist and his wife who are living and working on the planet. The only thing that is somewhat unusual is that Dr. McCoy used to date the wife, Nancy, before she married Dr. Crater. Other notable things about their initial change include that the crewmen each see a different version of the same woman, Dr. Crater doesn’t seem very excited about them being there (in fact, he seems pretty eager for them to leave), and both Dr. Crater and his wife make a point of mentioning that they are in need of salt. Kind of weird, but not really all that worrisome.
Things turn dicey, however, when the third crewman to beam down (whose name I don’t remember and I’m not sure it matters) is found dead with strange red circles on his face. His body is taken back to the ship where it’s discovered that the salt was drained from his body. As the crew investigates, several more crew members turn up dead. It becomes clear to the audience that “Nancy” has the ability to make herself appear as different people in order to blend in. She manages to make herself appear to be a dead crewman in order to get onto the Enterprise, where more people die.
Ultimately, Dr. Crater reveals that the planet was once inhabited by creatures who relied on salt to survive. As the planet’s salt supply dwindled, the species started to die out until one was left. Nancy, apparently, understood that it was just trying to survive and didn’t mean to kill. That is, until Nancy was killed by the creature the year before and had been posing as Nancy ever since.
The creature then kills Dr. Crater and McCoy is given the difficult task of killing it – while it appears to be Nancy.
What can I say about this episode of The Original Series? While I’m certainly no expert on Star Trek, I think “The Man Trap” gives us a pretty good idea of what to expect from The Original Series. It was fun to meet the characters that we’re going to be following for the rest of the series. I confess that some of my favorite scenes from the episode were basically filler episodes – they didn’t really do anything to advance the plot, but introduced us to some of the characters. The scene where Uhura was talking to Spock and asked about life on the Vulcan planet. The scene in Sulu’s quarters when Rand delivered his meal. In fact, Rand delivered what was probably my favorite line in the episode. Something along the lines of “don’t you have an asteroid to chase or something?”
I was a little unclear about what, exactly, McCoy’s history was with Nancy. I mean, yeah, we know they used to date, but why did they break up? It’s clear McCoy still had feelings for Nancy. I guess Nancy wasn’t available to give her side of the story. Did they break up because McCoy wanted to join the crew of the Enterprise? Did Nancy break up with McCoy because she realized she wanted to marry Dr. Crater instead? And now that I think about it, could McCoy still serve on the crew of the Enterprise if he were married? As I’ve been thinking about this episode, I’m realizing that I’m not aware of any characters who were married/in a relationship while serving on the Enterprise. It’s entirely possible I’m either forgetting or not aware of something.
But anyway. That’s “The Man Trap.” What did you think of this episode?