In this episode of Trekking Through Compliance, we consider the episode Metamorphosis which aired on November 13, 1967, Star Date 4513.3.
Kirk, Spock, and McCoy ferry Commissioner Nancy Hedford from Epsilon Caneris 3 to the Enterprise in the shuttlecraft Galileo. The Commissioner, who had been on a diplomatic mission to stop a war, is ill with Sicuro’s disease and needs treatment aboard the Enterprise. The shuttlecraft is forced down on a small planetoid by a sparkling cloud of ionized hydrogen. The planet has an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere with traces of krypton, argon, and neon, and a surface temperature of 75 degrees.
Kirk is unable to contact the Enterprise, despite the fact that the communications equipment appears to be functioning perfectly. On the planet, they find a man named Cochrane, who claims he has been marooned. Cochrane tells them that there is some sort of damping field on the planet which will prevent them from being able to get their shuttlecraft to work.
Hedford begins developing a temperature, the first manifestation of her disease. Cochrane turns out to be space pioneer Zefram Cochrane of Alpha Centauri, the discoverer of the Space Warp. Thought to have been dead for 150 years, Cochrane has been kept alive and young for centuries by a doting gaseous alien he calls the “Companion.” The companion intercepted his disabled ship, brought him to the planet, and rejuvenated him. Cochrane had set out in a ship at the age of 87 to die in space. Cochrane also tells Kirk that the shuttlecraft has been diverted by the Companion to provide him with company.
As Spock attempts to fix the Galileo, the Companion drops by to investigate. Spock attempts to touch it but is given an electric shock. The Companion also takes the opportunity to fry the Galileo’s electronics. Using his newfound knowledge that the Companion is at least partly an electrical phenomenon; Spock builds a device to short-circuit it. Cochrane is not at all happy about this endeavor but agrees to summon the Companion. When the Companion arrives to commune with Cochrane and Spock activates his short-circuit box, Cochrane is electrically shocked, and the Companion destroys the device and attacks Kirk and Spock. Fortunately, Cochrane regains his composure and summons the Companion away before it can harm them.
Kirk then comes up with the idea of using the shuttlecraft’s universal translation device, which converts brain-wave frequencies, to attempt to communicate with the companion. This proves successful, and the Companion turns out to be a female entity who is “in love” with Cochrane. Kirk attempts to convince the Companion that humans pine away in captivity (or “cease to exist,” as he puts it), but the Companion does not believe him.
Cochrane is greatly disturbed by the knowledge that the Companion is in love with him, and storms out saying that he doesn’t want to be “fodder for any inhuman monster.” At the same time, Hedford, in a feverish daze, remarks that it is strange that Cochrane runs from love while she herself has never had the opportunity to be loved.
Kirk then tries to convince the Companion that she is not capable of giving Cochrane true human love, and that if she really loves Cochrane, she will let him go. Instead, she occupies and cures the body of Commissioner Hedford, who had been on the verge of death. She also restores the shuttlecraft and communication devices to working order. However, the Companion is unable to leave the planet without dying, and Cochrane decides to remain with her.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise had discovered the asteroid field (containing some 7000 bodies) and had begun searching the asteroids one at a time for the lost shuttlecraft. Fortunately, this search is greatly simplified by the resumption of communications. As they prepare to depart, Kirk agrees not to mention his adventure with Cochrane.
Cochrane reappears in Star Trek VIII: First Contact, although his personality and appearance are completely different than they were in the original episode. Furthermore, in the film, Cochrane is from Earth instead of Alpha Centauri. Finally, he grows 6 inches.
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