*** (3 stars out of 5)
Rushing for a hospital to treat dying, surly, Assistant Federation Commissioner Nancy Hedford, shuttlecraft Galileo is pulled off course by an energy creature with "erratic impulses".
It strands them on a planetoid with a friendly, handsome castaway who takes a shine to Nancy. "Food to a starving man, all of you." he says. (He just means he was lonely, but that's a worrying phrase coming from a stranger with no visible farm!)
It emerges that the castaway is Zefram Cochrane, famous inventor of the space warp... who was presumed dead 150 years ago at age 87. Dying in his ship, he was brought here and rejuvenated by the energy creature he calls the Companion. It's friendly, merges with him, shares thoughts, and keeps him alive and young.
"Immortality consists largely of boredom." Cochrane tells Kirk. "What's it like out there in the galaxy?"
"We're on a thousand planets and spreading out. We cross fantastic distances and everything's alive... we estimate there are millions of planets with intelligent life. We haven't begun to map them." Captain Kirk's enthusiasm here, highlighted by the musical score, is still contagious to me.
Companion brought Kirk, McCoy, Spock, and Nancy here in response to Cochrane's loneliness. It did this because it... she.... is in love with Cochrane. They make this discovery by use of the Universal Translator, here pointed out for the first time. Handy device, even knows a girl energy being when it hears one.
When Cochrane learns this, he feels used. Disgusted.
"There's nothing disgusting about it," opines McCoy. "It's just another life form, that's all. You get used to those things." It's more mature than I'm used to from old-fashioned McCoy, but it's refreshing after their gut reaction against android-human coupling last episode. They seem a little baffled by Cochrane's prejudice against the alien.
Kirk asserts men need obstacles to strengthen them, and captivity kills the spirit. Companion sacrifices its immortal energy form to save Nancy's life and they meld into one. The Companion and the Commissioner. I'm going to assume Nancy's total freak-out ealier, (wailing at the idea of being with Cochrane) "It's disgusting! It's inhuman! We're not animals!" was down to high fever. Otherwise I have to assume the joining totally subsumed her opinions in favour of those of The Companion. I'm opposed to little things like body usurpation. They are mortal together, without Companions' power, and cannot live off this planet for "more than a tiny march of days", but they feel it was worth it for the sensations of mortality.
And learning this, Cochrane stays with her/them. It may be unconventional, non-traditional, but
it's a relationship to be proud of. They will age and die.
"I've got a feeling that's one of the pleasanter things about being human, as long as you grow old together."