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Catspaw (episode)

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"Catspaw"
TOS, Episode 2x01
Production number: 60330
First aired: 27 October 1967
Remastered version aired: 28 October 2006
31st of 80 produced in TOS
36th of 80 released in TOS
8th of 80 released in TOS Remastered
36th of 728 released in all
Sylvia as black cat
Written By
Robert Bloch

Directed By
Joseph Pevney
3018.2 (2267)
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The Enterprise crew finds witches, black cats, and haunted castles on a distant planet.

Summary Edit

TeaserEdit

A landing party of Sulu, Scott and crewman Jackson is overdue for a routine check-in, when Jackson finally answers the ship's urgent hails. His disconcerting message: one to beam up. And, when Jackson materializes, he immediately falls to the floor, dead. But from his dead lips a sonorous voice tells Captain Kirk that his ship is cursed; he must leave or all will die.

Act OneEdit

"Captain's log, stardate 3018.2. Crewman Jackson is dead... and there are no apparent physical causes. Mr. Scott and Mr. Sulu are still out of touch on the planet below. Leaving Assistant Chief Engineer DeSalle in command of the Enterprise, I'm beaming down to the planet's surface to find my two missing crewmen... and discover what killed Jackson."

With two crewmen missing and a mysterious death, Kirk doesn't plan to leave yet. He organizes a second landing party: himself, Spock, and McCoy. They beam to the point from which Jackson was beamed up. There, Kirk intends to discover what happened to his missing men, and what killed Jackson.

The planet is fogbound, something extremely unlikely given the environmental conditions. Proceeding towards a reading of nearby lifeforms, the landing party encounters three witches; the spectral hags again warn Kirk to leave. Winds and fog try to thwart the landing party, but they discover a large castle – the source of the lifeform readings. Entering, the landing party spies a black cat, and follows it through the corridors, until the floor collapses beneath them, plunging them down to a dungeon chamber, and unconsciousness.

Act TwoEdit

Awakening, the landing party discovers they are chained. Scotty and Sulu appear, and Kirk is at first relieved to see his missing men. Then he realizes they're marching to someone else's drum: alive, but unresponsive and no longer allies. The two enthralled men free Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, and herd them towards the door at phaser point; a brief scuffle is halted when all the men are suddenly – elsewhere, in the presence of a strange robed man.

This is Korob, decked out in wizard's finery, with robe, wand, and black cat. Spock's comment that mapping expeditions have not discovered lifeforms on Pyris VII wrings a small truth from Korob – that he is not native to this world. Korob first plies the crew with food and drink, then with fortunes in gemstones. All to get them to leave, without asking more questions. But Kirk tells Korob he could manufacture such stones by the ton on his ship; they're valueless, a fact that conflicts with whatever research Korob has done. Korob then reveals that the events were staged to test the landing party. He has learned they are loyal, brave, and incorruptible.

Sylvia enters. She tells Kirk that she can read and control the minds of men. Kirk briefly overpowers Scotty, seizing his weapon, and when he refuses to return it, Sylvia reveals another skill: she can perform sympathetic magic. A small model of the Enterprise, held in the flame of a candle – and the real ship, orbiting above, begins to grow hot.

Act ThreeEdit

Seizing Sylvia's arm, Kirk removes the model from the flame, and the Enterprise from danger. When he suggests that landing parties will soon appear, Korob seals the model in a block – and above, the ship is suddenly surrounded by a field unlike anything ever encountered, a field that doesn't come from anywhere, but just... is. And, it cannot be analyzed.

Kirk and Spock are returned to the dungeon, while McCoy remains with Sylvia, who intends to question him. Kirk and Spock spend some time speculating about Sylvia and Korob, and Kirk decides they must be stopped. Their questions and interest seems to him a little too sinister.

Elsewhere, Sylvia and Korob argue; Sylvia likes her new sensations. Wherever these aliens call home, they have nothing like it – and she intends to remain here. Korob reminds her they have a duty to the Old Ones, a fact she considers unimportant in light of her new infatuation.

Kirk is returned to Sylvia's presence, where he learns she is infatuated with him, as well. She reveals her plan: to dispose of Korob and join with Kirk. But Kirk is using her, gaining answers through manipulation. Among other things, he learns that the transmuter is the key to her power, a mechanism that facilitates the actualization of thought. But she discovers the deception, and has Kirk hauled back to his cell.

Korob finds Kirk and Spock; he reveals he has released the Enterprise, and he releases them. He also reveals that he can no longer control Sylvia or her pawns, and that he considers her dangerously irrational. He is regretful, offering his opinion that their visit could have been a peaceful one. Time presses, and he cannot explain in detail; instead, he urges the men out of their cell, where they again encounter the black cat – now grown to enormous size. The men are forced to retreat back into their cell.

Act FourEdit

Sylvia and Korob in Ornithoid form
Sylvia and Korob undone.
The cat forces the door of the cell, crushing Korob and giving Kirk an opportunity to retrieve his wand. Escaping through the ceiling, Kirk and Spock are confronted by their own enthralled crew, and a brief scuffle ends with Sylvia's pawns out of action, and the reappearance of the cat, as well as Sylvia. The wand Kirk has retrieved is the transmuter, and Sylvia wants it very badly. She transports Kirk into the main hall and tells him to give her the transmuter. She informs him that she has a less powerful, and simpler mechanism; that it's Korob's wand which holds the key to their power. Sylvia is reluctant to simply seize the device from Kirk, despite her contention that he does not know how to use it. Finally, she threatens Kirk with a phaser, demanding the wand. Kirk responds by shattering the wand, an act that undoes everything... almost everything. At the landing party's feet, two small aliens wither and fall. Deprived of their transmuter, Sylvia and Korob have resumed their real forms, and are as Sylvia described them: feathers in the wind, a life form that is totally alien to their universe. They quickly perish, and both landing parties return to the Enterprise.

Memorable quotes Edit

Witches of Pyris VII
"Remember the curse!"

"Captain Kirk! ... Captain Kirk! ... Captain Kirk!"
"Go back! ... Go back! ... Go back!"
"Remember the curse!"
"Wind shall rise!"
"And fog descend!"
"So leave here, all, or meet your end!"

- Three illusory witches, warning away Kirk, Spock and McCoy


"Spock. Comment?"
"Very bad poetry, Captain."
"A more useful comment, Mister Spock."

- Kirk and Spock, on the curse


"If we weren't missing two officers and a third one dead I'd say someone was playing an elaborate trick-or-treat on us."
"Trick or treat, Captain?"
"Yes, Mister Spock. You'd be a natural."

- Kirk and Spock, on the Halloween references


"Mister Chekov, recalibrate your sensors. If you need help –"
"I can do it, sir. I'm not that green."

- DeSalle patronizing Chekov after he loses readings of the landing party


Kirk, McCoy and bones
Kirk, "Doc" and "Bones"

"Bones? Doc?"

- Kirk, after seeing a skeleton in chains next to McCoy


"Where did your race get this ridiculous predilection for resistance, hmm? You examine any object. You...you question everything! Is it not enough to accept what is?"

-Korob


"You can't think a man to death."

- Kirk, on sympathetic magic


"Maybe we can't break it, but I'll bet you credits to navy beans we can put a dent in it!"

- DeSalle, determined to free the Enterprise from Korob's force field


"You are using me! You hold me in your arms and there is no fire in your mind! You're trying to deceive me! It's here like words on a page! You are using me!"
"And why not?!! You've been using me and my crew!!"
"You will be swept away. You! Your men! Your ship!! Your worlds!!!"

- Sylvia and Kirk


"Captain, a little more alacrity, if you please."

- Spock, as he and Kirk escape the dungeon


"All of this, just an illusion."
"No illusion. Jackson is dead."

- McCoy and Kirk, after seeing Sylvia and Korob die

Background information Edit

Production timeline Edit

Story and production Edit

  • The title of this episode, "Catspaw", is a term that describes a person used by another as a dupe; as McCoy points out, Scott and Sulu are used as catspaws to lure more crewmen down.
  • Robert Bloch based this episode very loosely on his own short story "Broomstick Ride." Bloch also wrote "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" In both episodes, the "Old Ones" figure into the guest characters' backstories. [2]
  • Although this was the first episode of TOS Season 2 in production (filmed in early May 1967), it did not premiere until the week of Halloween, 1967. It was, in fact, written in a Halloween-type theme for just that reason. This episode also remains to date the only Star Trek production produced as a "holiday special" type episode.
  • This episode marks several changes to the episode credits. From this point on, the episode titles and end credits are in the same font as the main title of the series. Directors and writers are credited at the beginning of Act One instead of the end of the last act. DeForest Kelley's name is added to the opening credits. Also, Gene Roddenberry is credited as series creator in the opening credits.
  • Several bloopers from this episode can be found in the second season blooper reel. [3]
  • This episode introduces two plot elements that will be revisited in stories later in season 2. First, extragalactic aliens taking human form and then becoming inundated with human sensations will be revisited in episode #51: "By Any Other Name". Second, an eccentric man with uncommon powers and accompanied by an apparently intelligent black cat, who later turns into a black haired woman, is revisited in episode #55: "Assignment: Earth".
  • In a scene where a hypnotized Scotty is aiming a phaser pistol at Kirk and Spock, it is evident that Scotty is missing a finger of his right hand. (He is only holding the phaser butt with two fingers - ring and pinky.) This is because actor James Doohan lost his right middle finger when he was part of the Normandy invasion during World War II, serving as a flight officer with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Cast Edit

  • Walter Koenig joined the cast as Pavel Chekov in this episode, despite his character having already met Khan Noonien Singh in the previous season's "Space Seed"as noted in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; also note the rather large wig worn by Walter Koenig in this episode which was later dispensed with when his own hair was long enough.
  • This would be the third and final appearance of Michael Barrier as DeSalle.
  • James Doohan's only dialog in this episode is the statement, "Everything's vanished". George Takei doesn't speak at all; he simply nods "yes" and "no" when his character is queried by Kirk, and later cries "aha!" before engaging Kirk in hand-to-hand combat.
  • Theo Marcuse died in a car accident one month after this episode aired.
  • The role of Crewman Jackson was played by regular Trek stuntman Jay Jones. Jones is credited as "Jimmy Jones", whom some sources believed was Jones' brother. However, in a 1996 retrospective interview, Jay claimed that the role of Jackson was played by himself as his first assignment on Star Trek and makes no mention of a brother named Jimmy being involved on the show. (Science Fiction Television Series, Mark Phillips and Frank Garcia, McFarland and Co.)
  • This is the first episode to feature all 7 of the "classic" cast members who would be brought back for future big screen adventures: Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov, although they do not all appear in the same scene together.

Props and effects Edit

TrappedModel
Metal prop laminated in lucite
  • A detailed metal prop miniature of the Enterprise was created for this episode, then laminated in lucite as one of Korob's tricks. The miniature was donated to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum by Gene Roddenberry. (The Star Trek Compendium, p. 70)
  • The ornithoid lifeforms were marionettes composed of blue fluff, pipe cleaners, crab pincers, and other materials. The marionettes were operated with thick, black threads that were clearly visible; most of this was corrected in the remastered version of the episode. (The Star Trek Compendium, p. 70)
  • The three witches seen towards the start of the episode were intended to be shown as floating severed heads, hence the reaction from the landing party at their appearance. The characters wore black turtlenecks against a black backdrop, with light shining directly up into the face. Unfortunately, the effect did not work and the turtlenecks worn by the actors can clearly be seen. Even in the remastered version of the episode, this oversight is still present. (The Star Trek Compendium, p. 70)
  • This is the first episode in which a scope can be seen at the engineering station on the bridge. The science station scope was slightly altered for this episode; it is of a lighter color than the science scope used in episodes of the first season and has a circular control added to its left side. This dial control, as first seen in this episode, would remain throughout Seasons 2 and 3.
  • The blue planet used in this episode as Pyris VII (albeit a darker blue to illustrate the spookiness of the planet) was reused in subsequent episodes, representing Argelius II in "Wolf in the Fold", Sigma Iotia II in "A Piece of the Action", Troyius in "Elaan of Troyius" and Scalos in "Wink of an Eye" which were all lighter blue color.

Continuity Edit

  • In this episode, DeSalle wears a red engineering tunic, unlike the gold command tunic he wore in "The Squire of Gothos" and "This Side of Paradise". The character started out as a navigator in "Squire", then served as a science officer in "Paradise", ending up as an engineer here.
  • The short scene of crewmen in turtleneck uniforms walking on a corridor during red alert is stock footage from "Where No Man Has Gone Before". This marks the last time that these uniforms are worn by Enterprise crewmembers.
  • Spock's reference to the witches' "very bad poetry" echoes his earlier remarks about the Air Force's "poor photography" in "Tomorrow is Yesterday".

Remastered information Edit

"Catspaw" was the eighth episode of the remastered version of The Original Series to air, premiering in syndication on the weekend of 28 October 2006. Aside from the standard remastering of the effects used for the USS Enterprise, the most notable revised features include new effects shots of Pyris VII, as well as the castle on the surface, with the original shot of the castle entry completely retained as part of the full building. The transmuter effect was also touched up and most of the visible wires controlling the Ornithoid lifeforms were removed.

The next remastered episode to air was "The Trouble with Tribbles".

Video and DVD releases Edit

Links and References Edit

Starring Edit

Guest Star Edit

Co-Starring Edit

Featuring Edit

With Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stunt doubles Edit

References Edit

"Bones"; bribery; castle; cat; credit; demon; diamond; dungeon; Earth; Earth parallel development; emerald; feather; fog; force field; ghost; Halloween; heat-dissipation unit; hypnosis; iron maiden; logic; mace; magic wand; mapping expedition; martial arts; meter; Milky Way Galaxy; mind probing; model; Mumbo jumbo; navy bean; ogre; Old Ones; Pyris VII; reactor; ruby; saber-toothed tiger; sapphire; Satan; skeleton; sympathetic magic; telekinesis; telepathy; transmuter; trick-or-treat; tricorder; Vulcan neck pinch; wavelength analysis; wine; witch; wizard

External link Edit


Previous episode produced:
"Operation -- Annihilate!"
Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 2
Next episode produced:
"Metamorphosis"
Previous episode aired:
"The Doomsday Machine"
Next episode aired:
"I, Mudd"
Previous remastered episode aired:
"Arena"
TOS Remastered Next remastered episode aired:
"The Trouble with Tribbles"
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