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The Devil in the Dark (episode)

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"The Devil in the Dark"
TOS, Episode 1x26
Production number: 6149-26
First aired: 9 March 1967
Remastered version aired: 23 September 2006
27th of 80 produced in TOS
25th of 80 released in TOS
3rd of 80 released in TOS Remastered
25th of 728 released in all
Spock and Kirk inspect Horta tunnel
Written By
Gene L. Coon

Directed By
Joseph Pevney
3196.1 (2267)
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The Enterprise arrives at Janus VI, where an unknown monster is destroying machinery and killing the miners, threatening the entire mining operation.

Summary

Horta injured by phasers
Kirk and Spock fire phasers at the Horta

Teaser

On Janus VI, a miner named Schmitter replaces Sam at his guard post. Moments after Chief Vanderberg and the other guards move on, they hear a scream and return to find Schmitter reduced to a pile of ashes.

Act One

Two days later, the Enterprise arrives at Janus VI in response to the distress call. For the past three months, a creature has been terrorizing the mining colony, killing more than fifty people, sabotaging machinery on the lower levels, and bringing Pergium production to a halt.

Captain Kirk, Spock, and McCoy analyze the situation in Vanderberg's office. Only one man saw the creature and lived: Chief engineer Ed Appel, who shot it with his phaser type-1 with no effect. He doubts that the power of a starship will do any good "down in the tunnels." McCoy analyzes Schmitter's remains; they are not burned but corroded, as if by extremely corrosive acid. Spock is fascinated by a silicon sphere on Vanderburg's desk; Vanderburg says there are millions of them underground but they have no value.

Their conversation is interrupted by an alarm at the colony's nuclear reactor. The creature has killed the guard outside, burned its way in, and taken the reactor's main circulating pump, without which the reactor will go super-critical and irradiate half the planet.

Act Two

Scott reports from the Enterprise that he can rig up a replacement that might last 48 hours. Kirk orders him to beam down with it and hopes that, in that time, the original pump can be retrieved.

Spock, still contemplating Vanderburg's sphere, speculates that they may be dealing with a silicon-based lifeform rather than carbon-based life. This would explain why the creature does not show up on sensors and why it was impervious to Appel's phaser. Kirk summons Giotto and a security team, and Spock adjusts their type 2 phasers to be more effective against silicon. The security team is dispatched to level 23, which was opened just before the attacks began. Kirk orders them to set their phasers to maximum, and to fire whether or not attacked.

Spock examines the Horta
Spock, Kirk, and Security Chief Giotto examine a piece of the Horta

A security man is killed by the creature, bringing Kirk and Spock to the scene. They see the creature, and fire on it, damaging it, but it gets away, tunneling through the rock with its acid. They examine a piece of the creature, which seems to prove Spock's theory of silicon-based life. Spock detects only one such creature within 100 miles, and suggests that to kill it would result in the extinction of the species, but Kirk says there is no alternative.

Act Three

The search teams focus on where the creature was seen. Spock gives them orders to "surround it, and possibly capture it" but Kirk countermands him, stressing that the goal is to "shoot to kill." Kirk orders Spock away to assist Scott, but Spock counters with logic and Kirk relents. Scott's improvised pump fails and Kirk prepares to beam the miners up to the ship. But Vanderburg and his men refuse to be chased from the planet; they vow to fight the creature – "with clubs" if there are not enough phasers.

Kirk and Spock separate and Kirk finds a chamber with hundreds of the silicon spheres. Spock warns Kirk not to damage them but is still not ready to state his theory about them.

A roof near Kirk collapses, which Spock finds too odd to be a coincidence. The only way out for Kirk is to continue forward – to a face-to-face encounter with the creature.

Act Four

Spock and Horta mind meld
Spock establishes a mind meld with the Horta

Kirk senses the creature's intelligence, as it backs off when Kirk raises his phaser and it displays its wound from the previous encounter, and Kirk's determination to kill the creature softens. Spock arrives and initiates a Vulcan mind meld to communicate with the creature. He learns that it is a sentient being of a race called the Horta and is in extreme pain, and the Horta learns enough to etch the ambiguous "NO KILL I" into the floor. Kirk summons McCoy, though Spock thinks his medical training will be useless on the Horta.

Another mind meld reveals that the Horta is preparing for the extinction of its race. It directs the humans to find their pump in the "Chamber of the Ages." Kirk tells Spock to communicate to the creature that they are trying to help. He goes to the Chamber and finds about a million silicon spheres, which Kirk and Spock now understand are Horta eggs, ready to hatch.

Miners attack security team
Miners overpower the Enterprise security team

But several miners, held apart from the confrontation by the Enterprise security team, overpower it and stream into the confrontation. Kirk vows to kill the first man who fires and explains that the Horta is a mother reacting naturally to the destruction of thousands of her children. Spock adds that the Horta "harbor ill will towards no one." Kirk envisages a collaboration between the miners and a new generation of Horta who can tunnel through rock with ease. McCoy repairs the Horta's wound by troweling thermal concrete onto it.

The crew returns to the Enterprise and Vanderberg radios in that the Horta have started hatching and have already found new mineral deposits. He even mentions that one can get used to their appearance. Spock says the Horta told him the same thing about humans. He counters some teasing from McCoy by replying that the Horta especially admired Vulcan ears.

Log Entries

  • Captain's log, stardate 3196.1. A distress call from the pergium production station on Janus Six has brought the Enterprise to that long-established colony. Mister Spock, Doctor McCoy, and I have beamed down to meet with Chief Engineer Vanderberg, administrative head of Janus Six.

Memorable Quotes

"When that creature appears, men die."

- Vanderberg, on the Horta


"Kiss it! Baby it! Flatter it if you have to! But keep it going."

- Kirk to Scott, on fixing the circulating pump


"There's nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal."

- Kirk to Giotto, after the Horta flees


"Either one of us by himself is expendable. Both of us are not."

- Kirk, to Spock


"Pain! Pain!"

- Spock, sensing the Horta's agony


"No kill I. What is that? A plea for us not to kill it? Or a promise that it won't kill us?"

- Kirk, reading the Horta's message


"I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer!"
"You're a healer. There's a patient. That's an order."

- McCoy and Kirk, on treating the Horta


"By golly, Jim! I'm beginning to think I can cure a rainy day!"

- McCoy, after healing the Horta


"The Horta has a very logical mind. And after close association with humans, I find that curiously refreshing."

- Spock, to Kirk


"I suspect you're becoming more and more human all the time."
"Captain, I see no reason to stand here and be insulted."

- Kirk and Spock


Background Information

Story and Production

  • This episode marks the first and only time an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series begins without the Enterprise or its crew being involved in the teaser scenes before the main credits.
  • In addition, it is the only episode of the original series that has no female speaking parts.
  • This episode was originally scheduled to be filmed before "This Side of Paradise", with Ralph Senensky assigned to direct it, but during pre-production the two episodes and the directors were switched.
  • Gene L. Coon's original script featured a different chemical substance as the base of the Horta, but researcher Kellam de Forest corrected it to silicon, as the original choice seemed to be even theoretically impossible. (Inside Star Trek - The Real Story)
  • Gene L. Coon's original script called the planet Thetis Six. Researcher Kellam de Forest pointed out that "The name 'Thetis' has already been assigned by astronomers to the 17th largest asteroid discovered in 1852 in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter," and suggested the name Janus VI instead (de Forest Research Report, December 22, 1966, Gene Roddenberry Papers, UCLA Special Collections, Box 11, Folder 6).
  • NBC announced that Star Trek will be renewed for a second season next fall, during the closing credits of this episode on 9 March 1967. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp 304-305)
  • This episode was the first time McCoy used the phrase, "I'm a Doctor, not a (blank)" when Kirk asks him to help the Horta, finishing the line as, "I'm a Doctor, not a brick layer!"

Performers

  • George Takei (Sulu) and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) do not appear in this episode.
  • William Shatner's father died during the filming of this episode. Episode stand-in and background actor Eddie Paskey recalled shooting certain scenes in this episode and had high praise for Shatner during this time, stating, "as soon as we wrapped with that show, Bill left. We came to find out that as he shot all day long, he was preparing to get on an airplane to go home – his father just passed away. No one knew until he was actually gone. And, y'know, that says a lot for the dedication of the man." [X]wbm
  • When Shatner, on the set, got the call from his mother informing him about his father's death, the crew was ready to shut down production, but he insisted on continuing. During the rest of the day, Shatner took comfort in Leonard Nimoy, and cinematographer Jerry Finnerman, whose father had died on a movie set less than seven years before.(The World of Star Trek)

Props and Sets

  • The only interior portion of the Enterprise seen in this episode is the bridge, and that in only two scenes—when Scotty speaks with Kirk about replacing the circulating pump, and at the end, after the landing party has returned to the ship.
  • A portion of a Horta tunnel was seen in "Patterns of Force" as the entrance to the Underground's cavern.
  • The unbroken Horta eggs were toy bouncing balls painted gold.
  • The reactor for the colony is the same piece of equipment in engineering that Kirk's double phasered in "The Enemy Within".
  • The clubs used by some of the Janus VI colonists during their hunt for the Horta appear to be of the same design used by Kirk during his fight with Spock in the transporter room in "This Side of Paradise".
  • Janos Prohaska, the creator of the Horta costume, actually wore it into producer Gene L. Coon's office, as if to say "Look what I designed". Coon said "That's great! What is it?", and Prohaska said "I don't know. It can be whatever you want." Coon replied "I'll write a script around it.", and he wrote this episode in four days so the costume could be used. (The World of Star Trek)
  • The over-sized microbe from the final episode of the 1960s version of The Outer Limits (titled "The Probe", with Peter Mark Richman) was the basis for the Horta. It was also designed and performed by Janos Prohaska.

Costumes

Continuity

Reception

  • Gene Roddenberry was impressed with the way this episode explains the behavior of a Star Trek "monster," citing the installment as "a classic example of doing this right" as well as "one of our most popular episodes." He went on to say, "The Horta suddenly became understandable [....] It wasn't just a monster–it was someone. And the audience could put themselves in the place of the Horta... identify... feel! That's what drama is all about. And that's it's importance, too... if you can learn to feel for a Horta, you may also be learning to understand and feel for other Humans of different colors, ways, and beliefs." (The Making of Star Trek, pp. 35 & 36)
  • In his book Star Trek Memories, William Shatner identified this as his favorite episode, because his father died during filming and Nimoy's delivery of the mind meld lines made him laugh. Shatner insisted on finishing his dialogue scenes and after he left for the funeral, a stand-in (Eddie Paskey) completed his shots with Spock and the Horta, filmed from behind. When the scenes were later edited together, in several sequences, Shatner has his phaser up and the stand-in does not. However, in the later Star Trek: Fan Collective - Captain's Log DVD set, Shatner said that his favorite episode was TOS: "The City on the Edge of Forever".
  • Arthur C. Clarke once remarked, in 1995, that of the Original Series, the only episode he could recall was "The Devil in the Dark", stating that "It impressed me because it presented the idea, unusual in science fiction then and now, that something weird, and even dangerous, need not be malevolent. That is a lesson that many of today's politicians have yet to learn." (Star Trek: Four Generations)
  • Leonard Nimoy identified this episode's closing banter between Spock and Kirk as one of his favorite scenes to perform. He noted, "It was a wonderful moment which defined the relationship and defined the whole Spock character's existence and his attitude about himself." (Reflections on Spock, TOS Season 1 DVD special features)

Novelizations and Adaptations

  • McCoy specifies that he had the Enterprise beam down about a hundred pounds of thermal concrete. In James Blish's novelization of the episode in Star Trek 4, which was generally based more so on early draft scripts than final drafts, states that McCoy only used ten pounds of concrete.
  • Bantam Books published a series of novelizations called "foto-novels," which took photographic stills from actual episodes and arranged word balloons and text over them to create a comic book-formatted story. The ninth installment was an adaptation of this episode. In it, Leslie is depicted as thinking to himself, "That Vulcan would have us killed for his precious science!" after Spock instructs the security detail to capture the Horta.
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel Devil in the Sky is a sequel of sorts to this episode.
  • The 2001 WildStorm Comics comic "Star Trek: Special" featured a short story of the Borg attacking Janus IV.
  • No Kill I was the name of a Star Trek themed punk rock band.

Remastered Information

  • "The Devil in the Dark" was the third episode of the remastered version of The Original Series to air. It premiered in syndication on the weekend of 23 September 2006 and most notably featured new effects shots of the pergium production station, the Horta burning through a mine wall, and final fly-by of the Enterprise.

Max Gabl was responsible for creating the new CGI for the mining colony, at the time it was his very first assignment on the episode. [1] Producer Niel Wray was included in the matte shot as one of the two workmen walking into a tunnel in the lower corner. Wray and another member of the team were shot against a blue screen and placed into the matte. Niel was chosen because he fit into the costume. [2]

The next remastered episode to air was "The Naked Time".

Production Timeline

Video and DVD Releases

Links and References

Starring

Co-Stars

Featuring

And

Uncredited Co-Stars

References

50,000 years ago; 2210s; 2240s; 2266; acid; adit; administrative head; animal; Alter of Tomorrow; armor plating; asbestos; asphyxiation; bandage; bone; "Bones"; bricklayer; carbon life; cerium; Chamber of the Ages; Channel 1; chief; chief engineer; chief processing engineer; chemist; club; colony; devil; distress call; drift; ears; egg; empathy; Federation; foot; gallery; geology; ghost; gold; guard; hatchery; healer; Horta; Janus VI; Janus VI colony; life span; logic; main circulating pump; maintenance engineer; medical kit; mile; miner; mineral; modus vivendi; monster; nuclear reactor; oxygen; pergium; pergium production station; phaser bank; phaser I; phaser II; physician; physiology; platinum; plumber; pound; PXK pergium reactor; radiation poisoning; rain; reactor room; retardation mechanism; science; sentry; silicon; silicon-based lifeform; silicon nodule; starship; stone; teeth; thermal concrete; tissue; tricorder; trowel; tunnel; Vault of Tomorrow; volcano; Vulcan; Vulcan mind meld; uranium; yard; zoology

External link


Previous episode produced:
"This Side of Paradise"
Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 1
Next episode produced:
"Errand of Mercy"
Previous episode aired:
"This Side of Paradise"
Next episode aired:
"Errand of Mercy"
Previous remastered episode aired:
"Miri"
TOS Remastered Next remastered episode aired:
"The Naked Time"
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