The USS Enterprise has been ordered to Capella IV to negotiate a mining contract for topeline, a mineral vital to life support systems of planetoid colonies. But when the crew beam down they discover that the Klingons have beat them to the planet. Kirk, Spock and Bones must try to secure the treaty, but the Klingon culture is much closer to that of the Capellans.
The USS Enterprise, arrives at the inhabited planet Capella IV to try to secure a mining contact for the mineral topeline, which is found in abundance here. Dr. McCoy is familiar with the Capellan culture, having been stationed on their world for a few months, early in his career. Prior to beaming down, Dr. McCoy briefs the away team, telling them that the Capellans are strong, aggressive humanoids, averaging 7 feet tall. They have violent tendencies and they value honesty.
Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, First Officer Spock, and a security officer beam down to the planet’s surface; leaving Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott in command of the ship. Kirk warns Scott to be vigilant, for Klingons have interest in Capella IV as well, and may try to interfere.
The away team is met by a group of Capellans, accompanied by a Klingon. The security officer instinctively draws his phaser and is killed by one of the Capellan guards. The Capellans require the away team to surrender their weapons – and on the Klingon Kras’ suggestion, their communicators. Upon compliance, the Capellans welcome the arrival of their human guests.
Kirk almost runs afoul of Capellan custom when he nearly takes food offered by a nubile Capellan female, but McCoy intervenes, warning him that accepting it would have triggered a mandatory duel with her closest male relative. Kirk avoids touching the offering, much to the chagrin of the woman's male relative who relished the chance for combat with the Captain.
The following day, three-way talks begin between Kirk, Kras, and Akaar, the Tier (chief) of the Ten Tribes of the Capellans. Kras suggests that the Earthmen do not believe in ascendancy through strength as the Capellans and Klingons do, and that they are a poisonous influence on Capellan culture. Kirk argues that the Federation will guarantee Capella IV’s freedom, something the Klingon Empire will not. Akaar seems to prefer the Federation offer, while his rivals favor an alliance with the Klingons. One rival, Maab, kills Akaar, becoming the new Tier. Pressing his advantage, Kras urges Maab to kill the Earthmen. This however backfires, as Maab believes the Klingon showed fear where the Earthmen showed courage.
The situation reverses radically, however, when Maab orders Eleen, Akaar's pregnant widow be killed. Eleen carries Akaar's child, who was to be the next Tier in line of succession. When Maab cruelly trips Eleen so that she is burned in a fire, Kirk and McCoy go to her aid, which angers Maab who orders them to be seized.
The Enterprise receives a distress call from the freighter ship SS Deirdre. Unable to establish contact with the away team, Mr. Scott reluctantly leaves Capella IV to affect a rescue. Upon arrival at the Deidre’s coordinates, Mr. Sulu is unable to find any sign of the ship or debris. Upon reviewing the distress call, Mr. Scott realizes that the call appealed to the USS Enterprise by name, and no civilian ship should have known of the Enterprise's mission in the area. Speeding back to Capella IV the Enterprise receives another distress signal, this time from the USS Carolina. Scott ignores it saying, "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me". Before it can reach Capella IV, however, the Enterprise, is intercepted by a Klingon warship, and a standoff ensues.
Down on the planet’s surface, the away team, with Eleen in tow, escape into the nearby hills. Dr. McCoy, concerned over Eleen's burn and pregnancy, attempts to examine her. She repeatedly resists, slapping him each time until McCoy slap her back. This show of force earns her respect and she allows him to examine her. He discovers that she’s ready to give birth. Since she isn’t human, McCoy is worried about his ability to deliver the baby. They soon find a cave for shelter, and make a fire. Kirk and Spock build bows and arrows for defense.
When Maab’s hunting party approach, Kirk and Spock kill some of the Capellans by causing an avalanche. Kras grabs a phaser and then kills a Capellan in the ensuing scuffle.
In the cave, McCoy attempts to deliver Eleen's baby despite her feelings of estrangement from the child. She disowns the child, claiming it isn't hers. McCoy tells her to repeat the words: "the child is mine" in an attempt to get her to claim the child, but she takes the phrase literally, saying “the child is yours”. After the delivery, Eleen knocks McCoy out with a rock, and runs out to surrender to Maab claiming she has killed the baby and the humans in their sleep.
Kras doubts her story, which results in further conflict between him and the Capellans, resulting in Kras killing a Capellan who tried to attack him with a kligat – a traditional weapon akin to a large Japanese throwing star. Just then, Kirk and Spock open fire with arrows, wounding Kras. Maab sacrifices himself so that one of his men can kill Kras. The melee is cut short when Mr. Scott and and a security detail from the Enterprise beam down and end the fighting.
The Capellans declare the newborn child the new Tier, with Eleen acting as regent until he comes of age. The mining agreement is secured for the Federation and the crew all beam back aboard the Enterprise. It is revealed that the child was named 'Leonard James Akaar' in honor of McCoy, Kirk and the former Tier.
D.C. Fontana wanted to tell a story of a woman who would even use her own child to save herself, and in the original script, Eleen is killed by the Capellans after trying to use the child as a bargaining chip. Gene Roddenberry objected to the ending, and had it changed.
|Air Date||Dec. 1, 1967|