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written by John Meredyth Lucas
unproduced 15-page outline, dated
November 7, 1968
report & analysis by Dave Eversole

TEASER

While investigating a series of supernovae whose catastrophic radiation has destroyed several cultures on nearby worlds, the Enterprise penetrates to the heart of the sphere of destruction and finds a planet orbiting a dying star. Sensors reveal the cities on the planet are intact -- they have not been destroyed, just deserted.

Suddenly Ehdom, a humanoid with an oversized bald cranium, appears on the bridge. Security guards who move toward him are frozen, immobile. "Why have you come?" Ehdom asks.

Kirk explains they have come only to investigate the cataclysmic destruction left behind in the wake of the supernovae.

Ehdom does admit that their preliminary experiments were not entirely successful. When Kirk realizes that Ehdom is taking responsibility for the supernovae, he asks what their ultimate plan is.

"The absorption of the universe," Ehdom says, and then vanishes.

ACT ONE

Kirk, Spock and four security guards beam down to the planet’s surface. They materialize inside a metal chamber, devoid of mechanical equipment. Through a window they can see the scarred surface of the incredibly old world. Suddenly Spock gets two life readings on his tricorder. Ehdom appears, amused by Kirk’s persistence. He tells Kirk that his people were once like him –- young, eager to explore. Ehdom reads Kirk’s mind to determine the location of Earth. Ehdom says that when his people visited Earth it was but a boiling cloud of gas in a protouniverse.

"You’re five billion years old?" Kirk asks. Far older, he is told. "We are the last."

"We?"

Ehvay appears. Unlike Ehdom, her head is normal. She is beautiful by Earth’s standards. They are the last two biological entities on this world.

Kirk asks what Ehdom meant when he said he planned to absorb the universe, asks if only the two of them will absorb it.

Ehdom explains that the entirety of his race is functioning within his mind. Ehvay is his physician, left to care for his body as they take the final step. Spock is fascinated -- "A melding of minds within one brain?"

Ehdom explains that his race ultimately decided that the universe was simply too large to physically explore. "Only the mind operates in real time. In a purely mental state, we could reach the farthest corner of the universe, perform any function, within the same instant of time."

When Kirk protests that such mental feats are impossible, Ehdom causes to appear a lovely young woman Kirk dated as a cadet, and then the long dead Captain of the first vessel Kirk served aboard. Ehdom causes them to vanish as Spock confirms that he too saw the two people.

There is no difference between thought and reality, Ehdom says. He explains that the supernovae are part of a very important experiment, the next to final experiment, in fact. But Ehdom and Ehvay cannot yet fully absorb these suns.

But what of the peoples on these worlds, Kirk asks. Ehdom says he regrets the loss of consciousness, but his race must be rid of their final two biological bodies forever.

Spock attempts to mentally contact Ehdom, but the mild contact is so powerful that Spock collapses. Two of the guards fire at Ehdom; he reflects the phaser beams back at them, and they flare into nothingness.

Ehdom tells Kirk that their minds will be absorbed since there is nothing that Kirk’s mind, or any human’s, can offer him. But Ehdom says he will allow the Enterprise to witness the next to final experiment.

Suddenly, Kirk and Spock are back on the bridge of the Enterprise. Scott reports that the viewscreens are trained on the Telof star system, set to full magnification. All watch as that system glows into a vast fireball, then vanishes.

Ehdom appears on the bridge, but before Kirk can question him, he concentrates and on the screen the huge diffuse area that was the Telof system begins to glow. As all watch, amazed, glowing particles coalesce toward a center, which spins faster and faster, contracts into a dense brilliant dot which explodes. The whirling concentric circles of debris coalesce into planets with a sun at the center. Soon the Telof star system is exactly as it was. Millions of years of star formation have just taken place in seconds. "We destroy and we create," Ehdom says.

Spock checks his sensors, no life readings from the Telof system. He turns on Ehdom and says, "There were seven billion people in that system."

Ehdom vanishes. Kirk and crew stare in horror at the image of the dead star system.

ACT TWO

Kirk holds a conference with his senior staff. All agree that Starfleet must be warned. Spock attempts to "flash feed" a message through the computer, compressing it to less than a single microsecond. Perhaps at such a speed it will escape Ehdom’s notice. No luck. Ehdom stops it, tells them that such a message would only cause alarm and confusion.

Kirk is sure that Ehdom can be brought down by his ego. He posits that the destruction and resurrection of the Telof system was just Ehdom’s way of showing off.

At his station, Spock announces that a deep scan of the planet below shows thousands of very faint life sign readings. Could this mean Ehdom is lying? Are there more of them deep within the planet? Perhaps they could help defeat Ehdom. Spock is able to zero in on a chamber deep within the planet. He and Kirk beam down.

They materialize inside a small room filled with bodies in glass cases. This room is but a single cell in a giant honeycomb. In the chamber beyond, and the next, as far as the eye can see, are thousands of cases filled with bodies. These are the bodies of all those minds that are within the brain of Ehdom. Living dead, kept here, in case their bodies are once again needed, in case Ehdom’s final great step fails.

Ehvay appears, tells them that they must leave. Ehdom does not know they are here as he is busy concentrating on the final step. Kirk questions her about the final step, the unification of all the minds. Does she not fear that she will lose her consciousness, the very essence that makes her "her" in such a supermind.

Ehvay sidesteps the issue. They must go. She will not tell Ehdom, but they must go back to their ship now.

Back on the ship all confer again. Several plans are put forth, including a theory from McCoy that perhaps he can revive the bodies if a way is found to transfer the minds back into them. But, in the end, nothing seems capable of stopping Ehdom from absorbing every single mind in the universe.

Kirk dismisses all except Spock. "I have a plan that will stop Ehdom," Kirk says. Until he cuts the last biological link, Ehdom is still mortal, still vulnerable. Kirk plans to explode the matter-antimatter reactor of the ship. All matter within half a parsec would be annihilated.

"We’d create our own supernova, and die in it," Spock says.

"But the loss of one starship is a small price to pay for the survival of the galaxy," Kirk says.

ACT THREE

Spock uses his telepathic ability to erase knowledge of the plan to explode the matter-antimatter reactor from Kirk’s mind. Ehdom would surely be able to read the plan in Kirk’s thoughts, but perhaps not in Spock’s. Before they implement their plan, Kirk wants to try one more line. He beams down to the planet and tries to sway Ehvay.

He gives her a rousing speech.

From the outline:

"Our lives are individual, not collective. This is not the final step up the evolutionary scale but a step back. Ehdom has chosen a dead end, an over-specialization as dangerous and as fatal as the great size of Earth’s dinosaurs. It’s true he has more power than our minds can even conceive. But he is not all powerful. He cannot create life. He transmutes matter as he did with the Telof system. He did it with incredible speed but he did not create, he could not reconstruct the lives he took. I am convinced he is leading your entire race to suicide."

Kirk goes on to explain that she will never know love. She reads his mind to discover the meaning of love and finds there: "A mating instinct?"

Much more, Kirk tells her. But she will not be able to experience that in a collective mind. To demonstrate physical love, Kirk kisses her. She begins to get the message. She tries to argue with him, but "Kirk is able to silence her protests with his lips. For a while, there are no more protests."

On the Enterprise, Spock finds an excuse to send Scott away from Engineering, then goes there to rig the matter-antimatter reactor to explode.

Meanwhile, back on the planet, Ehvay’s eyes glow with a newfound warmth. She is amazed at how pleasant this "love" is that Kirk has just taught her. How fulfilling it would be to continually experience it, she says. Kirk holds her close, tells her there could be time if she would just trust him.

Ehvay concentrates, reads Kirk’s mind to see if he is sincere. There is something in his mind that is hidden. She probes deeper, discovers the terrible secret that Spock had attempted to lock away. She jumps up, attempts to run away to warn Ehdom.

Kirk knocks her out, solid right to the chin. Spock beams down. All is set. They can beam back to the Enterprise and activate the reactor. Kirk is sad there is no other option. They start to beam up, but Ehdom appears, counteracts the transporter. They cannot leave. Ehdom chastises them for daring to think they could defeat him. He has read their minds and has already mentally caused the matter-antimatter reactor connections that Spock rigged up to disassemble.

"I am now ready for the final step," Ehdom says.

ACT FOUR

Kirk pleads with Ehdom not to absorb every mind within the universe. Ehdom will not listen. "We no longer need the universe," he says. "We are the universe!" He vanishes.

Ehvay has been listening. She climbs to her feet, unsteady. She refuses to believe that Ehdom’s plan is madness. It will be perfection, she insists.

From the outline:

"Perfection," Kirk tells her, "is stagnation." He begs her to listen. He does not have final answers but certain rules he knows are true. "Life is a tension, a balance between opposing forces. In everything there must be checks and balances. People must work together but as individuals. Too little cooperation is anarchy, too much collectivism breaks down the will of the individual. That’s what’s happened to those thousands of minds -- the minds of your race, subject to Ehdom’s tyranny. No one creates by destroying."

Ehvay is torn, but cannot fathom betraying Ehdom. Kirk asks if she can, having just discovered what a wonderful thing her body can be, allow Ehdom to destroy it?

Suddenly Kirk, Spock and Ehvay find themselves standing on a desolate plain on the planet’s ruined surface. Ehdom, one hundred feet tall, is in deep concentration. About him is an incredible light display. Ehvay tells Kirk and Spock that it has begun.

Hurricane force winds rip across the plain. Kirk and Spock literally dig their hands into the rocky soil to keep from being swept away. Kirk carefully reaches for his communicator. "Must beam up," he tells Spock. To Ehvay, he says, "Goodbye."

Ehvay, totally unaffected by the winds, serenely looks at him. "Goodbye – my love."

The wind rips the communicator from Kirk’s hand. Ehvay sees Kirk dragged away by the wind. She gasps, stretches out her hand.

Kirk, Spock and Ehvay are back on the bridge of the Enterprise.

The electro-magnetic storm Ehdom has created is wreaking havoc on all the Enterprise’s systems. Ehvay now comes to realize that Ehdom is only using the minds within his brain for their power. He does not truly care about them, about her. But he is too strong; she cannot stand against him.

McCoy bursts out of the turbolift. He has discovered a way to reactivate the lifeless bodies on the planet below. If they can feed a certain type of energy into the bodies, they will revive and their minds will leave Ehdom’s brain and return to their own bodies.

But Ehdom reads the plan in Ehvays’s mind, and lashes out at the Enterprise with great terrible bursts of energy. Ehvay mentally casts a shield around the ship to momentarily protect them, but they must hurry.

At last, the computers are ready to send the signal. But before Kirk can press the button to send, Ehvay screams, collapses, and the mental shield she was keeping about the Enterprise dissolves. Ehdom strikes at the ship. Kirk struggles to reach the button, his fingertips find it. He presses it.

The signal is sent from the Enterprise to the bodies below. As each body is brought back to life, its mind flees Ehdom’s brain and returns. As more bodies receive their minds back, Ehdom is weakened, and the wind dies down, the incredible auroreal display flickers. Ehdom draws inward upon himself, collapses, vanishes into the rocky soil.

On the Enterprise, the lights steady, systems flicker back on. Kirk looks down at the lifeless body of Ehvay. She had finally discovered what her people had lost –- love. And her love had bought new life for them.

 

I'm of two minds about this story.

The suspense that builds as Ehdom slowly reveals his "next to last step" and his "final step" are real, and would have gripped the viewing audience, provided the bald, oversized cranium was not too oversized (not into Lost In Space territory), and provided they secured the services of an actor such as Michael Ansara to essay the role.

However, the subplot with Kirk showing Ehvay the "love, strange love a star-man teaches" was more than a bit tired, even in 1968.

Far superior to "The Lost Star," though it does suffer from some of the same technobabble nonsense -- just how did McCoy know the minds would reenter the bodies after he zapped them? Ehvay never told him this.

I'm thinking the cost of the special effects, alone, played a great part in dooming this potential episode.

And I apologize for paraphrasing Gene Roddenberry's lyrics to the opening theme, but I couldn't get the damn thing out of my head as I encapsulated those scenes.

 

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