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written by Lee Cronin (Gene L. Coon)
STORY OUTLINE, dated April 19, 1968

report & analysis by David Eversole

Since there are very few differences until the fourth act, I’ll simply detail a few of the minor changes as we go.

The story opens with Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty and Security Officer Valentine already enshrouded in fog in a weird sort of "nowhere." Their memories are hazy, but they all agree that they had been approaching a star system to make contact with the aliens there and had encountered several mysterious warnings to stay away.

A tall being, transparent, with tendrils for hair, appears and identifies himself as the Orkhat of Shawn. The Shawnians wish no contact, and since Kirk and his party insist on invading their territory, they must die.

The punishment is drawn from the "patterns" of Kirk’s mind, and the Enterprise personnel find themselves in a mental recreation of Tombstone, Arizona on October 26, 1881.

Coon’s outline mentions nothing of a surreal set for Tombstone. He describes it as a completely realized western town.

Kirk soon realizes the significance of the date, and the bartender confirms his suspicions: The Enterprise crewmen are cast in the role of the Clanton faction and must face the Earps ("Earps?" Spock says, "Sounds like a digestive disorder.") A difference between the outline and episode is the characters assumed by Bones, Scotty and Valentine.

Captain Kirk Ike Clanton Ike Clanton
Mister Spock Frank McLowery Frank McLowery
Doctor McCoy Billy Claiborne Tom McLowery
Mister Scott Tom McLowery Billy Clanton
Valentine (Chekov) Billy Clanton Billy Claiborne

NOTE: Historical sources most often record Frank and Tom’s surname as McLaury. Coon wrote it as McLowery.

Things play out much as in the aired version, with the exception of Valentine. Unlike the Chekov and Sylvia the saloon girl subplot, here Valentine is a dedicated, gung-ho security officer who takes it upon himself to protect the others. After a brief bit of practice in the art of the quick draw, he sneaks off to confront the Earps. Though fast for an amateur, Valentine is killed. Spock notes that Billy Clanton was supposed to die in the famous gunbattle at five o'clock, not be shot down on the street at noon. Maybe the "patterns" can be changed.

ANOTHER NOTE: The historical gun battle took place closer to 1:00PM, not 5:00PM. It also took place in a vacant lot nearer to Fly’s Photographic Studio than it did to the O.K. Corral, but who the hell wants to go down in history for engaging in gunplay at a place with such a pedestrian name?

It is in the finale that Coon made his greatest revisions. With time running out, Kirk keeps coming back to the word "patterns." He keeps mentioning the code duello and the inflexible mores of the Old West. He suddenly has an idea, and confers with the others.

Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp, and Doc Holliday approach and to their surprise find Kirk and crew hiding behind a wagon. When Wyatt orders them to come out and show themselves as honor demands, Kirk refuses. In fact, Kirk tells Wyatt that they have their guns trained on them and will shoot them down. Wyatt and his boys are confused; they simply do not know what to do.

Their surroundings disappear, and the Enterprise landing party, except Valentine, is back in the fog-enshrouded nowhere facing the Orkhat of Shawn. Since Valentine was killed, he cannot be returned.

The Shawnian is shocked that Kirk would act outside of a pattern, shocked that Humans contain such an aberration in their personalities. Obviously Humans are insane, and the Shawnians are a righteous people who would not execute the mentally imbalanced. Kirk and crew are free to go. They find themselves back on the Enterprise, with no time elapsed. Obviously their adventure took place outside of time.

Everyone on the Enterprise is taken aback by Kirk’s next command. Starting immediately, every person onboard will practice the quick draw for at least fifteen minutes a day. "Never know when it might come in handy," he says.


With the exception of the ending, Coon made few changes to this outline, one of the better episodes of the third season. And poor Valentine, after noting that he was not returned with the others to the fog-enshrouded nowhere, he is not mentioned again, even when the others are returned to the Enterprise and talk among themselves.

More on the famous "Gunfight at the O. K. Corral" can be found here.

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