In Where No Man Has Gone Before, the Enterprise picks up a distress call from a ship believed to have disappeared 200 years in the past. In the episode’s opening voice over, Kirk ponders whether another ship had ventured to where they are going. So the crew of the Enterprise brings aboard the ship’s recorder from the ship that had been sending the distress call. As Spock tries to make sense of the recording, we are introduced to a psychiatrist named Dr. Dehner and a crewmember named Mitchell who apparently was friends with Kirk (even though we’ve never heard him mentioned before this episode but whatever). From the tapes, Spock learns that before the ship’s disappearance, a couple strange things happened. First, the captain wanted as much information as possible about ESP. Second, seven crew members appeared to be dead, but then one seemed to return to life. Kirk decides to continue because someone else may want to explore the area in the future. What could go wrong, right? The Enterprise hits some sort of force field and both Dr. Dehner and Mitchell are knocked to the floor. Both are fine, but Mitchell’s eyes look weird so he is sent to the sick bay to be observed. Dr. Dehner’s eyes seem fine. So Spock decides to go through the files on the crew and learns that both Dr. Dehner and Mitchell rate high in ESP.
Meanwhile, Mitchell seems to have enhanced abilities, like being able to manipulate the readings of the machine he’s hooked up to, make cups of water float over to him, etc. It becomes clear that the mysterious force they encountered has done something to Mitchell. Mitchell is becoming dangerous and there’s nothing the crew of the Enterprise can do about it. Spock thinks Kirk should kill Mitchell (because Spock is always right), but Kirk is hesitant because of their history. So it’s decided that Mitchell will be taken down to a nearby planet and left there. Neither Mitchell nor Dr. Dehner are happy with this idea, so once they make it down to the planet, they escape and run off together. Kirk chases them, realizes Dr. Dehner’s eyes have gone wacky as well, and manages to convince her to help him kill Mitchell (and, well, she dies too).
In Where No Man Has Gone Before, Dr. Dehner and Mitchell have basically what amounts to God-like abilities and the episode examines the effect of such powers being suddenly thrust on to humans. And, well, it obviously doesn’t end well.
Firstly: I don’t think it was a smart move on Kirk’s part to move forward into the force field so quickly. Yeah, they want to know what happens so they can report back to other ships that may want to explore the area in the future, but it would’ve been smart to know more information about what happened to the other ship first, just so that they would have a better idea about how to deal with issues that arise. It doesn’t sound like the crew of the Enterprise even came up with a solution by the end of Where No Man Has Gone Before aside from perhaps “don’t travel into this area with people with high levels of ESP unless you’re prepared to kill them.”
Second: I would’ve been curious to learn more about how ESP works in the Star Trek universe. Because a crew member’s ESP level was in their file, presumably this is something that was tested for. Why was this done? Does someone’s ESP level impact what sorts of jobs they’re given, what they’re more likely to be good at, etc.? And how is it that Mitchell and Dr. Dehner the only people on the Enterprise with elevated levels of ESP?
So yeah, those are my thoughts on Where No Man Has Gone Before. What did you think of the episode?