The Enterprise is on a mission to deliver medical supplies to a planet that is being ravaged by a plague. But on route they find a quasar-like object and since these are a high priority of the Enterprise, they send out a shuttle craft (the Galileo Seven of the title) with a crew that includes Spock, McCoy and Scott. But as soon as the shuttle craft nears the object, the radiation from the quasar drives the shuttle craft off target and damages its communication and navigation controls.
Meanwhile back on the Enterprise Kirk is aware that the shuttle craft has gone missing and that locating and rescuing the crew will be extremely difficult. On top of this they have on board, Commissioner Farris, whose mission it is to ensure that the Enterprise delivers the medical supplies on time and he has put Kirk on notice that one minute past the scheduled time Farris will assume command of the Enterprise and force it to leave the shuttle crew to perish.
Meanwhile the shuttle craft has crash landed on a planet that is inhabited by twelve-foot tall cave men who hurl equally gigantic spears with deadly force. Within minutes of landing one of the red shirts is speared. Spock shows no sorrow for this death and gains the animosity of most of the crew. When a second crewman is killed by the cave men because of Spock’s ineffective leadership there is almost open revolt and Spock is almost shocked by how poorly his logical approach has fared.
And on the Enterprise the crew has been carrying out a systematic but hopeless search for the shuttle craft on the planet. Commissioner Farris spends all of his face time badgering Kirk and performing a countdown to their departure time. He truly is an annoying jerk. Finally, time runs out and Kirk begins leaving the solar system at slowest speed.
After discovering that their fuel is depleted, they have Scotty repower the shuttle with the phasers they’ve been using to fight off the cave men. They determine that the power will allow them to reach orbit. But when the cave men start to attack the ship, they sacrifice some of the power for a high-powered lift off and now barely have enough power to reach orbit. Based on schedule they know that the Enterprise has already left orbit but Spock decides to forfeit their ability to stay in orbit for a chance to attract the Enterprise’s attention with a rapid burn off of their fuel, basically a flare. And of course, it works and at the very last minute as the shuttle craft is burning up in re-entry, the shuttle crew is rescued by the transporter.
The episode is centered on the shortcomings of a leader who does not have empathy in his psyche. Spock is unable to inspire confidence in his crew and his lack of understanding of how the illogical cave men will react results in the death of one of his men. But finally, when fiery death was staring him in the face he resorted to a desperate intuitive plan and succeeded. All of this was slightly interesting. But at the end of the episode when Spock and McCoy are on the bridge with Kirk and he refuses to admit that he acted illogically they accuse him of being stubborn and he agrees. Then they all start laughing as if this was something hilarious. This looked incredibly phony.
Alright, so what do I do with this episode? This is one of those psychological episodes so I should probably go easy on the set up. But the planetary scenery and the cave men and their artifacts look as incredibly hokey as anything seen on Star Trek. Then there is the annoying Commissioner counting down the minutes and Kirk snapping back at him in frustration. But the crew growling at Spock and his incompetent leadership are kind of amusing. Let’s say a score of 6. As for Shatner, his only chance for bad acting is the fake laughing at the end of the episode. But that’s hardly a stellar performance for him. I’ll say 6 // 4.