Okay let’s get through the plot outline really quick. Three survivors of a god-like race that destroyed itself a half a million years ago and who now exist as disembodied energy fields inside of spherical containers that allow them to survive for hundreds of millennia have summoned Captain Kirk to loan them three human bodies to allow them to manufacture android bodies by means of their advanced science. While the bodies are on loan the human minds of the volunteers will reside in the spheres. With these android bodies the ancient beings would be available to guide humanity around the pitfalls that had eventually destroyed their own advanced race. The head alien is Sargon. The second is his wife Thalassa and the third is, ridiculously enough, Sargon’s mortal enemy Henoch. Sargon gets Kirk’s body. Thallassa gets the body of Dr. Ann Mulhall (played by Diana Muldaur who might have the prettiest face of any actress to appear on the Star Trek series). And Henoch gets Spock’s carcass. When the aliens inhabit the bodies of their human hosts, they cause the bodies to run hot. Their temperature rises to 104 degrees F and their heartbeat is dangerously high. For this reason, Henoch formulates a metabolic depressant to bring their readings back to human normal levels. But Henoch wants to kill Sargon and keep Spock’s body permanently so he uses a poison to kill Sargon while he is inhabiting Kirk’s body. McCoy manages to stabilize Kirk’s body but Sargon is gone. Now Thallassa decides that she wants to keep Ann Mulhall’s body and bargains with McCoy to cure Kirk’s body of the poison and put his mind back in place in exchange for keeping the body she currently resides in. McCoy refuses and Thallassa tortures him for a while then relents and apologizes for allowing temptation to overcome her moral sense. Once she realizes her mistake Sargon’s voice praises her for recognizing her mistake and then explains that he isn’t dead (duh) but has taken up residence in the Enterprise (Where? The computer? The ventilation system? The plumbing?). He assures them that he will save Kirk himself and stop Henoch from taking over the Enterprise. McCoy is locked out of the sick bay and when he is let back in Kirk and Mulhall are back in their bodies, all three energy spheres are destroyed and Nurse Chapel looks like a zombie. McCoy laments that they destroyed Spock’s mind when they destroyed the sphere he was in, but Kirk says it had to be done. McCoy is told to fill a syringe with enough poison to kill ten Vulcans and head to the bridge with Kirk, Mulhall and Chapel to kill Henoch.
Henoch is on the bridge torturing Uhura and is just getting ready to start on Sulu when the good guys show up. But Henoch can read their minds and after freezing them in place he orders Nurse Chapel to inject McCoy with the poison. She starts to comply then injects Henoch instead. Registering surprise Henoch pleads with Sargon to allow him to switch bodies then collapses to the deck.
The resolution is provided by the voice of Sargon. The poison wasn’t a lethal dose. But since McCoy thought it was Henoch thought so too and thus fled Spock’s body. At that point Sargon destroyed him. Suddenly Spock’s body awakens and we find out that Spock’s mind was sharing Nurse Chapel’s body with her. Sargon informs Kirk that before Thallassa and Sargon allow themselves to fade into oblivion and be happy together forever (huh?) they’d like to borrow Kirk’s and Mulhall’s bodies for a last hug and kiss. Permission is granted and after the clinch Kirk and Mulhall regain consciousness rapped in each-others’ arms. Throat clearing and uniform straightening ensues.
Where to start, where to start? Okay, so I’m giving extra points because looking at Diana Muldaur’s face is quite pleasant. Secondly, Nimoy portraying Henoch as a chuckling villain is kind of fun. I’m deducting points because we didn’t get to see Sulu tortured. But really the episode is mostly Shatner. And he gives generously of some of his hammiest best. When Sargon first takes over Kirk’s body Shatner does a bunch of his spastic face and body contortions that only he can do so hilariously. Then in the reverb voice used for Sargon he tallies up the experiences of being in a body again for the first time in 500,000 years. “Lungs filling with oxygen, heart pumping, blood racing through arteries, eyes seeing.” I was half expecting, “hair follicles receding on forehead, gall stones blocking bile duct, gastric ulcer tingling.” Later on, Kirk calls a meeting of his officers to ask their opinion on allowing the body loan. When Scotty and McCoy object Shatner gives a version of his impassioned “to boldly go where no man has gone before” speech. What I noticed in the close up is that Shatner’s head had gotten a lot fatter than it used to be earlier in the series. There must have been a lot of booze and cheeseburgers for Captain James T. Kirk over that first season and a half. And finally, Nurse Chapel had some kind of wig that was almost like a blond skull cap and made her look truly ghastly. I’ve got to take some points off for that. So you can see this was a complex calculation.
I’m going to say 7 // 9.