Body swapping and ancient aliens in the episode that originally aired on February 9,1968.  This is Return to Tomorrow

The Episode:

Captain’s Log Stardate 4768.3

While visiting a dead planet far from Earth, the Enterprise is contacted by a strange alien who asks them to visit the planet. Beaming down, they find an energy being calling himself Sargon.  Sargon informs his visitors that his people could have been responsible for Humanity itself and they were called there to help their ancient ancestors.  Sargon soon takes over Kirk’s body and makes it clear that his people will be using the Enterprise crew as vessels to make their own robotic bodies.  There is only one problem, the crew’s bodies are not strong enough to last long with Sargon and his people inside of them forcing them to leave before they can do anything.  Astrobiologist Mulhall volunteers to allow her body be used as a vessel much to McCoy’s dismay.  He soon finds a way to safely ‘transfer’ Sargon’s people into the living bodies giving Sargon, Thalassa and Henoch temporary repose.  However, Henloch has other machinations and plans to end Kirk’s life, killing Sargon in the process.

Scotty finds a way to help build the android bodies for the aliens but, after Sargon decides to not endanger Kirk any longer, Thalassa begins to feel that maybe an android body isnt good enough and wants to keep Doctor Mulhall’s for her own. Soon she realizes that this is a bad idea and is too tempting, but Henoch decides that maybe Spock’s body is worth keeping after all.   Sargon secretly moves Spocks essence into Nurse Chapel knowing that Henloch will ultimately destroy the Vulcan, and after Henloch attempts to take over the ship, McCoy and Chapel, with Sargon’s help, manage to subdue Henloch and return Spocks mind to his body.   

With Henloch dead, Sargon and Thalassa realize that their time as a people have come to an end.  They both possess the bodies of Kirk and Doctor Mulhall one last time for a final kiss and vanish into the cosmos.   With the aliens gone, Enterprise continues on.

Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:

This is a fascinating episode as it explores the idea of an ancient alien race that is initially nonconfrontational.  In fact, from the start, Sargon is a very benevolent and understanding being who doesn’t force himself on anyone, willing to die instead of hurting his potential hosts.  In fact, it is not until Henloch, Sargon’s companion, finds it desirable to stay in Spock’s body do things get really out of hand.  Even when Sargon’s bride, Thalassa is tempted to remain in a human body but gives up on the idea when she realizes how evil such an attempt would be.  The only real threat in this episode is in fact Henloch who, for some reason, has become determined to do everything opposite that what Sargon wants.  

The thing that makes this episode even more fascinating is the fact that the Enterprise crew is truly at the mercy of Sargon and his people. In fact, had Sargon wished it, he could have simply taken over the ship and crew with but a thought, but he didn’t.  While we never get a chance to discover the true origins of Sargon or Thalassa, there is significant implications that they were the originators of humanity itself, even though that was somewhat dismissed during the Next Generation series. 

Outside of the very intriguing and fun story line, the episode itself is rife with some rather….extreme moments of dialogue.  In fact, Kirk has a hyper-classic style speech with every kind of ‘Shatner-ism’ you can think of at one point.  Not only that but throughout the episode Shatner really dials up the over-acting to levels we have not seen in the series until now.  If anything, this episode marks the beginning of the ‘Shatner Acting’ we know and love. Ironically, He hams it up but boy is it not effective.

Overall, it’s well worth the watch and a fun one that can be watched without any context.  Plus, we get a chance to see phenomenal Diana Muldaur in the role of Doctor Ann Mulhall, many years before she would appear as Doctor Polaski on Star Trek the Next Generation. 

Gleanings and Cool Bits:

  • There is a heavy implication that Henloch had some interest in Thalassa but his is never firmly established.
  • Nothing is ever mentioned about the full sized android that has been built in Engineering.  I mean, this has got to be some serious future tech here right? 

Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review,  I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday!  Next Review: Patterns of Force

For more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.

As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!

Late To The Game 3/28/2022

What the aliens didn’t realize is that McCoy had not yet reached his final form.

Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available.  Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.

Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made production intended for recreational use.  No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.”

One thought on “Retro TV Review: Star Trek the Original Series: Season Two: Episode 22 Return to Tomorrow

  1. I enjoyed this episode though, honestly, I doubt I could lend my body to some mystical energy I don’t know. While this race was forgotten, TNG would do something similar with a different race and Star Trek Online chose the TNG concept over the TOS one. Gargoyles had an episode with a similar premise, though I don’t know if you’ve seen that cartoon.

    Liked by 1 person

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