These important Star Trek TOS episodes led to additional universe discussions, shows and even feature films!
Stories within stories. This is why Star Trek TOS fans love this series. The unanswered questions and variety of outcomes always leaves us asking ‘what if?’
1. Space Seed — The Enterprise stumbles across an archaic sleeper ship the SS Botany Bay. The crew consists of cryo-frozen super-humans fleeing from their defeat in the Earth’s Eugenics wars. Their leader, played by the sauve Ricardo Montalban, is none-other-than Khan Noonien Singh.
In a nutshell, Lieutenant McGivers, a historian who was part of the away team aboard the Botany Bay, falls in love with Khan and helps him seize the ship. As usual, Kirk out-foxes Khan and saves the ship. Morally, Kirk helps Khan and his people settle on Ceti Alpha V, a harsh, but tameable world. McGivers chooses to remain with Khan.
In Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, we learn of Ceti Alpha V and the difficulty the augments confronted. McGivers did not survive life on the world and Khan put the blame on Kirk. This leads ultimately to a chain of events including: the theft of the Genesis device/weapon, the death of Spock and Kirk’s son, the destruction of the Enterprise and USS Reliant, mayhem and two more films in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
Montalban returned to play Khan in Star Trek II lending a heart-warming connection back to Star Trek TOS.
In The Tholian Web, the Enterprise attempts a rescue of the USS Defiant in uncharted (Tholian space). Kirk and his boarding party discover the ship’s crew suffered from ship-wide madness and killed each other. The fabric of space in the area is weak and the Defiant winks in an out of existence. Kirk remains on the Defiant bridge as the transporter winks out and gets caught in “phase” with the ship. What we don’t learn, until the Enterprise series informs us, is that the Defiant traveled into the evil parallel universe portrayed in Mirror, Mirror.
In Mirror, Mirror, Kirk, Uhura, Scotty and McCoy attempt a beam up during an ion storm and end up transporting aboard a familiar, but evil version of the Enterprise. In this world, Spock sports a beard an illogically work for “the empire” as it marauds its way — Klingon-style — through Federation space.
In the end, Kirk and team beam back to their proper universe, but not before Kirk utters his famous, goosebump-inducing line: “In every revolution there’s one man with vision.”
This ultimately leads to two of the best episodes of the Enterprise series. In A Mirror, Darkly delves into the fate of the Defiant and, much to the skipping heartbeats of TOS fans, brings back the Constitution-class bridge set for the first time since TOS went off the air!
3. Tomorrow is Yesterday — The Enterprise accidentally bangs into a black star and hurtles back in time to the 1960’s. As the Enterprise attempts to gain orbit from the Earth’s atmosphere, it is chased by a jet fighter (which might be an F-105 Thunderchief). Kirk opts for a tractor beam on the jet, but the aircraft cannot handle the stress and begins to fall apart, resulting in the pilot being beamed aboard the Enterprise.
The biggest mistake of this episode start with Kirk ordering the tractor beam to be shutoff. The plane wreckage falls to Earth — including gun-camera footage of the Enterprise. The crew must then capture the film, return the pilot to his time line and scadaddle back to their own time.
In Assignment Earth, Kirk opens his log report by stating they utilized the time travel techniques from Tomorrow is Yesterday, to return to the 1960’s for historical observation purposes.
4. Balance of Terror — In the Balance of Terror, the Enterprise dukes it out with a Romulan Bird of Prey as it tests out a newly-minted cloaking device. The Romuland violate the peace treaty and use the cloaking device to stealthily cross the Neutral Zone into Federation space where they pulverize Earth listening outposts.
After a lengthy cat-and-mouse battle, the Enterprise subdues its Romulan enemy. But the knowledge of the Romulans new weapon sends Kirk in a dangerous and secretive mission in the Star Trek TOS episode The Enterprise Incident.
There’s no doubt these Romulan episode helped span all subsequent Star Trek titles involving the Romulans including TNG’s “Unification.”
5. The Squire of Gothos portends TNG’s Q — Trelane, the playful, pesky little boy who abducts Kirk, Uhura, McCoy and LaSalle from the Enterprise bridge. The plucky little tyke wishes to play out what he perceives as current Earth military conquests. In the end, the young Trelane is revealed to be a small child composed of energy. He’s chastised and summoned home by his parents.
Q goes on to exist as Captain Picard’s random nemesis. Peter David, in his book Q-Squared, tied Trelane to Q.