Screen Rant recently posted the top ten scariest episodes of Star Trek and coming in at number ten is “Catspaw,” the Halloween-esque episode from The Original Series that has much of the crew under an alien’s spell. Back in 2017, Heroes and Icons also listed this as one of 18 eerie, disturbing, and downright scary episodes. Perhaps I’m not seeing what others are.
The episode has dungeons, skeletons, ghostly figures, black cats that grow really big, and, of course, Kirk and Spock being chained to the wall. But even though the episode was written by Pscyho screenwriter Robert Bloch, the Halloween elements are about as scary as it gets.
Out of all of the episodes in all of the series, Catspaw wouldn’t even make the top twenty for scariest episodes in my opinion. It had some mild spook factors, but it didn’t come anywhere near the level of some of the other episodes on Screen Rant’s list.
When you take Catspaw apart, there are aliens much like every other episode. There is Kirk using his masculine charms to gain the upper hand with a woman/alien, and a cat that is supposed to be alarmingly large, but being that it was in the 1960s, we didn’t actually see that. That might have upped the creep factor. Yes, Enterprise was somewhat in danger, but when wasn’t it?
Kirk and the crew had already spent some time in a dungeon in Return of the Archons. And honestly, that episode was a lot creepier than this one. Even Dagger of the Mind had scarier elements with a machine that had the ability to wipe someone’s mind and literally make them go crazy. That, to me, is scary.
Catspaw originally aired on October 27, 1967, a perfect lead-up to Halloween where ghosts, witches, and black cats are used to instill fear. This episode had all of that, in a sense, but if there is one thing I never felt while watching, it was fear. Perhaps I have a different take on the episode. Maybe I’m not easily scared, but if I made a list of the scariest episodes in Star Trek, Catspaw wouldn’t even be in the vicinity of it.