The Great Star Trek Rewatch: Assignment Earth

Whilst secretly observing 20th century Earth, the Enterprise intercepts a transporter beam – technology that definitely should not exist in this time period! The culprit is Gary Seven, a human claiming to be an agent tasked by an advanced alien race with stopping the Earth from destroying itself. His mission is to stop the US launch of an orbital nuclear weapons platform that could cause the Cold War to escalate into all-out conflict, but can the Enterprise trust him? Should they be stopping Gary Seven, or aiding him?

So, we’re here. We’ve made it to the season two finale, which means that the Worst Episode Ever (Spock’s Brain) is just around the corner. In the meantime, though, we have this slightly odd episode to deal with. In case you couldn’t guess, the reason that this doesn’t feel at all like a Star Trek episode is because it isn’t really meant to be – it’s a backdoor pilot for a TV series starring Gary Seven and his assistant Roberta as they attempt to save the Earth from various threats. With Star Trek on the verge of cancellation, Roddenberry hoped to launch a new show with its dying breath, but as we all know, there is no TV series called Assignment Earth. And there is, in fact, a third season of Star Trek.

Nonetheless, there’s little reason for Kirk, Spock and the rest to even be in this episode, and indeed, in the first draft of the Gary Seven pilot, they weren’t. So it’s no surprise that they merely act as a framing device, whilst the spotlight is really on Gary, his intelligent cat Isis, and his spunky assistant, Roberta. For me, the highlight of the episode was the cat – and the fact that she has a secondary form as a beautiful woman – but the rest was rather pedestrian. Who knows, I might have actually enjoyed an Assignment Earth TV series, but as it stands this is an average episode that is neither one thing or another.

Gary Seven

Gary Seven, or “Supervisor 194”, is one of a number of humans raised by advanced aliens to be agents who protect Earth by making sure that history proceeds down the path of least destruction. Even though the point of having human agents is so that they will blend in in a way that, say, Mr Spock does not, it seems possible for them to be assigned to other planets (perhaps human colonies or planets where the humanoids look identical to Earth humans). He has an intelligent computer, a shapeshifting cat, and a sonic screwdriver-esque device that can put people to sleep, destroy locks and forcefields, and even kill.

A few last points before we forge ahead into season 3

  • The slingshot effect from Tomorrow is Yesterday is used for a time travel mission back to 1968. Of course, Captain Braxton doesn’t show up to stop Kirk, and time travel is treatly as oddly commonplace in this episode, even though usually the Enterprise explores space rather than time. In other words, it’s shoehorned in to make the whole Gary Seven backdoor pilot feasible.
  • Last episode, Spock spoke of Earth’s “first three” World Wars. In fact, in the Star Trek universe, these are the only three world wars.
  • Compared to the fiasco of beaming 20th century humans aboard in Tomorrow is Yesterday, Kirk is very cavalier about it in this episode.
  • I promise to try to stop harping on about this in season three, but you know what would have really helped Kirk and Spock when they were captured and needed beaming up no matter what? That’s right – subcutaneous transponders!

Summary – Assignment Earth: A backdoor pilot for the series that never was.

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