In the twenty-sixth and final episode of the second season of Star Trek, the Enterprise accidentally intercepts a space traveler headed to earth. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Well, that was interesting. This was such a bold choice for the show, and I still feel like I’m missing some sort of context behind the creation of this episode, but I don’t need it to feel like Star Trek did something pretty cool with “Assignment: Earth.” Right off the bat, I was expecting the man (eventually revealed to be Gary Seven) that the Enterprise intercepted to be a villain. JUST LOOK AT HIM AND HIS ADORABLE CAT. It was such an obvious application of the trope, and I totally fell for it.
Over the course of “Assignment: Earth,” practically every expectation I had of Star Trek is destroyed. Not always for the best, I admit, but I was certainly entertained. First things first: THIS EPISODE DOESN’T CENTER ON THE ENTERPRISE. At all! For the most part, we’re seeing the events of this episode through Gary Seven’s eyes or Roberta’s perspective. In these two characters, we’ve got a pretty great dynamic established, and through the story here, the show does a lot of worldbuilding for… something else. That is a little strange because I admit I was intrigued by this concept. A set of humanoid aliens from thousands of light years away are sent to Earth to guarantee that our planet stays on track so that the future of the Star Trek universe remains unchanged. THERE IS A TON OF POTENTIAL HERE, Y’ALL. So much! And we see some of that in the way that “Assignment: Earth” both alters American history and accepts it. (Though I find an issue in the idea that American history is Earth history. Come on, there’s a big world out there.) Gary Seven’s mission here is to stop a massive, Cold War-esque conflict from breaking out due to the launch of a nuclear weapon.
So yes, it’s a cool idea. It’s also a pleasure watching Roberta learn of this world while also refusing to accept all the bogus answers that Gary Seven gives her. I loved the idea that she looked like a stereotype, but she’s actually a fiercely intelligent and loyal woman, one who is willing to defend herself and her country. She’s great! (ALSO, IT’S TERRI GARR. OMG SHE’S BEEN IN EVERYTHING.) And while I do think this is a lot of fun, it’s also just an introduction. There’s no closure given to us by the end of “Assignment: Earth.” Actually, it’s just the opposite. Kirk hints at a future for these two characters, but it’s one that we don’t see. Will they be recurring characters next season or something? Was this a crossover with a show I simply haven’t seen? I don’t know, but it feels like an introduction, you know?
While I like the concept of an alien secret agent working with a feisty human, I was not terribly thrilled by ADVENTURES IN ROCKETS. Y’all, there’s a scene where Kirk and Spock just stand in a control room doing nothing and saying nothing while Gary Seven stares at a computer and Scotty stares at a control board. No cool concept can save a scene SO INCREDIBLY BORING. There’s so much of it, too! Thankfully, Robert Lansing is great as Gary Seven, and CATS. CATS. I AM ALWAYS ENTERTAINED BY CATS.
But I simply don’t know what else to say about this. It’s a neat story, some intriguing worldbuilding for an entire narrative that we may never see again, and a weird choice for a season finale. It’s not awful by any means, and I was happy that the show took a risk with a concept like this. Plus, I got to see Spock in a beanie and a skipper hat, so I can’t really complain. Lord, what a weird episode!
The video for “Assignment: Earth” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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