Star Trek – Metamorphosis

★★★★★ November 10, 1967 Season 2 Episode 9

If you want to see where we are…and you missed a few…HERE is a list of the episodes in my index located at the top of my blog. 

This show was written by Gene Roddenberry and Gene L. Coon

One of my top episodes of Star Trek. This one was directed by Ralph Senensky. I’ve mentioned Ralph before… he will be 100 years old on May 1st of this year. He has a website and still posts about his adventures in directing many episodes of Star Trek and so many other shows including The Twilight Zone, The Waltons, Mission Impossible, and too many to mention. Please visit his site…he has a lot of fun stories about each episode he directed. 

This one has everything you could want from a Star Trek episode. Great acting, writing, and even romance. 

Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy are traveling with Commissioner Hedford, trying to get her back to the Enterprise so that they can hopefully cure her of a rare and deadly disease that she has. They are pulled down to a planet. They meet Zefram Cochrane, who supposedly died 150 years ago.

Star Trek - Metamorphosis B

He tells them that he had been out in space because he had gotten old and his wish was to die in space. However, he and his ship had been brought down to the planet just as they were. An alien entity he calls the companion was responsible for this as well as for rejuvenating him and making him back to around the age of 35. This companion has been able to keep him healthy, well, and at the same age for all these years.

They find a way to have a direct conversation with the companion. Spock is wanting to spend time asking the companion questions so that they can learn more about it. It is a very different species and part of their mission is to find new species and learn about them. I concur with Spock on this. Of course, because they made an error when writing this and made it so that the companion cannot heal the commissioner, Kirk stops Spock from asking the questions, pointing out that they need to hurry and try to get the companion to let them go so that they can get to the Enterprise, hopefully in time, to heal the commissioner.

Strong performances from Glenn Corbett and Elinor Donahue help raise this episode to classic status. A touching love story between a man isolated on a planet by himself, and a caring, alien life form he refers to as ” the Companion” is a thoughtful and moving story.

From IMDB:

A few scenes featuring Elinor Donahue had to be re-shot, because the original film negatives were damaged and couldn’t be used. Portions of the planet set had to be rebuilt, since other episodes were shot there by that time, using different sets. Meanwhile, Donahue got pneumonia and lost ten pounds. To hide this, they put Hedford’s scarf around her neck and upper body. However, her weight loss is still visible on her face. The re-shots were not directed by Ralph Senensky.

This is the first story to feature Zefram Cochrane, inventor of warp drive technology and an important figure in Federation history. He would later re-appear in Star Trek: First Contact (1996) and Star Trek: Enterprise: Broken Bow, Part 1 (2001), played by James Cromwell.

A view of the starship from dead center in front of the saucer section is used only in this episode.

This is the only episode in the first two seasons in which Captain Kirk is not on the Enterprise at any time during the plot. Likewise, the Enterprise does not appear until twenty-seven minutes into the episode. In four third season shows, Kirk also spends the entire episode off-ship: Star Trek: The Paradise Syndrome (1968), Star Trek: Plato’s Stepchildren (1968), Star Trek: Whom Gods Destroy (1969), and Star Trek: All Our Yesterdays (1969).

The scenes of Cochrane communicating with the Companion were all shot at one time. The set was then completely redone with his house added for all of the sequences with Kirk and company. The inconsistencies between the two versions of the same set can be seen in alien trees that are near Cochrane in one view and absent in the next.

To give an illusion of open space to a confined stage set, wide angle lenses were used. Although Glenn Corbett appears to be hundreds of yards away when he first runs toward the shuttle, he is much closer. Strategically placed rocks also allowed the camera to be very far away without seeing the edges of the set.

In the first draft, the Enterprise is temporarily commanded by Sulu, and the helmsman is an officer with an African background, named Lieutenant Ackrumba. The character later appeared in the novel “Mission to Horatius” by Mack Reynolds.

In the first draft script, Scotty is also on board the shuttlecraft (here called the Edison) with Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Hedford. It was originally he who was to encounter the Companion while attempting to repair the shuttlecraft.

In a rare effect, slowly moving “clouds” were blown in from hidden vents, adding a touch of reality to the usually static planet set. This was also used in Star Trek: Obsession (1967).

George Takei disappears from the cast for the next 9 episodes after this one as he was off filming The Green Berets (1968) at the time.

Elinor Donahue recalled about this episode, “I remember watching it at home. And I am quite often nervous about watching something I’m in because there is nothing you can do about it once it’s out there. But I was very pleased with it; very happy.”

This was George Duning’s first Star Trek score, the strength of which got him rehired for many more assignments, including Star Trek: Patterns of Force (1968), Star Trek: Return to Tomorrow (1968), Star Trek: And the Children Shall Lead (1968), Star Trek: Is There in Truth No Beauty? (1968), and Star Trek: The Empath (1968). Portions of the score were reheard throughout the season, but the love themes were reused only once more, in Star Trek: The Gamesters of Triskelion (1968).

Ralph Senensky named this episode as his favorite among those he directed. Senensky recalled, praising the work of Gene L. Coon, “I just thought the script was absolutely wonderful. As I remember Gene, he was the least author-y type of person. He just didn’t seem like an author. He didn’t present that kind of sensitivity that his writing had expressed. It was just a deep, deep script and scene after scene had so many angles to come at it from. It was a complex script.”

The sparkling effects of the Companion would be reused in Star Trek: The Apple (1967) when the Enterprise fires phasers at Vaal, and again in Star Trek: Obsession (1967) inside of the deadly vampire cloud.

All the footage of the shuttlecraft in outer space was reused from Star Trek: The Galileo Seven (1967), some with the Companion animation added in post-production.

Technically, Zefram Cochran is 237 years old (87 plus the 150 years the Companion kept him young.)

When Kirk asks Cochrane for his first name, he replies, “Zefram”. Kirk then asks him if he is from Alpha Centauri and the inventor of the “space warp”. Cochrane then confirms he is. Yet in the movie Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Zefram Cochrane is from Earth. However, having invented the warp drive, it is conceivable that he went there and took up residence. It is possible he left to “die in space” from there. Therefore, he could be described as “from Alpha Centauri.”

A Gold Key Comics comic book was released as a sequel to this episode, #49: “A Warp in Space”.

The original voice of the Companion was too emotionless and robotic, and all of her dialog had to be re-recorded by another actress (apparently Elizabeth Rogers).

The Companion was designed by Richard Edlund at Westheimer photographic effects company.


While transporting ailing Assistant Federation Commissioner Nancy Hedford to the Enterprise aboard a shuttlecraft, Captain Kirk, Spock and Dr. McCoy encounter a gaseous creature that forcibly takes them to a planet with only one human inhabitant. The man turns out to be Zephram Cochrane, the inventor of the warp drive who supposedly died 150 years ago at the ripe old age of 87. The creature, whom he calls the Companion, found and brought him to the planet where it rejuvenated him and kept him alive. They can communicate but only on a non-verbal, empathic level, (which unintentionally lead to the shuttlecraft’s abduction when the man conveyed to it his loneliness). As Commissioner Hedford’s condition rapidly deteriorates, they need to free themselves to get her back to the Enterprise before it’s too late.


William Shatner … Captain James Tiberius ‘Jim’ Kirk
Leonard Nimoy … Mister Spock
DeForest Kelley … Dr. McCoy
Glenn Corbett … Zefram Cochrane
Elinor Donahue … Nancy Hedford
James Doohan … Scott
George Takei … Sulu
Nichelle Nichols … Uhura
Bill Blackburn … Lieutenant Hadley (uncredited)
Lisabeth Hush … The Companion (voice) (uncredited)
Eddie Paskey … Lieutenant Leslie (uncredited)