Episode 55 – TOS 2×26: “Assignment: Earth”

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In the Original Series season 2 finale, we find ourselves, inexplicably, in 1968. Inexplicably because it contradicts everything we’ve been told before or since about messing with timelines and the dangers of time travel. And why? Nominally, to do “historical research” into the “pivotal events” of 1968. Actually? To shoehorn a back door pilot into what might have been the last episode of TOS.

Kirk and Spock dressed in 1960s trenchcoats.
And generate another convenient excuse to get Kirk and Spock into 1960s cosplay.











Assignment: Earth was, unsurprisingly, a Gene Roddenberry concept for a show that, equally unsurprisingly, did not get picked up. The premise is basically that generations ago, a secret, distant alien race took humans from Earth (whether this was done forcibly or the humans came willingly is never made clear) to educate and train them with the end goal of interfering in key points of Earth events.

Now, I can hear at least one of the questions forming in your mind, i.e. But To What End? Do these secret, distant, omnipotent (they can beam between star systems, which is how guest star Gary Seven and his sidekick Isis, A Cat, Yes, Literally A Cat, end up on board the Enterprise to kick off the story) aliens have prescient knowledge of Earth’s future? A semi-magical knowledge of causality? Are they, themselves, time travelers? And are they trying to save Earth, or interfere with its development so that the Federation never happens??

Roberta and Gary Seven
At least this episode gave us Roberta “I’m Not Even Close To Buying This Cover Story” Lincoln, however briefly.












Well, we never know, because the episode is so taken with its own cleverness and goofy moments and under-using the amazing and charismatic other guest star, Teri Garr, to actually give us enough information about Gary’s assignment or his employers to form an idea of their intentions. Gary Seven also falls pretty short of likable, to the point that we get a twenty-second scene of him standing at a window sneering down at “primitive” New York City and wishing he could return to the Secret Planet ASAP.

1968 in the Trek ‘verse was apparently so tumultuous that Spock has trouble narrowing down which disaster Seven is here to avert, but they eventually settle on an SDI-type nuclear platform launch which sends Earth down a bad road. Gary Seven refers to it as “starting World War 3,” which, since we know that in the Trek timeline WW3 happens anyway, you have to wonder what the hell Gary and Friends were doing in the 80s and 90s?

Gary Seven and Isis, climbing the rocket.











The real shame about this episode is that at no point did we care about the wacky hijinks of time cop Gary Seven meeting the obstacle of the well-meaning Enterprise crew as much as we were demanding explanations of what the hell his bosses were up to and why they were up to it. But Assignment: Earth was never to be, and TOS got one more season, so we’ll never know.

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