The Tholian Web
"The Tholian Web" is a third-season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. The episode first aired on November 15, 1968 on the NBC Network. Written by Judy Burns and Chet Richards. Directed by Herb Wallerstein, Ralph Senensky (uncredited)
The Enterprise, in unsurveyed territory, is approaching the last reported position of Starfleet ship USS Defiant which vanished without trace three weeks earlier. While trying to rescue the Defiant the Enterprise encounters an unusual green glowing object that Spock states "according to sensors, it is not really there."
Upon identifying the green glowing object as the Defiant, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Chekov beam over to the vessel's forward section of its bridge in environmental suits. Once aboard, the Enterprise landing party find the Defiant at red alert and discover the entire bridge crew dead. Furthermore, the Defiant's commanding officer is found lying dead as he had his neck broken by an operations division crewman on the bridge, with the crewman's hands on his neck in front of his command chair. Dr. McCoy announced the injury he had suffered to Kirk, Spock and Chekov. Chekov asks if there is any record of a mutiny on a Federation starship, and Spock says, "Absolutely no record of such an occurrence, ensign." When they discover there are no life signs on the vessel, Kirk orders the landing party to split up to investigate.
McCoy checks out sickbay and finds many dead crewmen, some restrained to the bio-beds, while Chekov finds that the life support section and engineering are littered with dead crewman and officers everywhere. Chekov, after communicating from the lower deck his report to Kirk, suddenly becomes dizzy and loses his balance. McCoy reports that the crew of the Defiant seems to have killed each other, but he cannot determine why.
Kirk orders McCoy to return to the Defiant's bridge immediately. As the Defiant starts to "blink" on and off, and is dissolving. After repairs are in progress, Scotty reports the transporter has become "jammed up." Only three members of the landing party can beam back to the Enterprise at once. Spock requests permission to remain behind, but Kirk orders him back to the Enterprise and remains behind himself. Kirk waits on the Defiant's bridge while the Enterprise tries to beam him aboard. The Defiant disappears and Kirk is lost with it. Kirk's environment suit can provide air for a little over 3 hours.
Spock, in command and on the bridge, explains that space in this area is fractured and Kirk has slipped into another universe. Interphase occurs for short periods during which one may travel between universes occupying the same point. In two hours, the computer calculates, another interphase will occur.
The conversation is interrupted by the approach of a geometric, rainbow-colored ship. A Tholian commander named Loskene informs the Enterprise they are trespassing on territory of the Tholian Assembly and they must leave immediately. Spock says that the Enterprise is engaged in a rescue mission but Loskene points out that there is no other ship present.
Commander Loskene agrees to wait until the time Spock calculated until the Defiant reappears from the interspatial rift.
When the time passes and there's still no rescue of Captain Kirk, the Tholian's fire upon the Enterprise. Then cease and another ship arrives to touch the other beginning to slowly weave an energy web between them to trap the Enterprise.
While many of the crew are now heavily hallucinating, then screaming as if they are going mad, sickbay gets really full, including a strapped down Chekov. Meanwhile, Uhura is off-duty in her quarters dressed in her civilian wear. She feels a sudden pain, and when she recovers she sees an image of Kirk wearing an environmental suit in her mirror.
At the next interphase, Kirk appears in space near the Enterprise. The ship attempts to rescue Kirk as the Tholian's apply a tractor field.
Production background information
Renowned Hollywood Director Ralph Senensky is spending valuable time building this unique episode with superb shots on camera; including his fisheye lens camera effect. This fisheye lens effect depicts the viewpoint of a person affected by interspace looking at Spock on the Bridge. Senesnky needed more time than the usual production timeline to complete the episode. However the producer reporting to the studio wouldn't have it, and fired Senensky after 3 days of shooting the episode on August 7, 1968. Herb Wallerstein directed the 4th day of production and beyond. In 2013, Actor / Director Bryan Kreutz, in a telling phone conversation with his friend Director Ralph Senensky, revealed that Senensky told his agent he didn't want to be credited or associated with the Star Trek series for the "Tholian Web" after he was fired by producer Fred Freiberger. So full on screen credit went solely to Herb Wallerstein.
Star Trek was nominated for an Emmy Award for the special effects in this episode.
This episode is the only time that Spock refers to McCoy as his nickname, Bones, and even then, it is to tell McCoy what Kirk would say.