After taking an accidental overdose of cordrazine, Doctor Leonard McCoy goes back in time and changes history.
In orbit around an unexplored planet, the USS Enterprise is on red alert as it passes through violent time distortions surrounding the planet. As the ship plots its orbit, Montgomery Scott warns that the control circuits are threatening to overload. No sooner does Captain Kirk acknowledge the report, the helm console on the bridge explodes and Lieutenant Sulu is injured. Scott takes the helm as Doctor McCoy is called to the bridge for emergency first aid. Scott questions if the ship should break orbit, but Spock advises against it – the ship is literally passing through ripples in time and it is of great scientific importance that they remain and investigate. Kirk agrees and orders Uhura to broadcast to Starfleet Command his past week’s log entries, detailing the unusual readings on the instruments that has diverted the Enterprise to this planet. McCoy arrives and diagnoses Sulu with a heart flutter. He prepares a hypo of cordrazine, warned by Kirk that it is “tricky stuff.” Fortunately, the two drops administered by McCoy successfully revives Sulu.
Scott reports that the Enterprise is nearly clear of the time ripples, which Spock confirms, with one heavy displacement directly ahead. The Enterprise shudders violently as it collides with it, causing Dr. McCoy to slip on the helm console and inject the loaded hypospray into his abdomen, emptying its contents into his bloodstream. Kirk and Spock rush to his aid, but McCoy darts up in a panic. Raving and screaming about “killers” and “assassins”, McCoy breaks free from the concerned bridge crew and flees the bridge via the turbolift. Kirk orders a security alert.
The title of this episode refers to both the dead city on the time planet and New York itself, where the timeline will either be restored or disrupted. In Harlan Ellison’s original script, Kirk, upon first seeing the city sparkling like a jewel on a high mountaintop, reverently says it looks like “a city on the edge of forever”. In Ellison’s first treatment for this episode, the city they traveled back in time to was Chicago.
With regards to “The City on the Edge of Forever”, guest star Joan Collins has stated, “To this day, people still want to talk about that episode – some remember me for that more than anything else I’ve done. I am amazed at the enduring popularity of Star Trek and particularly of that episode.” Collins adds, “At the time none of us would have predicted the longevity of the show. I couldn’t be more pleased – or more honored – to be part of Star Trek history.” Ms. Collins’ memory of her Trek experience seems hazy, however. In her 1985 autobiography, Past Imperfect (p. 248) she makes a few errors regarding the episode: for example, in addition to the common mistake of referring to Mr. Spock as Dr. Spock, she identifies her character as Edith Cleaver instead of Edith Keeler, and she also claims that Spock, not Kirk, allowed her character to be killed – a plot point that was not in the version of the script that was actually shot. Most significantly, she claims Edith tried to “prove to the world that Hitler was a nice guy.”
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