|Episode no. Season 2
Teleplay by Art Wallace
Production code 055
|Directed by Marc Daniels|
Cinematography by Jerry Finnerman
|Story by Art Wallace Gene Roddenberry|
"Assignment: Earth" is the last episode of the second season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek. It was first broadcast on March 29, 1968, and initially repeated on August 9, 1968, five months later. It is episode No. 55, production No. 55; it was written by Art Wallace, based on a story by Wallace and Gene Roddenberry, and directed by Marc Daniels.
Engaged in "historical research", the Enterprise time travels to 1968 Earth where they encounter an interstellar agent planning to intervene in 20th century events with motives uncertain to Kirk and Spock. This episode served as a backdoor pilot for a proposed spin-off television series, produced by Roddenberry, also to be called Assignment: Earth. Guest performers Robert Lansing, as Gary Seven, and Teri Garr, as Roberta Lincoln, would have continued in the new series had it been commissioned.
The Federation starship USS Enterprise, which has time travelled to 1968 Earth for historical research, intercepts a highly powerful transporter beam from one thousand light-years away. A man dressed in a 20th-century Earth business suit materializes, carrying a black cat named Isis. He introduces himself to Captain Kirk (William Shatner) as Gary Seven (Robert Lansing). Seven refuses to reveal his home planet and warns Kirk that history will be changed and Earth destroyed if he is not released immediately. Kirk demands more proof, but Seven refuses. Kirk orders him taken into custody but Seven evades attempts to subdue him. When Seven tries to beam himself down, Kirk stuns him with a phaser. Kirk has Seven taken to the brig and asks Spock to search the history database for any critical events that will soon occur. Spock finds that the United States will launch a nuclear weapons platform from McKinley Rocket Base. The launch is scheduled in a few hours, and Spock speculates that it might be the reason for Seven's visit.
Seven, escaping from a holding cell, beams down to New York City. Kirk and Spock, camouflaged in period local attire, follow him. Seven enters an office and voice-activates a computer which reports that Agents "201" and "347" have not been heard from in three days. With only an hour until the launch, Seven decides to complete their mission. A young woman arrives, and Seven mistakes her for Agent 201, so he asks her to dictate a report to an electric typewriter equipped with speech recognition. When she panics and suddenly attempts to leave, Seven jams the doorknob and asks the Beta Five computer to identify her; she is Roberta Lincoln (Teri Garr, credited as Terri Garr), a secretary employed by the missing agents. Seven, realizing his blunder, appeals to her patriotism and tells Roberta he is a secret government agent and that she should remain quiet about what she has seen. She soon realizes that something very odd is happening. The computer then informs Seven that Agents 201 and 347 have died in a car accident.
Kirk and Spock track Seven to the office. Seven has Roberta stall them while he enters a powerful transporter inside a vault and dematerializes. As Kirk opens the door with a phaser, Roberta manages to call the police. Two officers soon arrive and, upon being let in, are inadvertently beamed to the Enterprise along with Kirk and Spock. The confused officers are quickly beamed back down to the office. Seven and Isis materialize at McKinley Rocket Base. Seven easily stuns a security guard while awaiting proper clearance and stows away in the launch director's car as he makes a final check of the pad. Riding the elevator to the top of the gantry, Seven, with Isis in tow, climbs an access arm to the side of the rocket. He opens a panel and begins to rewire the circuits to cause a deliberate malfunction.
On the Enterprise, Kirk, Spock, and Chief Engineer Scott (James Doohan) try to locate Seven. Meanwhile, a curious Roberta explores the office and, by inadvertently brushing against the pen set on the desk, discovers the hidden vault. Scotty locates Seven on the rocket gantry and tries to beam him up to the ship, but Roberta, randomly operating the vault's transporter controls, intercepts the beam and Seven instead materializes in the office, briefly chagrined at being yanked away before he was finished, until he realizes that Roberta had accidentally rescued him from being captured again. The computer tells him that he can still take manual control of the rocket. Kirk and Spock beam down to McKinley Rocket Base and are almost immediately arrested and detained. While the security chief is questioning them, the missile carrying the nuclear weapons platform is launched.
In the office, Seven takes control of the missile, arming its warhead and targeting it to the "heart of the Euro-Asian continent". McKinley Base controllers frantically try to destroy the missile without success. Every major power on the planet goes on alert, ordering retaliatory strikes as soon as the missile warhead explodes. Roberta tries to call the police, but Seven stops her. He then turns his attention back to the computer, allowing Roberta to hit him on the head with a sterling silver cigar box and seize the servo. She threatens him with it, demanding that he stop whatever he is doing. Recovering, he emphatically exclaims: "You've got to let me finish what I started, or in six minutes, World War III begins!"
Scotty beams Kirk and Spock away from base security and sends them straight to Seven's office. Roberta, now utterly confused, points the servo directly at Kirk. Seven manages to take it away from her, deactivates it, and hands it to Kirk, adding that it was "set to kill". Spock then unsuccessfully tries to destroy the missile with Seven's computer. Seven pleads with Kirk to let him complete his plan to destroy the missile at a safe altitude to scare the world's leaders out of their insane arms race. Kirk decides to trust Seven. With only seconds to spare, Seven retakes control of the computer and safely detonates the warhead at an altitude of 104 miles (167 km) - just 4 miles (6.4 km) above the stated safe minimum of 100 miles (160 km).
In the epilogue, Spock and Kirk explain to Seven that the Enterprise was meant to be part of the day's events, citing a historical precedence. Seven decides to keep Roberta employed as his assistant for any future missions. Kirk and Spock beam back to the Enterprise.
In 2008, IDW Publishing launched an Assignment: Earth five-issue comic book series written and drawn by John Byrne. The stories show the characters' lives from 1968 up to 1974, including Seven and Roberta's peripheral involvement in the events of a prior episode, "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" (occurring before "Assignment: Earth" for the Enterprise crew, but after for Seven and Roberta). An epilogue set in 2008 depicts an annual reunion between Roberta and Isis (in her humanoid guise) at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to honor a friend who had been killed in that conflict.
In 2010, The characters appeared in issues #3 and #4 of Star Trek: Leonard McCoy Frontier Doctor.
Author Greg Cox has included Gary Seven and Roberta in three of his Star Trek novels: Assignment: Eternity; and a two-part novel, The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh. In the latter two novels Gary Seven and Roberta Lincoln go on to eventually stop Khan Noonien Singh and his fellow genetically engineered humans from taking over the planet.