Star Trek: The Original Series, & VR ~ Where No Man Has Gone Before
Second Pilot Episode
At the edge of the galaxy, out where no Earth ship has supposedly ever been before, the Enterprise picks up the faded, 200 year old distress signal of the SS Valiant, an ancient survey ship, long vanished.
As a side note, in this episode, Captain James T. Kirk and Lieutenant Commander Spock open this episode by playing 3D chess; the game which has since become iconic.
An object along the path of the distress signal comes into range, and is beamed aboard the ship. It is the badly charred and buckled remains of an ancient ships log emergency beacon - the kind launched automatically when the ship is destroyed. Scotty tries to feed the tapes into the computer, when the marker begins transmitting a signal.
Spock interpolates the Valiant's message, that they'd encountered a magnetic storm and pulled out of the galaxy, and that the crew accessed computer records on "ESP" in Humans.
Spock goes on to explain that several crewman had died aboard the Valiant, which had suffered severe damage. The Valiant crew continued researching ESP, until it seems the captain ordered a self-destruct.
Kirk decides to take a look at this storm.
Enterprise heads out of the galaxy, and soon encounters a strange field.
Main power is out, the ship is crippled, and nine crewmen are dead. Lieutenant
Commander Gary Mitchell looks up from the comm, with eyes that glow pure silver.
Dr. Dehner approaches Captain Kirk and provides an autopsy report. She mentions that in all cases, there was brain damage to a specific region of the brain. Kirk shares the fact that all of the dead crewmembers, including Dehner and Mitchell, had high ESP ratings. Spock also mentions that the captain of the Valiant was frantically searching through their records for information on ESP. Dehner defends those with ESP, specifically that the ability is not harmful.
In sickbay, Mitchell is reading text on a viewer, trying to pass the time. Kirk enters the room, and Mitchell greets him by name without actually looking to see who it is. Kirk and Mitchell talk about some past experiences, implying that they have known each other for many years. Mitchell mentions that he feels better now than he's ever felt in his life, and he's catching up on his reading.
Kirk informs Mitchell that he's assigned Dr. Dehner to work with him. Mitchell doesn't seem happy, since Mitchell and Dehner have already had words with each other. Mitchell, in a godlike voice says, "Didn't I say you'd better be good to me?" Kirk leaves the room and Mitchell continues reading books on the viewer, at an extremely fast rate.
Kirk returns to the bridge, only to find Spock monitoring Mitchell with the viewer. Kirk approaches the science station viewer to look closely at Mitchell, and Mitchell chooses that moment, to look directly at the security camera, as if he knows that Kirk is watching.
Spock suggests taking Mitchell to the planet Delta Vega where they can adapt the lithium cracking station's power packs to the Enterprise to try to repair their damage. After repairs are made, Spock suggests stranding Mitchell there, or killing him. Kirk orders Spock to set course for Delta Vega.
As Mitchell's psionic powers continue their unbounded growth, he feels less and less connection to the Human race. Spock fears he might become dangerous to not only the ship, but to the entire galaxy. He believes the same fate destroyed the Valiant, and Mitchell confirms this. Having become a self-proclaimed god, he has no other interest in Humans other than ruling over them. Spock suggests killing him before it is too late, but instead Kirk decides to exile his friend to Delta Vega.
In an escape attempt, Mitchell kills Kelso and leaves for the surface with Dr. Dehner whose transformation was slower, but is starting to manifest itself. Kirk goes after him, knowing how dangerous he has become.
Kirk encounters Mitchell wandering the planet surface. Mitchell tries to kill him, using godlike powers, and showing no remorse about doing so. Dehner, realising that Mitchell is utterly inhuman, helps Kirk with her own abilities. Mitchell fatally wounds Dehner in retaliation, but the distraction of Dehner allows Kirk to phaser a cliff-face, crushing Mitchell's frail physical form under a rockslide.
Whilst technically, this episode has little to do with VR, and should just be included for completeness as so many of the other episodes do; It is worth noting that the core theme of this one, is actually relevant to us.
It essentially describes an unfortunate situation where one part of the human race develops much more swiftly than another part, as seen in the 'S' curve of Kurzweil's law of Accelerating Intelligence. Individuals that augment their bodies with prosthesis, will over time, accelerate personal development and abilities much faster than those who do not or can not. This eventually will lead to a new 'class divide', born of ability.
The episode's view of ESP is thus very similar perhaps to a general view on bodily augmentation. It proposes that humanity must perform a slow, self-checking analysis of human development, hammering out the details, and self-limiting undesirable growths. This practice has occurred for hundreds of years in the form of learned debate and lawmaking.
The problem comes when the pace of progress rapidly outstrips such processes. It occurs in such a short time-frame that they cvannot possible keep up, and growth developments spiral rapidly out of control, criss-crossing all manner of perhaps inadvisable and undesirable developmental paths.
This is presently applicable to many if not most computing related technological fields, especially those which have direct effect on the human sensory condition. Presently evolving in spite of checks and balances and not because of them, this concept of evolving too fast, is quite a real possibility, and as the pace continues to accelerate, it is all but certain we will create a few Mitchells along the way.
A complete listing of Star Trek: TOS, built up one by one in chronological order, regardless of the strength of their connection to VR & AR. Set included for the sake of completeness.
A complete listing of Star Trek: TOS which reference virtual reality, alternate lives, AI, ir augmented reality. They are built up one by one in chronological order.