Court Martial
Star-trek tos-season1-20
Season 1, Episode 20
General Information
Series Star Trek
Air date February 2, 1967
Written by Don M. Mankiewicz, Steven W. Carabatsos
Directed by Marc Daniels
Episode guide
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Star Trek episodes


A crewman is dead and Captain Kirk is on trial for negligence. Can Spock and McCoy prove Kirk's innocence when all of the evidences points to his guilt?

Plot Summary

Stardate: 2947.3

After struggling to get through the ion storm, Captain Kirk reports to his personal log that one of his crewmates is dead while the Enterprise is severely damaged. At starbase 11, Captain Kirk writes a report to Commodore Stone. Captain Kirk states that he had to jettison the pod after red alert. When Spock arrives, Commodore Stone takes Spock's computer data extract. Then, a little girl named Jame Finney who sobbed and yelled that Captain Kirk is a murderer. Commodore Stone goes over the data and notices that Kirk had jettison the pod before red alert. He has Kirk confined to the base.

While Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy chat with their fellow cadets, Mike's friend remarks that Kirk will need a new Records Officer. Mike's friend states that Ben was their friend. After Captain Kirk leaves the room, Dr. McCoy invites Areel Shaw for a drink. In Stone's inquiry meeting with Captain Kirk, Kirk answers Stone's questions. Captain Kirk explains that they are close friends, and that Ben was an instructor when Kirk was a midshipman. In fact, Ben had named his daughter after Kirk. Some time ago, the two were assigned to a ship. Kirk had disposed some pile of atomic matter when Ben was on watch duty. As a result, Ben was reprimanded and demoted. Ben blame Kirk for that. During the ion storm, Captain Kirk has Ben assigned because it was his turn. When Stone asks about jettisoning the pod, Captain Kirk replies that he does not know. Stone remarks that Captain Kirk is exhausted with the duties of a starship commander. When Stone implies that Kirk stand down, Kirk intends to fight back. Stone does not want Kirk to be the first captain to be convicted and the reputation of the site smeared. He argues that computer transcripts don't lie.

Later, Captain Kirk chats with Areel. Areel warns that he is going up against a computer and suggests he picks the best attorney, Samuel T. Cogley. During the trial, Captain Kirk stands his ground. Spock is called to speak up. When Spock is asked if there is a mechanical error in the computer, Spock replies that he does not know but speaks from logic. He tells the jury that Kirk did not act out of malice. They reach Dr. McCoy's testimony. Despite some bizarre questions, Dr. McCoy replies that Captain Kirk is not the type of man to reciprocate hatred to Ben. With all three witnesses finishing their testimonies, Samuel calls Captain Kirk to the stand. Captain Kirk states that he took the proper steps and will do the same thing to save his ship. The prosecution requests a playback of the data extract. During the surveillance camera footage, the prosecution has them focus on Captain Kirk's fingers. The whole court sees that Kirk presses the yellow alert button and then the jettison button.

After Spock makes his report, James visit Samuel and Kirk. She begs Samuel to change the plea after realizing how close Ben and Jim were. Meanwhile, Dr. McCoy finds Spock playing chess against the computer. Spock demonstrates how the computer made an error despite being mechanically flawless. Spock and Dr. McCoy arrive in time to tell Samuel about the new evidence. Samuel states that a machine has no rights, and that Kirk was not granted a right to face the machine. In a demonstration, Spock explains that he had bested the machine at chess five times and states that the machine is flawless unless someone deliberating or accidentally alter the program. Samuel has states that Ben might not be dead. Out in space, Captain Kirk has the auditory senses turn up on high. This machine can hear everyone's heartbeat on the ship. He orders Dr. McCoy to use a device that masks everyone's heartbeat. With everyone's heartbeat masked, Spock turns on the auditory senses on. The crew hears Finney's heartbeat. After pinpointing Finney's location, Kirk has seal off the engineering location. He goes off to find Finney. Ben projects his voice and states that Kirk and the others had conspire against him. Ben informs that he killed the engine and that he loved his service. Captain Kirk reminds Ben that Jame is onboard when Ben intends to kill everyone on board. Kirk seizes control of Ben, and the two men wrestle. Captain Kirk manages to evade Ben's strikes with the wench, and he manages to knock Ben out. Then, Captain Kirk works his way to fix the problem to prevent the ship's orbit from decaying any further.

With Captain Kirk's innocence proven, Captain Kirk finds out Samuel is defending Ben. Captain Kirk and Areel share a kiss before their farewell.

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