Star Trek TOS: Disarming a Nuclear Bomb with a Cat Named ‘Isis’

Star Trek TOS: Disarming a Nuclear Bomb with a Cat Named ‘Isis’
Star Trek TOS: Assignment Earth

Star Trek: The Original Series

Season 2, Episode 26

Assignment: Earth

Enterprise traveled back in time to 1968 for historical research, hoping to understand how humans survived events on earth. A man with a black cat beamed aboard Kirk’s ship — not a good omen of things to come. 

The music turned ominous while the man with the cat asked why the hell he was intercepted. The man was naturally uncomfortable, asking to be returned to earth. He also claimed his release was imperative to the events of human history, implying Kirk and everyone else would be destroyed because of history alteration. This was about the third time the same topic was broached in Star Trek TOS. 

McCoy determined the human had a “perfect body,” making his story about importance on earth less likely. The man was also skilled enough to escape confinement on Enterprise and wreak havoc. When he bolted from captivity on the ship, he got the hell off the ship, beaming down to earth. Kirk and friends followed. 

Point of order: The cat’s name was Isis — also not a good omen.

Kirk and Spock strolled around earth in civilian clothing, looking pretty dapper outside of Starfleet threads. The crew learned that nuclear weapons would erupt on earth, and it was obviously a priority to prevent it. In fact, the man, Gary Seven, was on a mission to stop the nuclear war, as well.

Seven made his way to McKinley Rocket Base — along with Isis — while Kirk and Spock tracked him. But those two were apprehended by police — a familiar occurrence when Starfleeters venture to an earth-like planet.

Seven was beamed up by Scott back on Enterprise, but the signal was jammed by Seven’s makeshift assistant who was monkeying with his fancy equipment at the same time. Kirk narrated a heartfelt little speech, explaining he had never felt so helpless. The nuclear missile was about to fire because neither Kirk, Spock, or Seven could prevent it. Mind you — all of this transpired at a time when the episode aired on the backdrop of the Cold War. This stuff was on people’s minds. 

With his computer equipment, Seven sought to thwart the missile’s destruction for afar. And, yes, Isis watched on while Seven attempted rapid disarmament. 

Kirk and Spock simply could not know for sure, but they were working on the same side as Seven throughout the episode. Under tight supervision of McKinley security, Spock neutralized the primary guard, enabling him and Kirk to beam to Seven’s location. Finally, Kirk, Spock, and Seven realized they were on the same side. 

Seven exploded the weapon in an area that would not kill humans. Only then did all of the men understand the loss of life was stopped because it was fate they all collectively intervened. It was mental gymnastics to understand how Kirk and Spock could partake from the future, but that’s how science fiction goes. See: 12 Monkeys

Because of the solution — detonating the bomb 100+ miles in the sky — countries on earth agreed to tighten nuclear security. All in a day’s work for Star Trek in Back to the Future mode. 

The takeaway was the good that can come from time travel. So often in Star Trek, the story of doomsday and peril is told about the ills of traveling into the past. In Assignment: Earth, Kirk and Spock fulfilled destiny and did not even know they were doing so in the midst of the events. It was preordained. 

Themes: Time Travel, Nuclear Proliferation, Trust Thy Neighbor

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. His odyssey with Star Trek starts from beginning to finish, watching ‘The Original Series,’ all the way to the present day. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).