A Tethered Life, TOS: S2E9 “Metamorphosis”

Is love the ultimate purpose for our existence?  We seem to go through great pains to find a partner worthy of our attention and care.  When we find such a person, we share our passions, plans, and adventures with them.  In a sense, we grow together.  What if one finds oneself in a relationship where growth was not possible?  Would pure love be worth the sacrifice?  A simple Star Trek episode with an innocent message, “Metamorphosis” explores the growth and change humans are capable of when given the chance, but also the depth and adoration which builds between two people over time.

Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are flying a shuttle back to the Enterprise, as Commissioner Nancy Hedford caught a rare condition known as Sukaro’s disease.  On their way back, the shuttle is caught in a tractor beam and dragged down to a mini planet.  Stranded there, the crew encounter a lone survivor: Zefram Cochrane.  He seems to be the real historical figure, thought to have disappeared over one hundred years ago.  When Kirk demands answers, eventually Cochrane admits that an entity called the Companion saved him and regenerated him back to youth.  The companion has a symbiotic relationship with Cochrane, and gives him immortality in exchange for his companionship.  The entity appears female, and although it is not human, the feelings it has toward Cochrane seem sophisticated and genuine.  Kirk and crew go through great pains to explain that humans need freedom to really live, but if Cochrane leaves the planet he will die.  In the end, the Companion enters the dying body of Commissioner Hedford, relinquishing its immortality as a result.  The choice to become human was a loving sacrifice for Cochrane, so they can grow and change together.

Love can’t exist without selflessness, and humans cannot be fulfilled without freedom.  Character growth requires challenge, and stagnation is death.  Even though the companion didn’t understand this at first, but did everything it could to make things work.  As an energy force, and a human woman, she can’t leave the planet, so Cochrane must sacrifice his freedom to be with her.  It understood what he needed in the end and lets him go, but he chooses to stay out of love.  The Companion was not human, but its choices exemplified the most human traits of all: love and sacrifice.

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