Leap of Trust, TOS: S2E26 “Assignment: Earth”

Humans have obsessed over the possibility of extra-terrestrials finding, observing, or possibly even visiting planet Earth and its inhabitants. However, the recent United States Pentagon report confirming its mysterious ‘UFO Program’ was met with… not much fanfare. At first this may seem surprising. Wouldn’t confirmation of alien life be the most important discovery of mankind? Perhaps the reason people weren’t generally impressed is that a government backed alien program doesn’t bring anything new to the party.

Alien enthusiasts have known about strange sky phenomenon for decades, and they had a strong suspicion the governments of the world knew too.  If no one, government official or otherwise, can explain what the strange lights are, or prove the existence of extra-terrestrial life, and if so, determine what they want from us, then we are essentially left with the same questions.  The fact that the United States Department of Defence admitted to being aware of, and closely monitoring, the strange sightings feels less like solid answers and more like a once skeptical friend is sheepishly admitting that they now agree with what has already been established.  Perhaps it would be more interesting to the general public if the US government had any insight as to what the aliens were trying to accomplish, whether this is for our good or our detriment.  Are they studying us as a part of some grand experiment, or are they trying to protect us?  Star Trek took a more optimistic view of 20th century alien encounters.

Kirk and crew travelled back in time to study human civilization in 1968 when they intercepted Gary Seven, a mysterious human who claims to have been living on another planet.  He was beaming to Earth on a mission to prevent a crisis.  Kirk doesn’t believe him and is therefore hesitant to let him continue on his way to Earth.  Seven seems to possess advanced skills and technology, and the ‘hidden planet’ he claims to be from cannot be found.  There is no way to trust any part of his story.  In addition to this, Kirk and crew learn of a potential nuclear fallout, as America plans to launch an orbital nuclear weapon.  Gary Seven manages to escape the Enterprise with his cat and returns to his strange ‘futuristic’ office.  We learn that he was a human who was taken generations ago and trained to protect humanity from destroying itself.

Captain Kirk, Spock, and an unsuspecting secretary named Roberta find themselves caught up in a battle to either hinder or help Seven as he tries to prevent the rocket launch.  The Enterprise crew are especially hell-bent on stopping Gary Seven, without really considering if he might be a good guy.  While they waste so much time, the nuclear warhead arms itself, launches, and the self-destruct sequence fails.  It is up to Gary Seven to detonate the warhead, but to do this, he needs Kirk and Spock to trust him and let him access the computer.  In a sense, Earth wouldn’t have survived either way unless Seven was telling the truth.  Kirk and Spock couldn’t stop the warhead, and they thought Seven was going to blow them up anyway, so either way they are dead.  In one brazen leap of faith, Kirk decides to trust the strange alien.  Of course, everything turns out just fine as Earth is saved and Spock assumes the Enterprise was simply supposed to play a part in the historical event. Faith and trust will likely be an unavoidable part of our dealings with extra-terrestrials if they indeed exist.  There will always be mysteries in the universe and if the government report tells us anything, it’s that we really don’t know anything.  Aliens may or may not be hostile, but if they seem to be going through a great effort to help us, it could be possible that they don’t want to see us destroy ourselves.

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