Written by: George Clayton Johnson
Directed by: Marc Daniels
You might be asking yourself, “why is he reviewing this episode now if it’s Episode 05?” Well, that’s a little complicated. “The Man Trap” was actually the first episode to air on television but it was the fifth episode produced, not counting “The Cage”. Four other episodes, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, “The Corbomite Maneuver”, “Mudd’s Women”, and “The Enemy Within” were all produced earlier but were aired very much out of order. With that in mind, I’ll be reviewing episodes in airing order unless otherwise noted.
This episode aired on September 8th, 1966. So, for those of you who want to officially celebrate the 50th anniversary of the franchise, September 8th is the day to do it.
It’s an alright episode. I never much cared for it, to be honest. While the Salt Monster is still cool looking for that era of creature design, the story never stuck with me. I never bought into the premise. First, I found that Dr. McCoy took far too long to become suspicious and it too Kirk far too long to get involved and push the issue. The salt connection was painfully obvious and since this episode plays like a murder mystery, it’s not strong enough to hold water, pun intended.
Jeanne Bal (Nancy Crater) and Alfred Ryder (Robert Crater) do a fine job with that they are given. In fact, they are the most believable characters in the episode. The Green character, played by Bruce Watson, was frustrating to watch. He acted so strangely that it was shocking how no one seemed to really notice or when they did, it was brushed off so easily. This is a military crew in deep space, after all.
In the end, the pseudo shape-shift mind-bending creature is a cool alien and a great one to start the series off with but the plot is weak and does little to excite people about the series. The senior crew members are easily outmatched by a simple game of Clue. In truth, as a first episode, it’s got to be the worst of the various Star Trek series.