Star Trek Episode Review: Court Martial (1967)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the Star Trek episode that first aired February 2, 1967.

Synopsis: The Enterprise docks at a starbase for repairs following an encounter with an ion storm and Kirk (William Shatner) faces a court martial for ejecting a research pod and causing the apparent death of one of his crew members. Kirk maintains his actions were necessary. However, computer records of the event show him pushing the eject button prematurely, putting his career in jeopardy.


The weather hasn't been cooperating with me so I wound up going home for lunch yesterday rather than going out for a walk. While there, I decided to finish up this episode. 

At first, I wasn't really sure how this episode would differ from a previous episode, The Menagerie, other than it being Kirk on trial rather than Spock (Leonard Nimoy). However, I wound up being very impressed with it.

OK, I'll start out by saying there were actually a couple things I didn't like. The first is I'm still a little confused about what this "research pod" was, why it needed to be ejected to save the ship and why it needed a live person inside of it. I'm sure there's some sort of Star Trek literature that explains it further, but it would have been nice if the episode would have taken the time to explain it.

Not to mention, what the heck was up with that eject button? Given the potential consequences of pushing it, you would think it would be located in a spot that wouldn't make it easy to push by accident (as the evidence against Kirk seemed to indicate). That is a major design flaw in my opinion.

That being said, I still thought this was a decent episode, mostly because of the mystery. Because it was Kirk on trial, I was confident he was telling the truth when he said he followed procedure. But, the evidence him was definitely damning, both because of the computer footage showing him push the button early and because he had a history with the crew member, Finney (Richard Webb) that, at least depending on your imagination (I personally thought the logic was a bit of a stretch) could have been motive for Kirk to push the button out of malice.

I am still a little undecided about Kirk's defense attorney, Samuel T. Cogley (Elisha Cook, Jr.). This is because I kind of liked him but, at the same time, felt as though the episode didn't do a great job developing him. In other words, I liked his anti-technology stance. I just wish the writers would have given us a little more background about why he was so anti-technology to begin with.

Final Opinion

I didn't like everything about this episode. But, I did like the mystery and, overall, thought it was interesting. I would recommend it as a result.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 05/21/2019, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 03/02/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for product lines, pretty pictures and practical information.
Have you seen Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home? Captain Kirk is capable of acting upon feeling murderously toward someone. So it might not have been far-fetched to consider his pushing the button early and knowingly taking another person's life.

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