Writer: Samuel A Peeples
Director: James Goldstone
Producer: Gene Roddenberry
The second Star Trek pilot much more strongly resembles the finished series, which makes sense as this was the one that won NBC approval. That said, it still feels like a weird halfway point in terms of cast and the look of the show between the first pilot and the eventual series, making it enough like the show that they did air it with the rest of the series' first run, but enough not like the show that it's very weird they chose to air it third in the broadcast order.
The whole cast has changed with the exception of Nimoy as Spock, who has a very severe make-up job in this episode and wears a gold uniform unlike every other entry in the series. They're still roughing out who Spock is at this point -- he still has the occasional smug grin, still shouts across the bridge, and seems rather harsh. But they've started to establish that his species "doesn't have feelings", that he's devoted to logic. They're honing in on him.
The biggest change though, is the new captain. As James Kirk, William Shatner brings an undeniable energy, vitality, a joie de vivre that really electrifies the show and wakes it up. People have ragged on his "hammy" over-the-top style for years, but the fact is that it really helps the show feel exciting and alive and also from seeming to take itself too seriously. Which is what Shatner felt the show needed after watching the first pilot. Amazingly, Kirk seems to emerge in the episode fully formed: he's courageous, heroic, daring, compassionate, competent, intelligent, strategic, philosophical, charming, in other words he's a great hero. The one thing that's missing so far is a sense of relationship with his crew -- his interactions with Spock are on a level of professional familiarity, not the best friends relationship they'll later develop, and there's no one as close to him as McCoy becomes.
Instead Kirk's friendship is with Gary Mitchell, the guest star character this episode who starts as a regular bridge crewmember who's known Kirk for years but gets blasted with space magic from the edge of the galaxy and turns into a god. Thus the themes of the episode become the use of power, its abuse, human frailty, the need for compassion, and emotion versus pragmatism. As Gary becomes more powerful he becomes more dangerous, but Kirk can't bring himself to kill his old friend despite Spock's insistence. It's a testament to the episode that with its network-mandated greater emphasis on action and excitement, it still manages to maintain a philosophic tone and a statement about the human condition, thus establishing a winning Star Trek formula.
James Doohan and George Takei join the cast as Scotty and Sulu, but they aren't given much to do. Scotty does make a bit of an impression, but Sulu here is an "astrophysicist" rather than helmsman and his one big line comes down to the Trekkian "explain the plot by way of metaphor" line. The actor playing the ship's doctor is a complete nonentity and much inferior to the first pilot. You can see why they replaced him again when it came time to go to series.
One thing that's interesting is that while nothing is stated outright, "Where No Man..." feels like it's nearer the beginning of Kirk's mission than "The Cage" did with Pike. While the Yeoman in the first pilot was new to the ship, you got the feeling that everyone else had been working under Pike for some time, and were fiercely loyal to him. In "Where No Man..." while it's clear that Kirk's been commanding this crew for a while, and has worked with Gary Mitchell for a long time, he seems to not know Spock or the other crewmembers as well. There's a bit more of a sense of being near the beginning of things, although it's still in media res as it were, without the "origin" elements that you'd see in the first episode of any modern TV show.
"Where No Man Has Gone Before" isn't quite as impressive as "The Cage", and it still feels embyronic, but it's recognizably Star Trek and a much better indication of what the series would be.
Rating: 3.5 out of 4