Operation: Annihilate-The string of winning episodes finally came to an end in the final show of season one, which concerned pancake-like creatures that attack Spock's central nervous system. This was by no means trek at it's worst incidentally; just a step down from the prior six shows produced. The episode feels more like a second season episode in that it lacks the complex themes of its precursors; still it manages to work in a loss for Kirk and the effects that physical pain can have on the way we present ourselves. (As an aside, one thing that does connect this episode with season one is the slow pace at which the story develops.) This is one of those shows though that despite a disturbing premise doesn't have a lot to say in the end, and relies on a gimmick for the ultimate resolution of the conflict. Also dulling are the absence of significant guest performances and the un-engaging sets; both may well have been due to both empty coffers and fatigue at this point. Virtually everyone involved had certainly laid it out there in season one, both in terms of effort and sincere emotional investment; it wouldn't always be that way. (2.5 stars)
Tidbit: Both of the dead Kirks would appear in other episodes: the elder 79 times as Captain Kirk, and the younger once as Tommy Starnes in And the Children Shall Lead.
Catspaw, an episode which employs Halloween frights (witches, black cats, etc.), was the first episode produced in the second season. There is a light, jaunty quality to both the music and the performances not seen during season 1. It's almost as if everyone gave a collective sigh when the show was finally renewed, and thought they wouldn't be as heavily scrutinized the next year. Whether or not this was a good thing is certainly open to debate, but there is no denying that the second season shows feel more relaxed and lighter than the first.
But back to Catspaw. This episode and the 3rd season opener (Spectre of the Gun) were the only episodes written with a specific airdate in mind. This was meant to be first and foremost a Halloween episode, and it does a decent job of providing some frights. (Spectre of the Gun aired within a day or two of the anniversary of the gunfight at the OK Corral.) But Catspaw is ultimately too reliant on a parade of gimmicks (that don't even frighten the landing party) to be engaging. Uninspired performances by Antoinette Bower and Theo Marcuse don't help any either. Other than the gimmicks, there just isn't much here; on the other hand, the gimmicks keep the show moving. (2.5 stars)