This is another episode where Sulu does not appear. I’m guessing the cast was still in flux at this stage. Funny to think if he’d left now and not returned, he could have been nothing more than a footnote in Star Trek lore, along with any of the other so-far-B-characters. At the same time, it’s apparent that the Trio (Kirk, Spock and McCoy) is easing into the foreground, despite a few recent McCoy-less episodes. The difference between the Sulu-less episodes and the McCoy-less episodes is that the default location for most episodes is the bridge and Sulu tends to be conspicuous in his absence. Even if he didn’t have lines, you’d expect to see him there flying the ship. When you don’t see McCoy, it’s generally because the story had no medical needs for him to serve. As such, it would be weird to see him standing around the bridge with nothing to do.

Helen Noel, huh? Subtle. I suppose naming her “Holly Noel” would have been going too far for a character Kirk fancied at a Christmas party. Speaking of holidays, this is the second mention in recent episodes of Earth holidays, the previous one being Thanksgiving. Assuming this was the American Thanksgiving which is only a month out from Christmas, I guess the two just recently passed. More good, subtle continuity.

First appearance of the mind meld! Coincidentally, I was wondering if they’d come up with that ability yet while the doctor was flipping out in Sick Bay. Then they pulled it out and I was “Hooray for me! I called it!”

(copyright Paramount)