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Why 1 Episode From TOS Season 2 Shouldn’t Be Canon

An out-of-place episode from Star Trek: The Original Series season 2 should be left out of Trek canon because of its behind-the-scenes context.

The final episode Star Trek: The Original Series season 2 shouldn’t be considered canon, considering its production background. The episode was never intended to be a Star Trek episode but rather a pilot episode of a different show. A character from the episode is referenced in season 2 of Picard, but it would be better if the episode was simply forgotten.

“Assignment: Earth” is the 26th and final episode of Star Trek: The Original Series season 2. The episode depicts the 1960s excursion of a time-traveling being named Gary Seven who has come to Earth to prevent World War III from occurring. It originally an episode originally created to be the pilot of a new sci-fi series called Assignment: Earth, but it had to be reworked to fit into Star Trek’s second season as a backdoor pilot when there was no network interest in the property. In the finalized TOS season 2 episode, Gary’s path intersects with Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise, who have coincidentally traveled to the same time period to monitor Earth communications. After several misunderstandings, Kirk and Spock choose to trust Gary Seven’s mission and a crisis is averted. Star Trek: Picard recently revealed in season 2 that Gary Seven connects to the Watcher.

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There are a few plot holes in the episode “Assignment: Earth” that have given the episode a bad reputation compared to other classic Star Trek: The Original Series episodes. Namely, the purposeful use of time-traveling by the crew is not a technique explained in the show prior to this episode, which raises questions about Starfleet’s technological advancement, as time-travel is often shown to be an anomalous event. An example of this traces back to episode 19 of season 1 “Tomorrow is Yesterday,” where a black star thrusts the Enterprise back in time. The out-of-place season 2 episode also focuses the majority of its screen time on Gary Seven, taking away from the Enterprise’s mission which is central to every TOS episode. It feels like a pilot to a separate show, with characters like Spock and Kirk sprinkled in to its dissonant narrative about interfering with the time continuum. The episode’s original intent as the start to another show takes away from the importance of Star Trek’s extensive lore. The franchise depends on continuity that respects each preceding episode, and “Assignment: Earth” simply doesn’t.


The reference to Gary Seven in Picard season 2 episode 4 feels equally out of place as “Assignment Earth” does in TOS because of Jean-Luc Picard’s knowledge of the character, not to mention the fact that the episode has never felt like a Star Trek episode to begin with and for good reason. Star Trek‘s Picard discovers that Gary Seven was employed by the same alien world that employs the Watcher, who is a supervisor assigned to watch over the destinies of events and specific individuals in history. While it is a unique niche reference, the implication of Gary being a Watcher doesn’t align with the ending of “Assignment: Earth,” where Kirk and Spock note their awareness of Gary’s future adventures. If Picard is unaware of Watchers in his time, then Kirk and Spock being aware of Gary Seven’s placement in the history books lacks sense. It translates as a stretch for Picard to remember a random case file from the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, where an alien from an unknown planet intercepted Captain Kirk’s crew.


The season 2 finale of TOS has never felt like a legitimate Star Trek: The Original Series episode and shouldn’t be treated as solid canon. Picard referencing the character of Gary Seven by adding lore on top of the continuity-destructive “Assignment: Earth” comes across as nostalgia bait. While the episode should have been aired separately from the original series, it has obviously not been disregarded.

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