The Enterprise is trapped in the Delta Triangle with a Klingon ship, where they find other vessels and their crews all living in harmony.
Plot Summary: The Enterprise is en route to the Delta Triangle to attempt to determine why starships regularly disappear in that region of space when the Klingon vessel Klothos, under the command of Kirk’s old foe Kor, opens fire, then disappears into the Delta Triangle. When two other Klingon ships decloak and threaten the Enterprise, Kirk’s attempt to evade them leads the Enterprise into the Delta Triangle as well. Trapped in a pocket universe, the Enterprise crew discovers hundreds of starships from as many civilizations, along with the descendants of their crews. When the Klothos fires at the Enterprise, Kirk and Kor are beamed before the Elysian Council, a group of aliens from across the galaxy who were trapped in the Delta Triangle and have developed a peaceful civilization. As angry as Kirk is with Kor, he is even more irritated by the Council’s certainty that he can never hope to escape, so he opens discussions with the Klingons about using their engines and navigational equipment in tandem to break free before the dilithium crystals on both ships decay. Kor plans to have his crew sabotage the Enterprise during the collaboration, but a telepathic Elysian discovers the plot and warns Kirk, who sends Spock and Scotty to find a bomb planted in the ship’s computer core. The bomb explodes just as the Enterprise and Klothos burst free from the pocket universe, and Kor announces that he is responsible for saving both vessels.
Analysis: While it’s always a pleasure to see Kor again – he was Kirk’s adversary from “Errand of Mercy” who would later reappear in several Deep Space Nine episodes as an old friend of Dax’s – “The Time Trap” is not his finest outing. We’re never given a good explanation for the Klingon attack on the Enterprise; even assuming that Kor is still holding a grudge for the peace treaty forced upon him by the Organians, which prevented him from trying to kill Kirk before, there’s no good reason given for the Klingons to be investigating such a dangerous region of space, and Kor certainly didn’t intend to make Kirk disappear in the Delta Triangle in advance considering that his own ship was trapped inside. His attack seems ill-planned as well as unprovoked, which seems rather out of character for the clever Klingon. It’s hard to imagine that the Klingons went snooping around the Delta Triangle for purely scientific reasons, so I’d love to have seen a more detailed plot: did the want to look for their own missing ships, or were they hoping to scavenge equipment from someone else’s ship rumored to be lost in the area? Their appearance and attack on the Enterprise seems much too arbitrary, which makes the whole episode rather unsatisfying.
I like the idea of a Bermuda Triangle for starships, and the technobabble concerning the pocket universe is concise and clear. Time passes more slowly, equipment doesn’t work, so cooperation among all the survivors has become essential, particularly keeping the peace. It’s nice to see a microcosm of the Federation in Elysia including not just Vulcans, Humans, Orions, et al, but Romulans, Gorn, and other species not nearly so friendly in the wider universe. Yet again, it all seems very arbitrary and swift; it’s a lovely thought, but I find it implausible that Andorians and Tellarites would stop squabbling, let alone that Klingons and Romulans would stop trying to prove their superiority to everyone else, just because they’re trapped in a much smaller battlefield. We’ve seen many instances of councils or judges who set themselves up to stop humans from misbehaving, and with the exception of the Organians themselves, Kirk has often done a good job showing them how full of themselves they are (when he met the Gorn, for instance, in “Arena,” Kirk came across as much more civilized than the Metrons who forced him and the Gorn captain to battle to the death).
I do like some small details, like all the visuals of derelict ships we’ve seen before and a few ancient rarities, including the Bonaventure, which Scotty identifies as the first Earth ship with warp drive installed (it looks like a shorter, fatter Constitution-class ship with longer nacelles). Devna is the first Orion woman we see who’s a leader, even though she’s dressed in a bikini and wishes she could be back on Orion dancing, while Magen saves the Enterprise with her telepathic abilities, which are clearly superior to Spock’s (he senses only that the Klingons are up to no good); even the Klingon saboteur is a highly competent woman. Kirk seems very much in character deciding he’d rather work with the Klingons and risk sabotage than instead risk being trapped in the sort of peaceful paradise he’s always spurned before; he appears neither surprised nor distressed when he learns that Kor plans to betray him. There’s a brief, amusing subplot in which the Klothos is nearly put on ice because Kor is furious when McCoy asks a Klingon woman to dance, and everyone keeps a sense of humor in the end when Kor brags to the Klingons that he saved the Enterprise as well as his own ship. I imagine he didn’t get a commendation for the rescue but a complaint that Kirk survived.