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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old April 7 2011, 09:05 PM   #1
Jose Tyler
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Gary Mitchell as First Officer

I was re-watching "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and I was thinking about Gary Mitchell's position aboard the Enterprise. I know several books have either discussed Spock taking over as First Officer, while other have talked about Kirk wanting Mitchell as First Officer but being told "no". Does anybody know where in the history of Trek the whole "Mitchell as First Officer" idea started? Was there ever an official position from Roddenberry or Richard Arnold on the subject?
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Old April 8 2011, 12:46 AM   #2
Potemkin_Prod
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

It's from a line in WNMHGB.
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Old April 8 2011, 06:12 AM   #3
Captain Robert April
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

No it isn't. Nobody is identified as first officer in the entire episode. Spock is only identified as the science officer, by Kirk in the briefing room scene.
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Old April 8 2011, 10:08 AM   #4
Pauln6
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

Were Mitchell and Spock the same rank?
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Old April 8 2011, 10:20 AM   #5
Timo
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

They wore the same braid, only on differently colored shirts. Spock wore the same golden color as Kirk, which we might take as indication that he was the XO. Single braid vs. Kirk's two.

http://tos.trekcore.com/hd/albums/1x...eforehd017.jpg

Mitchell wore the same brownish color e.g. Scotty did, again with single braid.

http://tos.trekcore.com/hd/albums/1x...eforehd034.jpg

Spock's rank was never brought up in dialogue, although we'd expect it to be at least Lieutenant like it was back in "The Cage" (in terms of in-universe chronology, of course - studio chronology would be a different issue because continuity with "The Cage" obviously wasn't a requirement at that point yet).

Mitchell is referred to as "commander" once in the scene that introcudes Dehner, and Kirk later calls him Lieutenant Commander in a posthumous log; there's also a screen graphic that suggests Mitchell is a Lieutenant Commander - or rather, that he held that rank when he was 23 and this psycho-medical assessment of him was made.

http://tos.trekcore.com/hd/albums/1x...eforehd238.jpg

So Spock might also be a Lieutenant Commander here. Certainly we have no explicit evidence that the two would hold different rank, and little implicit reason to think so.

The system of rank braid in this episode might of course contain surprises, such as subtle differences in color or texture denoting differences in rank. Such things don't seem to apply to other Trek episodes, though. If we try to shoehorn the pilot episodes into the continuity that otherwise seems to reign from STXI to TOS, TAS and ST:TMP, the single braid ought to mean Lieutenant (and dialogue from "The Cage" concurs, even though dialogue from "Where No Man" does not), and young Kirk here ought to be a captain of Commander rank.

Going further down that lane, we'd then have to explain why Mitchell wears the "wrong" braid, half a braid too little for his rank. If we choose to say that he was only recently promoted and does not wear the metal yet (which would also mean he's mere 23 or 24 years old, as per the computer readout), or perhaps that he is in the habit of dressing sloppily and his pullover for today is incompletely braided, we then probably have to accept that he holds superior rank to Spock's, because it would be a bit of a stretch for the same set of special circumstances to apply to both these officers... And this then carries assorted implications.

Spock is only identified as the science officer, by Kirk in the briefing room scene.
Even that is awfully vague. Kirk merely says that he expects his science officer not to hide unpleasant truths. And he says that to Elizabeth Dehner, who has attempted to hide unpleasant truths about Gary Mitchell. So apparently, Dehner is the science officer here. Or a science officer anyway.

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Old April 8 2011, 04:41 PM   #6
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

Captain Robert April wrote: View Post
No it isn't. Nobody is identified as first officer in the entire episode. Spock is only identified as the science officer, by Kirk in the briefing room scene.
Actually, you're right. It's not stated. I misremembered the scene wherein Doctor Dehner states that Kirk and Mitchell have been friends since the Academy, and that Kirk asked Mitchell to join him on his first command.

Another thing though is that when Kirk is issuing orders, it's Gary Mitchell at the navigator's position who is repeating his orders much as Spock does in his capacity as first officer.
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Old April 8 2011, 05:41 PM   #7
Shaw
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

This was what I came up with after studying the uniforms in WNMHGB...


It seemed to me that Spock was the XO in that episode.
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Old April 8 2011, 08:58 PM   #8
jayrath
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

If you define one of a first officer's roles as "suggesting alternatives," as in TMP, the Spock is indeed XO. Otherwise, he's bordering on insubordination (i.e. "Captain, I know I'm not the first officer, and I've already suggested this before, but let's strand or kill Gary.")
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Old April 8 2011, 09:07 PM   #9
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

jayrath wrote: View Post
If you define one of a first officer's roles as "suggesting alternatives," as in TMP, the Spock is indeed XO. Otherwise, he's bordering on insubordination (i.e. "Captain, I know I'm not the first officer, and I've already suggested this before, but let's strand or kill Gary.")
I always took the exchange between the two as one friend talking to another. The opening scene establishes the two are on friendly terms at the very least.
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Old April 8 2011, 09:22 PM   #10
Sir Rhosis
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

Even the two scripts I own don't say, though the first draft does state that Spock is the "senior" officer of the two.

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Old April 8 2011, 09:24 PM   #11
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

Sir Rhosis wrote: View Post
Even the two scripts I own don't say, though the first draft does state that Spock is the "senior" officer of the two.

Sir Rhosis
But does "senior" mean the higher ranking or the longer serving?
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Old April 8 2011, 09:37 PM   #12
Sir Rhosis
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

Dunno, though in military parlance it usually means highest ranking regardless of time in service or even age, unless both are the same rank, then the longest serving in that rank would be senior. Haven't looked back over the thread recently -- were both Spock and Mitchell lieutenants?

Sir Rhosis

EDIT to add that Kirk could have appointed either as his first officer regardless of who technically outranked the other.
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Old April 8 2011, 09:47 PM   #13
Timo
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

As said, Spock's rank (or position) was never mentioned in dialogue, while Mitchell was referred to as "commander" once in dialogue, then glimpsed to have been Lieutenant Commander during a medical checkup, then addressed as Lieutenant Commander in a posthumous log. There is no dialogue mention of Mitchell's position, although at one point Kirk yells for the helmsman to act, in vain, and Mitchell is incapacitated while Kelso on the other seat is not; we might deduce that Mitchell is the helmsman, then, and Kelso is the navigator. Memory Alpha certainly makes this assumption, although it's not canonically based. (Might be based on script, tho.)

Another thing though is that when Kirk is issuing orders, it's Gary Mitchell at the navigator's position who is repeating his orders much as Spock does in his capacity as first officer.
..Interestingly enough, Pike's first officer also seemed to be his navigator. And the highest-ranking member of the bridge crew of the Excelsior under Captain Styles was also sitting in the navigation pulpit, while Sulu also had an officer there matching in rank his LtCmdr Science Officer (who's credited as the XO in noncanon sources, but canonically the Navigator or the Helmsman could have been the XO instead).

Apparently, it's only in the TNG era that XOs get rid of "second professions" and spend all their time second-guessing their COs, in the style of today's navies.

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Old April 8 2011, 10:12 PM   #14
AJBryant
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

Sir Rhosis wrote: View Post
EDIT to add that Kirk could have appointed either as his first officer regardless of who technically outranked the other.
Captains REQUEST a first officer. The fleet admiralty makes assignments. They can approve or ignore a captain's request for specific crew.
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Old April 8 2011, 10:21 PM   #15
Sir Rhosis
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

^^^Really? Where's that from (in TOS, since we're discussing policies of that era)? Not doubting you -- just curious.

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