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

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Old February 20 2014, 10:02 PM   #1
Jose Tyler
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Gary Mitchell as First Officer

"Where No Man Has Gone Before" has always been one of my favorite episodes, mostly for the "what might have been" aspect of the different cast members. Many of the books seem to reference that Kirk had always wanted Mitchell as is XO, but for various reasons, Starfleet nixed it. Other books suggest that Mitchell was XO, and Spock took over as such after his demise. What is the history of that thinking? Where it come from? As many times as I've seen the episode, I can't think of anything that leads me to that conclusion, beyond Mitchell announcing that the department heads were on the bridge as Kirk requested. Even to say he would be Second Officer is flimsy at best. I'm just wondering what our resident trek historians think about it.
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Old February 20 2014, 10:12 PM   #2
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

I always took it that in WNMHGB Mitchell was XO and Spock was Second Officer--who was then promoted to fill Mitchell's vacant post. That's how it always felt to me.
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Old February 20 2014, 10:22 PM   #3
Jonas Grumby
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

The episode doesn't explicitly state anything one way or the other, but Mitchell acted like a first officer, from his heading for the bridge because, "Kelso's voice sounded a little shaky; I figured you (Kirk) weren't on the bridge," to his aforementioned announcing of the assembled department heads.

If Spock wasn't the first officer, then who else would even be a likely candidate for it?
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Old February 20 2014, 10:32 PM   #4
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

I don't think the Mitchell-as-XO theory has much going for it, either, but some people seem to like it. Spock wars the same color and badge as the captain, Mitchell does not. Spock gives orders to different departments on the bridge, Mitchell sticks to navigation/helm stuff (plus the intercom thing). Mitchell is not called to the bridge for the alert, as one might expect the XO would be, but comes on his own.

Mitchell as second officer seems pretty likely to me, though, since he is a lieutenant commander and they seem pretty thin on the ground in TOS.
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Old February 20 2014, 10:35 PM   #5
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

I doubt Starfleet would have let Kirk pick Gary as his XO, if only because they were such good friends. Isn't it the XO's job to *question* the Captain's orders when necessary? If they're already best buds, they can't really do that.

Kirk was allowed to ask for Gary to be assigned to the crew, but I'm not sure Starfleet would consider Kirk objective enough to let Gary be his first officer.
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Old February 20 2014, 10:43 PM   #6
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

I always looked as Mitchell being the second officer.
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Old February 21 2014, 05:30 AM   #7
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

I've been looking into it on my blog, since a reader asked, but haven't uncovered the full answer.

http://startrekfactcheck.blogspot.co...ry-hiatus.html (See comments here for a little of what I've uncovered)

My guess is that Mitchell was never intended to be the XO, though.
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Old February 21 2014, 02:32 PM   #8
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

Nah, Spock was always the first officer. Since Nimoy was cast as a regular and Lockwood as a guest star, and since the series format was "Kirk in command, Spock as first officer," it would have to have been explicitly stated in the dialog that Mitchell was the ship's exec. It wasn't. At no point was it even hinted that he was anything other than Kirk's old friend and the ship's helmsman. The rest is fan and author conjecture with no real basis in anything established in the episode as filmed.
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Old February 21 2014, 04:46 PM   #9
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

Perhaps it was another Tucker/T'Pol situation, where Kirk promised Gary he'd be the exec, & then Command was all, "Uh, yeah...we remember your shenangians together, so you're takin' the pointy-eared buzzkill as your next-in-command instead."
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Old February 21 2014, 05:25 PM   #10
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

J.T.B. wrote: View Post
I don't think the Mitchell-as-XO theory has much going for it, either, but some people seem to like it. Spock wars the same color and badge as the captain, Mitchell does not. Spock gives orders to different departments on the bridge, Mitchell sticks to navigation/helm stuff (plus the intercom thing). Mitchell is not called to the bridge for the alert, as one might expect the XO would be, but comes on his own.

Mitchell as second officer seems pretty likely to me, though, since he is a lieutenant commander and they seem pretty thin on the ground in TOS.
I agree.
Spock would seem overstepping his mark as second officer by advising Kirk what to do with Mitchell and with other things. Ordering the phaser rifle would seem presumptuous for a 2nd officer.

Although OTOH Spock would naturally take over as 1st Officer with Mitchell out of commission.
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Old February 21 2014, 06:46 PM   #11
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

Bry_Sinclair wrote: View Post
I always took it that in WNMHGB Mitchell was XO and Spock was Second Officer--who was then promoted to fill Mitchell's vacant post. That's how it always felt to me.
It seemed that way to me also. It was never explicitly stated that Mitchell was XO but I never even questioned it until someone asked about it here a long time ago. As for Gary sitting at navigation, Number One was at helm.
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Old February 21 2014, 07:03 PM   #12
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

Gary Mitchell wrote: View Post
As for Gary sitting at navigation, Number One was at helm.
And Spock, even in later episodes when he was unarguably the XO, manned the science station. It seems clear from watching TOS that, in Kirk's time, the captain ran the ship and the XO had a "real" job to do unless actively filling in for the CO.

It really wasn't until TNG and later that Trek gave lip service to the idea that, while the captain was the CO, it was the XO who actually had the full-time, hands-on job of running the ship...or (if going by what was actually seen onscreen) spending most of his time sitting at the captain's side, repeating his orders and scanning for apple-polishing opportunities.
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Old February 21 2014, 07:06 PM   #13
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

Gary Mitchell wrote: View Post
As for Gary sitting at navigation, Number One was at helm.
Gary was the helmsman, not the navigator. The positions of the crew at the forward console were exchanged between WNMHGB and the rest of the series. In the former, the helmsman sat on the starboard side and the navigator was at port side. The series switched those two positions.
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Old February 21 2014, 07:07 PM   #14
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

I never got why people felt Mitchell was supposed to be anything more than friend and helmsman. Kirk is with Spock at the start and, their chess game complete, they go to the transporter room and beam up the recorder. Mitchell isn't there, he wasn't even called, and he wasn't on the bridge. Why bring the second officer and not the first? Sure, you may want to bring your science officer, but wouldn't you want to tell the XO there's a strange object coming aboard? You certainly wouldn't tell your helmsman and Kirk never mentioned it to Mitchell directly. Not even in the turbolift, where they just BS about the chess game and Kelso sounding nervous. Kirk made him wait for the intercraft recap with every other non first officer.

This is what we are told about Gary Mitchell in the dialog: He's a Lt. Commander, Kirk's old friend, a womanizer and is at the helm position. He is never once referred to as first officer. It would at least be mentioned in the captain's log somewhere. Nope. Nothing. But for some reason, some fans think Spock took Mitchell's place. Why? I'd love to know what compelling evidence there is to suggest it. Is it because Gary tells Kirk the department heads are there? Anyone could have done that; Alden or Kelso could have done it. So that's not nearly enough. Because he's Kirk's friend? Nope, that's totally irrelevant.

Spock acts at all times like Kirk's exec. He advises him in crucial matters and obviously has "the captain's ear." This Spock is pretty much the same Spock we see in The Corbomite Maneuver and Mudd's Women. No change other than in costume or makeup. He does the same job.

Not to be a hard ass (and it really doesn't keep me up at night), but it was never mentioned, so it's just fanwank. In the post Cage format, Spock was always intended to be First Officer and WNMHGB wasn't an "origin story" about how Spock got the job. However, I'd love to hear arguments to the contrary, just for insight.
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Old February 21 2014, 07:20 PM   #15
Lance
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Re: Gary Mitchell as First Officer

Well, I suppose for the sake of debate, one could argue that he's occupying the same literal position on the Bridge that Number One did in the first pilot.

Although personally I think that's a pretty flimsy reason for thinking he's the XO, though.

I think Spock is the XO. I'm not sure his relationship with Kirk is anywhere near as close as Gary Mitchell's is at this stage (nor indeed as close as it would be between Kirk and Spock later on, chess games aside). But he's clearly the XO, if anybody is.
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