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Season 1, Episode 4

Episode Details

Plot Summary | Ongoing Story and Character Developments
Unanswered Questions | Memorable Lines | Glitches
Trivia, Inside Jokes and References | NotePAD

Plot Summary

The Christa receives a distress signal while Harlan and Radu are alone in the ComPost. They take it upon themselves to offer assistance to the unidentified alien ship, identifying themselves as the Captain and First Officer of the Christa. When the alien pilot emerges from the airlock, the crays!iscovers that she is a lizard-like Spung.

Goddard consents to help the Spung girl, whose name is Elmira, but they must keep a close watch on her, because Spung cannot be trusted. Radu is particularly suspicious of her, because the Spung enslaved the Andromedans. This sparks conflict between Radu and Harlan. Harlan hates Radu because Andromedans killed his father, but does not blame Elmira for what the Spung did to the Andromedans.

Elmira works on repairing her equipment. In exchange for the crew's help, she offers to use her "talent" to predict their futures. She makes predictions for several members of the crew, and some of them are pretty grim. The predictions begin to come true almost immediately.

Harlan begins to worry that Radu may be right, that Elmira may be a threat, and his concerns appear to be valid. When Elmira is left alone for a moment, and we see her receive a message from Spung Warlord Shank.

Elmira predicts that the white circle will appear, to take the crew "back to where this all began."

Davenport pretends to be a ghost to fulfill her projection in a manner under her own control. When the others go to the ComPost to investigate her behavior, Radu is left alone with Elmira.

Elmira predicts that Radu will be a great hero. She also tells Radu that Harlan doesn't hate him, but fears him because Radu challenges all of Harlan's preconceptions. And she points out that Radu feels the same way about her.

Just as Radu is beginning to soften towards Elmira, Warlord Shank appears in his killcruiser, threatening to destroy the Christa. At first, Radu thinks that Elmira has been deceiving them all along, but she persuades him that Shank is after her. Radu helps Elmira escape.

The killcruiser begins firing on the Christa, when the white circle appears. Elmira tells the Christa to dive for it while she distracts the killcruiser.

The Christa goes through the white circle, and does indeed return to "where it all began": the position where the white circle dropped them off the first time. They must begin their journey home all over again.

Ongoing Story and Character Developments

  • This episode is our introduction to the Spung. It's hard to believe, but during the first three episodes of Space Cases, we didn't even know the Spung existed! Here, we find out that they exist, that they enslaved the Andromedans, and that they started the war between the Andromedans and the UPP (although we don't actually hear the term UPP until Homeward Bound in the second season). This episode ties together a lot of the concepts that have been trickling out through the first few episodes.
  • This episode is also our introduction to the recurring characters Warlord Shank and Elmira, and the beginning of her relationship with Radu.
  • Elmira is an oracle, with the ability to see the future, although her projections are subject to misinterpretation (as the crew misinterpreted her projection about the white circle). She is an outsider among her people, and because of this she feels a kinship with Radu, who is also an outsider.

Memorable Lines

Goddard: (after Harlan introduces him as the ship's cook): Would you excuse us a moment? Something's burning. Cook stuff, you understand.
Elmira: Is the cook always this important on an Earthling starship?
Harlan: Uh… It's an old Earth tradition: if the cook doesn't get his way… we don't get dessert.
Elmira: Oh.

Elmira: Harlan Band doesn't hate you, Radu. He's afraid of you.
Radu: Afraid?
Elmira: Yes. Every time he looks at you, he's afraid that everything he knows is wrong. And so are you, every time you look at me.


  • There is a scene where we see the exterior of the Christa navigating through what appears to be an asteroid belt, yet nothing in the episode indicates that this is happening.

Trivia, Inside Jokes and References

  • The title of the episode is a play on the song title Young at Heart (Frank Sinatra)
  • Warlord Shank is played by George Takei, best known as Mr. Sulu from the original Star Trek.
  • The bit where Elmira kisses Radu was not in the original shooting script of the episode. That was added during filming, to give Elmira's departure greater emotional impact. It was Kristian Ayre's first on-screen kiss. When Peter David sprung the news on Kristian at lunch one day, Kristian's jaw dropped, because, according to Peter, "under the make-up, Katie [McIninich] is quite good looking, a fact not lost on Kristian." (information provided by Peter David)
  • Harlan tells Shank that if he attacks the Christa, the hull of the ship, which is made out of Cinarite, will explode and destroy the killcruiser. A similar trick was used successfully in The Corbomite Maneuver, the first regular episode of the original Star Trek. Peter David explains: "Well, when you're trying to use the Corbomite Maneuver on George Takei, you don't seriously expect to fool him, do you? Originally we wanted to say "Corbomite," but we wound up changing it to"Cinarite," after Cinar, the production company that makes the show."
  • I suspect that Elmira is named for Myra David, although I've never seen that confirmed anywhere.

Unanswered Questions

  1. Did Suzee really switch places with Catalina?
  2. What is the significance of Elmira's prediction for Radu (the only one of her predictions that clearly was not fulfilled within the episode):
    "Fire and darkness you will tame"
    "Hero added to your name"
    "Noble Radu, worthy and brave"
    "Those who scorn you, you will save"
  3. Did Elmira survive her confrontation with Shank? And will the crew ever see her again? (Answered in Episode #13, On the Road to Find Out: They meet Elmira again, and she is alive).

(Notes from co-creator Peter A. David)

"Heart" is the first episode to give major insight into our backstory. We had made reference to a war that had been fought back before our series began, but this episode gives a face to the enemy. It also gave us a chance to do a turn-around on the prejudice that Harlan always felt for Radu, by showing that Radu is equally capable of reacting in a gut way with his own prejudices.

The name "Spung" was coined by Bill Mumy, which was derived from a nonsense-sound nickname, "Spungy" which he called his son, Seth (an actor in his own right, featured in the film "Three Wishes.") As for the dreaded Warlord Shank, I lifted his name off "lamb shank" as featured on a Passover plate (the same source I used for an assortment of villains in the Star Trek novel, "Imzadi.")

The main reason we picked Katie for the role of "Elmira" was that she was the only actress we read for the role who could take Elmira's predictions and make them sound mysterious and interesting rather than, well...kinda goofy. And the predictions were obviously key to the episode. However, they were also deceptively worded, because although the predictions for Bova and Rosie came true during the episode, the rest were not realized until subsequent episodes. For instance, although the "Catalina disappears" prediction *could* have been fulfilled in "Heart," we were really hedging our bets because we were concerned that we were going to be losing Jewel Staite to the Disney series "Fast Forward" (as indeed we did) and the line about her disappearing was really geared towards removing her from the show entirely. The line about Davenport haunting the walls of the ship foreshadowed "Break on Through to the Other Side." We actually wrote a line into "Break on Through" in which the crew comments that Elmira had foreseen it, but it was cut by Nickelodeon who stated that it would confuse fans who hadn't seen "Heart." As for the Radu prediction, it was more of a long-term prediction as to his final fate, but we've yet to be able to tell that story.

Warlord Shank originally was only a voice over in the script, and was originally recorded as such. However, when we cast George Takei for Shank's major appearance ("On the Road to Find Out") George was gracious enough to film Shank's cameo for "Heart," and the episode was re-cut to incorporate George's footage. There's an-in joke reference during that scene where Harlan endeavors to bluff Shank using, basically, the Corbomite maneuver strategy from the original Star Trek series. Shank doesn't fall for it. The irony is that the line was written before George was cast as Shank, so it acquired an additional humorous resonance. After all, there's no way Harlan could possibly fool "Mr. Sulu" with a stunt pulled by Captain Kirk. There was supposed to be CGI behind Shank to render the interior of a Spung vessel, but we were so tight on deadline that there was no time, so Shank simply has a blank screen behind him. Doesn't look particularly fancy, but hey, at least we got a cameo with George Takei.

The sequence where Elmira kisses Radu good-bye was the first time Kristian was kissed on camera. He didn't seem to mind.

Elmira's make-up was an ongoing discovery process. We quickly decided to utilize Katie's own abundant red hair and design the headpiece so that it could be threaded through and seen. We also experimented with the notion of using contact lenses to give her an even more lizard-like appearance. Katie was a trouper as several different lenses were tried, but the bottom line was that she had such lovely eyes, and the lenses were so painful, that we abandoned the idea. Also, Elmira's tail and "bustle" were redesigned for her next appearance to give her a more svelte and streamlined appearance.

All in all, a satisfactory introduction of the series' major villains.


Episode Details provided by Tracey Rich.
This page was last updated on October 27, 1997.