James Kirk and Leonard McCoy
Captain Kirk and Dr McCoy in “Spock’s Brain” (Trekcore)

Dorothy Catherine Fontana wrote many episodes of The Original Series, including “Tomorrow is Yesterday”, “Journey to Babel”, “This Side of Paradise” and “The Enterprise Incident”. She was typically credited as “D.C. Fontana” to hide her sex.

One of the episodes she wrote (in August-September 1968) that never made it was “Joanna”, in which McCoy’s daughter is introduced. Fontana suggested Bobbie Gentry or Nancy Sinatra for the role.

Although the episode wasn’t produced, the character of Joanna has been mentioned in several Star Trek novels, including Brad Ferguson’s Crisis on Centaurus (1986) and the Star Trek: Untold Voyages comic Past Imperfect (1998).


Uhura receives a distress call from a small group of travelers who are stranded on a planet. The Enterprise diverts there and beams aboard a young Dr Sevrin and his “twenty-third-century flower children,” all of whom belong to a movement known as “The Artists”.

Kirk, Spock and McCoy are in the transporter room. A lovely young woman steps forward and stops in front of a frowning McCoy.

“Hello, dad,” she says.

McCoy is visibly angry and does not reply. Spock asks if “Hello, dad” is some archaic form of Earth greeting. McCoy finally speaks tartly. “This is my daughter, Joanna.”

Act 1

We learn more about the Artists and their peaceful ways. Kirk is furious that they have been in space in a rinky-dink little ship, upsetting shipping lanes by crossing without flight plans. Sevrin apologizes and states that they are desperate to find the planet Nirvana.

Nirvana, a paradise world of peace-loving inhabitants, is a legend, Kirk says. We learn that a century ago, an old “space prospector” claimed to have found it in uncharted space. When he was finally able to return to the Federation, he could never quite recall where Nirvana was located, causing many to dismiss him as a fantasist. Sevrin assures Kirk that he has pieced together old records and logs of the prospector and believes he was speaking the truth. Kirk insists he will drop off the Artists at the nearest starbase.

Joanna attempts to talk to her father, but he is cold because she has lied to him. For the past three years, she said she was studying to become a nurse. Now he finds out she has been running all over the galaxy with a bunch of gypsies. Joanna tells him she doesn’t want to become a nurse. Besides, this stranger called “daddy”, whom she has seen exactly three times in her life after he left her and her mother, does not have any right to tell her what to do. If he cannot forgive her for being what she is, she cannot forgive him for being what he is — “a coward.” She walks out, leaving McCoy shaking with anger.

Spock takes what information Sevrin has on Nirvana and sets the library computer to work on locating it.

Joanna comes to Kirk for advice. She wants to rebuild her relationship with her father, but he is shutting her out. Kirk refuses to intervene. Instead, he tries to talk her out of the futile search for Nirvana.

Sevrin and a couple of his men make their way to the auxiliary control room, overpower the crew there and begin working on the equipment.

Joanna has an invitation to dine with Kirk in his quarters. When he is not looking, she plants a listening device in the room.

Sevrin and men throw their final switches. Subspace radio goes dead, navigation and helm controls are overridden. Sevrin tells Kirk they have rigged the matter/antimatter mass to blow if Kirk tries anything. Sevrin wants to go to Nirvana and there is nothing Kirk can do to stop him.

Act 2

Joanna acts as liaison between Sevrin and Kirk. Kirk takes a liking to her and McCoy notices. He tells Kirk that Joanna is a witch like her mother and that is why he left. “She’ll cut your heart out,” McCoy warns, “and carry it around in a jar. She’s no good!”

Kirk, Spock and Scotty try everything but cannot regain control of the ship. Kirk then decides to separate the saucer, but Sevrin already knows. He has heard everything via the bug Joanna planted in the captain’s quarters.

The ship arrives at Nirvana intact. Sevrin and his Artists steal a shuttlecraft and head down. Kirk goes to the shuttlebay with guards. They will follow in a shuttlecraft while Spock and Scotty attempt to regain control of the ship. McCoy insists on going with Kirk.

Kirk and McCoy follow the stolen shuttlecraft down, land and find that Nirvana is a dead planet.

Act 3

Sevrin sees a great opportunity. He and his group can start over, tame this world and make it a paradise. Kirk points out that none of them have any practical experience in even staying alive on a wilderness planet. Sevrin says Kirk will teach them. Kirk shows them simple things like starting a fire. But Sevrin becomes annoyed when his followers begin to look to Kirk, not him, as their leader.

McCoy wants to know why Joanna follows this clown. “Because he doesn’t condemn me for being something I’m not,” she answers.

McCoy reacts angrily, but when she is gone we can see that he is in terrible anguish.

Act 4

A recording device found in a ruined building tells the history of Nirvana. The inhabitants were once a beautiful, peace-loving people who allowed their baser emotions to take over. They destroyed themselves.

Sevrin gets madder and madder at Kirk’s effortless leadership while Spock and Scotty work to regain control of the Enterprise. They succeed and the ship returns to Nirvana.

Sevrin tries to kill Kirk, but he is beaten and surrenders.

McCoy and Joanna talk openly. She explains she was thrown out by her mother for being too much like her father. McCoy smiles. They are not truly father and daughter yet, but they have taken their first steps toward reconciliation. Joanna says that after they have served their sentences for hijacking the Enterprise, perhaps she will reconsider nursing as a career.

McCoy finally tells her she should do what she wants to do, whatever that may be.