Organians were once corporeal, but they eventually evolved a non-corporeal form. They implied that their desire to avoid physical pain was a reason for that.
For ten thousand years, they observed a planet that contained a silicon-based virus, and the reactions of species that encountered it, in an attempt to find a species with a higher level of intelligence. Among the species which the Organians observed, as they attempted to deal with this deadly virus, were the Klingons, the Cardassians, and Humans.
In 2154, the Enterprise NX-01 investigated a Klingon waste site on the planet, and a landing party consisting of Commander Charles Tucker III and Ensign Hoshi Sato contracted the virus. Following their protocol of non-interference, two Organian observers watched the crew's reaction to the situation by inhabiting the bodies of crew members and subsequently altering their memories so that they had no recollection of the Organians' actions. One of the two observers (apparently the more senior of the two) felt that the Organians' protocols should be followed strictly; the other, who was impressed by the Humans' compassion, felt that the time had come for the protocols to be altered. The less senior being argued that intelligence alone was not a sufficient measure of a species' worthiness to be contacted. The senior observer initially occupied the body of Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, while his associate occupied the body of Ensign Travis Mayweather. All of the senior staff of Enterprise were possessed by the observers at one point or another.
After a period of rapid deterioration, both Tucker and Sato died from the virus. However, at the moment of Tucker's death, the junior Organian inhabited his body and communicated his admiration to Captain Jonathan Archer, who had become infected himself in an effort to save his crewmen. The junior Organian explained his mission to Archer, who pleaded for the Organians to save his crew members – to experience compassion, not merely observe it. Although it was a violation of their protocols, the Organians complied and revived Tucker and Sato, as well as eliminating the virus from their systems and Archer's. The crew of Enterprise NX-01 retained no memory of their interactions with the Organian observers. Before they left, the junior Organian told his superior that they should begin preparations for an official first contact mission, which they felt gave them only about five thousand years. (ENT: "Observer Effect")
The Organians later took the appearance of a simple pre-industrial humanoid society for the purpose of interaction with other lifeforms. Based on preliminary Federation surveys, the Organian society rated a class D-minus on the Richter scale of culture. When Organia was invaded by the Klingons at the start of the Federation-Klingon War in 2267, Captain James T. Kirk and his first officer, Spock, attempted to convince the apparently primitive Organians to accept Federation protection. The Organians seemed completely unconcerned with external affairs, almost to the point of apathy. It was only when Kirk and Spock began conducting a guerrilla war against the Klingon occupation that the Organians abandoned their false humanoid forms and intervened, forcing an end to the interstellar war. (TOS: "Errand of Mercy") They imposed the Treaty of Organia, establishing a framework for interaction between the two enemies, accurately predicting that, in time, they would eventually become friends. (TOS: "Errand of Mercy", et al.) This event placed the Organians' official first contact with Humans much sooner than the Organians had first anticipated. (ENT: "Observer Effect"; TOS: "Errand of Mercy")
Abilities and physiologyEdit
The Organians demonstrated a number of abilities. At least one of them, Trefayne, was aware of events at great distances, reporting that space vehicles had assumed orbit about his world and that men had beamed down. (TOS: "Errand of Mercy") Another was able to tell where the helmsman and armory officer were on Enterprise, while in the ship's sickbay.
The Organian observers in the mid-22nd century were able to resurrect the dead, such as the recently deceased Trip Tucker and Hoshi Sato.
The Organians also had the ability to occupy the bodies of humanoid hosts, including the crew of Enterprise NX-01, consisting of Humans, Vulcans, and Denobulans, as well as alter their memories of their activities. (ENT: "Observer Effect")
Organian individual Ayelborne was able to move through a crowded citadel without attracting the attention of anyone there. He was able to prevent the Klingons from returning to a particular chamber in the building, which housed the Organian Council of Elders, to search for Kirk and Spock, whom Ayelborne had rescued from the citadel. He was also able to appear in at least three places light years apart at the same time, these being his own world, Earth, and Qo'noS.
Kirk believed that the Organians made it possible for Spock and himself to enter the citadel, while it was apparently under Klingon rulership, in defiance of long odds against them. Collectively, the Organians were able to neutralize Starfleet and the Klingon fleet, wherever they were. To prevent the conflict between Humans and Klingons, they managed to emanate extreme heat from every harmful object available, including phaser controls in both fleets. As beings of pure thought, they were either immortal or extremely long-lived; Claymare commented that no-one had died on Organia in "uncounted thousands of years."
It is unclear exactly what the Organians really looked like but they stated they had once been humanoid. They had developed beyond the need for physical bodies, millions of years earlier, and "that of us which you see... is mere appearance... for your sake." Two of them then disappeared, first passing through a state in which they radiated intensely bright light. (TOS: "Errand of Mercy")
Organians considered intervention in the affairs of others to be most disgusting. The Organian principle of non-interference was akin to Starfleet's Prime Directive though existed before it. (ENT: "Observer Effect"; TOS: "Errand of Mercy", "The Return of the Archons", et al.) The Organians felt they had no choice but to intervene when they imposed the peace treaty in 2267 – they simply could not watch idly as the Federation and the Klingons slaughtered each other and perhaps others. In general, the Organians found the discordant emotions of less evolved beings highly painful. As a gesture of hospitality to visitors, they created conventional points of reference – physical bodies for themselves, buildings, and other objects, such as, in 2267, creating a setting reminiscent of a primitive agrarian community. (TOS: "Errand of Mercy")
Although "Observer Effect" was written by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, the idea of bringing the Organians back to Star Trek in an episode of ENT Season 4 was thought up by Manny Coto, after he and Brannon Braga asked the Reeves-Stevenses to write a budget-saving installment that involved the crew of Enterprise being inhabited. "Manny [...] said, 'It would be great, for a tie to the original series, if the aliens that were inhabiting our guys were Organians,'" recalled Garfield Reeves-Stevens.
The pair of writers thereafter chose to subtly depict the behavior of the Organians' hosts. "We didn't want to have anything like, you know, eyes flash or they start talking in a really bizarre way," Garfield Reeves-Stevens explained. "They had to talk as the characters, but referencing that they were possessed by Prime and Second." Consequently, much of the responsibility for conveying that the Organians were inhabiting the crew of Enterprise was given to the relevant actors and the director of "Observer Effect", Mike Vejar. Their efforts in this respect pleased the Reeves-Stevenses. "And while we made the two [Organian] characters distinct, it's the actors who just made this happen, because you always know which one of them they are," remarked Judith Reeves-Stevens.
Precisely whom the Organians opted to possess was another concern. "Working on the show, we were trying to think, 'Um, how do the Organians pass around? Who do they concentrate on?'" stated Garfield Reeves-Stevens. At one stage, he and his writing partner even had the Organians inhabit Captain Archer's dog, Porthos, so that they could eavesdrop on a discussion between Archer and another character, though that notion lasted for approximately a day before being dropped. The writing couple subsequently focused on having the aliens possess Mayweather and Reed.
In an extra page from "Observer Effect", the Organians, while possessing Tucker and Sato, were given dialogue to be performed by actors Connor Trinneer and Linda Park, though the lines were deliberately not heard on-screen. The aliens, in the script page, discussed Human history and compared the violence of Humans to that of Cardassians. ("Observer Effect" audio commentary, ENT Season 4 Blu-ray special features)
Garfield Reeves-Stevens thought the Organians' use of a directive similar to the Prime Directive, while in contact with races including early Starfleet, was interesting. ("Observer Effect" audio commentary, ENT Season 4 Blu-ray special features)
Although the Organian Peace Treaty is occasionally mentioned in TOS, it is not certain what happened to the Organians themselves in later years; negotiations and politics portrayed in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country suggest that they were no longer interfering in Federation-Klingon affairs. This is consistent with their declared view that such interference was most disgusting; it is possible that additional debate on the matter within their community diluted the will that permitted them to override this disgust in 2267.
It appears that the Organians predicted the state of interstellar diplomatic and security affairs during the time of the Dominion War, upon which, as stated by a member of the Organian ruling council in TOS: "Errand of Mercy", the Klingons and the United Federation of Planets become "fast friends."
In the novel Q-Zone, the Organians also turned back the envoys of the Tkon Empress Glevi Ut "some 600,000 years ago." In Q-Strike, it was revealed that they observed a battle between the Q Continuum and a coalition of powerful villains under 0 with some disgust, and eventually departed after stopping a stray attack that flew their way. Q seemed to think little of them, remarking that their commitment to non-involvement in the affairs of other species made the Prime Directive seem like "an incitement to riot" by comparison.
Further in Q-Strike, the Organians stood on the perimeter of the war zone between the Q Continuum and 0, with their hands clasped together before their chests in a meditative pose projecting an aura of peace and dignity. Q considered them to be relative youngsters compared to the Continuum but reasonably evolved. He also referred to them as "a bunch of upstart, idealistic kids, slackers and layabouts."
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