Varian, Scott, Fred and Willaway are awakened at their campsite by a brilliant light in the sky which slams into the ground in the distance. They find a crashed space shuttle with several injured astronauts inside, and they help them to find shelter in a nearby village inhabited by otherworldly beings with incredible powers and no knowledge of humanity’s dark side. Rayat and his people know nothing of the human concept of committing a crime, preferring instead to use their telekinetic powers to pursue higher purposes. Astronaut York, supposedly the shuttle’s commander, tells a story that doesn’t quite add up, and seems to be actively trying to silence his fellow crewmembers. Varian and Willaway discover that the shuttle was a prison transport which had been taken over by the inmates. They go to warn Rayat, and confront York, only to find that the psychopath who took over the shuttle now has a hostage: Scott.
Cast: Jared Martin (Varian), Carl Franklin (Fred Walters), Ike Eisenmann (Scott Jordan), Katie Saylor (Liana), Roddy McDowall (Willaway), Richard Jaeckel (York), Nicholas Hammond (Tye), Cheryl Ladd (Natica), Lew Ayres (Rayat), Gerald McRaney (The Co-Pilot), Burt Douglas (The Pilot), Jim Poyner (Roland)
Notes: In keeping with a previous episode’s depiction of a space shuttle as an alien spacecraft, this episode’s “mid-21st century space shuttle” returning to Cape Canaveral is shown to be a familiar flying saucer design. Willaway says he once worked for NASA. This is the second episode not to feature Katie Saylor; there’s no mention of Liana’s whereabouts, even though she remains in the opening credits. This was one of the last guest starring roles for Cheryl Ladd before she became one of the stars of Charlie’s Angels, while fellow guest star Gerald McRaney was still a few years away from gaining fame as one of the stars of Simon & Simon. The Innocent Prey is a rare example of The Fantastic Journey trying to step into Star Trek’s issue-based storytelling, in this case touching on the hot-button topic of capital punishment. This was the final episode produced, and it aired nearly two months after the rest of the series.
LogBook entry by Earl Green