In which an uninhabitable planet has a castle, the crew taunt a child by taking away his green plastic army men, and we get a real sense of who Kirk was as a child.
After this episode, I’m probably going to want to re-read Peter David’s
excellent Star Trek novel “Q-Squared.”
One thing I’ve noticed about TOS is that it is part of the duty of the Yeoman to get coffee for the bridge crew. I wasn’t aware that ‘gofer’ and ‘intern’ would make it to the space navy, but in the absence of replicators, I suppose someone has to go to the galley. It does make me wonder, though, why there are no replicators on the bridge of the Enterprise D. A more relaxed work schedule, perhaps? Maybe more of the day-to-day operations are automated by the 24th century, so the crew can wander off to get a beverage. Perhaps the increased crew compliment means they don’t have to hold to as rigid a shift structure, and there are sufficient relief crew to be called in. Or maybe Picard just doesn’t tolerate that sort of nonsense upon his ship, and only he is allowed a cup of tea, Earl Grey, hot.
Anyway, we’re approaching a planet behind some sort of spatial distortion that appears to be shielded by a subspace interference source- and Sulu and Kirk vanish. CUE THE MUSIC!
So what do we know, if we’re clever? Some sort of sentience is behind this, because a random anomaly would be unlikely to vanish two crew neatly and cleanly, one after the other, and replace them with an equivalent volume of air so that there was no disturbance in the ship’s environment. Searching the planet is a logical choice, but if they have transporters that can work that quickly, they probably have the technology not to be found if they don’t want to. And they don’t, otherwise they would have hailed you first. I’m trying so hard not to give away that this is one of the episodes I know about. How am I
This planet is not a friendly one, what with the toxic atmosphere, tornadoes and volcanoes, but clearly someone lives there. And that person is a raving nutter. Spock sends down a landing party, and throws in McCoy, I imagine in the hopes that McCoy dies and they can get a competent medical officer at the next starbase. This was written in the same session as the post for “The Galileo Seven” and I’m still holding a grudge.
Anyway, they beam down and the weather is fine and there’s a castle full of Napoleonic decor and a harpsichord. And the stuffed and mounted corpses of several aliens including an M113 Salt Vampire. And Kirk and Sulu. The ownder of the castle appears to be a godlike being of incredible foppishness. It reminds me of the age-old theological quandary: can god make an ascot-and-coat combination so twee that even he can’t pull it off? This is General Trelane, Retired, and he’s been studying Earth as a hobby. Earth, 900 light years away, so the decor should be more 1300s than 1800s. I’m pretty sure in the 14th century, more was going on in Asia and her various subcontinents than en Europe. The earliest harpsichord was as close to 1400 as makes no difference from this distance, so I’m not sure where Trelane got the idea for such an elaborate one. Oh well, I suppose the writers didn’t have Wikipedia at their disposal. Still, they did have basic arithmetic…. Hilariously, Trelane has god-powers but forgot about a lightspeed delay.
Trelane is also obsessed with war. His people have achieved complete mastery over matter and energy, so Trelane expresses his boredom with post-scarcity society by studying war among more primitive species (At least, so he tells himself). When Kirk asks to leave, Trelane teleports him outside into the toxic atmosphere. I think we can all see where this is heading, but I’ll do you the courtesy of not incrementing the counter until it actually happens on-screen. Meanwhile, back aboard the Enterprise, the crew locates Trelane’s habitable zone by routing engine power through the sensors. Which works, somehow.
Trelane has no life-signs, his fire gives off no heat, forgetting that light
travels at a finite speed; Trelane is not actually that smart, for a member of a race that can rework matter at will. Even to the point of forgetting that he can teleport Kirk and his landing party down as soon as they’ve beamed out. I suppose instead, he prefers to teleport up and whip it out for the ladies. And by “it” I mean his ceremonial sword and cloak. And Trelane really does not know how to talk without making Uhura want to kick him right in the hunting trophies. Seriously, it’s kind of embarrassing to watch.
There is some evidence to suggest that Trelane has understated his power somewhat. Not only is he able to create matter at will in whatever form he desires and severely outlcass the Enterprise’s transporters, but he can also teach Uhura to play the harpsiochort with a gesture. And speaking of instruments, I may be harping on McCoy somewhat now, but…
They suppose several things about Trelane’s setup, and Kirk immediately throws himself into a gambit that requires him to act in Trelane’s idea of what human forms ought to be. So he challenges Trelane to a duel, and Trelane demands the first shot. Trelane boldly shoots into the air, and Kirk shoots Trelane’s brain-scanning matter/energy conversion machine. This does not stop Trelane from teleporting himself, meaning he either has another machine, or some innate powers. The Enterprise attempts to flee. They haven’t even had time to change.
Trelane plays some space games with Kirk, in a scene we’re going to see more of in just over two seasons. It is very hard to believe that this episode wasn’t
foremost in the minds of the writers of “Encounter at Farpoint” and the greatest semiantagonist in all of Star Trek. I refer, of course, to Q, whose spin-off novels and soft canon are more entertaining than all the other novels. It’s something about John DeLancie – any time you read a character of his, the words just naturally run in his voice. I’m wandering again.
Again we see one of Kirk’s real strengths – guessing his opponents weakness. Not as in ‘blast the flashing red bit’ but as in narcissism, ego, complete failure of rational thought and any kind of ability to prioritize. Tonight, Trelane hunts the most dangerous game – Jim Kirk…
At least until his parents show up.
God-like Beings That Are Really Petulant Children With Too Much Power Count: 3