TOS: S3E04: “And the Children Shall Lead”

In which children are creepy, Kirk is a madman again, and McCoy likes it when children cry.

They couldn't science their way out of that one.

They couldn’t science their way out of that one.

A science colony was in trouble. It’s no longer in trouble, because it  no longer exists. Everybody is dead. Except for one guy in pink with a phaser and a mad expression. Oops no, him too. You know, he stands up and keels over, and McCoy is willing to give up on him immediately. Modern paramedic teams don’t give up that quickly if someone just keels over literally in front of them.  I’ve been harsh on McCoy before, but maybe he has medical equipment that tells him when it’s not worth trying?

The children look okay, though. And completely unconcerned by the mountain of corpses at their feet as they sing “ring around the rosie.” Which, some of you may be aware, is a song about the Bubonic plague. McCoy decides summarily that the children don’t remember all the deaths, and makes a flat diagnosis without any testing. My own summary diagnosis is that whoever wrote this episode needed someone to be an asshole and decided to regress McCoy to where he was in season 1. Instead, Kirk and Spock are doing all the medical deduction, just without latinate roots.

Is flash-forwards a word? I’m getting flash-forwards to the TNG episode “Imaginary Friend.” The logs on the death of the colonists mentioned something about an alien presence, and now Kirk is getting all loopy in a cave. I’m guessing something is harvesting some sort of emotional energy from the children and killing adults who get in the way.

An aside about food delivery systems on the Enterprise. It appears as if there might, at this point, be replicators, but the computer memory can’t hold the whole pattern at once, so they operate on memory cards that only hold one specific recipe. That seems super inefficient, but it may again be a product of whatever design decision requires manual control over the turbolifts, manual control over the phaser banks, and everything else that we’re gamely holding on to as an in-universe proxy for “they hadn’t invented networking when the show was produced.”

In the reboot I want the "friendly angel" to be played by David Boreanaz.

In the reboot I want the “friendly angel” to be played by David Boreanaz.

Also, children are creepy, especially when they intone chants in a flat-dead-eyed monotone while walking around solemnly in a circle. It would be even creepier if the green “angel” didn’t materialize in out of nowhere. At least this way there’s something tangible that they’re doing, instead of just being horrifying little nightmares.

And the “friendly angel” commands the children to take over the crew and make Kirk fly to a heavily settled region, and makes allusions to a great war that’s on the way, and uniting with his friends. This is another one that’s picked up in the “Q Continuum” series. I only ever really went after the books about the Q, because John DeLancie is amazing and there wasn’t nearly enough of him in the Star Trek series.

Huh. The oldest boy, Tommy, appears to be able to disrupt electronics by making a jacking-off motion. presumably a gift of the Angel. Also, to control Sulu into breaking orbit, and everyone into seeing the planet on the screen. In fact, all the children can do this head-pounding gesture to access manipulation powers of both mind and matter.

Supporting evidence for my theory about how redshirts are basically an undesirable element of Federation society that the civilization are trying to get rid of: Kirk beams down to redshirts to test out the mind-altering effects of the planet. He tells them they’ll be down for an hour, then tries to beam them right back up. Of course, since they were at warp the whole time, the several seconds that pass between beam down and beam up are fatal.

It's exactly as dumb as it sounds.

It’s exactly as dumb as it sounds.

The children are showing the bridge crew visions of danger or despair. For instance, Sulu sees the Enterprise flying through an unending tunnel of swords. Uruha sees her own death from a wasting disease. In fact, the only person who appears impervious is Kirk.

Oh, no wait. Wishful thinking. Tommy was toying with him and giving Shatner a chance to chew on the scenery for his eventual breakdown.

Interestingly, it seems that the angel shows up even if it’s only a recording of the children doing the chant. Also, Kirk decides the thing is named Gorgan. I’m not sure why. There’s some philosophy here about how evil can do nothing without willing followers, and those followers probably have to be decieved into being little assholes, but it’s incredibly clumsily done as a whole.

The children are confronted with the gruesome deaths of their parents and watch their cult leader dissolve into boils and green light, but we’ll end this post with the image of McCoy stumbling out of his drunken stupor and onto the bridge, seeing a group of crying, miserable children, and grinning. You’re damn right I’m taking it out of context, but it’s still true.

 

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