8 "Charlie X"

(airdate: September 15, 1966)

Story: Gene Roddenberry     Teleplay: D.C. Fontana
Director: Lawrence Dobkin

Charlie Evans: Robert Walker
Tina Lawton: Patricia McNulty

Captain Ramart: Charles J. Stewart
Thasian: Abraham Sofaer

Stardate: 1533.6

Captain's Log: The Enterprise rendezvouses with the survey ship Antares, which is carrying a 17-year-old boy named Charlie Evans, who's been on his own for the last 14 years on the planet Thasus. Charlie has a difficult time adjusting to life among other humans, trying to fit in with their customs and culture, all while dealing with the hormones of a 17-year-old who's just fallen head over heels for Yeoman Rand. This situation is complicated by the fact that Charlie has advanced mental powers which allow him to do things like wish people out of existence and take control of the Enterprise. Kirk develops a plan to essentially "overload" Charlie by forcing him to deal with too many events at once, allowing McCoy to tranquilize him, but before things get too far a Thasian ship appears; the Thasians apologize for Charlie's actions and take them back with him, where he won't be able to harm anyone else.

Whoops!: Spock shows some emotion while playing his lute, smiling both happily and ruefully at Uhura. [He's still trying to fake some emotion to make humans feel more comfortable around him.] There are a few draft inconsistencies in this script: they can't decide whether it's Colony 5, Earth Colony 5, or Colony Alpha 5, while the Antares goes through a number of iterations of its function (survey ship, cargo ship, science probe...).

Classic Lines: "Charlie, there are a million things in this universe you can have and there are a million things you can't have. It's no fun facing that, but that's the way things are."

Don't Wear a Red Shirt: Well, Charlie kills the twenty crewmen of the Antares by blowing up their ship. He also makes Rand and a crewman named Sam disappear, turns Yeoman Tina Lawton into an iguana, makes a female ensign an old woman, removes a bunch of people's faces, and inflicts pain on various people, including Kirk and Spock. The Thasians are able to undo everything except the destruction of the Antares, though.

Alien Love: Charlie is infatuated with Yeoman Rand, although the feeling is definitely not reciprocated - and in fact Charlie's something of a stalker, even if he doesn't know any better. There also might be a suggestion that Uhura is interested in Spock.

Library Computer: The Antares was a survey and cargo ship, a science probe vessel commanded by one Captain Ramart, with a crew of 20 males. [There's no depiction of the ship in the original - there just wasn't time before the episode aired - but the remastered version uses a design based on the cargo ships from the Animated Series episode "More Tribbles, More Troubles", albeit with an extra piece on the front (the living area). The remastered version gives the registry as NCC-501.] It may not have had automatic sliding doors. [Charlie seems surprised by them on the Enterprise.] Captain Ramart was a tall man with short black hair and blue eyes. His first officer was Tom Nellis, also tall, with brown hair and eyes. Their emblem looked like two ovals, joined at the left end but slightly separated on the right end (so kind of like a circle with a divot on the right), with a third oval outline running perpendicular to the other two, and they wore older-style uniform tunics (the kind seen in "The Cage"). [Thus providing evidence of multiple uniform styles in use at the same time; people trying to fit Discovery into canon may want to take note.] The Antares was transporting a "castaway", a 17-year-old male named Charles Evans, who they transferred over to the Enterprise. The Antares was destroyed telekinetically by Charlie, who mentally removed a warped baffle plate on the shield of their "energy pile", causing the ship's instant destruction; Charlie did this because he claimed the crew of the Antares weren't nice to him [but also because they were about to tell the Enterprise that he was a danger].
     Charlie Evans was tall, with sandy hair and blue eyes. When he was three, he was the sole survivor of a transport crash on the planet Thasus, where he survived without human contact until shortly prior to stardate 1533.6. He taught himself English using the crashed ship's memory banks. As a result of his isolation, Charlie was somewhat stunted in terms of social development, not really knowing how to behave around other people and desperately wanting others to like him and be nice to him, but physically he's in perfect health. He had never seen a female until he saw Yeoman Janice Rand, who he became instantly smitten with. Charlie's closest living relatives were on Earth Colony Alpha 5 [usually just called "Colony 5"].
     A complication regarding Charlie is that he has powerful mental abilities. He can read minds, at least a little [well, he knows what Rand's favorite perfume is, although it might just be that he smells it on her]; create and transport objects; make people and objects disappear, even at long range; freeze people in their tracks; prevent sound from emitting from both voices and musical instruments; change meatloaf to real turkey; melt plastic chess pieces; push people around telekinetically; break and repair bones; force Spock to recite poetry; physically alter a person, either by making a young woman old, a different young woman an iguana, or by removing their faces, leaving a blank surface; freeze people in position; and control the Enterprise (which he can do, although he finds it more difficult than controlling the Antares). This combined with his social awkwardness and general state of being a teenager makes life problematic for those who have to deal with Charlie. Charlie may have limits, however, as it looks as if trying to control all the Enterprise functions, combined with fighting off Kirk, might be too much for him. [Well, maybe; he certainly seems to be able to fight Kirk, but the Thasians intervene before we can find out if he really is stretched too thin.]
     Charlie acquired these abilities on Thasus, which is apparently a rather barren world, with little edible life. The Thasians were a legendary race, with the power to transmute objects and make things invisible, although there was some doubt as to whether the Thasians still existed. The Thasians provided Charlie with his abilities in order to help him survive on Thasus, though they didn't immediately realize he'd left. They travelled in a ship that basically looked like a green glowing light and which registered on sensors - although the deflectors didn't register it as a solid object - and they took the appearance of a shimmering green translucent human head in order to talk to the Enterprise crew. [The Thasian notes that he took this form "centuries ago" in order to communicate with the Enterprise, which might imply some knowledge of the future. Or maybe they just sent along the human-looking Thasian.] The Thasians take Charlie back with them, and they undo the damage he'd done on the Enterprise - but it was apparently too late for the Antares.
     There are diagonal shafts in the Enterprise which allow the crew access to the internal workings of the ship. [This is the first appearance of the diagonal access shaft nicknamed a Jefferies tube behind-the-scenes, after Art Director/Production Designer Matt Jefferies. The name won't become canon until the TNG episode "The Hunted".]
     Kirk is seen here wearing an alternate version of the standard duty tunic. This version is an olive green "wraparound" version, with the left side overlapping the right side at mid-level, and then wrapping all the way around the back, clasping on the bottom left of the front of the shirt with a sideways Enterprise command emblem, pointing to the right. The sleeves are unadorned; rank is instead indicated on the shoulders, although in a pattern similar to that on a standard tunic's sleeves. [The rank will move to the sleeves in season 2.] Charlie is seen wearing a similar shirt, although his is gold and doesn't have any rank insignia.
     Spock plays a Vulcan instrument, sometimes called either a Vulcan lute or harp. It's a flat wooden instrument, about 2 inches thick, with a roughly trapezoidal body and a neck which rises up the left side of the instrument. There are fifteen sets of strings, each a double string (rather like a piano). There are four knobs along the upper part of the body, and one larger knob near the bottom, where the strings are attached to the body. The bottom knob appears to be a tuning knob, while the top ones adjust things like the quality of the tone [suggesting an electronic component]. The player places the lute against their shoulder, with the body resting on their thigh, and plucks the strings with both hands, adjusting the top knobs occasionally.
     Uhura can make up song lyrics on the fly. She sings a somewhat flirtatious song to Spock, although it's in front of a number of crew members. [Rand's gesture to Uhura before she begins, combined with the way Uhura sings around Spock, suggests that Uhura might be romantically interested in Spock. This will become more significant when we get to the 2009 reboot.]
     Yeoman Rand's quarters are 3F 125. Her favorite color is pink, and the Enterprise's stores don't carry her favorite perfume.
     The Enterprise reports to UESPA Headquarters. [The United Earth Space Probe Agency. This is an early term for Starfleet, although later shows will establish the UESPA as separate from Starfleet, at least at some point in their history. See the Voyager episode "Friendship One".]
     The current crew complement of the Enterprise is 428. There's a gym onboard which includes mats for activities such as judo, and a room where two men can be seen sparring with pugil sticks. There are red tights with the Enterprise command emblem available for people using the gym.
     Three-dimensional chess is a variant of the game played on three 4x4 boards at different heights, with the bottom and middle boards each having two small 2x2 boards rising up from opposite corners (although not to the level of the next highest main board). [Note that in "Where No Man Has Gone Before", there's a third 2x2 board rising up from the bottom board, opposite from the arm that holds the boards up; this board disappears in subsequent episodes. There are also a handful of later appearances with the small boards in slightly different positions; perhaps they move as part of the game.] The chess pieces themselves appear to be the same as in standard chess. Spock describes the principles of the game as "basically mathematic". The black pieces start on the secondary level [although the initial setup of the board seems to have both colors mixed on the different boards].
     Earth still celebrates Thanksgiving, complete with traditional turkey, although the crew of the Enterprise has to settle for synthetic meatloaf instead.
     Tina Lawton is a Yeoman 3rd Class. She has blonde hair and brown eyes, and is dressed in sciences blue. Charlie later turns into an iguana, although the Thasian is able to change her back [we're told].
     At least one female officer is wearing slacks instead of a dress, suggesting women have the option to wear either. [It's the one Charlie turns into an old woman.]

Final Analysis: "Growing up isn't so much. I'm not a man and I can do anything!" The basic idea of associating puberty with psychic abilities isn't exactly a new one, but the script provides a nice interpretation of it. However, the real star of the show is Robert Walker, who makes Charlie's internal conflict painfully real - just watch the way Walker holds himself, rather distant and slumped and not fitting in, and then the way he tries to make himself look defiantly proud as he takes control of the ship, but with a clear undertone of uncertainty. Matching this is William Shatner's pleasingly uncomfortable awkwardness as a father figure, stumbling over his words while trying to help Charlie. The script is good, and the direction is really well done, but it's the cast that make "Charlie X" sing.

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Page originally created: January 25, 2018
Page last updated: January 25, 2018

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