13 "The Conscience of the King"

(airdate: December 8, 1966)

Writer: Barry Trivers
Director: Gerd Oswald

Anton Karidian: Arnold Moss
Lt. Kevin Riley: Bruce Hyde

Lenore Karidian: Barbara Anderson
Dr. Thomas Leighton: William Sargent

Stardate: 2817.6

Captain's Log: The Enterprise is diverted to Planet Q by Dr. Thomas Leighton, who claims to have discovered a new synthetic food. But it's a ruse: Leighton actually wants Kirk to see the actor Anton Karidian, who he believes is actually Kodos the Executioner, the former governor of Tarsus IV who twenty years ago had half the population killed so that the other half might live in the face of a famine. Kodos was believed dead, but his body was never positively identified, and Leighton, being one of the nine people who actually saw Kodos, thinks that Karidian is Kodos. Kirk, being another eyewitness, initially dismisses Leighton's claim, but has second thoughts - which seem to be confirmed when Leighton is discovered dead. Kirk takes the Karidian Players aboard to take them to their next performance; while en route, an attempt is made on both his life and that of fellow eyewitness Lt. Kevin Riley's. Kirk confronts Karidian, but the actor gives away nothing. While the players perform "Hamlet" for the crew, Riley plans to kill Karidian, but he's dissuaded by Kirk. Backstage, Kirk overhears Karidian and his daughter Lenore: Karidian is indeed Kodos, but he has tried to leave that life behind - but unbeknownst to him, Lenore has been killing off the eyewitnesses in order to protect him. Karidian is horrified. When Kirk reveals himself, Lenore attempts to kill Kirk with a phaser - but Karidian takes the blast and dies. Lenore, clearly mad, is taken away to an institution.

Whoops!: Lenore Karidian has some truly outrageous outfits, even for Star Trek. Dr. McCoy making his report within earshot of Riley just smacks of a plot contrivance. Why does Kirk transfer Lt. Riley to Engineering? How did Lenore manage to put a phaser on overload in Kirk's quarters a) without his noticing, and b) at all? And just how is it that, of the 4000 or so survivors of the Tarsus IV massacre, only nine of them actually saw the governor of their colony? And what's more, why does it even matter? Photos and audio recordings of Kodos both exist!

Classic Lines: "Worlds may change, galaxies disintegrate, but a woman always remains a woman."
     McCoy: "What if you decide he is Kodos? What then? Do you play God, carry his head through the corridors in triumph? That won't bring back the dead, Jim." Kirk: "No. But they may rest easier."

Cringe Lines: Lenore being subtle: "All this power surging and throbbing, yet under control. Are you like that, Captain?"

Alien Love: Captain Kirk gets involved with Lenore Karidian, initially as a way to get information about her father, but he later admits that he began to care for her.

Library Computer: Twenty years earlier on the Earth colony Tarsus IV, the food supply was attacked by an exotic fungus, leading to a serious famine. Governor Kodos seized full power and declared emergency martial law. Using his own theories of eugenics, Kodos divided the population of over 8000 in half: half would be rationed the remaining food, while the other half, including the parents of Lt. Kevin Riley, would be put to death. Supply ships came earlier than expected, but too late to save the 4000 who were killed. Kodos' body was found burned beyond all recognition. No positive identification was found, but the authorities closed the book on Kodos the Executioner. Only nine eyewitnesses survived, including Captain James Kirk, Dr. Thomas Leighton, E. Molson, Lt. Kevin Riley, and D. Eames.
     Anton Karidian was the director and star of the Karidian Company of Players, a traveling company of actors sponsored by a galactic cultural exchange program. They had been touring official installations for the past nine years. No identification records were available on Karidian, and no record existed of him twenty years earlier; in fact, his history began almost precisely when Kodos's alleged body was found. He had a 19-year-old daughter named Lenore. Karidian had a rule where he never met with anyone personally, not even for a party.
     In actuality Karidian was in fact Kodos the Executioner. He had attempted to shield his daughter from his life as Kodos and was horrified to discover that she had been killing the eyewitnesses in an effort to save him. He died on the Enterprise, taking a phaser blast meant for Captain Kirk.
     Lenore Karidian was a member of the Karidian Company of Players and the daughter of Anton Karidian. She had learned of her father's previous life and had been slowly killing off the eyewitnesses to Kodos in an effort to ensure his safety. She murdered Dr. Tom Leighton on Planet Q, leaving Kirk and Lt. Riley the only living eyewitnesses. She unsuccessfully attempted to kill both Riley and Kirk, and she accidentally killed her own father. Lenore was taken away and institutionalized, believing her father still alive. She was quite mad.
     Planet Q is a brown planet with white clouds. They were hosting the Karidian players, when Dr. Thomas Leighton, a survivor of the Tarsus IV massacre and resident of the planet, became suspicious of Karidian. He was, in the words of Spock, "a good empirical research scientist. Steady, reputable, occasionally brilliant." The left side of his head - including his eye - was covered with a large black patch [presumably hiding a disfigurement, but maybe it's a fashion choice, we don't know]. His wife's name was Martha, and she was a short, slender woman with dark hair. He was murdered by Lenore Karidian.
     Lt. Kevin Riley worked in the communications section of the Enterprise, having come from the engineering section. His parents were killed by Kodos the Executioner and he was an eyewitness.
     Vulcans do not have alcohol, which leads McCoy to remark, "Now I know why they were conquered" [but he's being facetious - compare with Spock's comments in "The Immunity Syndrome"].
     The Astral Queen is commanded by Captain Jon Daily. He was originally going to take the Karidian Company to Benecia Colony but was persuaded otherwise by Kirk. Daily says he owes Kirk "a dozen favors".
     Tetralubisol is a highly volatile lubricant in use on starships. It's a milky substance and is a fast-acting poison.
     A phaser on overload will take out an entire deck. It begins with a low hum that gradually gets louder and higher pitched as the phaser overloads.
     Kirk's quarters are 3F 121. [Near both Spock's and McCoy's quarters, based on their locations in other episodes.]
     Double red alert is apparently a very serious form of alert.
     Signia Minor is suffering from a famine.
     Uhura can play the Vulcan harp and sing the song "Beyond Antares."
     The Enterprise attempts to duplicate [Earth] night and day patterns through lighting changes. It also has a theater.
     Lt. Leslie is manning the helm throughout this episode. [This is the first time we hear Leslie's name in the show.]

Final Analysis: "I'm interested in justice." "Are you? Are you sure it's not vengeance?" A story which attempts to emulate the Shakespearean tragedies it references, "The Conscience of the King," by the nature of its hour-long sci-fi television format, can't reach those heights, but it does well within its limits. In addition to the main plotline, there's also a theme of dehumanization by technology running through the episode. Holding it together is the actors, who all play it with the required gravity - Shakespearean actor Arnold Moss in particular giving a captivating performance as the conflicted Karidian. Something of a minor gem.

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Page originally created: December 26, 2006
Page last updated: May 23, 2018

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