18 "The Squire of Gothos"

(airdate: January 12, 1967)

Writer: Paul Schneider
Director: Don McDougall

Trelane: William Campbell
DeSalle: Michael Barrier

Jaeger: Richard Carlyle
Yeoman Teresa Ross: Venita Wolf

Stardate: 2124.5

Captain's Log: The Enterprise is taking supplies to Colony Beta VI when it encounters a previously unknown planet, and Sulu and Kirk are transported from the bridge to the planet's surface. A landing party is sent down to find them and encounters a man dressed in old-style aristocratic garb who announces himself as General Trelane (ret.), the squire of the planet Gothos. Trelane wants them there as his guests: studying Earth is one of his hobbies, and he's delighted to encounter some humans. Kirk attempts to leave, but Trelane refuses to let them go, forcing Kirk to destroy a mirror that allows Trelane to channel energy. However, the mirror wasn't the source of Trelane's power, and the entirety of Gothos pursues the Enterprise through space. Kirk thus beams back down and challenges Trelane: if Kirk wins in a battle, the Enterprise can go free. Kirk and Trelane fight in the grounds outside, but when it looks as if Trelane is going to go back on his word to free the ship, two beings appear in the sky: Trelane is in fact their child, and it's time for him to stop playing with his "pets". The Enterprise is thus permitted to continue on its way to Colony Beta VI.

Whoops!: Stars can be seen through Gothos on the Enterprise viewscreen, while Trelane is fairly clearly not playing the notes we hear on the harpsichord. [Both of these things can be explained away by Trelane's powers, however; Gothos is artificial and so may appear see-through as Trelane interacts with the ship in space, while he has no need to actually press the keys on the harpsichord to make the music sound - indeed, this would tie in with the comments about Trelane not always realizing how exactly things work.] The first of the gates to trap Kirk at the end of the final fight appears before the camera is locked down in position, meaning the split-screen effect doesn't quite work as we see the gate move.
     Gothos is described as having a magnitude of 1-E, but apparent magnitudes are only described with numbers, not number-letter combinations, so it's not at all clear what the "E" means. [Unless it's hexadecimal and it's 1E, i.e., 30 - but that would make Gothos very dim indeed (as apparent magnitude is inversely related to brightness). But maybe that's the point, if they're trying to explain why Gothos went undiscovered?]
     Kirk's comments to Spock at the end of the episode about childish pranks seem incredibly unlikely occurrences today, let alone several centuries in the future. And Trelane is apparently 900 years out of date regarding Earth; as he's familiar with Napoleon and the Burr-Hamilton duel but not much past that, that suggests he's viewing early 19th-century Earth, which would mean "The Squire of Gothos" is set in the 28th century. Yes, the timeframe of Star Trek is deliberately nebulous during the original run [see "Where No Man Has Gone Before" for more on this], but this is significantly further in the future than any other episode before or since. [Mind, even de Forest Research, the company hired to review scripts for clearances and factual errors, noted the problem, but it seems no one paid any mind.]
     Really nitpicking now, but Trelane's dueling pistols don't quite resemble the ones used by Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, despite his claims to the contrary.

Classic Lines: "Oh, how absolutely typical of your species. You don't understand something, so you become fearful."
     "Do you know that you're one of the few predator species that preys even on itself?"
     Spock to Trelane: "I object to you. I object to intellect without discipline. I object to power without constructive purpose." Trelane: "Oh, Mr. Spock, you do have one saving grace after all: you're ill-mannered."

Library Computer: Nine hundred light years from Earth is a star "desert", consisting of little more than void. In the midst of this star desert, in quadrant 904 (about eight days away from Colony Beta VI at warp 3), is the planet Gothos: an artificially-created reddish-brown world with an iron/silica body and a magnitude of 1-E. Gothos had no soil or vegetation, with extremely high temperatures and a toxic atmosphere, and the surface was swept with tornadic storms and continual volcanic eruptions; however, a small area had been made habitable by Trelane, with an atmosphere the same as Earth's, some vegetation, and a castle-like structure, where Trelane resided.
     General Trelane (retired) was seen here as a middle-aged humanoid male, with brown eyes, dark hair, and large sideburns. He was left-handed. He was dressed in a fancy blue tailcoat with elaborate gold embroidery, a cream shirt with large bishop sleeves [the puffy kind], a frilly cream cravat, bottle-green trousers, large black boots, and a blue cloak that matched the tailcoat. He declared himself to be a retired general (with three medals pinned to his breast) and was now also the self-proclaimed squire of Gothos. Trelane was a highly advanced being, able to conjure up things from thin air, to transport people and things instantaneously (including himself), and even to move Gothos through space at will. He exhibited no signs of life on Dr. McCoy's instruments - in fact, he didn't register on them as existing at all. Trelane had a sense of pleasure and fun, but feelings of anger were much harder for him to experience and sustain, much to his chagrin.
     Trelane's hobby was Earth history, particularly military campaigns. However, because Trelane had only been observing Earth from a distance, his timing was off by a significant margin, and he only recreated the form of things rather than their substance: the fire flickered but didn't produce heat, the food and drink had no flavor, etc. Trelane had a well-furnished drawing room with a number of trophies, busts, battle flags, and such (including a salt vampire ("The Man Trap") and - seen very briefly - the bird creature from "The Cage"), as well as a fireplace, a harpsichord, a case with two dueling pistols, and a large mirror. This mirror was in fact a highly sophisticated machine with a complex memory bank that controlled a large number of functions inside Trelane's castle, as well as generating subspace interference, and was guided by Trelane's thought patterns; the mirror was destroyed when Kirk shot it with a pistol. However, the machine in the mirror was only generating part of Trelane's power; Spock theorized that a machine capable of changing the environment of the planet to suit human life would have been much larger and thus housed somewhere else. Trelane and his people had perfected a system of transforming matter to energy into other forms of matter to suit their whims, using a system that makes the Enterprise's transporters look primitive by comparison. [On the one hand, the implication seems to be that Trelane's powers stem from a machine (he even says at one point, "did you really think that [mirror] was the only medium of instrumentality at my command?"); on the other, Trelane's powers aren't completely removed when Kirk shatters the mirror, only somewhat lessened, and he doesn't seem to have any problems vanishing or moving the planet around, so he may have some innate abilities that the machine simply augments or makes easier. In other words, it's hard to tell exactly how "god-like" Trelane really is. There's a temptation to tie him in with the Q Continuum from Star Trek: The Next Generation, but other than the ability to create things out of thin air, to appear and disappear at will, and similar attitudes between Trelane and Q (particularly after Q's first couple appearances), there's not a lot of evidence for this either.]
     Trelane was in fact revealed to be a child of [at least] two other beings, who showed themselves in the sky above Trelane's castle as two large pulsing bluish-green white lights. They admonished Trelane for not taking proper care of his "pets" (i.e., the Enterprise crew), with one of them declaring Trelane to be "disobedient and cruel", and they made Trelane "come in", which led to his slowly vanishing from the planet, while the beings made apologies to Kirk on Trelane's behalf.
     A laser beacon is an egg-shaped silver device with a transparent light-up pointed protrusion on one end. It can be used to contact an orbiting starship from the surface of a planet when communications aren't working.
     The Enterprise sensors can be boosted by channeling impulse power into them.
     Spock uses the word "fascinating" to describe things he finds unexpected.

Final Analysis: "Aww, but you saw. I was winning. I woulda won. Honest." The series has flirted with the idea of god-like aliens before (as in "Charlie X"), but this is the first (and possibly best) episode to really confront it head-on. William Campbell turns in a marvelously likable performance as Trelane, and the sense that he's not malicious so much as spoiled lends a feeling of great fun to the whole episode. And the twist at the end is lovely.

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