(airdate: October 11, 1968)
Writer: Edward J. Lakso
Director: Marvin Chomsky
Tommy Starnes: Craig Hundley
Gorgan: Melvin Belli
Steve O'Connel: Caesar Belli
Professor Starnes: James Wellman
Mary Janowski: Pamelyn Ferdin
Don Linden: Mark Robert Brown
Ray Tsing Tao: Brian Tochi
Stardate: 5029.5 [but see Whoops!]
Captain's Log: The Enterprise responds to a distress call from a scientific colony on the planet Triacus. When they arrive, they find that all the adults have died as part of a mass suicide. However, the children are unharmed; in fact, they don't seem to be upset about the deaths of their parents at all. Kirk has the children beamed aboard the ship, where it turns out they have fallen under the influence of an alien being named Gorgan; Gorgan wants to recruit more followers and kill all those who oppose him, so he has the children, using abilities he's given them, take control of the Enterprise in order to take it to the planet Marcos XII to carry out his goals. However, Kirk is able to convince the children that Gorgan helped kill their parents, which causes them to finally express their grief. Without the support of the children, Gorgan fades away, no longer a threat.
Whoops!: So Spock knows that the colonists were induced to commit suicide somehow. He then enters a cave with Kirk and sees Kirk suddenly become incredibly anxious for no clear reason. Why doesn't he suspect that this is related to the deaths of the colonists? And if he does suspect, why doesn't he say anything about it to anyone?
Why do the children summon Gorgan in full view of everyone, and why does Gorgan feel comfortable explaining his plan to everyone? Just how cocky are these kids? And why are the children allowed to wander freely around the ship, into what have to be restricted areas?
When Kirk is speaking backwards to Leslie, why does Leslie just stare completely blankly at him, without even a confused or questioning look?
The initial stardate in the captain's log is too early - you can tell because not only do two of Professor Starnes's personal logs have stardates later than the one in Kirk's log, but the memorial stone is also marked with a later date. [Best guess, the initial stardate is meant to be 5039.5, not 5029.5.] How does Kirk know Gorgan's name? And the episode ends with the threat having been dealt with and the Enterprise on its way to Starbase 4 - Kirk apparently having forgotten that they left a planetary security team on Triacus when the Enterprise unexpectedly left orbit.
Classic Lines: "Humans do have an amazing capacity for believing what they choose and excluding that which is painful."
Spock: "Evil does seek to maintain power by suppressing the truth." McCoy: "Or by misleading the innocent."
Don't Wear a Red Shirt: Lots of people die in this, with seven colonists (that we see) dead from suicide and two security guards beamed into space when the Enterprise leaves orbit without Kirk or Spock realizing this. Lots of fighting too, with Scotty fighting two engineering ensigns, Kirk and Spock fighting an influenced Scotty and those same two engineers, and Chekov and two security guards attempting to arrest Kirk at phaser point before getting into a brawl with Kirk and Spock.
Library Computer: The planet Triacus was an Earth-like planet, home to a scientific colony from the United Federation of Planets. The surface that we see is sandy and rocky, with a nearby cave and no apparent vegetation. The colony was founded by the Starnes Exploration Party, and had been recently established. Its members included the leader of the expedition, Professor Starnes, who was an older white man with brown hair and eyes, described by Spock as an excellent scientist; his wife; his son Tommy, a boy, approximately fourteen years old, with red hair and brown eyes; Mary Janowski, a white girl of roughly nine years with blonde hair and blue eyes; Mary's parents [one of whom is likely the dark-haired white man that picks Mary up in the video]; Steve O'Connel, a white boy, about eleven years old, with dark hair and blue eyes; Steve's parents; Ray Tsing Tao, a boy of Asian descent, about nine years old, with dark hair and eyes; Ray's parents, both relatively young, also of Asian descent; Don Linden, a boy of African descent, approximately ten years old, with dark brown hair and eyes; Don's parents, also reasonably young, of African descent; and Professor Wilkins, who did some excavation of a nearby cave, finding remnants of a dead civilization. [Assuming that Don's parents are the two adults of African descent that we see, Ray's parents are the two Asian adults, and the dark-haired white male is Mary's father, there's still a white woman with dark hair who could be the mother of Tommy, Mary, or Steve.] The Starnes Exploration Party was the first Federation expedition to visit Triacus. Starnes may have known Kirk personally. [Kirk seems surprised that Starnes didn't appear to recognize him.]
Other than the colony, Triacus was uninhabited; however, at one point Triacus had been home to a civilization. According to legend, this civilization consisted of a band of marauders who terrorized the Epsilon Indi system for several centuries. Eventually, however, this civilization was destroyed by those they had attacked. [Although, according to the Federation colony's Professor Wilkins, the civilization suffered a natural catastrophe. It could be that they suffered a natural catastrophe, but the legend was rewritten to make the Triacus marauders the victims of karma.] However, the legend stated that the evil of the Triacus marauders still existed, awaiting a "catalyst" to send it out into the galaxy once more. There apparently was some truth to the legend, as shortly after the Starnes Exploration Party arrived on Triacus, the adults began to feel apprehensive and uneasy. Eventually they began performing actions they didn't intend to do, such as attempting to summon a starship, which led Starnes to realize they were being influenced by someone else. Under this influence, every adult member of the colony committed suicide by ingesting cyalodin, a poisonous substance with a distinctive odor that created purple splotches all over the body when ingested.
The source of this influence was a being named Gorgan, who appeared to the children on Triacus as a translucent green, glowing humanoid. He was a member of the Triacus marauders, and he had taken refuge in a cave when Triacus was subject to a natural catastrophe. [Well, probably; that's the clear inference the episode wants us to make, but it's not actually explicit.] Gorgan did register on a tricorder, although the readings did not correlate with any known information. Gorgan sought to control the universe, exterminating those who opposed him and rallying others to him, but he needed a starship to carry him to these places. Gorgan was able to bend others to his will, although his control wasn't absolute, and sufficiently strong willpower could ultimately resist him. This is why he made the adults of the scientific colony kill themselves, because they were resisting his influence; however, the children were more easily swayed, so they survived. Gorgan was able to grant the children special abilities to make others overwhelmed by their fears - for instance, Uhura sees herself as an old, diseased woman, while Sulu sees a tunnel of sharp swords in space. The children also had the ability to do things like disrupt video playback. They summoned these abilities by pounding their fist in the air a number of times, and they summoned Gorgan via a specific chant: "Hail, hail, fire and snow. Call the angel, we will go. Far away, for to see, friendly angel, come to me." Gorgan's hold on the children was broken when Kirk reminded the children that they had loved their parents, and that their parents were now dead - at which point Gorgan's face became lumpy and misshapen, before he faded away to nothingness. Once Gorgan's hold over the children was broken, they were able to begin the normal grieving process over the deaths of their parents.
After the Starnes Exploration Party died, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy buried the bodies and erected light brown gravestones for each family, along with a larger monument that read "Starnes Exploration Party, Star Date 5041.1, In Memoriam". They also planted a UFP [United Federation of Planets] flag, which was a vertical triangular swallowtail design [so it ends in two points instead of just one]. The flag was a bright red with thirteen white five-pointed stars: five across the top and four down either side. The letters "UFP" were written in gold letters in the center of the flag.
Marcos XII is an inhabited planet with millions of people living there. Tommy Starnes claimed he had relatives there. Marcos XII was not within the Enterprise's patrol area.
Spock is willing to kill the children if it means saving the lives of the crew aboard the Enterprise.
Auxiliary control has bridge control monitors that let them see what the ship's course is. The bridge's control can be overridden from here.
The Enterprise has an evaluation laboratory aboard, as well as a small arboretum. [Compare with the larger arboretum seen next week, in "Is There In Truth No Beauty?"] Ice cream flavors available from the food computer include vanilla, chocolate, cherry, orange, coconut, chocolate wobble, pistachio, and peach.
Spock is unfamiliar with anxiety [he claims].
Final Analysis: "Captain, so long as the children are present, there is danger. They are the carriers." You can see what they were getting at, with special children with psychic powers, but the execution just doesn't work. Part of the problem is that they're going for "sinister" but wind up with "smug" and "petulant" instead, while the other part of the problem is that by itself the idea of Midwich Cuckoos-style children isn't enough to sustain the story (even setting aside the fact that Star Trek had already done a far superior take on this back in the first season), and so the story sags tremendously while the children wander around slowly shaking their fists at people, with little else to distract us. There's admittedly some stiff competition, but this is a strong contender for the worst episode of the original series.
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Page originally created: February 9, 2019
Page last updated: February 9, 2019