Sunday, April 17, 2011

My (Random) Thoughts on Star Trek: The Squire of Gothos

Last year, I acquired the Star Trek: The Original Series (Remastered Edition) DVD's and for awhile, I was watching the episodes and posting my observations on my web-site. However, it occurred to me that a blog was probably a better venue for my rather random thoughts about the original Star Trek series.

But then real life concerns began to take priority over watching and commenting on Star Trek episodes.

But now I'm back.

So without further ado, I present to you, dear reader, my commentary on The Squire of Gothos.

I've observed before that the writers of the original Star Trek seemed to be scared shitless of children. One need only look at Charlie X and Miri, both of which spun cautionary tales of what could happen to children deprived of any sort of guidance in their formative years. If that wasn't scary enough, Charlie X had superhuman powers while the children in Miri had the weight of numbers on their side.

In The Squire of Gothos, the writers of Star Trek returned to the concept of the child with superhuman powers running amuck. This time, however, the child in question wasn't an orphan left to fend for himself on a hostile planet. His parents were just too oblivious to realize how much havoc a child with superhuman powers could wreak and blithely left him to play by himself unsupervised. I'm going to sound like a hypocrite here because while I was growing up, I enjoyed quite a bit of unsupervised playtime. The benefits of living in a small town. It's definitely something I think every child should experience. However, I draw the line at children with godlike powers. They should be watched closely lest they do something spectacularly naughty. You'd think a race of super-beings would know better.

For those who haven't seen The Squire of Gothos, the child in question is Trelane, who appears as an adult to the crew of the Enterprise. The story-line basically involves Trelane torturing his “pets”, the Enterprise crew. Just when things are about to look dire for Captain Kirk, he manages to stop Trelane in his tracks by slapping him a couple of times in the face after being cornered by the homicidal brat. One can only surmise what might have happened next had Trelane been allowed to have his way (given that Trelane had superhuman powers, I think Kirk's moment of triumph would have been brief and followed by the sort of cruelty and sadism that can only come from the mind of a child) except Trelane's parents arrive to tell him that he can't play any more and that he's got to come inside.

Frankly, this episode just perplexes me. I found it pretty unsatisfying that Kirk was basically saved by the deus ex machina of Trelane's parents arriving to send the naughty boy to bed without his supper. The revelation that Trelane is nothing more than a boy running wild during unsupervised playtime also robs him of much of his original menace. But going back to the deus ex machina; it's just not a gratifying way to conclude a story. But that is, unfortunately, the danger one runs into when the villain has super powers. How else is he going to be brought to heel by mere mortals?

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