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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Star Trek: season one: episode two: Charlie X


Deposited by the starship Antares, Charlie Evans comes aboard the starship Enterprise to go to colony alpha five, after losing his family 14 years ago. He interrupts the officers, and wonders how many people are human like him. He’s a little odd, knowing little about human beings and their social customs. Kirk gives him a lesson in manners.  

Charlie is a little anxious about people liking him. He continues to make social faux pas. Kirk cons McCoy into educating the boy. Spock believes the planet Thanis, where the boy was found, must have intelligent life because the food concentrates should have run out after a year, not 14.

Charlie meets Janice, and attractive blonde crew member, in the recreation room; finds Uhara singing to Spock’s lousy accompaniment like instrument; and stops her singing. He also proves he can transform playing cards into pictures and transfer them inside dresses.

Analysis with spoilers:

The starship Enterprise receives a message intended to warn the captain; however, Charlie happens to be on the bridge and cancels the message so that they cannot hear.  Starship Antares has been destroyed although only the audience knows that Charlie caused it. He also melts chess pieces when he loses a game of 3-D chess. Unlike other women, Janice smells like a girl, and he’ll give the whole universe to her.  Again Captain Kirk to rescue: he explains the universe and tries to teach the boy how to fight. 

Charlie exposes himself by making a crew member disappear for laughing when Charlie fell.  Spock suspects Charlie of being somehow related Fasian due to his ability to transmute objects. He has no regard for human life.  He only respects Captain Kirk.

When Captain Kirk tries to change course away from colony alpha five, Charlie stops them.  Spock suggests that Charlie may not back down at some point.  He surprises Janice by walking into her quarters unannounced.  She strikes Charlie for his boldness, so he gets rid of her.  They try to lock him in his quarters, but he vaporizes the wall, turns a woman old, destroys the face of another.

Their final gambit is to overload Charlie: run every device on the ship.  The Fasians arrive, return the ship and crew members to normal.  They want to take Charles away, but Charlie wants to stay as the Fasians don’t love or touch.  Kirk makes a feeble protest, but they take him anyway.

This story bears some resemblance to Jerome Bixby’s “It’s a Good Life” although the alien angle differentiates it. Bixby wrote four episodes of the series although not this one. The authors here were D. C. Fontana and Gene Roddenberry. Roddenberry is the series producer, of course, and Fontana is a female writer along association with various incarnations of the series.

Interestingly, the original series used a teenager to show the necessity to mature. Star Trek: The Next Generation tried to draw a teenager realistically – that is, in his immaturity, no doubt to pull in the younger demographic – and suffered a drop in popularity as a consequence.

1.       First use of an energizer.

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