Search This Blog

Friday, May 12, 2017

Star Trek: Season 1, Episode 17. "The Squire of Gothos"

Colony Beta VI waits for supplies. Officers open with a discussion of deserts. Spock, "logically," fails to see their beauty. McCoy and Kirk smirk at Spock's Vulcan ways.

Eight days away, Spock demonstrates his Vulcan superiority by spotting a space-displacement reading before the ship's human expert does. An unrecorded planet looms on screen. Radio interference spurs a change in course; however, Helmsman Sulu and Captain Kirk disappear.

Analysis with spoilers:
DeSalle requests to search planet; McCoy seconds; Spock, now in charge, denies and pursues understanding of planet first (second point for Vulcans over humans).

Sulu's replacement, Jaeger (a meteorologist), confirms that humans could not live long on the planet. However, Uhura receives 18th Century messages and font from planet. McCoy and Jaeger and DeSalle beam down. Lush vegetation. They remove masks but cannot communicate to the Enterprise. They spot a castle and enter. Salt creature from first episode frozen in alcove. Sulu and Kirk also green and frozen.

Figure in long blue coat, lime green pants, and ruffled white shirt [retired General Trelane, now Squire Trelane] appears playing harpsicord. He magically unfreezes Kirk and Sulu. Jaeger points out that this era would have been visible at nine hundred years ago (apparently, they are nine hundred light years away, living in ~2600s). He must have a remarkable telescope: not only to see the surface and fashions, but also the interiors of buildings (not to mention, overhearing conversations).

Squire, the only character who seems to be enjoying himself, wants to hear of their conquests. He says that they are one of the few species that preys on itself. ["Prey" must be meant loosely in the sense of killing although cannibalism is not unknown. Here is a sampler list of cannibalistic species. Here's another and another and a Wired article that discusses phenomenon,  with some overlap]

Half of the conversations occur through a large mirror, viewing crew in reflection. Squire catches DeSalle in the act of trying to stun Squire. He removes the weapon, turns it to destroy, zapping the salt creature and a frog with seaweed plumes, human legs in flippers. Despite the impressive display of power, Kirk calls bluff and Squire snaps Kirk to the actual surface temporarily to show who is in charge.

Meanwhile, Spock has diverted power to sensors in order to spot location of missing crew. Spock hopes to beam up of living beings in rescue.

When Squire Trelane goes back to harpsicord, crew discuss that Squire doesn't exist at all. Squire taunts he will bring all crew (especially females) to planet until transporter beams the missing back aboard.

Kirk readies to go warp when Squire snaps himself aboard the Enterprise and promises to bring them back to his castle Gothos (or planet Gothos?). Clearly, this is a Gothic novel in space: 1) trapped in castle with a powerful, attractive figure who is also something of a nightmare, 2) castles, 3) dark moody fog (or poisonous atmosphere).

When they note that Squire's Earth details are flawed, they surmise that Squire himself is flawed. The focus on the mirror pays off in terms of story. Spock notes this and assumes it is the source of Squire's power. So Kirk challenges Squire to a duel, giving him a weapon. Squire purposefully misses his first shot. Kirk hits mirror.

After beaming up, the crew dodge the planet Gothos--simultaneously cool, corny, and creepy. The squire zaps Captain Kirk back on his planet as his prisoner on trail. He's found guilty (of what is not explained),

The camera and Kirk both treat the shadow of the noose as though it were the thing itself. It is a familiar visual--perhaps Hitchcock?

We return from the commerical break to Squire who is emotionally changed (or returned to his fun-playing self), though, is enthused that he felt anger. Kirk talks Squire into a predator game of Hide-and-Seek.

As Squire Trelane clinches victory, it is stolen by his "parents."

  1. McCoy: "In the name of Heaven, where are we?"
  2. Squire: "Oh, come now. We are all military men under the skin. How we do love a man in uniform."
  3. Squire: "Oh, how absolutely typical of your species. You don't understand something, and you become fearful."
  4. Squire: "So many questions. Make the most of an uncertain future. Enjoy yourself today. Tomorrow... may never come at all.
  5. Spock: "I object to you. I object to intellect without discipline. I object to power without constructive purpose."
  6. Squire: "Oh, Mr. Spock, you have one saving grace after all: You're ill-mannered. The human half of you, no doubt."
  7. Spock: "His food had no taste; his wine no flavor? No. It simply means Trelane knows all of the Earth forms, but none of the substance."
  8. Squire: "You stand accused of the high crime of treason against a superior authority, conspiracy, and the attempt to foment insurrection. How do plead?"
  9. "Oh, the absurdity of these inferior beings."
  10. Kirk: "We're living beings, not playthings for your amusement."
  11. Kirk: "There's still not enought sport in just  killing me with a sword."
    Squire: "I know. That will be dull."

    1. The light-hearted debate between human and Vulcan heats up. As a child viewing these episodes, I found McCoy's teasing annoying. As an adult, I see the good-natured ribbing as more complex. McCoy is revealed as stodgy and unable to see outside his human frame although he does illustrate some advantages to being "human" (usually interpreted as "not logical). Spock is an interesting case. In this opening salvo about deserts, he interprets McCoy's seemingly cutting remarks as a compliment, which it is to a degree. While McCoy does not understand Vulcan ways, he does sneak in back-handed compliments. Such remarks, which  existed in the 60s, could not exist in today's political climate. That is, it could, but only the negativity would be observed. Star Trek attitudes still seem more advanced than ours.
    2. This episode provides a nice contrast to the last "The Galileo Seven".
    3. Planets are often numbered. This suggests many colonies, of course, but it also suggests that colonists haven't yet come up with a proper name for their planet. There's a shiny, cellophaned frontier promised on each planet.
    4. Squire Trelane seems to be an early predecessor of The Next Generation's Q.
    5. Likewise, Squire Trelane is preceded by Jerome Bixby's child in "It's a Good Life".
    6. Spock explains his use of the term "fascinating": the unexpected. "Interesting" appears to be a step down.

    No comments:

    Post a Comment