Episode: Charlie X
Episode number: 2nd episode aired, 8th episode produced
Written by: Story by Gene Roddenberry, script by DC Fontana, super Star Trek scribe and scholar
Directed by: Lawrence Dobkin, who went on to create Grizzly Adams
Captain’s Log: The Enterprise becomes a spacefaring youth hostel when Captain Kirk allows Charlie Evans on board. The small crew of the Antares has been taking care of the 17 year old, who spent his whole life alone, learning to speak from record tapes. The crew of that ship cannot wait to see this creepy, sweaty kid off, and they zoom the fuck out of there as soon as possible (but not far enough!). Meanwhile Captain Kirk takes a liking to the simpering, weasely little cretin, who immediately hits puberty as soon as he sees the majestic tower of Yeoman Rand’s hairdo (a sentiment I can truly understand. Send me a young Grace Lee Whitney ASAP!).
Charlie follows some crewmen around; when he sees them patting each other on the ass (what the fuck) he thinks it’s kosher to do the same to Rand. She doesn’t take it well, but the kid keeps hitting on her, going for broke. It turns out that he has all sorts of psionic powers which he uses to court the lovely Yeoman, and when Uhura makes fun of him in a song he takes her voice away.
The Antares apparently has second thoughts about leaving this fruit with the Enterprise, and they come back to warn Kirk et al, but just as they’re about to do so, their ship blows up. Kirk’s like ‘Oh that’s pretty fucked up. Hey, Charlie, want to go to the gym?’
As they discuss gladiator movies in the Enterprise’s tiny little gym (which comes complete with an army of somersaulting babes in an insert shot), Charlie becomes unhappy. He doesn’t want to learn how to fall – he wants to learn how to fight. He’s all pimply and angry and is so mad that you won’t let him smoke even though you smoke two packs a day. Finally, Kirk actually spars with the kid and easily takes him down (probably because poor Charlie, for all his mental control, still got a boner when Kirk’s oiled arms tenderly closed around him). Some dude in the gym laughs and Charlie wishes him away to the cornfield.
Kirk’s mildly upset that Charlie is disintegrating his crew, but less perturbed when Charlie admits that he blew up the Antares (Charlie’s amazing defense: “It was going to blow up anyway!”). Charlie now just takes over the ship and wreaks havoc – he turns one broad into an iguana (that chirps or some shit) and then makes a whole bunch of people’s faces get replaced by nylon stockings because they’re laughing too much. Finally he disintegrates Rand.
Charlie is running all the ship’s systems, and he’s even controlling Spock. He wants to go to some base where his family lives, and Kirk is afraid that if he gets there it’s going to end up being a base filled with iguanas that chirp. His plan is to overload Charlie’s control of the ship by turning on every light and toaster on the Enterprise.
Luckily the godlike, incorporeal aliens that gave Charlie his powers show up right then, because Kirk’s plan is pretty dumb. They’re annoyed that Charlie stayed out after curfew; they gave him these powers so he could survive alone on their planet (which, judging by their appearances as big floating green heads, is the Emerald City of Oz). Kirk says Charlie should stay with his own kind (what the fuck, guy? You just tried to maroon your best bud for doing way less), but the aliens dismiss it out of hand. For some reason they won’t take away Charlie’s powers, so they just make him come be grounded back on their planet. They restore everybody who got fucked up except the crew of the Antares because they didn’t blow up ‘in this frame.’ Just like it always does with teens in the 60s, it came down to a trip to the bowling alley.
Review: Charlie X is the epitome of a middle of the road Star Trek episode. The whole thing is ship-bound, and the writers just have to go out of their way to keep the plot from climaxing too early (they probably close their eyes and think about fizzbin), which gives the whole episode a dragged out feeling, despite so little actually happening. Not helping is the fact that Robert Walker is so greasy as Charlie (and what’s up with the X? Is this a reference to Professor Xavier or am I missing a whole black power subplot in this episode?). More helpful is the fact that my beloved Janice Rand gets lots of Vaseline-smeared screen time.
Kirkin’ Out: Kirk gets relegated to being a dad for a lot of the episode, but a truly classic Kirk moment is when he’s teaching Charlie how to fight. The camera cuts to a topless Kirk (wearing red Starfleet jammy pants!) just before he falls onto his back. It looks like he’s trying to do a reverse somersault but can’t make it happen. He’s actually just teaching Charlie how to take a fall, but it’s still hilarious.
Spockmarks: When Charlie takes over the ship he has to also take over the most dangerous crew member – Spock. We know Spock is taken over when he starts reciting poetry in a voice like that of a constipated man trying to talk his bowels down.
Redshirt: Nobody dies! Everyone who gets dissolved, mutilated or iguanicized by Charlie gets fixed at the end. At least everybody from the Enterprise crew – 20 people get blown up on The Antares. Fuck those guys.
Dilithium Bullshit: Kirk defeats Charlie by… turning on everything in the ship.
Staff of the Week: Uhura! Big time. When Mr. Spock is chilling in the crew lounge playing his Vulcan lute (seriously, didn’t you hate the guy who hung out in the dorm common room and played his guitar. Save that shit for your quarters, Mr. Spock), Uhura joins in and FREESTYLES the following song:
Oh, on the Starship Enterprise
There’s someone who’s in Satan’s guise,
Whose devil’s ears and devil’s eyes
Could rip your heart from you!
At first his look could hypnotize,
And then his touch would barbarize.
His alien love could victimize…
And rip your heart from you!
And that’s why female astronauts
Oh very female astronauts
Wait terrified and overwrought
To find what he will do.
Oh girls in space, be wary,
Be wary, be wary!
Girls in space, be wary!
We know not what he’ll do.
Why on Earth Spock didn’t just smack Uhura for coming at him with a space song version of the dozens while he was on break, I don’t know, but he alternately grins and grimaces throughout the song while everybody else laughs at the Vulcan freak. I like to imagine that Uhura is getting revenge for Spock not picking up on her horny signals last episode.
Continerdity: Kirk name drops UESPA, the United Earth Space Probe Association, which is… well, I don’t know, and a look at Memory Alpha doesn’t help. It’s the future version of NASA that still exists after Earth joins the Federation, I guess. The food processors are mentioned, but don’t seem as all-powerful as they later will be. The Galley Chef (voiced by Gene Roddenberry in his only appearance on the show) has to make turkey flavored meatloaf for Thanksgiving. At one point we can make out that the bridge is carpeted! Kirk’s mad love for Yeoman Rand may be first referenced here as one of the reasons Charlie can’t bone her.
Set Phasers to Quote: “There’s no right way to hit a woman.” – Kirk
Mixed Baby Clint Howard