Episode: The Conscience of the King
Stardate: 2817.6
Episode number: 13th episode aired, 13th episode produced
Written by: Barry Trivers
Directed by: Gerd Oswald, who also directed The Alternative Factor

Captain’s Log: In perhaps the coldest cold open in the history of Trek, Captain Kirk is seated in what appears to be the smallest ever off-Broadway theater during a production of Macbeth. He’s chatting it up with some dude who we’ve never seen before, and he’s saying that he’s sure the actor playing Macbeth is none other than Kodos. Dramatic music rises and the audience is like ‘Who the fuck is Kodos?’

It turns out that Kodos was the governor of Tarsus IV, a space colony where Captain Kirk happened to grow up, along with the dude he was talking to at the play, Dr. Leighton. Kodos wasn’t what you’d call a good governor – known affectionately as Kodos the Executioner he killed half the colonists when food supplies ran low, and seems to have attached a travel pillow to the side of Leighton’s face.

That monster!

Kodos’ burnt body was found in the Tarsus IV colony, but it was never positively identified. Leighton is certain that Kodos (possibly with the aid of Kang) escaped death and reinvented himself as Anton Karidian. Leighton’s sure of it, and Kirk is too busy being surprised that he grew up on an alien planet to really be sure. But if anyone is going to be sure, it’s going to be Kirk and Leighton – somehow, out of the 4000 people who survived the massacre, they were two of the nine who saw Kodos’ face. Did he govern in a mask? Perhaps a full facial travel pillow?

Kirk’s a little annoyed because he came all the way out here to Planet Q, a world so lame it doesn’t have a name, because Leighton claimed he could stop some famine or some shit, and he was really lying. The good captain goes back to the Enterprise and pokes around in the computers, comparing pictures of Kodos (wait, I thought only 9 people could ID him? The computer has his fucking mug shot!) and Karidian, who are obviously and without question or doubt the exact same guy. But Kirk’s not convinced.

Kirk decides to go back down to the planet to hit a party Leighton is throwing for Karidian’s troupe of actors, hoping to get close to Karidian and smell his anus or something. When Kirk arrives a lounge band is playing the Star Trek theme (!!!!) and Leighton is out doing something or another. But who should walk in… Karidian’s 19 year old daughter Lenore, looking mannish and unattractive but shot so softly that she appears to be bleeding into another dimension. Kirk IMMEDIATELY begins laying the mack down, and laying it down hard – he gets her onto the couch and is charming her with his captainry and trying to navigate his ship into her port. Knowing that he can’t shiver her timbers right there in Leighton’s living room, Kirk takes her out for a walk on the planet’s styrofoam surface.

As luck would have it they stumble upon Leighton’s corpse. You can tell he’s dead because he’s laying on the side of his face that is not a travel pillow. Now Kirk’s thinking that maybe Leighton was on to something; he calls the captain of the ship that was supposed to take the actors to their next port and asks him to strand them. This way they have to hitch a ride on the Enterprise and Kirk can stick it in Lenore’s pooper get close to Karidian and discover the truth.

Spock starts getting suspicious when Lenore beams up (wearing what I swear is a bath mat) and Kirk seems to know she’s coming and that they’re going to have to change course to accomodate the actors.

Kirk does more research on the 9 people who saw Kodos, and it turns out one of the others is Kevin Riley, the Irishman from The Naked Time. Kirk tells Spock to transfer Riley back to engineering; when Spock tells him that Riley will see it as punishment Kirk is like ‘Back the fuck up with that shit, I’m captain, bitch.’

Spock takes his concerns to McCoy, who is getting lit in sickbay. McCoy says that he doesn’t think Kirk is acting all that weird – in fact, he thinks Lenore is hot enough to divert a starship 8 light years off course simply to get some strange. Bones wants Spock to drink with him, but Spock says alcohol has no interest for Vulcans; at this point McCoy is so loaded he says that’s why the race got conquered. They never were.

Meanwhile, Kirk has taken Lenore to the observation deck, which appears to be a small service hallway with windows. They chat it up – he tells her that the Enterprise lights get dimmed at night to keep it Earth normal – and then they start making out. Cut to Spock looking concerned and upset. Jealousy!

It turns out there’s no privacy rights on the Enterprise, and Spock can check on Kirk’s latest computer searches. He learns that Kirk, Leighton and Riley were all survivors of Tarsus IV, and he tells McCoy the story of that massacre, saying that it was tied in to Kodos’ beliefs in eugenics. Karidian’s history begins almost to the day that Kodos disappeared. Spock learns that all the other witnesses are dead, and the computer indicates that the Karidian company was nearby when the deaths occured.

Riley is down in engineering all by himself. He’s totally bored so he gets on the intercom and calls up to the lounge so someone can chat with him. It turns out Uhura is there, playing the Vulcan harp and she sings the worst fucking song I have EVER heard, a really shitty track called Beyond Antares, which she can’t even sing with an ounce of talent. As Riley listens someone sprays Windex in his milk, which luckily poisons him and keeps him from hearing the last bits of the horrible, horrible song.

Riley is hanging on for dear life and Spock is like ‘Why are the whole lot of you so fucking retarded?’ but McCoy thinks that maybe he tried to end his life rather than sit through all of Beyond Antares. Spock and Bones confront Kirk in his quarters with Spock’s suspicions and Kirk is like, ‘I know it seems like any reasonable person would look at this evidence, these events and these almost identical pictures of Kodos and Karidian and know what was up, but I NEED MORE EVIDENCE!’

As Spock is just about to smack some sense into the captain they hear a phaser on overload – when the hidden phasers goes critical whole decks of the Enterprise will be destroyed. The phaser is hidden in the red alert light in Kirk’s quarters, and he drops it out the garbage chute just in time.

FINALLY Kirk goes to Karidian’s quarters and is like, ‘Hey so, are you Space Hitler?’ Karidian is really wishy washy about the whole thing, saying dumb shit like ‘I’m an actor – I will be whoever you say I must be,’ and finally Kirk makes him read the speech Kodos gave before he massacred half the colony. Kirk says that the computer can match the voice against a recording of Kodos, but even before the results come in, Karidian seems to know all the words of the speech without having to read them off a paper.

Karidian then gives some ridiculous speech about mechanized society; at this point I started wondering if Karidian has Alzheimers, or perhaps if he’s going full retard. Whichever way, in the course of about one minute he outhams 79 episodes of Shatner – ‘I AM TIRED!’ – and then Lenore shows up, looking trannier than ever. She’s all mad at Kirk because he’s giving her genocidal maniac father a hard time. She realizes that Kirk got close to her so he could get to her father, and so that he could impregnate her with butt babies. She also gets all hammy.

Meanwhile, McCoy is in sick bay yapping into his log about how Riley’s parents were killed by Karidian, and duh, Riley hears him. Commercial break!

Kirk compares Karidian’s voice to Kodos’ and while the match is enough for logical genius Spock, it’s not enough for Kirk who seems really unwilling to get to the climax of this episode. McCoy tells Kirk that Riley has disappeared, and a phaser has been stolen from the weapons locker. Kirk knows that he’s headed to the ship’s theater (aka the shuttle bay, as far as I can tell), where Karidian’s players are putting on a particularly shitty, stuffy version of Macbeth.

Kirk finds Riley back stage, and once again is the only person who thinks that maybe Karidian isn’t Kodos. Riley is like, ‘Are you fucking deaf, guy?’ but Kirk overpowers him with sex appeal.

Kirk is still backstage when Karidian learns that his daughter not only knows he’s Kodos, she’s been killing all the witnesses. Tonight, she tells him, the final two witnesses will be dead. Kodos is like ‘WTF, slag?’ and the two have a totally histrionic argument. Kirk shows up and orders security to come; Lenore completely snaps and she grabs a security guard’s phaser and is about to kill Kirk on stage. Kodos, sick of the blood on his hands, jumps in front of the beam and is killed. The audience just sits there. They should have burst into applause.

In the epilogue we learn that Lenore is mad, and she thinks her dad is still alive (and that her butt babies can come to term. Silly girl, butt babies never live)

Review: Conscience of the King isn’t a great episode, but I really like the way it illustrates that Star Trek can be anything. This is one part Holocaust parable, one part detective show – there’s so little science fiction here that it seems like it would be fairly easy to adapt this same story into a show in another genre.

The Holocaust parallels were also very timely when the show aired. There were still Nazi war criminals being hunted down, and William Shatner knew the ins and outs of the trial system, having been involved in Judgment at Nuremberg. Keeping in mind that this aired only 20 years after the Holocaust, Kirk’s unwillingness to identify Kodos comes across as sort of weird. I doubt the episode is apologizing for the Nazis, but there is an attempt to find humanity in some bad people.

The episode also gets a boost from the insane overacting by the guest stars. Sure, they’re playing Shakespearian actors but did they have to dial it to 12? I’m glad they did, though, since that shit’s hilarious.

Kirkin’ Out: Kirk fucks a serial killer. Nuff said.

Spockmarks: Spock seems like he barely belongs on the Enterprise in this episode. Everybody else seems like a complete mental midget in comparison to him. I like that he’s so tuned in to Kirk that he knows the second something is wrong.

Redshirt: No Enterprise crew dies, although Riley comes close.

Dilithium Bullshit: This is barely a science fiction episode!

Support Staff of the Week: While Riley, who I love, makes his only other appearance this week, I have to give the edge to McCoy for getting drunk on the job.

Continerdity: Hey, did you know that Kirk grew up on an alien planet and was a Space Jew? Now you know! It turns out that Riley grew up with him. We learn that Vulcans can’t get drunk, and we learn an untrue fact – that Vulcan has been conquered. This is the only time we see ‘night’ on the Enterprise. Uhura sings that shitty song in a future episode, so don’t think you’re out of the woods yet. This was Grace Lee Whitney’s last episode shot – she’s only seen glaring at Lenore in passing – but since the show was broadcast out of order we’ll see her again before she’s gone.

Set Phasers to Quote: “All this power surging and throbbing, yet under control. Are you like that, Captain?”  – Lenore

Three Positive Baby Clint Howards Out of Five

Star Trekkin’ – Introduction
Star Trekkin’ Day 1 – Where No Man Has Gone Before
Star Trekkin’ Day 2 – The Man Trap
Star Trekkin’ Day 3 – Charlie X
Star Trekkin’ Day 4 – The Naked Time
Star Trekkin’ Day 5 – The Enemy Within
Star Trekkin’ Day 6 – Mudd’s Women
Star Trekkin’ Day 7 – What Are Little Girls Made Of?
Star Trekkin’ Day 8 – Miri
Star Trekkin’ Day 9 – Dagger of the Mind
Star Trekkin’ Day 10 – The Corbomite Maneuver