Episode number: 17th episode aired, 19th episode produced
Written by: Paul Schneider, who invented the Romulans in Balance of Terror
Directed by: Don McDougall, a guy who churned out TV episodes in the 50s through the 70s
Captain’s Log: Coffee break on the starship Enterprise! Everybody is enjoying a paper cup of spacejoe as the ship travels through a ‘star desert’ – an area in space where there are very few solar systems. Kirk and McCoy wax poetic about how much they love deserts, but Spock doesn’t understand the appeal. Even though the planet Vulcan appears to be a rocky desert in future episodes.
As they’re tooling along, the sensors pick up a planet out of nowhere. As they’re pondering where the fuck this planet – which seems utterly inhospitable to life, like Detroit, Michigan – came from, Sulu disappears off the bridge. Actually, he BOINGs off the bridge. Kirk rushes over to the now empty space and – BOING! – he’s gone too.
Spock takes control, places the ship on red alert and spends four hours trying to find Kirk and Sulu – on the ship as well as the planet (pretty smart, I’d say). As everybody is trying to figure out what is happening, a message comes to the ship – an olde fashionedy font saying ‘Greetings and salutations.’ Spock asks Uhura to shout back, and the reply they get is ‘Hip hip hoorah.’ And ‘Tally-ho.’
Fearing they’ve stumbled upon a Galactic Renn Faire, Spock sends McCoy and two dudes down to the planet wearing the exact same life support gear Han Solo uses to explore the insides of space worms. When they beam down they’re pretty shocked to find that rather than a hellish disaster, like Newark, New Jersey, they have beamed into a very nice recreation of a wooded glade on the Desilu studios. They can even breathe the air, unlike Houston, Texas! But it turns out that the can’t communicate with the ship – they’re cut off. As they explore they discover what appears to be a small castle, or at least one wall and a big door of a castle, as that’s really all they could afford. They decide to go inside and explore, and it looks like the place was decorated by the love child of Ricardo Montalban and Liberace. It’s like some kind of survey of Bad Taste from the 18th century.
But it’s not just 18th century stuff! There’s also a Salt Vampire, from The Man Trap, and there’s a space dog from The Enemy Within! It’s the Star Trek prop room. And in a place of special honor are the frozen forms of Sulu and Kirk. They give off no signs of life, and Bones says that they seem to be waxworks figures. Just then – the sound of a totally fruity old style piano! Everybody turns and see The Squire of Gothos himself pretending to play. He’s dressed like he’s in a Keira Knightley movie but his hair looks like he’s in a dinner theater version of Grease.
He’s all ‘Pip pip, faggy ho!’ and reluctantly allows Kirk and Sulu to be unfrozen, which happens with a quick sound effect. The two are disoriented for a moment; the Squire of Rydell High School introduces himself as General Trelane, Retired, and says that he’s hoping the crew will make themselves at home. He’s been peeping on Earth and set up his house just for them. Not so fast, Kirk says – this shit is all 900 years old. Which indicates that Kirk is a real dummy; either the show is now set in the 27th century (it’s not) or the captain thinks all these knick knacks are from the 13th century.
Trelane is a little disappointed that he got it wrong and then he sets into motion what will be the basic shape of this episode: him fucking yapping on while everybody else, especially the viewer, gets progressively more irritated. He tells Kirk that he just wanted to honor some great war makers, and Kirk gets all uppity about being called a warmonger. He demands that they be allowed to go back to the ship but Trelane, talking like Burt Lahr putting on an English accent, says that he insists they chill out and eat and tell him about about making war and all sorts of other butch talk.
Kirk orders one of the crewmen to shoot Trelane on stun; the guy sneaks up to Trelane using the slow motion technique while Trelane is looking at him in A MIRROR, and everybody is surprised when Trelane sees hm and freezes him. The Squire of the Lower East Side takes the guy’s phaser and gets psyched about it – ‘This could kill millions!’ he says. Then he launches into an explanation of his magic powers, letting everybody know that it isn’t that he can do these things, it’s that he has a machine that does it for him, turning matter into energy and back again. Way to set up your own defeat, guy.
Trelane just wants everybody to hang out and have a brodown, but Kirk keeps being a bitch to him. To make a point, Trelane teleports Kirk outside of the protective bubble he has created, where the air is completely unbreathable, like Garry, Indiana.
On the bridge, Scotty has found a patch on the planet where life can exist. Spock orders him to beam every life form they find up to the ship.
The lesson taught, Trelane keeps going on about martial honor and men marching to war and other totally manly topics. Kirk tells him that they gotta get home – 400 men and women are waiting for them. Trelane gets really excited about the idea of women, and just as he and Kirk are arguing the transporter beam pulls them off the planet. In Trelane’s drawing room McCoy said that the tricorder didn’t show Trelane as existing, let alone living. The fact that he didn’t beam up with the rest really seems to prove that he just isn’t there. Back on the ship, Kirk wants them to get the fuck out of dodge. But before they can, Trelane shows up on the bridge; he wants Kirk to punish Spock for beaming the crew up, and for being a dick to him. Kirk orders Trelane off the ship, but instead Trelane teleports the bridge crew down to the planet, including a female yeoman and Uhura.
Spock tells Trelane that he thinks he’s sort of a cock, and Trelane is racially insensitive to Uhura (see Set Phasers to Quote), then decides that he wants to dance with the yeoman. Trelane orders Uhura to play the harpsichord; when she says she doesn’t know how he BOINGs the ability to play into her head, and the Squire of Christopher Street starts dancing with her. When he decides that her red miniskirt isn’t the right outfit, he BOINGs a lavish dress on to her.
Kirk, McCoy and Spock start brainstorming. The fire in the fireplace doesn’t give off heat, and the food and drink Trelane has provided has no taste. All of this stuff is a simulacrum, sort of like the script, which looks like it would be a series of words that tell a story but in fact is just a 50 page jerk off session. Kirk hypothesizes that Trelane must have a power source, and it must be in the room. Meanwhile, Uhura is beaming – she loves the harpsichord!
Spock realizes that the machine must be behind the mirror in which Trelane keeps foppishly preening himself. The need to destroy the mirror so the deaf dumb and blind boy so they can defeat Trelane, but he took away their phasers when they beamed down. Kirk gets an idea; first he insults Trelane, then he slaps Trelane in the face (with a glove he took from the yeoman). This gives the Squire of Rough Trade an instant boner – he’s so excited to get a duel! – and he pulls out what appears to be Travel Scrabble. Double word score to the death, my good captain!
But no, it’s dueling pistols. The two face off. Trelane demands the first shot, but Kirk is like ‘You don’t seem to understand the basic concept of a duel.’ Trelane threatens to kill Spock, so Kirk has to relent. It looks bad for the captain – Trelane has said that he never misses – but the Squire of Mary Lyndon just shoots the cieling, and opens his arms to Kirk, like Space Jesus. But Kirk shoots the mirror, which explodes (with kazoo and cartoon boinging sounds!), and Trelane is like ‘Waaaaaaaaaaah!’
The bridge can now get through to them. Trelane is sooo pissed off. He’s like, get lost and get ready to die because I am so going to kill you all. And then he BOINGs away, which sort of shocks Kirk, since he thought Trelane had no power.
They beam up and Kirk is writing the whole escapade up as the Enterprise gets the fuck out of town. Everything looks pretty good, and Kirk gets one last look at the yeoman’s 18th century dress cleavage, when the planet Gothos just shows up right in front of them. They’re going so fast they almost hit the thing, and they try to get away, but Gothos keeps showing up right in front of them. Kirk knows that he has to confront Trelane himself.
The Squire of Tony Curtis In Spartacus teleports the captain down to the planet. This time he’s redressed his set with some velvet curtains and made it look sort of like a court room. He’s wearing a powdered wig, and Kirk is on the witness stand. Trelane is very cross with the captain, and just to illustrate the stakes, he throws the shadow of a noose on the wall behind him.
Kirk pleads guilty of thinking Trelane is a douchebag, but says that the crime is his alone. Don’t punish the crew, Kirk says, just kill me. Trelane is totally worked up and sentences Kirk to death, to be hung by the neck until dead… dead… dead!!!! (That’s a direct quote)
Then Trelane breaks character. He actually got mad there for a second, which he thought was pretty cool. But now he’s bored. This is no fun. Kirk takes advantage of what a dipshit Trelane is; he convinces The Squire of The Dead End Kids that it would be more fun to hunt him down and kill him. But the stakes have to be higher – Kirk wants Trelane to let the ship go while they’re on the hunt. Trelane, a huge dummy, agrees.
While Kirk is trying to warn the Enterprise to leave, Trelane shows up in lime green pants, swinging a sword. The two of them run around the forest set, which appears to be about six feet by six feet; Trelane is trying to kill Kirk, Kirk is trying to get some reception. How can he have no bars! Trelane keeps finding him, but that’s no surprise – Kirk is just standing around.
Kirk manages to get the drop on Trelane and get his sword; still, it’s not contest, and Trelane’s magic machine allows Trelane to get the upper hand. It looks like he’s about to kill Kirk when… Trelane’s parents show up. They appear to be great big glowing green JuJuBes, and they speak to Trelane in English. It turns out that Trelane is just a little kid, and his parents have given him this planet to play with, but it’s way past his bedtime and besides, he’s being mean to lesser animals. Trelane turns into the Squire of Blubbering Babies and his parents take him away. And just like that, anticlimactically, it’s over.
Back on the Enterprise Kirk is musing on how totally fucking weird all of this was, and how it’s going to make for a very strange journal entry. Then he makes fun of Spock’s ethnic heritage yet again, asking him if he never played pranks as a boy; everybody laughs and Spock continues tallying up the harrassment complaints.
Review: Ugh. I bring some baggage to this episode as someone who has watched a lot of Star Trek; the idea of the ultrapowered, post-human being playing games with the crew while also being childish/retarded/illogical/etc is one that the show uses again and again. If you were writing a generic episode, this is the plot device you would use. In fact, Futurama did just that with their Trek episode.
But even beyond that, The Squire of Gothos is just dull. Trelane has all of these powers and he does nothing with them. There’s never a sense of danger, and I kept wondering if this would all have been cleared up sooner if Kirk had just had dinner with the guy. Things threaten to get interesting right at the end, but the fight scene is so clumsy and dull – even by 1960s no budget TV standards – that it barely rises to the level of hilarious.
This episode is almost exactly what people think of when they think of boring, bad Star Trek.
Kirkin’ Out: After being out of the picture last episode, Kirk is back large and in charge. For my money I love him smacking a dude in the face with a lady’s glove. Smoothness.
Spockmarks: Spock is the master of the understated verbal smackdown. When he wants to talk shit on Trelane, he does it with elegance. “I object to you,” he says. Burn.
Redshirt: Nobody dies!
Dilithium Bullshit: Trelane’s magic machine is never explained in the slightest.
Staff of the Week: We knew Uhura was musical, so it should come as no surprise that she has a big ass grin on her face while pretending to play the harpsichord.
Continerdity: William Campbell, who plays Trelane, shows up in season two as Koloth in The Trouble With Tribbles. He would play Koloth again in The Next Generation. The Salt Vampire from The Man Trap appears in Trelane’s castle, as does the pink unicorn poodle from The Enemy Within. Uhura calls Starfleet ‘Spacefleet Command,’ indicating they still hadn’t settled on a name for those guys. Kirk thinks he’s living in the 27th century, but he’s not.
Set Phasers to Quote: “Ah a Nubian prize. Taken on one of your raids of conquest, no doubt, Captain.” – The Squire of Racism
Two Negative Baby Clint Howards Out of Five