Hello! It’s been a busy few weeks here at My Geek Blasphemy: I traveled to WorldCon, then DragonCon, then to a good friend’s wedding, and while I had fun at all those events, I also kinda never want to leave my couch again. Sadly, I suspect that such a plan might prove unsustainable in the long term.
In the short term, however, it gives me time to start watching TOS again.
There will be SPOILERS for this episode and probably the Star Trek franchise in general. You’ve been warned.
WHAT GOES DOWN, BASICALLY
The Enterprise comes across a mysterious planet, right before Sulu and Kirk up and vanish from the bridge. An away team beams down to investigate. Quickly, they come across an actual castle, where they meet the retired General Trelane, an immature, foppish, seemingly all-powerful alien who’s enamored of human military conquests and customs. He’s also abducted Sulu and Kirk and now refuses to let any of them leave.
Spock manages to beam up his missing crew members, but Trelane pops up on the bridge and whisks them straight back, this time including Spock, Uhura, and Today’s Random Blonde Yeoman. After forcing Uhura to play music and Today’s Random Blonde Yeoman to dance, Trelane accepts Kirk’s challenge to a duel. Kirk, who’s since realized that much of Trelane’s power actually comes from advanced technology (rather than innate ability), uses his shot to destroy a giant mirror and the machine hiding behind it.
Trelane is furious and disappears, while Kirk and the others beam back to the Enterprise and hightail it out of there. Unfortunately, no matter which way they go, the planet suddenly appears, blocking their path. Kirk, alone, is then transported back to the surface, where Trelane (now dressed up as a judge) condemns him to death by hanging. Kirk, trying to buy more time for his ship to escape, convinces Trelane that he’ll have more fun if he hunts Kirk instead. Trelane does, indeed, have fun doing this, but before he can finish the job, his glowy, shapeless, alien parents pop up and say that he’s been a very bad boy, that humans are conscious beings and also if he can’t play with his pets right, he doesn’t get to have any. Trelane–now speaking like an actual child, rather than just childishly–is taken away, while Kirk returns to the Enterprise.
The most interesting thing about this episode is that–according to Peter David, anyway–this is our first introduction to the Q, not that anyone refers to Trelane or his parents as such here.
Honestly, he doesn’t seem very Q-like to me: like, I get the dude’s seemingly all-powerful and everything, but c’mon, so are half the dudes this season, right? Feels like every three episodes we’re running into some alien asshole with a fuck ton of magic juice, and they’re hardly all part of the Q Continuum. Shit, Trelane’s abilities aren’t even internal; he needs tech for any of his reality-breaking Thanos-snaps. Admittedly, though, it’s been about a bazillion years since I read Q-Squared, so maybe there’s an explanation in there that I’m unaware of.
Otherwise, this is a breezy little episode: enjoyable enough, a bit silly, not hugely ambitious. The politics and ideology are both pretty on brand for Trek–you know, “war is bad” and “look at human history: bloody and violent and dumb”–but none of it’s very in depth. Honestly, “The Squire of Gothos” comes across more like a weirdly comedic version of “Charlie X” than anything else, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the ending. On one hand, I enjoy learning that Trelane isn’t just mean-spirited and childish; he is quite literally a child. That revelation adds something to the episode for me. On the other hand, there’s really only so many times you can pull off a deus ex machina before the audience begins losing faith in the writers’ ability to save our intrepid heroes without one.
So, the bridge officers are all drinking coffee at their stations, and it’s super weird, like, I enjoy it, but also, try picturing Picard on the Enterprise with a bag of Doritos in his hand. It just doesn’t seem natural. OTOH, I totes wanna see the episode where Sulu accidentally knocks his cup of coffee over the navigation controls and oh noes, the Enterprise has just hit Warp 10, and Spock and Kirk were turned into mating lizards. I should check AO3 for that particular fanfiction.
I can’t wait until Chekov comes in. Until then, we’re forced to play a game each episode called Our New Helmsman: Dead or Just Evil? In this case, he’s neither; rather, he’s just an idiot. One of his more genius tactical plans, for instance, is to sneak up and attack Trelane in front of a giant fucking mirror. I’d like to name the dude Chief Asshat for this alone, but I’m afraid that dubious honor will have to go to Trelane himself, who–among other things–calls Lt. Uhura a “Nubian prize” and assumes that Kirk abducted her on one of his “raids of conquest.” (Uhura immediately draws her hand back, which is nice, although not nearly as satisfying as the idea of her punching him in the face. Pity.)
Justifiably offended as she is, Uhura still seems to have a pretty great time playing . . . whatever piano-adjacent instrument that is. Ah, a harpsichord. (Don’t judge me. This is exactly the kind of thing Google was built for.) While I do enjoy the musical continuity here (she’s performed, what, three times this season), I wish Uhura actually got to do more interesting communications-related things. At this point, she feels less like an officer and more like the Enterprise’s Official Bard. (Admittedly, this would be a badass position to have.)
I love that Spock won’t let Scotty go on the away mission because he’s too valuable to the ship. Spock also lists himself as too valuable, which is supremely awesome. MORE OF THIS, PLEASE.
Then again, Spock also recovers Kirk, Sulu, and the away team by just beaming up every life form on the planet they can find. This seems . . . risky.
The mysterious planet is supposedly a volcano fueled nightmare, so you’d think the away team would be wearing some kind of biohazard suit rather than just, like, an N-95 mask hooked up to a clip-on oxygen box. But this is TOS, we’re talking about, so. At least they’re not wearing shower curtains this time?
Trelane is a poor interior decorator. Never mind the fact that everything in the castle is from the wrong time period; it’s also just, like, WAY too busy. He is, however, a snappy dresser.
The Fashion Report: Trelane (who admires Napoleon because of course he does) is wearing a majestic blue coat with gold trimming, some big lace cuffs, an even bigger lace cravat, and dark knee-high boots over weirdly green pants, like, we’re talking almost lime green here. I won’t pretend that fashion in the Napoleonic era is my expertise, but these pants seem wildly out of place to me. Course, that only makes me love them more.
Spock doesn’t understand Kirk and Bones’s romanticization of deserts. This is supposed to be yet another example of how strange and alien he is, but seriously, I’m right there with him. Deserts suck. They’re bullshit hot, and they’re full of crawling things that sting and bite. Maybe there’s no romance in my soul, but guess what? There are no scorpions in my fucking boots, either.
I’ve watched nearly 20 episodes of TOS now, and it’s become apparent to me that the show likes nothing better than ending on Kirk poking at or joking about Spock not being a normal human. This episode is no exception, despite the fact that Spock’s alien nature isn’t particularly important to the plot or theme of this episode.
There are a handful of quotes I very much enjoy here. For instance: Spock pointedly telling Trelane that while Vulcans aren’t predatory, there have been exceptions. Also, Trelane insisting that Spock should be punished simply because he doesn’t like him. And Spock certainly gets the most thematic quote of the night: “I object to you. I object to intellect without discipline. I object to power without constructive purpose.” (Not to mention, it’s so cute, how obviously proud Kirk is of his boy right here.)
Still, for pure delivery, I’ve gotta give it to Sulu on this one:
LINE OF THE EPISODE
“Anyway, the decor of my drawing room is much more appropriate. And tasteful. Don’t you agree?”