Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, September 9, 2013

Season 1, Episode 08 "Charlie X"

"Charlie X"
Production Order: 08
Air Order: 2
Stardate: 1533.6
Original Air Date: September 15, 1966

There are three very good reasons why this blog is a weekly and not a daily. Exhibit One: Uhura.


I'm pretty sure that among the things that are innate to a cat are eliminating in sand, scratching to wear down claw growth, and sitting on your notebook while you're trying to write a blog. My proof? Ten minutes after she got down, Kirk appeared.


Kirk got down, and Spock hopped up.


And then Uhura joined him.

A few minutes later, Kirk hopped back up again into what was left of my lap, only I couldn't back up far enough to catch a photo of all three, BECAUSE MY LAP WAS FULL OF KITTENS. >.<  Kittens: they're everywhere that you don't want them to be.

*****

We start this week with a Captain's Log, on stardate 1533.6. The captain of the freighter ship Antares and his first officer are beaming aboard with an "unusual passenger", Charlie Evans.
Kirk is wearing is fabulous green wrap-around blouse this time. Maybe it's Casual Friday on the Enterprise. Of course Spock isn't going casual. That kind of lax attitude is beneath his dignity. Just for a minute though, let's imagine Spock's participation in this ancient Earth work ritual. I'm seeing a Vulcan in a Hawaiian shirt. Excellent.
The Antares captain beams aboard - and look! They're wearing Lackey Tan! (House Points to you for recycling, Budget. Good job.) Charlie Evans is wearing a weird coat, all plaid and fur. I'd say it looks like his mother dressed him, but it turns out he's an orphan, so I guess he just has really terrible fashion sense. Where's the head of Carson Kressley in a jar when you need him?


So Kirk shakes hands with Charlie and there's an awkward pause with the Antares crewmen. Then Charlie's eyes roll back into his head and the crewmen start gushing about how awesome Charlie is. Apparently, everyone on his planet was killed when he was three, and he taught himself how to do everything by watching tapes.
Charlie asks how many people are on the Enterprise, and is excited to learn that there are 428 humans just like himself. Kirk gently chastises him for interrupting, but he seems to be making note of the fact that Charlie has not spent much time with his own kind, and will be need to be taught about social graces. The Antares crewmen beam off as Yeoman Rand comes in. Kirk asks her to show Charlie to his quarters, and Charlie asks awkwardly if Rand is a girl. Rand looks like she'd like to claw his eyes out.


So in production order, there are a good seven episodes that separate this episode from "Where No Man Has Gone Before", but in air order, this one fell one week before that episode. Brand new viewers were treated to the previous week's "alien of the week" with "The Man Trap" before two episodes of Humans With Special Powers and Creepy Eyes. Was anybody thinking that this was what this new series was about - scary eyes?



Captain's Log 1533.7: Charlie is the sole survivor of a transport crash on the unmanned planet of Thesus, 14 years earlier. Supposedly, Thesus was populated centuries before, but they had died out. Charlie has relatives living on Colony Alpha V, so they're going to drop him there. 
Can you imagine that first meeting?
 "Hi, Charlie. I'm your Aunt Karen. How have you been?"
"Lonely, Aunt Karen. You couldn't send someone out to look for me for 14 years? I mean, shit."

Charlie goes to sick bay, where he is made to do that weird stair-climbing exercise that Bones had Kirk doing in The Corbomite Maneuver. You lay on your back and sort of run with your feet on these boxes that are attached to the wall. You can see the reflection of Charlie's profile in the medical scanner instead of McCoy's. Oops. Bones declares that Charlie is in perfect health, and Charlie remarks that Kirk is not like the Antares captain. Then he asks Bones, "Do you like me?" and I cringe. This is a question asked by small children and adults who have gone off their meds. He complains to Bones that no one on the Antares liked him. He wants people to like him (like any 17-year-old), but he says it in a weird, aggressive way before smiling.

He's got on another Lackey Tan sweater under his ugly coat.


Out in the corridor, Charlie sees two crewmen climbing out of a Jeffries' tube. They're clearly buddies, as one smacks the other on the ass as they part ways. Rand walks by. Charlie follows her around the corner and presents her with perfume that he must have pulled from his ass. Ten bucks says it's "Obsession". Rand admits that it's her favorite. She says she has to go needlessly make more coffee, and when he protests, she invites him to hang out with her later, after her shift. He agrees and smacks her on the Juicy logo. Shocked, she tells him not to do that again and suggests that he ask Kirk why. Or McCoy. Or Sexual Harassment Panda. Way to cop out, Rand.


On the bridge, Spock is working on a training program for Charlie, with info about his own people. Kirk asks Bones if he wouldn't mind giving Charlie the "medical rundown" of the problems of being a teenage boy. Bones suggests that Kirk do it, seeing as how Kirk is more of a "father figure". Kirk says hell no. The theme for this episode is buck-passing, apparently. Why don't you guys just create a public school system and get some underpaid, overworked teacher to do it for you? Or you can give him the wifi password to the Enterprise, and let him learn it from the internet, like a regular teen boy.
To avoid the subject of who is going to be the ship's sex-ed instructor, they debate whether or not the long-lost Thasians actually still exist. Spock argues that Charlie could not have survived on his own. He and Bones get into it, and I'm sure some fan somewhere was yelling at their television "Just kiss already!" Bones tries to pass the ball back to Kirk about the squicky teen talk, but Kirk throws it back.





In the rec room, Spock is messing with his harp. Uhura starts humming, and he stops in exasperation. She apologizes and he gives her a tiny smile, which is far less disturbing than his full smile from "Where No Man Has Gone Before". He strums something new, which she takes as a cue to ad-lib a song. Too bad it's about him, and the others laugh.


Charlie comes in and Uhura's new verse is about him wanting to bang Rand. He scowls at her, and suddenly she coughs, unable to sing as Spock tries to decipher why his harp no longer works. Charlie does a card trick for Rand, and when she turns over the cards, they're photos of her. They're not naked photos, so she's impressed rather than creeped out. You know, I know that she can't hear the stalker music when it plays, but if a dude I'd just met magically had photos of me, my skin would be crawling.


For an encore, he makes a card relocate to her bra. And she still seems impressed by this. Run, honey, run.


Charlie goes to Kirk to ask about the ass-smacking incident, and Kirk bumbles through before landing on "There's no right way to hit a woman". I just... god, Kirk. Really? They both end up looking confused. This is so easy, you moron - "Don't hit people, Charlie." That's shit you learn in preschool.
They go to the bridge, and the captain of the Antares is hailing them, saying he needs to warn Kirk. But the transmission ends abruptly, and when Spock does a sensor sweep, they find the debris of the Antares. 

Captain's Log 1535.8: UESPA is informed of the loss of the Antares. Um... What the hell is UESPA? Is that like, the "pre-Federation" Federation?
Kirk and Spock are playing 3-D chess, and Spock suggests that Charlie knows what happened to the Antares. Kirk tells him he's nuts. Charlie enters and Kirk asks him if he's ever played chess before, then pawns him off on Spock. When the Vulcan wins, Charlie gets pissed off. He waits until Spock leaves, then melts the chess pieces. But not with a crack torch like a typically angsty teen. With his mind, like a psychopath.


Charlie stalks through the corridors and runs into Rand, who introduces him to Tina, a yeoman third class "his own age". Is she really 17? Recruiting young, Starfleet. How fast did this chick get through the academy? Charlie rudely asks to speak to Rand alone, and Tina leaves, miffed. Rand gets on his ass about being rude, but he shrugs it off. He tells Rand that she "smells like a girl" (WTF?), and he says that when he sees her he feels "hungry all over". Atta boy, Charlie. Creep her out some more.


Rand goes to Kirk to report Charlie's freakish behavior, and says that she wasn't sure she should talk to him about it. Because when you're uncertain of whether or not you should speak to someone about a sensitive issue, you should definitely do it on a crowded bridge, mid-shift. Kirk agrees to talk to Charlie again, but then smirks in an icky way.



Kirk invites Charlie to his quarters and it's clear that Charlie has a man-crush on him. He sort of invades Kirk's space, like the close-talker on "Seinfeld". He denies knowing anything about the fried chess pieces, and he laments to Kirk in the angstiest way possible that he feels lost. He insists angrily that he can make Rand love him. Oh, Charlie Boy. You have the same problem as many others have had. There are quite a few solutions. For instance, you can get a mask, kidnap her, and make her sing in your opera. Or you can take her baby brother and hold him hostage in the center of a labyrinth. Or you can hold her against her will in a submarine while you ignite the atmosphere. The choice is clear, kid. You need to kidnap Yeoman Rand.


*Shirtless Kirk alert* You can see his flesh-colored manties under his Command ballet tights. They're in the gym, and he's teaching Charlie how to fall correctly so they can move onto combat lessons. 



Charlie wipes out, and a crew member, Sam, laughs good-naturedly. Charlie rolls his eyes back and Sam disappears.



 Kirk makes this great "oh, shit" face. How does one report that? 
"Captain's Log, stardate.... twelve or something. Misunderstood teen made a crew member's atoms scatter into dust. Thinking of putting him in Time Out." Kirk calls security to have Charlie confined to quarters. There's some crazy noir lighting involved with Charlie's response that he won't let the red shirts hurt him. Did he just turn out the lights in that part of the gym? I've seen them do this lighting technique before, but this is definitely the most extreme case.


He knocks the security guys over and vaporizes their phasers. There's a brief stand-off between Kirk and Charlie and the kid acquiesces. Uhura pages Kirk to let him know that all phasers on the ship have vanished. He calls for a meeting of the OT3.
In the briefing room, Spock points out that the Thasians had the same powers as Charlie. Kirk wonders if he's actually human. Bones thinks he is. Spock thinks that he might have destroyed the Antares. Kirk decides that they can't take him to Colony Alpha V, that he's too dangerous. Bones asks what they should do with him. Personally, I think they should maroon him on an unmanned lithium station where he can play with his creepy eye powers by himself until he is crushed by a giant rock. 



Charlie comes in with a red shirt, all super-smiley like he hasn't just committed murder,and Kirk asks if he destroyed the Antares. Though uncomfortable, he unapologetically admits that he did, because the crew on that ship didn't like him. Kirk asks what he plans to do to the Enterprise and he just shrugs and says "Dunno."
On the bridge, Kirk asks Uhura to hail the colony, but when she tries, the console electrocutes her. The helm isn't responding. Evil little Chucky exits the lift and Spock recites poetry nonsensically. Chucky says he wants to get to the colony, and it's apparent that he has taken over in order to do so. Spock recites Poe and Chucky laughs, calling him "Mr Ears." "I can make him do anything I want." No, you can't. The Imperius Curse is illegal, you little shit. 


Kirk tells him to knock it the fuck off, and Charlie leaves the bridge looking like a scolded puppy.

In the corridor, Tina asks him what's wrong, and the asshole turns her into an iguana. He then goes into Rand's quarters and offers her rose that matches her nightie.
"Don't ever lock your door on me again," he says, crossing the abusive-rapey line once and for all.
She flips on the intercom to the bridge, where Kirk can hear them arguing, and Rand telling Charlie to GTFO. Kirk and Spock rush to Rand's quarters. Rand slaps Charlie, and she disappears.



Then he starts victim-blaming. That's a nice shovel, Chuck. Why don't you dig that hole a little deeper? He admits to controlling the crewmen on the Antares, to get them to do what he wanted. The Enterprise is more of a handful, apparently. He breaks Spock's legs just to prove that he can, but puts them right again when Kirk demands it.
"Growing up isn't so much! I'm not a man, but I can do anything! You can't!" said every teenager ever.
They try to seal him in a room with a forcefield. He eliminates the wall.

Chucky runs amok through the corridors, melting faces off and aging people who happen to be passing by him. On the bridge, Kirk comes up with a ruse - they'll turn everything on, and Charlie, with full control of the ship, will get overwhelmed. Then Kirk can take him down.
It kind of works, too. But they're all saved when the floaty, wavy green head of an old man appears on the bridge. He's a Thasian, and he apologizes for not knowing that Charlie had escaped. He restores Rand in her pink nightie, and explains that the Thasians gave Charlie their powers so that he could survive.


Wanting everything to be hunky-dory and ignoring the fact that the little weasel keeps trying to kill his crew, Kirk asks the Thasian if they can train Charlie to suppress his powers. "Nope," says the head. "It's kill or be killed with this kid. He'll only end up using his powers for evil." Charlie pathetically begs the Enterprise crew to help him, and Bones actually has to hold Rand back from going to him. She's crying. Really? That little shit tried to rape and kill you, and you feel bad for him? Can you say "Stalk-holm?"


It's clear they're all torn between wanting to help him and wanting to kill him. As Charlie fades away he says "I want to stay... stay... stay.... stay..." Oh, god. He's ghosting. *shudder*

So the Thasian said that he couldn't save the Antares crew, but that he could save the Enterprise crew... but only Rand showed up on the bridge. Did he restore Tina from her iguana status? How about the other people in the corridors that Charlie altered? What about Sam?


RIP, or happily ever after?
I guess a ten-second summary of this would be that the Thasians broke the Prime Directive and had to clean up after themselves. In their attempt to do good - save an innocent child - they created a monster, one which can no longer live among his own kind. No good deed goes unpunished, right?


I really wanted to make fun of Rand, you guys. Her ridiculous hair, her goofy pink nightgown, her fuzzy pink slippers that are not as cool as my fluffy green slippers... But I can't. This is the only time that Rand has been presented to me as a sympathetic character. She's not bitchy, and she's actually patient with Charlie when explaining what sorts of things are not appropriate in civilized society. What's more, it sucks to be harassed. I actually feel for her here. I can't say that I approve of her hesitation when Charlie tries to ask for her help at the end, but maybe a lot of people would have given that pause.

Next week all bets are off, though. That wig is fugly.

*****

I didn't drink any tea last week, and a reader called me on it, so I made sure to report on my cuppa this week. Sticky summer yielded several lovely cool autumnal days this week, and it was actually cold enough to trot out the mugs. This week's tea is my reliable old favorite, Blackcurrant Breeze by Twinings. It's a black tea with blackcurrant pieces, and it's so flavorful that you almost don't need to sweeten it. I stole the roommate's Siluria mug and sipped it hot. While Twinings is available readily state-side, this particular blend is difficult to find in-store unless you are near one of those stores that imports from England... or unless you're a tea whisperer, like my cousin. And as always, it's available online from their site at http://www.twiningsusashop.com/black-tea.html .


Cheers!





















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