Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, October 14, 2013

Season 1, Episode 13 "Conscience of the King"

"Conscience of the King"
Production Number: 13
Air Order: 13
Stardate: 2817.6
Original Air Date: December 8, 1966

This episode comes with pop-ups! Yes! Nothing like a bunch of mindless trivia to make my day. (No, I'm not being facetious here. I really do enjoy mindless trivia.) I'll put those bits in purple.

So we start this episode with a dramatic stabbing. Sadly, the victim is not Rand, but some unknown guy. The stabber is also a mysterious man. Kirk and another dude, presumably a friend, are watching from the audience. They're also talking. Dude, Mystery Science Theater doesn't do live Shakespeare. I say if either of them starts texting, we take them out back and shoot them... phasers not set to stun.

Can I just say how tickled I am that Shakespeare still exists in the 24th century? Some things should always be a part of the human experience. With the exception of the Romeo and Juliet re-enactment in the movie Hot Fuzz, which... just... no.

Seriously. Juliet shoots herself rather than using a happy dagger, and this chick literally yells "BANG!", making everyone in the audience wish that she'd shot them instead.

Kirk and his friend are talking again, and I'm baffled that no one has told them to shut their traps. Kirk's friend, who we only see in profile, says that he's certain that the actor portraying MacBeth is actually Kodos the Executioner.
Kirk's Log 2817.6: The Enterprise has gone off-course because Kirk's friend, Dr Thomas Leighton, has claimed that he's made a synthetic food that will end hunger on a nearby Earth colony.
Turns out it's bullshit. Kirk is pissed when Tom tells him that he pulled him off-course because he thinks the dude is Kodos. Kirk insists that Kodos is dead, but Tom argues that all the authorities found was a body burned beyond recognition, and that they need to find out if Karidian the actor is Kodos, because the lovely and charming Kodos killed 4000 people 20 years earlier. Tom finally moves out of profile, and we find out that he's actually the Phantom of the Opera. He points out that less than 10 people actually saw Kodos, and that includes both of them.

Tom reveals that he and his wife Martha are hosting a cocktail party that night for the acting troupe, in the hopes of ensnaring Karidian. "Fuck you, Tom," says Kirk, and he leaves to go tell his log that Tom is a giant dick who doesn't care about the hungry. 
Upstairs, Kirk asks the computer to compare Kodos the Executioner and Anton Karidian. Seems Kodos was governor on Tarsus IV and killed 50% of the population. Karidian is currently the director and lead of a traveling acting company, and has been for the last nine years. The computer admits that it doesn't have any info on him further back than that. You know what you should do, Kirk? Invite them both to the same cocktail party and see if they can be spotted in the same place at the same time. Then you'll know if Karidian is Kodos' mild-mannered alter ego. Kodos does evil things, but Karidian eats froyo in laundromats with girls who help the homeless.

After conferring with the Spockinator, Kirk decides to attend the cocktail party. I'm kind of disappointed that he doesn't have a dress uniform for such things. Maybe an unripped shirt is considered dressy enough. Tom's wife Martha says that Tom has gone to town but should be back shortly.
The Star Trek theme, arranged differently, plays in the background of the cocktail party. 
Some blonde hotsy totsy enters in this dress that I sort of hate. She's Karidian's 19-year-old daughter Lenore, and while flirting shamelessly with her, Kirk discovers that Karidian is kind of a hermit and doesn't do parties. So much for Tom's brilliant plan. Kirk and Lenore dance around the fact that they'd like to share a sweaty tumble, and they go for a walk. All I can say for you Kirk, is that at least this one isn't geriatric jailbait.

I hate her shawl/veil thing, too. It reminds me of No Face from Spirited Away.

Lenore tells Kirk that he seems sweet, but kind of lonely, which they like to talk about a lot on this show, because that's the excuse they use as to why Kirk feels the need to park his ship in every port. He goes to kiss her, but a dead body behind her ruins the mood. Dramatic music! Ah, shit. It's Tom of the Opera.

At the house, Martha seems rather unaffected until she throws herself into Kirk's arms and cries "How I'll miss him!" Yep. Sounds like an accurate portrayal of the widow of a murdered man.

Kirk hatches a plan and calls the captain of the ship that the acting troupe was going to hitch a ride with to their next destination. I swear to Dog the voice of the captain of the Astral Queen is the immortal John Astin of Addams Family fame, but the voice credit isn't listed on IMDB. Sad times. Kirk says that he will take the actors instead, then beams back up to the E.
We never actually see the Astral Queen, but hear her captain's voice instead - it's cheaper to hire a voice actor than build a ship. Yay, budget!
On the bridge, Kirk acts all prescient when Lenore beams aboard. She's invited onto the bridge to see Kirk and - what the hell is she wearing? Shiny kitten heels, sparkly tights, tan suede gloves that match nothing, a clutch that's either cheetah or cow-print, and what I can only assume is a giant fur muff with a brooch masquerading as a dress. She looks like somebody's slutty grandmother. I'm calling Stacy and Clinton.

Lenore tells Kirk that the troupe's ride flaked, and she and the captain do another dance where the subtext is that they'd like to bang each other, but the words actually being said are "we'll do a performance for the crew in exchange for a lift," and "okay". Lenore goes to leave the bridge just as Rand gets out of the lift, and in this moment, between Lenore's clothes and Rand's hair, I'd like to slap the costumer of this episode.

Even Rand can't believe this shit.

Spock points out that dropping the troupe off at their next destination will take them light-years off-course. Translation: "Dammit, captain. Are you piloting with your dick again?" Kirk tells him to fuck off, and Spock shrugs, which pretty much means, "fuck you too, buddy."

The spinning pattern on the console behind Spock was cool, but visually distracting, and was usually turned off during filming.
Kirk's Log 2818.9: Kirk is weirded out that Karidian might be Kodos.
Kirk asks the computer for a list of the people who can ID Kodos. Tom was one, Kirk is another... also, Kevin Riley. Gee, how convenient. As a precaution, Kirk asks Spock to transfer Riley from communications to engineering. Spock points out that Riley will consider it as being put on the naughty spot. Again, Spock receives a "fuck you" without an explanation.
The science officer goes to Bones about Kirk's recent potty-mouth and Bones spouts more crap about command being "lonely". That's starting to sound more and more like a catch-all excuse for everything.
Dear Sallie Mae, I'm lonely. I won't be paying my student loans for a while.
Spock and the good doctor exchange more mildly racist remarks and Bones waxes rhapsodic about Saurian Brandy, and how everyone should be warm for Lenore's badly-clothed form. Saurian Brandy bottles have been featured in several ST movies and spin-offs.

Lenore and Kirk go up to the Observation Deck and Lenore remarks that the ship has a lot of power, "surging and throbbing, but under control." She asks Kirk if he's like that. Oh my Zod. If you just do her, will this insufferable innuendo stop? They use Girl-O-Vision on Lenore, and she and Kirk make out.

The top part of this dress isn't awful, but the sleeves are lined with sparkly lilac fabric and edged with lime maribou feathers.

The Observation Deck was one of the only sets with windows that show stars. It was felt that, logistically, the hull would be weakened by windows. It was also expensive to make star-filled backdrops. The Observation Deck set was built for this episode, then never used again. Minus points, budget.

Spock runs a computer analysis between the eyewitnesses and Kodos, then reports back to Bones. Seems that 20 years earlier, Tarsus IV was struck by a fungus that destroyed it's crops. Faced with some horrible decisions, Kodos chose to hand-select who would die so that some others could live, employing his own sense of value to human life. Riley and Kirk are the only eyewitnesses left who had actually seen Kodos. Spock suspects that Kirk thinks Karidian is Kodos. Maybe he should. Each time another eyewitness has died, the acting troupe has been nearby.
Meanwhile, Riley is pouting in Engineering. He calls the Rec Room for company, and Uhura plays Spock's harp and sings for him.

Nichelle Nichols toured with Duke Ellington.

While he's listening, some mysterious person poisons Riley's milk. He takes a sip and croaks "help me!" into the intercom before collapsing.
This Riley's second and last appearance in this series. Too bad. I kind of liked him.

Really? A spray bottle? You couldn't find anything more futuristic... or sinister-looking? Also, what's up with the square food? That's all they eat out in space, I guess: rations from The Matrix

In sick bay, Spock tells Bones that Kirk is the last target. If Riley bites the dust, they're screwed.
Kirk's Log 2819.1: Riley sick. Everyone worried. McCoy working on it.
Spock and Bones go to Kirk to give him the medical report, and Spock says that he knows Kirk's secret and that Kirk is a target. Kirk gets belligerent and launches into a soliloquy about how he's putting things on the line on a hunch. Spock says that the logical answer is that Karidian is Kodos, but Kirk is still unsure. Are you kidding me? If a Vulcan says that your hunch is correct, you can take that shit to the bank.
Bones and Spock are used as the different parts of Kirk's personality: Spock as dispassionate logic and reason; Bones as emotion and passion. Kirk's balance comes from utilizing both. This pop-up makes me imagine a regular-sized Kirk, with Bones and Spock as "angel-devil shoulder-riders."

In the next scene, everything appears to be the same, but the doctor is gone. Spock's obviously awesome hearing picks up a weird sound, which they determine to be an overloading phaser. Kirk announces over the PA that the deck needs to be evacuated and he sends Spock out before finding the phaser and dropping it into a garbage chute. The idea that a phaser would explode when overloading came from the first pilot "The Cage".
Kirk goes to confront Karidian in his quarters, and Karidian replies "maybe, maybe not" when Kirk asks if he is really Kodos. There's a "dramatic-off" between the Shakespearean actor and the over-actor which represents a lot of sound and fury, but signifies nothing. Kirk turns to leave and Lenore calls him back. She says she is no longer interested in jumping him, and calls him inhuman. At least she wasn't wearing something ridiculous this time.

Bones makes a med log about how Riley is fine now, but confined to sick bay by Kirk, who doesn't want him running into Karidian. He also reveals that Kirk suspects Karidian of being Kodos, the man who murdered Riley's family. Of course Riley is standing behind him. DRAMATIC MUSIC!

Was Riley spared because he knew all the words to "I'll take You Home Again, Kathleen"?

In the theater, Lenore introduces the play - Hamlet, of all things - and McCoy calls Kirk to report that Riley is missing. A red shirt then pages Kirk to let him know that a phaser is missing from the weapons locker. Kirk puts the red shirts on alert for Riley, then rushes to the theater. (Okay, seriously: this ship has a freaking theater?) He finds Riley backstage with the phaser and talks him down from killing Kodos, sending him back to sick bay. The writers used MacBeth as the opening play because MacBeth believes himself to be a good person who justifies murder, and whose life is ruined by guilt. This represents Kodos/Karidian. Hamlet relates to Kirk.

Between acts backstage, a fidgety Karidian vaguely tells Lenore that he's feeling haunted by the past, and she assures him that it's okay, because she's the murderous bitch who's been popping caps in the witnesses' asses. She just has to murder Kirk and Riley to collect the whole set. "What the fuck, Lenore?" he demands. "You were the only untainted thing in my life, and now I find out you're freaking HH Holmes." Kirk has been eavesdropping and he steps forward to point out they have some sort of fucked-up Gift of the Magi thing going on. He yells for a guard to come arrest Karidian, but Lenore grabs the red shirt's phaser and runs into the theater. She gives a rather Shakespearean speech about how she's going to kill everyone onboard.

Crazy. It's always in the eyes.

She tries to shoot Kirk, but Karidian dives in front of him, gets hit and dies. Lenore promptly loses it, quoting Shakespeare over her father's dead body. Kirk disarms her and the theater full of people is left to wonder what the hell just happened and mutter about how they got screwed out of the third act. As in Hamlet, a play is used to uncover a killer.

On the bridge, Bones reports that Lenore remembers nothing, thinks her father is still touring, and seems to have been left in a mental institution (was it Tantalus, by any chance?). It's okay, Lenore. If they ask you why you did it, just claim loneliness.

Lose Ends:
Why is half of Tom's face missing? We can guess that it has something to do with Kodos, but it's actually never explained.
What was Kirk doing on Tarsus IV? He was born in Iowa, and joined Starfleet, but was he visiting? He would have been about 17 at the time of the famine/genocide. Had he completed his coursework at the academy and gone on to an assignment? Was he part of the rescue that showed up a bit too late to save those people?
Why was Riley spared when his parents were not? He was probably a little kid when this occurred, so what makes him more valuable than his parents?
If 4000 people were left on the planet, how did only a handful of people know what he looked like? Did dude live in some secluded castle away from other people?... while wearing a mask?


And now it's time for a rousing round of "Are You As Awesome As Uhura?"

Champion Uhura

Are you moderately attractive? +1
Are you good at your job? +1
Are you a team player? +1
Do you have a innate sense of style? +1
Do you have a talent? +1
Are you immune to Damsel in Distress Syndrome? +1
Are you sane? +1

The score to beat is lucky number 7.

Challenger Lenore Karidian

Are you moderately attractive? Yep +1
Are you good at your job? Presumably so +1
Are you a team player? Possibly +1
Do you have a innate sense of style? Hell no -1
Do you have a talent? Acting +1
Are you immune to Damsel in Distress Syndrome? Effectively murdered 7 people without help, going with a yes +1
Are you sane? Good Lord, no -1000

Lenore's score is -955. So sorry, you are not as awesome as Uhura. Thank you for playing, and please enjoy your Rice-A-Roni, the Starfleet Headquarters Treat. Ding-ding!


So I've been trying to kick my soda habit, but the lack of caffeine coupled with trouble falling asleep has left me tired.
"I need caffeine but don't want a soda," I complained to Roomie.
"You should try mate (mah-tay)," she suggested. "It has a caffeine content similar to coffee, but it tastes like chocolate."
I balked. Too much caffeine makes me nuts, and there's only two kinds of drinkable chocolate that are okay by me: hot chocolate, and Mexican hot chocolate. I remember years ago when the Shasta company had a chocolate soda, and I was excited. "Chocolate? I love chocolate!" No. Not good. Blech. Roomie regaled me with tales from the soda fountain, mixing chocolate Cokes for people while gagging on the inside. She suggested cutting the mate with something for less caffeine and chocolate taste.
So we brewed half JavaVana Mate and half Tropical Nut Paradise (a rooibos) for a nice blend of not-too-nutty, not-too-chocolately, not-too-caffeine-laden tea. Both are available from Teavana.

1 comment:

  1. I love that the Spock-Bones-Kirk trip is identified on TvTropes as the Freudian Trio. My D&D group has 3 players and a DM and we always use this trio to determine who's playing which character trope.