Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, November 25, 2013

Season 1, Episode 18 "The Squire of Gothos"

"The Squire of Gothos"
Production Number: 18
Air Order: 17
Stardate: 2124.5
Original Air Date: January 12, 1967


Guess what, Trek fans? You can now buy a bottle of George!

No, he's not shitting you. You can buy it on Amazon right now for $40.

They also have one called Red Shirt (though not by Georgie). It doesn't say what it smells like, but somehow I suspect that the underlying scent is blood. And Amazon also sells Pon Farr cologne. Ten Galleons says it smells like Axe Body Spray.


So this happened 45 years ago yesterday.

And still, nobody ships it.

*******

We begin this week's episode with the intrepid Enterprise running supplies to a colony, and they have to cross an empty stretch of space to do so. Our OT3 is on the bridge discussing "space deserts", which of course boils down into another Humans vs Vulcans pissing contest, when the ship suddenly detects a planet in their path. It definitely wasn't there previously. Uhura tries to report it over subspace, but there's interference. Sulu plugs in a course change to go around it, but he disappears from his station before he can hit the Enter key. Kirk shouts and runs to the station, but then he disappears, too.


Ship's Log 2124.5: Spock is reporting because Kirk is gone. They've been orbiting the unknown planet for four hours, doing scans to find our boys. 
I'd just like to point out that this episode takes place almost one full year before the last one. You know, I know they have a doctor on board, but this is not the fucking TARDIS. Get your shit together, Star Trek.

The search is not going well. Scotty puts in a rare appearance to state that they're screwed, and for once he's not talking about the ship. Gold Shirt DeSalle and Bones both want to do a search party on the surface, but geologist Jaeger reports something akin to Hell.. And then, up on a screen above Uhura appears the message "Greetings and Felicitations", followed by "Hip-Hip-Hurrah" and "Tallyho!" I already like this alien, not only because he seems to have a better grasp on vocabulary than the average American, but because I also approve of his font choice.



"Well, shit," says Spock. "Landing party it is."
Scotty wants to go, but Spock says neither of them can be spared. (Why does everybody get this but Kirk?) So our away team will consist of Bones, DeSalle, and Jaeger, both of whom got lines and names, which makes me wonder if one or both of them will die. I kind of want to form a Red Shirt-type Bechdel test for Star Trek. Like if you get a name, lines, and are wearing a red shirt, you're more likely to die. Far more if you have some sort of backstory or are friends with a main character, and especially if you've never been seen before this episode.

No, I'm not your mummy.

Scotty beams Bones down with our two new guys to the place where the greeting originated. They're in the middle of a glade, nothing like what Jaeger described, so now the geologist looks like a liar. None of their comms work. Oops, trapped for life. The away team immediately encounters a stone manor house, because that's what happens on Star Trek: they travel to the farthest reaches of the universe, only to find facets of their own culture. Say what you will about Voyager, at least they tried to make the Delta quadrant look like something other than Earth. Here, the away team has the brains to look unnerved about finding a human dwelling in the middle of Nowhere, Space.


Hey look, you guys! It's the Space Buffalo they offed in "The Man Trap". Isn't it nice to see old friends?


And there's Sulu and Kirk, who appear to have been kidnapped and frozen while doing The Robot.

Why do I hear the Safety Dance when I look at this?

A sort of fruity dude in an awesome pompadour appears and begins playing the harpsichord. He waves his hand and unfreezes our boys, who are baffled as to how they got there. Pompadour Guy apologizes and says he's Squire Trelane of the planet Gothos. Apparently, he's a hobbyist who's been studying Earth, and has set up this house in the 1500's French style.
"If he's looking at earth from this far out, it's like 900 years in the past," DeSalle tells Kirk. 
Wait, was that good science? Holy shit! Good job, Star Trek!


Trelane wants to hear all of their battle stories, but Kirk tells him that they only do peaceful missions. Bullshit, Kirk. Shall I roll film on all of the times you beat the shit out of someone? The fucking Space Buffalo is on display behind you! How the hell did The Shat deliver that line with a straight face? Trelane isn't buying it, either. He sees DeSalle try to pull a phaser on him in the mirror, then freezes him in order to take the gun to examine it. He's immediately taken with it, and proceeds to vaporize several frozen species on display.

We should be less afraid of the phaser, and more afraid of the
fact that this guy likes Rococo art.

Kirk wants to know how all of this shit got here. He takes the phaser, and Trelane explains that he and others have the ability to transfer energy into matter and back, so he made his own 16th century hideout.
"Ugh, let's go," says Kirk.
But Trelane insists that Kirk is being rude, and punishes him by transferring Kirk to a spot outside in the scary atmosphere that Jaeger first reported.


He's transported back a few moments later, hacking up a lung. "Don't fuck with me, or I'll put you back outside again," says Trelane. So he started out as a little kid on Christmas Day, clapping over new exciting toys, but switched pretty quickly into Veruca Salt mode.

Kirk's Log 2125.7: Spock reports that they have no contact with the surface, but have found the little oasis that Trelane made.
Spock tells Scotty to beam up any and all life forms in that little patch. It's fishing in the dark, but they don't have a lot of choice.

This episode we got more Uhura, more Sulu, and more Scotty.
 And no Rand. Let's keep it that way, shall we?

Trelane shows the away team his collection of war flags, which is about as interesting as looking at a book of stamps.
"So I scanned him," Bones tells Kirk, "but he isn't anything."
"The fire is burning, but gives off no heat," says Jaeger.
"He thinks 900 years ago is today," adds Kirk.
Trelane interrupts them to say that they should relax and enjoy his hospitality. Kirk says they have to get back to the ship, but makes the mistake of mentioning that there are women on board the E. The squire gets excited.
"Chicks? Yay! I want to see your chicks!"
See, this is a problem. Because all of the chicks must belong to Kirk all of the time - and how dare you suggest that there might be some at some point that don't! Fuck you, Trelane. The Enterprise is Kirk's private harem.
"I got beam sign!" says Bones.
"Ha!" says Kirk. "This party is over, thanks to Mr Spock!"

I've been singing this for weeks.

The away team beams up, leaving Trelane, who has no life signature.
"Let's GTFO," says Kirk on the bridge, as a random yeoman fawns over him.
Nope, sorry. Trelane shows up on the bridge in a cape. "Who was the rude guy that took my toys?" he demands. When Spock admits that it was him, Trelane notes his alien appearance.
"I'm half-Vulcan," comes the reply.
"And are Vulcans predatory?" asks Trelane.
"Not really," says Spock, "but exceptions can be made," which translates roughly into "Fuck with me, and I'll take you down as though you cock-blocked me during Pon Farr."


Trelane waves his hand, and the bridge crew appears in his drawing room... which subsequently leaves nobody running the ship. The squire encourages them to sit and eat.
"I don't like you," says Spock. "I think you're a dick."
Trelane is thrilled. "You're ill-mannered! I like that." Then he demands to be introduced to the women.
He calls Uhura "a Nubian prize" and says "she has the eyes of the Queen of Sheba". We finally found somebody who acknowledges that Uhura is the hottest chick on the ship! Huzzah! And it only took 18 episodes! Unfortunately, he then ruins it by asking Kirk if he won her in a conquest.
"Dude, fuck you," says Kirk's look.
Trelane decides that he wants to dance with the white yeoman Teresa Ross, because this is 1967, and while he's allowed to admit that Uhura is hot, he's not allowed to touch her. They cover this up by having Uhura play the harpsichord, because she's a musician. But she's never encountered this instrument, so they cover that by having Trelane give her that power. Yeah... nice try, Star Trek. Being able to change matter into energy does not translate into giving someone the magical ability to play the harpsichord. Trelane doesn't care for Ross' ass-bearing uniform, so he magicks her into an empire-waisted dress that's actually pretty cute.

These costumes are great. Why do so many of the
futuristic ones look so awful?

"This food sucks," Bones tells Kirk. "It doesn't taste like anything."
"Makes sense," says Spock. "Everything looks right, but is kind of off."
Nobody seems to have put together the fact that this place is kind of a life-sized dollhouse. Seems pretty evident to me.
"I think he's getting help from a machine," Kirk guesses. "He likes that big-ass mirror." The captain forms a plan, then says loudly, "This guy is a jackass."
Kirk yanks Ross away from Trelane and tells her that he doesn't like her dancing with the squire. Trelane is excited. He says that all human males are jealous, and that they "fight for the attention, the admiration, the possession of women." So I know he's talking about humans in general, but he kind of just described Kirk to a T.
Kirk grabs one of Ross' opera gloves and slaps Trelane with it, demanding a duel. I swear to God Trelane wets himself like an over-excited puppy. He practically skips to the mantle to get a matched set of old-school pistols. Then he announces that he never misses. Dramatic music! 


Kirk's Log 2126.1: Kirk is going to duel Trelane. Just in case you were in the bathroom, and missed the last 10 minutes.

"I get to shoot first!" says Trelane. When Kirk objects, he shouts "My game, my rules!" I'm surprised he didn't stamp his foot on the floor. Instead, he aims the pistol at Spock, until Kirk acquiesces. When he takes his shot, he shoots the ceiling. Kirk shoots the mirror, which sparks and smokes. The lights flicker, the fire goes out, and the whole thing is cheapened by the sound effects of the malfunctioning mirror computer, which includes slide whistles and "boing" sounds.


Trelane yells at them to get off his planet, and that he intends to destroy them, then he walks into the busted mirror and disappears. The away team beams back to the E.
Upstairs, the ship gets the hell out of Dodge, preparing to go to warp, but what's that up ahead? Gothos, the planet they just sped away from. They attempt to fly around it, but it keeps moving into their path, so that they end up playing evasive maneuvers with a planet.
Instead of hailing Trelane, which would be smart, Kirk elects to beam back down. 
And oh, look! Trelane has decided to put Kirk on trial, assigning himself as judge! What fun!


Trelane accuses him of treason against a more-intelligent being and sentences him to die by hanging.
"Fine, just let my ship go," says Kirk.
They trade barbs and we go to commercial again.

Captain's Log 2126.3: Spock reporting again. Kirk told him to take the ship and go if the captain didn't report back within the hour. Time's almost up.

Downstairs, Trelane is giddy that he got so wound up and furious with Kirk. He's really excited about getting the full experience here.
"Hanging is lame," Kirk objects. "It's over quickly, and there's no sport in it. We could go outside and hunt each other for a more lasting death experience."
Trelane practically claps at this idea. The rules are that they get to try to kill each other, but the Enterprise goes free.
Outside, Kirk attempts to call the ship while Trelane tries to run him through with a sword. This guy has no form. He should talk to Sulu. Kirk gets a hold of the sword, and slashes at Trelane, but dude disappears and reappears around the slashing motion. They re-used that boing sound effect again. Seriously, get rid of that. Nothing says "low-budget" like the sound boing.

I get the feeling that Trelane plays a lot of Fruit Ninja.

"You scored first!" says Trelane excitedly.
They run around the "outdoor" set some more, and eventually, Trelane corners Kirk by building a cage around him.
"I win!" he says, and Kirk snaps his sword in half. Then "You broke my sword!"
A woman's voice calls Trelane's name, and they both look over to see a pair of floaty blue blobs.


"Time to come in," says one, with a male voice.
"No way," says Trelane. "I was winning! You said I could make a planet, and play. I never get to have any fun!"
"That's not true," say the blobs. "One day you'll grow up. Until then, you need to take better care of your pets."
Trelane protests heavily, but fades away.
"Sorry, captain," say the blobs. "Our kid is kind of spoiled, and we'll punish him for trying to kill you."
"Hey, thanks," says Kirk, and he beams up.

Later, he and Spock attempt to categorize Trelane for their reports.
"How about naughty little boy?" laughs Kirk, who seems awfully cheerful for someone who has just found out that he's spent the day playing Buzz Lightyear to Trelane's Sid.
He then suggests that Spock got up to the same kinds of shenanigans as a little kid. As examples, he offers "dipping little girls' curls in inkwells, stealing apples from the neighbors' trees, and tying cans to stuff". I know he's teasing, but did Kirk just compare 24th-century Spock to Huck Finn?

"Just stop talking, please."

*******

So I really like this episode. It kind of follows the same premise as last week's "Shore Leave" in that it features an unusual beginning, a sense of danger, and an ending where the characters find out that the danger was minimal or non-existent. But unlike last week, this episode does a better job. There's plot here rather than a series of experiences linked together, and I do think that there were times when Trelane could have seriously hurt one of them (or worse), so there was some element of danger after all. What's more, "Shore Leave" lacks an antagonist, whereas "Squire" provides a surprising one. I'm not sure who first came up with the premise of "the villain is actually a little kid", but it works. You walk away laughing, because the adults were genuinely afraid at times. They have reason to be, as kids are frequently fearless and take their games very seriously. Though he's kind of a jerk, Trelane turns out to be a very likeable character after all. You almost kind of want him to win, because he so enchanted by everything around him.


Unfortunately, Trelane's parents force me to categorize this adventure under "humans are dumb". It seems that there are only two kinds of aliens in the Star Trek universe - those that are at the same level as humans, and have matching egos, so that both parties think they're the shit for inventing space travel; and then there are the more-intelligent variety that ultimately end up stating that humans are stupid, violent, and have zero reason to have inflated egos. These are usually the kind of alien that Spock sanctimoniously agrees with. While Trelane was clearly not more intelligent than the Enterprise crew, he did have access to more advanced technology, and then his parents nailed the coffin closed on the matter when telling Trelane that he didn't care good care of his "pets". Kirk then becomes the ant on the sidewalk, and the squire the kid with the magnifying glass.

This episode lends itself heavily to the Futurama season 4 episode "Where No Fan has Gone Before", which features a floating blob which orders the cast of TOS around on a desert planet. It's worth checking out if you haven't already.



*******

Today's tea is out of the Adagio Juicy Slices sampler pack, and it's the Earl Grey tea. I... want to like Earl Grey so much, I really do. Each time I see Earl Grey I think "This time. This will be the time that I try it and like it." And it never is. (Sadly, I have that problem with Steinbeck as well. But no Steinbeck novel is ever the one that I don't hate.) I mean, I appreciate that the bergamot orange oil gives it a distinct tang, but it always ends up finishing like a watermelon Jolly Rancher, and never in a way that I would enjoy. I'm sorry, Jean-Luc. This is not my cup of tea.

However, if it's yours:





And the Juicy Slices Sampler Pack, which appears to be in stock again:


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