Monday, July 8, 2013

The Squire of Gothos: TOS Season 1 Episode 17

Before I get to this episode, a caveat, I didn't watch it under ideal conditions by any means. I was interrupted multiple times and wound up watching it over a few days. I won't be surprised I will have missed some interesting things.

Plot Synopsis

The Enterprise stumbles past a rogue planet (not orbiting a star) that is not in their records. Spock mentions that this is an extremely unlikely occurrence and suggests that something strange must be going on. They were going to make a note of the planet so starfleet could send a science team out at a later date, but then Kirk and Sulu disappeared off of the bridge. Now Spock is in charge and the next order of business is to check out the planet and get their crewmen back.

The planet has an atmosphere that is not ideal for humans, so they beam down with some breathers. But when they get to the surface it turns out the atmosphere is perfect for them. Peculiar indeed. They come in to an old style room and see Kirk and Sulu and a guy named Trelane. Trelane is a very powerful being, but he keeps making strange mistakes. He's apparently been observing earth, but doesn't realize that since he is hundreds of light-years away from earth, his information about us is quite old. He also had a fire with no heat and food/drink with no taste.

At some point the realize that there is a mirror in the room that seems to be a source of his power, they trick him and break the mirror and he is temporarily stripped of some of his power. In this time they are able to communicate with the Enterprise, beam away and run. Of course this isn't the end of the story, Trelane catches up to them and Kirk is brought back down to the planet to a trial. Trelane wants to give Kirk the death penalty because he's so angry, but then he calms down and realizes that the anger was something novel and interesting. He then complains to Kirk
This is becoming quite tiresome, it's also very easy.
Kirk responds with a great speech
That's your problem, everything is easy. It's giving you a bad habit. You're not aware of it, but you have it. You don't think, Trelane, that's your problem. You miss opportunities, like your anger before, and mine right now. You enjoyed it, but you couldn't have accomplished it without me. You know why? Because you're a bumbling, inept fool. Here you have an opportunity to experience some thing really unique and you waste it. You want to commit murder? Go ahead! But where's the sport in a simple hanging?
Kirk then convinces him to hunt him in the forest and only attack him with a sword. His intention seems to be to try to evade long enough for the Enterprise to get away. Trelane chases him and seems to have having a great time, but eventually gets bored and pops some walls into existence so that Kirk can't get away. When he's about to kill him the most hilarious thing happens.

Trelane's parents show up. It turns out he is just a kid from some other powerful race! They scold him, apologize, and let Kirk get away.

Rogue Planet

One thing I thought was really peculiar is the surprise that Spock exhibited about the planet not being in their data banks. I think they were just trying to lay the groundwork that something was odd, but there's no reason we should know about every planet around stars, let alone in the middle of nowhere without a light source. I suppose if it was in familiar federation space there might be something there, but they are on a mission of exploration right? It seems that they would come across new stuff like this all the time. Hell, last week they stumbled across a quasar, certainly it shouldn't be a surprise to find a random rogue planet.

He's Looking in a Mirror!

There was one scene where a security officer tried to sneak up on Trelane but was caught and frozen by him. The problem was, Trelane was looking in a mirror at the time. This seems like the worst possible time to sneak up on someone. I have no further point here, but it cracked me up.

Spock Objects

There was a line from Spock when he was talking to Trelane that I thought was really good. Trelane felt like Spock was challenging him, and Spock said
I object to intellect without discipline, I object to power without constructive purpose
Again, I don't have a deeper point here, just thought it was a great line.



Enjoyable episode for sure. I like the idea of the super-powerful being and figuring out his flaws and what-not. No real flaws in the episode that I saw with the exception of the planet thing, but that was certainly a very minor point.

The Upcoming Weeks

I will most likely miss a week or two. Several people are going to be visiting and I think it will be somewhat of a madhouse. I will probably not be able to sneak away long enough to write one of these. I will try as I find them a lot of fun to put together, but I might disappear for a bit. See you in a few weeks.


  1. "The Squire of Gothos" is notable, if for nothing else, the performance of guest star William Campbell as Trelane. In the extra materials with my Blu-Ray set, he talks about having been invited to go for the part and the rich opportunity he clearly saw in that role. The dynamic of Trelane goes, as Kirk observes at the end, from God of War to a "small boy ... and a very naughty one, at that," and Campbell delivers it all with appropriate scenery-chewing relish.

    A further note about Trelane: author Peter David theorized that Trelane was the bastard son of your friend and mine, Q, in his Star Trek novel, Q-Squared. Trelane's reliance on "instrumentality" makes me a bit dubious of this speculation, but it was a fun novel to read and adds a bit to the color of the Star Trek universe.

    The only major goof in this episode is the reference to being 900 light-years from Earth and the accompanying miscalculation on Trelane's part of when they come from. Based on the references Trelane makes and the established "fact" that these events take place in the 23rd century, the distance / time factor is something less than half of that.

    But that's small potatoes. This is a great episode, made so in large portion by Campbell's performance and the responses you noted from Shatner and Nimoy, written by Paul Schneider, who also penned "Balance of Terror".

  2. I would tend to agree with you that it doesn't completely make sense that Trelane is related to Q, but it did occur to me while I was watching the episode that this was probably an early version of what Roddenberry wanted Q to be.

  3. The idea of someone with godlike power and childlike cruelty is horrifying. Trelane reminds me of the little boy from the "It's a Good Life" episode of the Twilight Zone ... or of a certain Old Testament deity.

    1. Come to think of it, Trelane is also reminiscent of someone we met earlier in Star Trek's first season: Charlie Evans, in the episode, "Charlie X." As Robert Heinlein once observed, all four - Trelane, the boy, Charlie, and the deity - are super-beings who have "the manners and morals of a spoiled child."