Star Trek has wormed it’s way into my shadowy ‘60s sci-fi loving heart, and I have quickly become willing to look over it’s flaws. I understand that certain ideas like god-like beings having to show up to create a threat that a highly advanced space-ship would have to struggle to deal with. It’s there because it mostly works. The Enterprise just kind of warps it’s way out of all it’s problems, fires off some phasers, or finds out that the big alien puppet is just a shitty Howard brother. Gods are a little harder to deal with. They can do whatever they want, and they can cause plenty of trouble.
That’s really the idea “The Squire of Gothos” latches onto. They need a troublesome super powerful deity, and the writers come up with a good one in retired General Trelane. The Enterprise comes across a space desert, and as soon as something weird comes up on Sulu’s scanners, the good navigator and Kirk are whisked away to a deadly planet, and the rest of the crew have to figure out what happens.
It’s pretty nice that we don’t follow Kirk and Sulu, and Spock has a couple of pretty great moments, mainly when he receives the message from Trelane and when Scotty wants to go to the planet and the half-Vulcan tells him that he is more useful on the ship. Because once again, nothing that Spock says in “The Galileo Seven” doesn’t make sense and he’s usually right and the series just kinda fucks him over all the time and hudda da hudda da hudda…
So, some of the crew beams down to the planet to find an earth like pocket with a castle filled with ancient earth artifacts and the salt-vampire from “The Man Trap.” So he’s got some different stuff for whatever you need to see. They find a super wobbly frozen Kirk and Sulu and the dandy fop, General Trelane, who plays the playful, supremely in control god. He’s there to talk about the glory of combat, the power of government, and personal honor. Kirk knows that this is against what the Federation represents, and it’s pretty clear that Trelane is a threat.
There’s some good, but pretty standard stuff where Kirk and the rest of the crew get away and end up underestimating Trelane’s powers and getting drug back to Gothos, and getting away and then Kirk getting into his “The Most Dangerous Game” style battle with Trelane at the end. It’s a solid plot, and let’s face it, I don’t want to recap it.
There are fun moments that don’t make a ton of sense later. When Kirk blows up the mirror, Trelane loses some power, but manages to still move planets and beam aboard star ships. Because he can’t make fire hot, but moving fucking planets and transporting and making fences and swords and nooses is super fucking easy and hudda da hudda da…
That’s ok, I still really like “The Squire of Gothos.” William Campbell is great doing the perfect mix of annoying and unbelievably powerful and dangerous, but we’ve seen that before in “Charlie X” but it’s better here.
So yeah, it’s a better “Charlie X,” right down to the ending, but I still like it. I understand where it would be easy to rip on the show for doing so many godlike beings (yes, “Shore Leave” had that god-like guy who’s power is explained by saying “you’re not ready to know,”) but it’s important that the Enterprise still have it’s Kryptonite in deity form.
Sulu is here and he kinda sorta does stuff.
“I object to you. I object to intellect without discipline. I object to power without constructive purpose.”
I didn’t mention the trial, but there’s some neat stuff. The shadow noose is pretty Twilight Zone-esque, but it’s good until Trelane really come unhinged. He worked better when he’s more in control.
Next Up: “Arena” which I heard is fucking awesome.