One of the most important things to remember when watching many of the more action packed episodes of Star Trek is that the show was really building off of the western format. Star Trek’s opening crawly, Kirk anxiously awaiting the moment when the Federation would explore new and uncharted worlds, is an intergalactic echo of the Manifest Destiny. Yes, there will be diplomacy and peace but sometimes, Spock might have to shoot a guy with an arrow.
“Friday’s Child” is a deeply bizarre episode that only becomes less so when you realize the environment it was crafted in. In The Next Generation, this same idea would have been explored in a more diplomatic way, focusing on the way Picard would deal with the opposing force and reach a peaceable but beneficial solution. This, however, isn’t Picard’s Enterprise and Kirk is always playing a more dangerous game.
The Federation and the Klingons are competing for a mineral rich planet occupied by a tribe of violent locals. McCoy deals with them initially but Kirk and a rapidly slain red shirt set the tribe against Kirk. Its a pretty taut sequence, with the Klingons clearly manipulating the upstart chieftain and diplomacy seeming increasingly like a disappearing option. Where I was waiting for Kirk to have to find proof that the Klingons were up to no good, the whole episode becomes an elaborate western chase, with McCoy taking a pregnant local with them.
There’s really not a whole lot to say about “Friday’s Child” after that. Kirk and Spock defend McCoy and the woman, even though she eventually gives birth and betrays them. It is, however, a notably violent episode. Kirk and Spock are both shooting villagers with arrows and cutting off the requisite passes. The Klingon emissary turns on the tribes and starts wiping people out with phaser blasts. McCoy smacks a woman in the face. Its all really odd and the episode doesn’t even attempt to justify what’s going on or why the characters are behaving the way they are.
“Friday’s Child” is the kind of odd episode where the interesting parts that it presents are surrounded in dull, plodding escape sequences and fights. At this point, its kind of just the kind of episode you put up with while waiting for the really good stuff.
This is probably one of the funnier red shirt deaths as of yet, partially because there’s nothing really to establish why the Klingon is, y’know, a Klingon.
“Look, I’m a doctor, not an escalator.”
I thought about “Krull” a lot during this episode.
Next Up: We’re halfway through the Original Series so we’re taking a break to watch Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Get excited, or just, y’know, find a very comfortable place to sit for a long time.