It’s all gone Shakespearean this week as Kirk is at the theatre watching a performance of Macbeth with his old friend Leighton who is convinced that the actor onstage is a criminal known as Kodos the Executioner. Leighton summoned the Enterprise under false pretences as he wants Kirk to help him deal with Kodos, who as an actor is going under the name Anton Karidian. At least that is according to Leighton who has his own personal reasons for wanting vengeance: Kodos destroyed half of his face. So he’s understandably a bit peeved but Kirk, who also knew Kodos, is having none of it, insisting that the man is dead.
However, there is clearly a nagging doubt because on returning to the Enterprise Kirk investigates Kodos and Karidian. Kodos was the governor of a colony called Tarsus IV (Star Trek loves the number IV – last week it was Talos IV). When food supplies ran out Kodos slaughtered 4000 people, and there are now only three people alive who could identify him, one of these being Kirk. Karidian on the other hand cannot be traced via records prior to Kodos’s ‘death’.
Later, Leighton holds a party for the acting company at his house, to which Kirk is invited. Leighton seems to be a Star Trek fan as he has a ‘lounge’ version of the theme tune playing at his party. No sign of any cosplay thought, apart from one guy dressed as Kirk…oh no wait, that’s actually William Shatner. Kirk has gone along to investigate Karidian and soon gets to work chatting up his daughter, Lenore. Luckily Lenore is pretty and she and Kirk are holding hands, smouldering and flirting literally within minutes of meeting. This is how things are in the sixties, people practically declare undying love for one another after a handshake.
So Kirk and Lenore head outside for a breath of fresh air, and it’s a standard Star Trek studio planet: coloured lighting, jabolite rocks, abandoned corpse… Wait a minute: it’s Leighton! And then there were two…
Back on the Enterprise Kirk has a lovely surprise for everyone. The ship has become a tour bus as he’s offered the actors a lift to their next gig. Lenore has promised Kirk a favour in return: the actors will put on a free performance for the crew. What did you think I was going to say? It gets a bit awkward for the crew on the bridge as there’s more hand holding and flirting between Kirk and his new girlfriend.. I must say this all seems rather unprofessional. You can see how thrilled everyone is. I particularly love the disgusted look Yeoman Rand throws Lenore as they pass by the lift! Hilarious! Odd seeing Rand as little more than an extra in this scene though as we don’t get to see her again.
Kirk does a bit more digging and discovers the identities of the those who could identify Kodos. Apart from Kirk and Leighton, there’s a chap called Riley who works in communications onboard the Enterprise. I’m now aware that Riley has made an appearance in Star Trek before (back in The Naked Time) but I’m afraid my memory for faces or names isn’t good enough to recall a single appearance in one episode ten weeks ago, so for me he might as well be a new character.
Lenore gets a guided tour of the Enterprise which culminates in a positive explosion of flirty innuendo: “All this power surging and throbbing, yet under control…are you like that captain?” Oi! It’s 8pm and it’s American tv! There’ll be no surging and throbbing round here thank you very much… Blimey. There’s the obligatory sixties ‘sexy woman music’ and the inevitable snog.
Meanwhile Spock is a little grumpy this week and doesn’t like the way the captain is behaving. A bit rich coming from him (see last week’s The Menagerie). He does background checks on those who knew Kodos, including Kirk.
In the recreation room Uhura’s got her harp out again. Like the classic musicals her singing sounds rather obviously dubbed and professionally produced. Riley is there and doesn’t look overly impressed. I can’t tell if he’s having trouble staying awake or whether he just really hates the song. Then suddenly all the singing and harp playing becomes too much for him so he attempts to end it all by knocking back a glass of poisoned milk or coffee or something so it will all go away.
There’s a scene between Spock, Kirk and McCoy which reiterates the differences between them. Spock appears to take charge here, implying that the captain is acting unprofessionally. It’s logic versus instinct with Kirk claiming to “feel” his way whilst Spock acts under logic. Bones takes Spock’s side here once again (like the other week where he refused to accept the Vulcan could turn traitor).
It seems that Riley was poisoned deliberately after all, so Uhura’s off the hook. He knows too much about Kodos, and so does the captain. Suddenly they hear a sound they recognise: a phaser set to overload. It’s clearly an attempt on Kirk’s life. Luckily the phaser takes ages and ages to overload so Kirk is able to jettison it through a handy slot in the wall where they chuck their rubbish into space where no one can see it.
Angry Kirk confronts Karidian and wants answers. He demands a computer analysed voice test. Lenore arrives and objects to all this, once again comparing Kirk to his ship, but this time unfavourably – no longer impressed by surging and throbbing, she feels quite rightly that she’s been used. Well it’s an old story isn’t it? Throw yourself at a man you’ve known for about a minute and then complain that he was only after one thing and you misjudged his character.
Later the crew all get to watch Hamlet, some of them at the ships theatre and the rest on flat 16:9 LCD televisions which most people here in 1966 think look very futuristic.
A more or less recovered Riley has overheard all the scandal about Kodos / Karidian and goes after him armed with a stolen phaser.
Then it all becomes full on Shakespearean – Lenore admits to being the killer; Riley attempts to shoot her; Karidian jumps in front of the phaser and is killed; Lenore goes completely loopy and quotes Hamlet over her father’s body. The overly sentimental music here reminds me of old movies from the forties and fifties. And it looked as though Karidian assumed the being phasered to death pose just a second too early (or they overlaid the visual effect a second too late)!
Well that was an unusual episode, unlike any so far anyway. A very personal tale for Kirk with the whole ship being unwittingly dragged into the proceedings once again, as a result of one man’s vendetta. Along with all the Hamlet there’s the theme of war criminals with new identities being hunted down for their crimes. We’re only 21 years after the end of WWII here so this sort of thing would be relatively fresh in memory.
I can’t say I particularly enjoyed the episode this week, and it’s not the most Star Trekky of stories but full marks for doing something different without bug eyed monsters and space battles.