3/6/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Squire of Gothos"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S01E17
Air Date: January 12, 1967
Written by: Paul Schneider
Directed by: Don McDougall

Premise
On a rogue planet in the middle of nowhere, the Enterprise encounters Trelane, the equivalent in Q terms of a toddler playing with toys.

Review
Let me start by saying that nowhere in actual canon does it really say that Trelane is a Q. In the book Q-Squared (Star Trek: The Next Generation) it states that the Q we all know and love was assigned as Trelane's godfather and that in Picard's era he was relatively adolescent. Which means in this episode, in Kirk's era, he would be not much more than a toddler, as far as Q aging goes. I like to accept the idea that Trelane is a Q because he is basically everything that we eventually see Q to be except even more frightfully immature. Powerful enough to make a planet and see 500 lightyears away, yet, for some reason, interested in humans.

When our particular band of humans stumble upon the planet he had created, Sulu and Kirk randomly disappear, so it's up to Spock to send a team down to the planet to find them. The planet is supposed to be all kinds of hostile, but there is a single, tiny bubble of hospitality on the surface. They beam down to it and discover there to be a huge 18th-century castle in the middle of nowhere. Inside they find a menagerie of alien specimens held together in a Victorian setting. Among the specimens there stands Kirk and Sulu completely still as though made of wax. I assume Trelane was going for male/female specimens as representative of the human race. I can understand how he got confused.
Oh, Myyy!
It's not long before they find Trelane and he graciously allows Kirk and Sulu out of captivity. Trelane explains that he's been studying Earth for quite some time now, and Bones suggests that because they're 500 light years away from Earth, Trelane has been studying the Earth of 500 years past, which would explain the castle and the decor. But the most annoying thing, besides Trelane's tone of voice, is that he won't let them go. He insists that they stay so he can study humanity more. He plays around with their phasers, gives Kirk a taste of the planet outside of his "kindly influence" and basically kidnaps them. All while wearing a frightfully cordial smile.
I'll kill you in your sleep!
Well, back on the ship, Spock and Scotty get the transporters working and beam the party back up, much to Trelane's distress. They don't make it a minute out of orbit, however, before Trelane appears on the ship and brings back almost the entire bridge crew. Back on Gothos, there's a feast set up on a grand dining table! And everyone is seated around it. Meanwhile, Trelane throws up a dampening field for the transporter and acquaints himself with some of the female crew. He teaches Uhura to play the harpsichord while he dances with Yeoman Ross and gives Ross a pretty dress. All of this, mind you, instantaneously.

Bones and Spock, however, confront Kirk about the quality of the food they were meant to eat. There was no taste to it at all, and the fire in the fireplace is burning, but with no heat. They deduce that Trelane knows how to make the forms, but no substance. He, therefore, is not omniscient, and must have some sort of device helping him out. Kirk takes a wild bet that the device is behind a grand mirror that Trelane keeps looking into and forms a plan. He fakes being jealous about Yeoman Ross and challenges Trelane to a duel.
Fakes? But... I thought... Oh. :(
During the duel, Kirk shoots at the mirror and destroys Trelane's device. With the dampening field now gone, he commands the Enterprise to beam them up. They immediately try to get away as fast as they can, but Trelane pilots Gothos almost as well as Sulu pilots the Enterprise. The planet stays in front of the ship no matter where it goes. Suddenly, Trelane gives himself away as a Q by putting the captain of the Enterprise on trial. Kirk stands in an 18th century courtroom to face trial by Trelane who is wearing a courtly wig. His charges? Basically not letting Trelane have any fun.

The method of punishment was supposed to be a hanging, but Kirk convinces Trelane that it would be a lot more fun if Trelane would hunt him. Trelane agrees, and suddenly they're back outside of Trelane's castle where Trelane is all set to hunt the most dangerous game... [jai alai?] They play around for a bit with primitive weaponry, but eventually Trelane gets bored and locks Kirk up in a cage. And just when he's about to thrust a sword into Kirk... his parents show up.

Ma and pa Q apologize to Kirk for Trelane's actions and call him a naughty boy before banishing him to his room. They keep Trelane's safe bubble up for just long enough for Kirk to get back onto the Enterprise and then leave. It just goes to show that even the most advanced races start out as children. And that in itself is a scary thought.

Overall Thoughts
It's a classic story of power without responsibility. I've said before that Roddenberry gets into this issue a lot, but this time he takes it to extremes. Extreme power with extreme immaturity. Trelane is a fascinating character, though, and I wish they would have made Q-Squared in movie or series arc form. That would have been fantastic.