6/11/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "And the Children Shall Lead"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S03E04
Air Date: October 11, 1968
Written by: Edward J. Lasko
Directed by: Marvin Chomsky

Premise
A group of annoying kids uses their creepy uncle's powers to steal the Enterprise. Nurse Chapel serves ice cream.

Review
The Enterprise goes to answer a distress call from a Federation outpost at Triacus. But when they get there, they find bodies scattered around on the ground, all dead. But perhaps the most unusual part of all of this, the children of the people who had died come out and play as though nothing had happened. Their parents are laying dead on the ground and they're playing ring-around-the-rosey with Captain Kirk. The frak is wrong with these children?

Well, the crew does what any good crew would do. They hold a memorial service and then bring the children back on board to bring them home. But first, Kirk wants to explore the planet to get a good idea of what exactly happened to the adults. When he studies the cave, he gets a feeling of anxiety and tries to act his way out of it. There's a heck of a lot of strange activity down there, so he goes back up to the ship and sends down a team to collect more data while he and Spock works on it from above.
Meanwhile, Nurse Chapel serves up big bowls of ice cream.
The children are getting along great. Which is kind of weird since their parents are dead. They speak to Nurse Chapel and Captain Kirk as if they're just normal kids on a field trip. But when they're left alone they do a sort of satanic chant to call on their "friendly angel". This angel appears in the form of a fat man named Gorgan who tells them what to do. Gorgan congratulates them on getting rid of their parents and says they must now take the Enterprise to travel to Marcos XII. So, with Gorgan's help, the children go around the Enterprise and convince everyone to go to Marcos XII through use of illusion. They trick Sulu and Chekov into seeing Triacus on the viewer even though they left orbit and they trick the engineers into giving them warp speed.

This turns out to be disastrous when Kirk thinks he's sending a team full of redshirts down to the planet and finds that he's only transported them out into open space. Kirk and Spock rush to the bridge just as the children summon Gorgan once more. And Gorgan is dismayed to discover that their operation has been discovered. But Spock and Kirk can't do anything about it. Gorgan takes over Spock's mind briefly and he convinces Kirk that he's losing command of his ship, unleashing his greatest fear.
I... uh... well...
Spock eventually gets over it, 'cause he's a Vulcan, and he talks Kirk down out of his fears. The two of them try to take control of the auxiliary control room, but Scotty's under the kid's influence now and he kicks them out. And then Chekov shows up and says he has orders from Starfleet to bring Kirk under arrest. Because if Starfleet would order anyone to bring Kirk under arrest it would be Chekov... When Kirk protests, Chekov threatens to shoot him, but Kirk and Spock eventually beat him and his security team in hand-to-hand combat. Or... hand-to-neck in Spock's case.

Then they come up with the ingenious plan to bring Gorgan back by replaying a recording of the children's chant. Once he's there, they play the footage of the parents to the children and force them to understand that their parents are dead. Once the children start understanding, Gorgans control over them diminishes and he starts to melt away and fade from existence. The children realize what they have done and start crying. And Bones is right on hand to say "good job!"
Leonard "Bones" McCoy: Expert Child Psychologist
With Gorgan defeated, Kirk orders Sulu to set a course to Starbase 4 where they can find some proper homes for the newly orphaned children. And they all lived happily ever after and learned a valuable lesson about stranger danger.

Overall Thoughts
It takes a special kind of evil being to use children to take over the world. I have no complaints about this episode, but I don't have any special love for it, either. All I can say is that at least whoever wrote this one wrote the children better than in "Miri".