7/22/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "Requiem for Methusela"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S03E19
Air Date: February 14, 1969
Written by: Jerome Bixby
Directed by: Murray Golden

Premise
In search for a cure for his ailing crew, Kirk comes across Flint who is a lot more than he seems, and his daughter, Rayna.

Review
It's probably just as well that we never see the inside of the ship until the end of this episode. Most of the crew is stricken with Rigelian flu and Bones is on the landing party, so no doubt the walls are covered in vomit. On the planet, Kirk, Bones and Spock search for ryetalyn, a rare mineral that can cure Rigelian flu. But what they find is a hovering robot that comes to attack them. Thankfully, the robot's owner, Flint, comes along just in time to call the robot off. And then demand that the landing party leave.

Kirk thought the planet was uninhabited, so Flint explains that he has a force field in place to make it look like the planet is uninhabited when, in fact, he's there alone and values his privacy. He demands that the party leave, but Kirk orders the Enterprise to lock phasers on their position and fire on his his command unless Flint let them look around for ryetalyn. Flint relents and has his robot look for ryetalyn while he takes the landing party back to his impressive home.
Party at Flint's house!
When they get inside, Spock discovers that Flint has a lot of artwork that would seem to be by the great Earth artists such as Brahms, da Vinci, Gutenberg, and Pollack. The only discrepancy is that they are made from modern material. Otherwise they are rare and completely accurate reconstructions of the original artists' style. During all of this, a woman watches the landing party through a slate-thin TV screen that is probably made by Apple with the logo scraped off. Or maybe Sony. It's not clear. Flint talks to the woman and she expresses a desire to meet them. Flint doesn't like the idea, but he eventually relents.

When M-4, the hovering robot, comes back with the ryetalyn, Kirk is about to leave, but then Flint offers to have M-4 process the mineral which would take a lot less time with his facilities than it would on the ship.  Kirk agrees, but Bones insists that he oversees the process, like a good doctor. Meanwhile, while Bones and M-4 go off together, Flint introduces Spock and Kirk to the woman who had been watching them earlier, Rayna.
In the future, ugliness has been eradicated.
Flint explains that when he said he was alone, he meant it was only him and his family. So, apparently, Rayna is his daughter. Which means for Kirk that she's free game! He instantly falls in love with the hot chick. She's not only hot, but she can discuss the highest scientific concepts with Spock. As time goes on, however, Flint expresses an odd sort of jealousy for her when Kirk is around. And when Bones comes back from processing the ryetalyn, he announces that the batch is no good and they have to try again.

Well, M-4 goes back out and finds some more, and, meanwhile, Rayna and Kirk spend more and more time together. And Flint seems to want them to linger a while more. He requests that Spock play a waltz piece on the piano while Kirk and Rayna dance to it. Spock then notices that the piece was written by Brahms in his own hand. He then deduces that Flint's behavior may mean that Flint is purposely keeping them there for some unknown reason. And if he's doing that, he may be hiding the correctly processed ryetalyn.
"Why is there no handle up here?"
Their investigation leads them into a secret room where they find the ryetalyn, but they find something more: several different copies of Rayna. Scanning them, Bones finds that they are, in fact, all androids. And that the Rayna they know must be, too. Flint finds them in the room and, his secret revealed, decides to keep on revealing secrets. He is, in fact, immortal. He has been known by many names: Methusela, Lazerus, Brahms, da Vinci, Gutenberg, Pollack... He discovered that he could die when he fell on a sword and immediately regenerated. To compensate, he would regularly fake his own death and find a new life somewhere else.

The downside to this: utter loneliness. He had fallen in love many times, but each time the woman would grow old and die, and he would not. So he spent the last few decades or so working on Rayna. The final puzzle piece to put into place was her emotions and that's why he encouraged her to hang out with Kirk. Now her emotions started working... but she loves Kirk instead of Flint. So he has to fight him for her. They rumble about a bit, but then Rayna puts a stop to it by expressing love for both of them and dying from emotion chip overload.
And then she made this face and everyone burst out laughing.
Back on the ship, Bones cures everyone of Rigelian flu and Spock goes to speak with Kirk about what happened. After mumbling about it for a while, Kirk finally falls asleep at his desk. And then Bones enters with his report, but Spock is the only one there who's awake. So he tells Spock that Flint's immortality was sustained by Earth's complex fields and that he was no longer immortal. He should live a normal human lifespan and die of old age (if nothing else) in a few years. Bones then goes on to explain to Spock that he could never understand the depth of hurt that Kirk has been caused by falling in love and then watching that love die. Nevermind that she was a robot, Kirk is hurting. When Bones leaves, Spock melds with Kirk saying "forget."

Overall Thoughts
I love this episode if for no other reason than because Flint is such an interesting character. I really wish there was more in canon about him. A recluse that has lived since the beginning of recorded history and was the first human to make a working android about which no one would ever know. The depth of lore that could go into this would be fascinating. But it is enough that we have him in this episode and focus in on his quest for love.