Star Trek: The Original Series episode 17 review

The Squire of Gothos gets the high definition treatment...

Episode: 17Title: The Squire Of GothosStar Date: 2124.5Writer: Paul SchneiderFirst Shown: 12th January 1967

Although the idea of encountering a delinquent super-being had already been covered in Charlie-X, The Squire Of Gothos reworks the concept in a slightly different way, when the Enterprise comes across a planet that isn’t on the charts. Kirk and Sulu disappear from the bridge, and the crew then investigate communications from the planet below to find out what became of them.

They’re now guests of The Squire of Gothos, and soon it’s obvious that the entire ship’s compliment could be unwilling entertainment for the decidedly odd but incredibly powerful Squire Trelane. How peculiar Trelane is makes this story entertaining, and that’s entirely down to the work of William Campbell in realising his unique, if grandiose, personality.

William Campbell had a longterm relationship with the show, and would reappear later in The Trouble With Tribbbles as the Klingon Koloth, a role he’d repeat years later in Deep Space 9.

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In this we’re presented with the notion that Trelane has observed a 900 light year distant Earth and assumes that they still play harpsichords and pass the port to the right. Actually, at this point Roddenberry hadn’t actually decided when in the future Star Trek was, and this timescale would put in the 27th century.

There’s an obvious clash of cultural expectation, which comes to a head when Kirk and Trelane end up in a pistol duel. Trelane insists on shooting first, but fires in the air wanting to appear gentlemanly. Kirk’s spotted that his matter manipulation powers seems to come from a machine hidden behind a mirror, and shoots that instead to make good their escape.

Their success in this respect is short lived, as wherever the ship goes, the planet of Gothos is right in their path. In the remastered version the effects of them trying to avoid the planet have been recreated, and are much more dramatic and exciting.

Eventually, knowing they can’t escape, Kirk agrees to let Trelane hunt him, if he’ll let the ship go. But he has no intention of doing that, and eventually he corners Kirk.

One of the clever aspects of this story, compared with, say, other super-being encounters, is that Trelane starts off affable, and you really wonder if Kirk is overreacting. But eventually he gets more demanding and you then realise he could be dangerous, although he never kills any of the crew and his intentions aren’t any more than to play.

In the end, we get an almost identical ending as Charlie-X, when the parents of Trelane arrive represented by glowing green blobs, and it’s revealed that he’s a difficult child that doesn’t like being told how to play nicely. The parents apologise for him and the Enterprise goes about its business.

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Much of this might seem familiar to those who watched Next Generation, as being archetypal behaviour of the Q continuum. And the novel Q-Squared by Peter David, supports that assertion when the character reappears as one of their number. There’s even a court scene where Trelane condemns Kirk, which is very similar to the one in the very first episode of Next Generation.

The creative team here was writer Paul Schneider, who’d previous created Balance Of Terror and TV directing veteran, Don McDougall. This was Don’s only original series episode, though he was a regular guest director on American TV shows from the early Fifties to the Dukes Of Hazard in the late Seventies.

Next up is the very first story written by the producer of no less than 38 of the original series episodes and the creator of the Klingon Empire, Gene L. Coon. We’re off to the Arena.