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Star Trek: The Original Series Episode 16 - The Squire of Gothos

Original Airdate: January 5, 1967
The crew encounters a rogue planet, and surveys it via ships’ instruments. Its temperature is too hot to sustain human life, and it has no breathable atmosphere. Captain Kirk and Sulu suddenly disappear, and the planet's surface is the only likely place they could be. The ship then receives a message on a viewscreen that says, in old-fashioned script, “greetings and felicitations!” It then seems obvious that there is some form of intelligence on the planet, and a landing party is sent down with oxygen supplies.

When they beam down, they are in an Earth-like environment, regardless of the ships’ readings. They find what appears to be a castle and step inside, where they find an immobile Kirk & Sulu, and a very mobile (and very sassy) man dressed in 18th century clothes, playing a harpsichord. He unfreezes Kirk and Sulu and welcomes everyone to his home.

He introduces himself as retired general Trelane, but he would prefer to be called “squire.” He says that he’s been watching Earth and thinks he fits in to the current time, but doesn’t realize that what he’s been watching has taken hundreds of years to reach him. He also doesn’t realize that the very detailed 18th century world he’s created is correct only insofar as the visual details; the fire in the fireplace gives off no heat, etc.

Trelane makes a big, embarrassing deal out of the various heritages of the crew, and the “honorable sir” and deep bow he gives Sulu prompts a snide “who’s he kidding?” from him. But Jaeger gets worse; a little German military song and dance. Wow, embarrassing. The crew looks appropriately unimpressed.

Trelane is easily offended, and shows the officers how he deals with his offense; by teleporting them outside the atmosphere bubble around the castle. He teleports them back in before any damage is done, telling them that it was just a warning.

He gets all excited at the mention of women aboard the crew, and insists on teleporting them down, despite Jim’s protests, saying how very beautiful they must be, and “I shall be so very gallant towards them!” Just then, before Jim can get good and angry, risking asphyxiation, a transporter signal comes in, and the crew is beamed back up. Trelane is indignant.

When they beam up, Jim asks Spock how they got coordinates through those readings; he says he didn’t, that they merely beamed up all life forms within a given area. As Trelane didn’t come up with them, he must not be a life form as they know it.

A few minutes later, on the bridge, Trelane suddenly appears, saying he’s not so much angry at Jim as he is at Spock for taking them away, and he seems a little dismayed when he realizes Spock’s not human.

He whisks them all back down to the surface, and irritates all of them by giving Sulu another “honorable sir” (which almost gets DeSalle defenestrated) (okay, so, teleported. I thought defenestrated sounded better with his name) and calling Uhura a Nubian that Kirk no doubt took on one of his raids. He refers to Yeoman Ross as Helen of Troy.

It goes without saying that no one is happy with him.

Trelane bids Uhura play the harpsichord, and when she tells him she doesn’t know how, he waves his hand and she suddenly does. I have no idea how he pulled that off … it doesn’t fit with the parameters they establish for his powers. Anyway, he dances with Ross, while Jim, Spock and Bones discuss those parameters. The food and drink Trelane has served them is tasteless. (Not tasteless like leopard-skin leggings with a hot-pink bra, but tasteless as in cardboard.) They decide that he must surely be creating all this with the help of some machine … and Jim thinks he knows where it is and how to destroy it.

He insults Trelane, and really does it up right by slapping him across the face with one of the long opera gloves Yeoman Ross was costumed in. Trelane excitedly pulls out matching pistols so they can duel. Trelane demands first shot, and then makes a big deal of firing into the air. Jim fires at the large mirror in the room instead of Trelane. It shatters, and a machine behind it sparks, destroyed. The subspace interference fades, and they beam up quickly.

Before they can warp out, they see the planet Gothos constantly coming up directly before them, no matter the course changes they make. In disgust, Jim beams back down to deal with Trelane once and for all. Trelane puts him on trial, with himself as an old-fashioned British judge. He’s truly angry for a moment and wants to hang Jim. He can’t sustain the moment though, and Jim really works his psychology on Trelane, manipulating him into a game of cat and mouse, with himself as the mouse. He proposes the stakes: free the ship, and in return he’ll give him a game to remember. A Most Dangerous Game.

Trelane frees the ship, and Jim does a decent job for a while of keeping himself alive against someone who pops in and out of existence and doesn’t play by the rules. He traps Jim, cheating, and says that this was so fun, he’ll call everyone back down from the ship to play with them too. Jim gives him a good “I may be beaten but I’m not defeated” speech and then two beings of light appear.

They lecture Trelane about not taking care of his pets and he whines and throws a little tantrum. They vanish their son, sending him to his room, no doubt, and apologize to Jim and allow him to get back to his ship safely.

Later, on the ship, Spock asks exactly how to categorize Trelane for the official reports. Spock takes issue with his first answer – “God of war” but doesn’t argue with the second; “A small boy. And a naughty one at that.” Jim compares Trelane’s antics to the mischeivious pranks Spock no doubt pulled as a boy, “dipping little girls’ curls in inkwells, stealing apples from the neighbors’ trees, tying cans –“ he cuts off midsentence at Spock’s “WTF are you on” look and smiles, asking forgiveness. Spock grants it and heads back to his station.


Notable Moments

When Spock tells Trelane that he objects to him because he objects to intellect without discipline, and to power without constructive purpose, well, you know how every once in a while, your best friend will bust out with something that you didn’t see coming, was truly awesome, and makes you proud to be their friend all over again? Jim smiles that exact smile.

Best Line of the Episode

Trelane, speaking of the planet Vulcan: “and are its natives predatory?”

Spock: “Not generally. But there have been exceptions.” (Probably just talking about sehlats, but you just never know.)

What Is It With You?

When Yeoman Ross asks Jim on the bridge if she can take a moment to change back into uniform from the getup Trelane put her in, Jim sweetly tells her “hang up your glass slippers, Cinderella.” She smiles and turns to go and he watches her walk away. Intently.

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Comments (1)

Spammer Compliments:

Good write up.