Saturday, March 9, 2013

Star Trek: The Conscience of the King

It's The Conscience of the King, the only Trek episode with the word "Science" in it!

When a troupe of Shakespearean actors is stranded on Planet Q, the captain of the Enterprise is only too happy to help by giving them a lift to their next destination, Benecia Colony, in exchange for a performance for the crew. There is, of course, no bigger fan of Shakespeare than the captain of the Enterprise, Jean-Luc Picard James T. Kirk.
The real heart of the story is whether or not the troupe's lead, Anton Kiridian, is really the former governor of Tarsus IV-Kodos "the Executioner". As Spock explains:
According to our library banks, it started on the Earth colony of Tarsus Four, when the food supply was attacked by an exotic fungus and largely destroyed. There were over eight thousand colonists and virtually no food. And that was when Governor Kodos seized full power and declared emergency martial law....Kodos began to separate the colonists. Some would live, he rationed whatever food was left. The remainder would be immediately put to death. Apparently he had his own theories of eugenics.... to decide arbitrarily who would survive and who would not, using his own personal standards, and then to implement his decision without mercy. Children watching their parents die. Whole families destroyed. Over four thousand people. They died quickly, without pain, but they died. Relief arrived, but too late to prevent the executions. And Kodos? There never was a positive identification of his body.
Although he was governor of a colony of 8,000 people--half of which were killed--there were strangely only nine eyewitnesses who could identify Kodos. One by one, they have all been dying off and the Kiridian Company of Players was nearby every time one of them was killed.

Kirk's friend Tom Leighton suspects that Kiridian is really Kodos. Under false pretenses calls the Enterprise to Planet Q for Kirk to see Kiridian and then arranges a cocktail party for the troupe. Kirk, not one to miss a party, delays the departure of the Enterprise to attend.
Kirk is so awesome, the music playing at the party is the theme to Star Trek.
Yet Kiridian does not show up to the party and neither does Tom as he has been murdered. One person who does attend is Kiridian's daughter, Lenore.

Lenore and Kirk hit it off and soon the Enterprise is transporting the troupe on to their next destination. This gives Kirk more time to get to know Lenore and to see if Kiridian is really Kodos.
Lenore "Creepy Eyes" Kiridian gets possibly more costume changes than any other Trek guest star.
Lenore certainly seems to like the captain:
"And this ship. All this power, surging and throbbing, yet under control. Are you like that, Captain?"
Do you think she is interested?
Are Kodos (left) and Kiridian (right) the same person? Kirk must be absolutely certain.
Now that Tom Leighton is dead there are only two eyewitnesses who can identify Kodos - Kirk and Lt. Kevin Riley.

To protect Riley, who must have been something like four years old when this is all happened, Kirk has him transferred down to Engineering. Wasn't he a bridge officer sitting at the helm the last time we saw him? So putting him in all alone on some night shift in Engineering makes him safer?
Naturally a murder attempt (poison in his milk) is made, but thanks to McCoy he pulls through.
A murder attempt is also made on Kirk with a phaser on overload.
While McCoy does save Riley, he comes across as something of a goofball in this episode. First there is the scene where Spock is concerned about the Captain's behavior and how he had Riley transferred. All McCoy wants to do is have a drink.
Then there is his medical dictation:
"Medical log. Lieutenant Riley's sufficiently recovered to be discharged, but the Captain's ordered him restricted to Sickbay to prevent contact with the passenger who calls himself Karidian and who's suspected of being Kodos the Executioner and of murdering the Lieutenant's family."
Hearing bad news from your doctor is one thing, over hearing it from your doctor's dictation is something else. Of course, Riley wasn't even under guard even though a murder attempt had been made against him and the Captain.

In the end we learn that Kiridian is indeed Kodos, but it isn't he who has been killing the eyewitnesses. It was Lenore.
She has a creepy, over-the-top meltdown and accidentally phasers her father, pretty much ending the performance for the crew.

The episode is pretty good until Lenore goes crazy. Arnold Moss, who in real life was a Shakespearean actor, did a fine job playing Karidian. Bruce Hyde also was enjoyable as Kevin Riley making his second and, unfortunately, final appearance in Trek.

Joseph Mullendore wrote almost 29 minutes of music for this episode and it is really good stuff. Unfortunately, this was the only episode that Mullendore scored for Trek. You can hear this music in all its glory in the great La-La Land Records Star Trek TOS boxed set. One track from the episode, I Know that Voice/All Ghosts Dead, is previewed there.

You can watch The Conscience of the King online from There are worse ways to spend 50 minutes.

Next up, The Galileo Seven.

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