|Posted on January 25, 2012 at 7:45 AM|
Ninth Star Trek pick: “The Squire of Gothos.”
To finish off my Top Nine favorite original Trek episodes, we will be looking at Trelane in “The Squire of Gothos.” Only four of my nine honorable mentions will fill February’s schedule, those which I have yet to blog about on Lightwalker’s View.
The Enterprise is flying through a “desert” in space, an area with no suns or planets for millions of miles around. From this I assume they’re on the edge of the Milky Way galaxy, where suns would begin to peter out. However, it’s always possible such a void could be found within the galaxy. Either way, they’re surprised when they find a lone planet, apparently outside any solar system—though the existence of one is implied three-quarters through the episode.
Unexpectedly, Sulu at the helm and Captain Kirk himself are snatched from the bridge, so Mr. Spock takes immediate command. He searches for the missing men throughout the ship and on the planet below, until strange messages in Old English script show up on a screen.
“Greetings and felicitations,” one message says. A bit later, when Spock asks the sender to identify himself, the screen reads “Hip-hip-hoorah! Tallyho!” Spock sends two crewmen, DeSalle and Jaeger, to the surface with Dr. McCoy to investigate. It’s the only time I know when none of the regulars were in charge of a landing party.
“If those peculiar signals are coming from Captain Kirk or Lieutenant Sulu,” Spock tells DeSalle, “their rationality is in question.”
What the landing party finds is a pocket of breathable air, and a magnificent mansion in the middle of it. In the drawing room just within, they meet Trelane, an oddly whimsical personage who plays a harpsichord and spouts all kinds of warring metaphors, as though expecting them to feel right at home. Odder still, amid the surrounding 18th-century memorabilia, one alcove displays the monster suit from “Man Trap.”
On a veranda overlooking the parlor, Kirk and Sulu stand like statues. “I must say, they make a perfectly exquisite display pair,” says Trelane. “But I suppose you want them back now.” A wave of his hand, and the men are active again.
Powers like these remind me of certain episodes of Lost in Space, where an impossibly knowledgeable alien essentially makes fools of the heroes until they find some way to defeat him. Even the hunt between Kirk and Trelane toward the end echoes LiS, especially an episode called “The Challenge” where a chauvinistic alien chases John Robinson all around the planetside.
To my chagrin, I find many sci-fi fans today are highly critical of the original Trek, as though they expected it to be well thought out from the beginning. As was the custom of the day, the actors and producers were feeling their way, so it’s unreasonable to expect a refined universe. After all, these are men, not God.
I note this because it’s important to consider when Trelane’s parlor is said to be 900 years in the past. Later chronologies would place the first series in the 23rd century—creating a gap of only 500 years. So it sounds funny these days when our heroes say it’s Trelane’s sense of time that’s skewed. Oh, well.
While the details of the drawing room are fantastic, mostly showing great research on the producers’ part, the episode follows the old fish-in-a-bowl concept. “Ah yes,” says Trelane. “I’ve been looking in on the doings of your lively little Earth.”
In reality, how is this possible? Only now are we finding planets the right distances from their suns and with the right atmospheres for supporting life, but we know almost nothing about them. Logically, the same should also be true of Trelane and all other aliens, assuming they exist and assuming they ever found Earth.
But let’s put this aside and get back to the fiction. Trelane may have copied the forms, but the objects have no substance. He offers the Enterprise crew a meal, but it’s bland and tasteless. The blazing fire in the hearth gives off no heat. Worst of all, Trelane stereotypes crewmembers of different ancestries.
DeSalle is a French name, so his host tries to appeal to him in French. Likewise he salutes Jaeger in German and bows to Sulu Japanese style. “Is he kidding?” says Sulu aside. When Uhura joins the festivities, he says, “Ah, a Nubian prize.” He kisses her hand. “Taken on one of your raids of conquest, no doubt, Captain.”
Humoring him, Kirk says, “No doubt.”
Nevertheless, Trelane causes her to miraculously play the harpsichord while he and a pretty blonde yeoman dance. He even conjures up a gown that befits the setting.
All this time, he never strays far from a large ornate mirror, and Kirk figures out it’s more than a reflective device. It’s the machine that allows Trelane to pull off his tricks. So he feigns offense and gets the warhawk alien to duel him with old-fashioned pistols. He shoots out the mirror and the machine, and everyone escapes by transporter.
However, their escape is thwarted when one planet Gothos after another blocks the Enterprise’s path. The captain is spirited down again, this time in a mock trial with Trelane as the judge, complete with the prerequisite periwig of British and early American courts. The captain challenges him to a hunt, which is interrupted when the “parents” show up as flashing bits of light. Seems Trelane is their bratty son and the crew is only his playthings.
“If you cannot take proper care of your pets,” says the mother, “you cannot have them at all.” Scolding him, the father threatens he would “not be permitted to make any more planets” if he doesn’t behave.
Now that’s funny!
But who is Trelane? Officially Kirk decides to classify him as “a small boy, and a very naughty one at that.” Many have suggested he’s a kid from the Q Dimension, the bane of The Next Generation from the very first episode. I can see why. Q represents the arrogant religionist who judges people based on his own limited understanding.
I know unbelievers would like to make him a straw man to represent God or Christians, without thinking it through. Trelane and Q are nothing more than playful imps, not caring about anyone but themselves.
God, however, cares deeply for us, so much that His sent His own Son to die for our salvation. He not only creates planets instantaneously, but people and animals to populate them. He’s not interested in pitting one man against another, or one man against his convictions. We do that ourselves, without outside help.
Rather than division, our God is interested in unity. “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5). Rather than war, He’s interested in peace. “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). And rather than being an aloof observer, He’s keenly involved in our welfare. “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
Can either Q or Trelane say these things?
The emphasis on striking back at the aggressor as Q often encourages, or glorying in past wars as Trelane likes to do, could explain their arrogance. “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, nor the strong man boast of his strength, nor the rich man boast of his riches. But let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for in these I delight” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
It’s good to study past wars so we may understand history and learn from it. But the high level of interest we see in Trelane is nothing short of wicked. Ultimately, like Trelane, they become so entangled in their own web of intrigue that they must go in to their “daddy,” the Devil.
Much better to study peace and practice it with all men. It’s the only way to gain favor with the Prince of Peace, Jesus, and ultimately live with Him.
JANUARY THEME: “QUEST”
January 25: Pauline Creeden at Hosanna’s Christian Reader
January 26: Marilyn at Life 101: Understanding It All
January 27: Israel Ikhinmwin at Israel Ikhinmwin’s Blog
Jan. 28: Deborah Anderson Faith, Fiction, and Unvarnished Truth
January 30: Joseph Lalonde at Joseph Lalonde
January 31: Dave Pardoe at Dave Pardoe – Author
FEBRUARY THEME: “LEAP”
February 1: Chris Henderson at The Write Chris