In this week’s episode, the Enterprise takes on a young passenger who may be more than he seems. Let’s see what happens when Kirk faces off against...
First off, sorry for the delay folks! Towards the end of the week my family was going through some things that needed tending to. Things will be okay, though, folks, so no worries! Then, just as I was sitting down to watch the episode earlier today, a friend called and needed help getting to the ER. When it rains, it pours! But again, things will be okay, so, time for some Star Trek!
So, this week the Enterprise picks up a passenger from from another smaller ship, the Antares, a seventeen year old boy named Charles Evens. Young Charlie had been marooned on the uninhabited planet Thasus when he was only three years old, and somehow managed to survive all alone for fourteen years until discovered by the Antares. Interestingly, while the Antares crew cannot sing Charlie’s praises loudly enough, they also seem a little too eager to drop him off and be on their way once more. The Antares continues on its way while Enterprise is to take Charlie to his only living relatives on Earth Colony 5.
Meanwhile, Charlie encounters something for the first time: a female, in the form of Yeoman Rand.
Being a strapping young lad with with the hormones that entails, he is instantly captivated with her. Lacking any kind of socialization with other human beings, he doesn’t get the hint that she’s not equally captivated with him.
The Enterprise crew takes on the role of trying to teach Charlie how to integrate into society, with Kirk specifically taking the reluctant role of a father figure. Still, Charlie remains mostly interested in Rand, following her to a crew lounge. There, the cold and emotionless Spock, of all people, is playing a musical instrument (some sort of mini-harp?) to entertain the crew. Then Uhura comes over to provide some vocal accompaniment.
At first she sings a mocking yet playful tune directed towards Spock himself. (Between this and the conversation they had last week, there is an odd chemistry between these two.) Then she switches over to singing a song playfully poking at Charlie, even seeming to pick up on Charlie’s amorous intentions towards Yeoman Rand.
Charlie is not amused. But, convieniently, something happens and Uhura seems to lose her voice. Some of the other crew in the room are concerned, but Charlie just immediately diverts his attentions towards Rand, for whom he performs some seemingly impossible card tricks.
More strange things start happening. Enterprise gets a call from Antares, and they only get as far as saying, “I’ve got to warn...” before the transmission is cut off. Charlie, who is present, makes a cryptic comment about the shoddy construction of the Antares moments before Spock confirms that scanners are picking up derbies that are the remains of the other ship.
The crew of the Enterprise are understandably concerned, but have no proof of anything yet. Charlie continues to follow Rand around like a puppy dog, and she grows concerned she may have to be more forceful in rejecting his advances. She goes to Captain Kirk for help, and Kirk tries to help Charlie work off some steam in the ship’s gym.
Kirk and another crewman try and teach Charlie some basic self defense. Charlie is impatient,though, and tries to do too much too quickly. The other crewman, Sam, is amused and cannot help but laugh. Charlie insists he stops... And then makes him stop.
Kirk is astonished as the crewman vanishes into thin air. It is obvious that Charlie is responsible. Kirk calls security and tells them to take Charlie to his quarters, but Charlie refuses to go. At least, until Kirk threatens to pick him up and carry him there himself.
Even then, Charlie eventually gets bored and goes off in a huff. He is desperate to be liked, but he needs to be liked by Rand. She makes it clear, however, that she is not interested. And so, she disapears, too.
Charlie is on a rampage. Other crew women aren’t good enough. Charlie turns one into a lizard, and makes another old. He hears some crewmembers laughing with each other around a corner, and yells at them to stop. They fall silent, and one wanders out around the corner missing her face.
Charlie has become determined to get to get to Colony 5. Kirk has realized that there is no way he can let that happen, so Charlie attempts to take direct control of the ship. Kirk and company attempt to overwhelm Charlie by turning on more and more of the ship’s systems, trying to give Charlie more to control then he can handle.
While Charlie is distracted, a ship from Thasus catches up with the Enterprise. Seems the planet wasn’t as uninhabited as it was thought. The life forms there had evolved to a non-corporeal state, and had been able to give the infant Charlie powers to keep himself alive.
The Thasians unfortunately didn’t notice Charlie’s departure until it was too late. But now they have come to collect him as, with his powers, he would be too dangerous to be around other humans. But, at the same time, he has had the powers too long to know how to live without them.
Even after all that has transpired, Kirk pleads with the Thasians to let Charlie stay with his own kind, but they will have none of it. After restoring Yeoman Rand to existence they take Charlie away, for the safety of both the rest of humanity, and Charlie’s. Pleading, begging... Charlie fades away.
It is a powerful episode, and a brave one for a show’s sophomore outing. On the surface, Star Trek seems a very optimistic show, presenting a hopeful future. And yet, this is an episode in which there are no winners. All Kirk and the Enterprise crew wanted to do was rehabilitate young Charlie and reintroduce him to human society. All Charlie wanted to do was be liked and accepted. No one got what they wanted. And even the Thasians seemed reluctant in their actions, doing what they did only because it was what was necessary.
Most of the usual suspects from last week’s episode are back, including Kirk, Spock, Rand, Uhura, and McCoy. The character of Sulu from last week’s episode is absent, so we’ll have to see if he’ll be back or not.
Rand has a lot more to do in this episode, being the object of young Charlie’s infatuation. Nice to see her have more to do than deliver lunch, she looks like she might be an important character, after all.
The novelization from James Blish states that the ship has a crew of about 400. Seems that Enterprise has quite a large crew indeed!
Comments from lightninglouie on last week’s episode made me think it might be fun to keep a running tally of crewmember deaths by shirt color. Last week we had two blues and one yellow. This week, it is unclear if anyone died. After all, the Thasians restored Rand to existence at the end of the episode. The novelization of the episode does specifically state that all of the Enterprise’s crew have been restored. (Due to how they died, the Antares crew is not so lucky.)
So, thus far, 2 Blue and 1 Yellow. Blue seems to be the most deadly color thus far.
Speaking of uniforms, Kirk gets a different one this week. He wears a green wrap-around tunic at one point rather than the yellow pull-over one. He also sports the yellow one in this episode as well, so it seems to be an optional thing. Can anyone wear this, or is it something special for the captain?
A few new parts of the ship we see are some sort of lounge for the crew, a gymnasium, and mention is made of a galley.
Mention is made of something called “You-spa” that the Enterprise reports the destruction of the Antares to. Is this the organization that Enterprise operates under?
The Written Adaptation:
Much like last week’s episode, this one had a different title. The difference wasn’t quite as drastic, but here the title was Charlie’s Law. The adaptation was very condensed, including a lot of telling rather than showing. For example, the scene in the crew lounge is omitted, with Rand only telling Kirk later that Charlie had been doing some card tricks.
There are a few additional details mentioned, such as the size of the crew as mentioned above, or the full name of the crewman Charlie makes disapear in the gym, Sam, is given as Sam Ellis, and he is identified as a member of McCoy’s medical staff. And, as stated, the novel makes it clear that everyone on Enterprise that Charlie altered or made disappear was restored.
That’s all for this week. I’ll be back (hopefully on time!) next week as Captain Kirk must choose between his ship and his best friend. Until then!
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Other projects by Matthew Atanian: