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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old July 8 2014, 01:57 AM   #1
t_smitts
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"The Conscience of the King": Plot Holes and Questions.

I rewatched this episode recently. It's quite entertaining (in fact Ron Moore cited it as his favorite OS episode), though it's not terribly subtle in its allusions to Hamlet, and the two main guest stars chew the scenery like a stick of Juicy Fruit.

There's a couple of confusing things I came away with.

1) Obviously, this episode was produced in a time before things like DNA identification or facial recognition technology were commonplace, but you now have to wonder what the "in-universe" explanation why such things aren't used.

2) Kirk's determination and his ethically dubious actions would be repeated in "Obsession". Much like in that later episode, he keeps his reasons from everyone, until Spock and McCoy confront him on it.

3) Obviously, the episode was supposed to imply that Leighton was scarred on Tarsus IV, though they're clearly ambiguous about how that happened. I also find it hard to believe that reconstructive surgery hasn't advanced to the point that he wouldn't need to cover half his head with this

4) Oddly enough, no one really brings up the idea of Karidian/Kodos being put on trial. It's rather strange that McCoy would ask Kirk if he'll "play God" and "carry his head through the corridors in triumph". I don't believe for a second that Kirk would ever actually kill Karidian, no matter how sure he was of his guilt. Surely turning him over to the proper authorities is a simple enough matter.

5) The "phaser on overload" scene was fairly well done, but is it believable that would randomly have these waste disposal chutes in corridors that let you toss any old garbage or unwanted items into space (presumably after passing through some airlock, of course). It's also unsettling to think that a civilian like Lenore could steal a phaser and sneak into the captain's quarters without anyone noticing. (Seems to me it would be better off if Kirk left his security officers on the ship, instead of bringing them on away missions to die untimely deaths.)

6) This is a minor quibble, but I would've like to have seen some kind of reaction from Riley after Kodos was killed.

7) This is a big one: What exactly is so special about being one of the nine eyewitnesses anyway? Why couldn't any of the other ~4000 surviving colonists identify Kodos? Are we supposed to believe he was some sort of Howard Hughes-type recluse who never let anyone see his face? That doesn't seem like the kind of trait that would lead to someone becoming a governor.

And, more importantly, this all seems rather moot, since they had a picture of Kodos in the database! So, again, what's so special about being one of the "eyewitnesses"?

Still, as I said, an interesting episode.
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Old July 8 2014, 03:19 AM   #2
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Re: "The Conscience of the King": Plot Holes and Questions.

A bit more about Dr. Leighton's injuries can be found I'm this old post of mine. FYI: his injuries aren't scripted at all; it would appear to be purely a directorial choice.

http://www.trekbbs.com/showpost.php?...9&postcount=25
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Old July 8 2014, 03:26 AM   #3
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Re: "The Conscience of the King": Plot Holes and Questions.

1. DNA requires a sample. Perhaps colony worlds such as Tarsus didn't keepDNA records of its citizen. Facial/voice recognition after 20 years may not be reliable enough in court.
2. This is important to Kirk. This is early in TOS and the 5 year mission. Perhaps Kirk doesn't trust McCoy and Spock enough not to report him. He's mistaken though. Spock backs him up all the way.
3.Youd hope. Maybe a lame explanation is that Leighton was so traumatised by Tarsus that he refuses reconstructive surgery.
4.McCoy is just making sure that Kirk knows he's not going to stand for martial law and that he's worried for Kirk personally and career-wise.
5. Can't thinkof any reason to have random disposal chutes. Maybe they might have some in engineering or some labs where they do dangerous experiments.
6.Yes a lot was made of Riley.What of the amazing coincidence that he was on Kirk's ship.
7. Perhaps 23rd century law requires actual eye witnesses that had met Kodos in person.

I have some other questions. Kirk was supposed to be 34/35 so how old when he was 'assigned' to Tarsus.
So Kodos daughter is to be forgiven after killing 7 people? Doyou think its just up to Kirk to 'forgive' her. What does Leighton's wife think about it?
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Old July 8 2014, 05:11 AM   #4
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Re: "The Conscience of the King": Plot Holes and Questions.

GSchnitzer wrote: View Post
A bit more about Dr. Leighton's injuries can be found I'm this old post of mine. FYI: his injuries aren't scripted at all; it would appear to be purely a directorial choice.

http://www.trekbbs.com/showpost.php?...9&postcount=25
Well, the September 8, 1966 draft of the script (close, but not quite, the final version, so it may have further been adjusted) does say:

ON KIRK AND DR. LEIGHTON

As the Doctor leans close to Kirk and speaks in a tense whisper. This time, due to Leighton's movement, we can see that he is crippled, hunched over. His eyes glitter.
Therefore, injuries were scripted, but not the injury as depicted in the final episode. You present a strong case that the director (Oswald) was the one who came up with the mask, although it's possible the revisions dated September 13, 1966 (there's a de Forest Research memo mentioning revised pages from this date) included more/different detail about his injuries.
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Old July 8 2014, 05:29 AM   #5
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Re: "The Conscience of the King": Plot Holes and Questions.

The whole idea that Kodos, a fugitive that is wanted for mass murder, would believe that simply adopting the Karidian persona would allow him to escape justice is absurd. Other than natural aging, he makes no attempt to alter his appearance, and becomes an actor of all things, not exactly a low-profile occupation.
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Old July 8 2014, 11:51 AM   #6
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Re: "The Conscience of the King": Plot Holes and Questions.

GSchnitzer wrote: View Post
A bit more about Dr. Leighton's injuries can be found I'm this old post of mine. FYI: his injuries aren't scripted at all; it would appear to be purely a directorial choice.

http://www.trekbbs.com/showpost.php?...9&postcount=25

Thanks for the callback; I was not aware of that!

Push the Button: Regarding Kodos slipping away and blending into the general population, I'm pretty sure he was not a famous politician, but just a military man who seized power and made a radio address. He kept out of public view intentionally due to the nature of his actions and the certainty that Federation ships would arrive later. And of course, "Kodos" was a pseudonym, a nom de guerre, taken for precisely this reason. His true identity was never discovered.
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Old July 8 2014, 01:46 PM   #7
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Re: "The Conscience of the King": Plot Holes and Questions.

We had a nice thread about this episode not long ago.

http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.ph...ighlight=kodos

At least some was covered, so it's not bad to see it there.

I like this episode, I think CommishSleer's point is a good one, Dr McCoy doesn't know Captain Kirk as well as we're used to and also, Dr McCoy tends to take an absolute opinion frequently, so he may have been worried about Kirk "doing something" to Karridian or just being overly exasperated, as he does. He might not be sure.

Wasn't DNA really just discovered less than 20 years before this was written?
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Old July 8 2014, 02:09 PM   #8
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Re: "The Conscience of the King": Plot Holes and Questions.

Marsden wrote: View Post
We had a nice thread about this episode not long ago.

http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.ph...ighlight=kodos

At least some was covered, so it's not bad to see it there.

I like this episode, I think CommishSleer's point is a good one, Dr McCoy doesn't know Captain Kirk as well as we're used to and also, Dr McCoy tends to take an absolute opinion frequently, so he may have been worried about Kirk "doing something" to Karridian or just being overly exasperated, as he does. He might not be sure.

Wasn't DNA really just discovered less than 20 years before this was written?
Watson and Crick published their "DNA is a double helix" article in April of 1953.
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Old July 9 2014, 01:51 AM   #9
t_smitts
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Re: "The Conscience of the King": Plot Holes and Questions.

ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post
GSchnitzer wrote: View Post
A bit more about Dr. Leighton's injuries can be found I'm this old post of mine. FYI: his injuries aren't scripted at all; it would appear to be purely a directorial choice.

http://www.trekbbs.com/showpost.php?...9&postcount=25

Thanks for the callback; I was not aware of that!

Push the Button: Regarding Kodos slipping away and blending into the general population, I'm pretty sure he was not a famous politician, but just a military man who seized power and made a radio address. He kept out of public view intentionally due to the nature of his actions and the certainty that Federation ships would arrive later. And of course, "Kodos" was a pseudonym, a nom de guerre, taken for precisely this reason. His true identity was never discovered.
Even a military man's records would be well documented, probably more so than a civilian's, in fact.

Speaking of military, the idea that Kodos was military (and presumably the same being true of those who carried out his orders), that actually creates some unsettling implications, given that it's been suggested in more than a few episodes that the armed forces of Federation worlds get absorbed into Starfleet.

GSchnitzer wrote: View Post
Marsden wrote: View Post
We had a nice thread about this episode not long ago.

http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.ph...ighlight=kodos

At least some was covered, so it's not bad to see it there.

I like this episode, I think CommishSleer's point is a good one, Dr McCoy doesn't know Captain Kirk as well as we're used to and also, Dr McCoy tends to take an absolute opinion frequently, so he may have been worried about Kirk "doing something" to Karridian or just being overly exasperated, as he does. He might not be sure.

Wasn't DNA really just discovered less than 20 years before this was written?
Watson and Crick published their "DNA is a double helix" article in April of 1953.
True, but the idea of using it for identification in criminal investigations wouldn't become commonplace until much, much later.
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Old July 9 2014, 02:05 AM   #10
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Re: "The Conscience of the King": Plot Holes and Questions.

ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post
GSchnitzer wrote: View Post
A bit more about Dr. Leighton's injuries can be found I'm this old post of mine. FYI: his injuries aren't scripted at all; it would appear to be purely a directorial choice.

http://www.trekbbs.com/showpost.php?...9&postcount=25

Thanks for the callback; I was not aware of that!

Push the Button: Regarding Kodos slipping away and blending into the general population, I'm pretty sure he was not a famous politician, but just a military man who seized power and made a radio address. He kept out of public view intentionally due to the nature of his actions and the certainty that Federation ships would arrive later. And of course, "Kodos" was a pseudonym, a nom de guerre, taken for precisely this reason. His true identity was never discovered.
Kodos is said to be the Governor of the colony by the ship's computer. Would a military man who seized power be referred to as such in the official record?
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Old July 9 2014, 02:17 AM   #11
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Re: "The Conscience of the King": Plot Holes and Questions.

There are plot holes so big you could.fly a starship thru them.

But still a fun watch.
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Old July 9 2014, 02:58 AM   #12
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Re: "The Conscience of the King": Plot Holes and Questions.

There are massive plot holes, but some of them are more ok than others:
He was a colony governor, so probably not a major figure elsewhere.
No info on how governors are chosen, so if it's an appointed position... well, how many top civil servamts with as much power as elected senators, etc, would you recognise? Partic if they came from another state or nation.
But the not-being-IDed thing is more tricky (btw, ID by DNA is a 1990s innovation, hence all the old men being caught now for 30 year old crime. Or cleared of false convictions). The notion that an eye witness has to give evidence almost solves it.
Of course, the daughter is mad. Her plan to protect Kodos by murder doesn't have to make sense, just make sense to her.
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Old July 9 2014, 03:17 AM   #13
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Re: "The Conscience of the King": Plot Holes and Questions.

CommishSleer wrote: View Post
Maybe a lame explanation is that Leighton was so traumatised by Tarsus that he refuses reconstructive surgery.
Or maybe the black mask was a bandage after his latest round of reconstructive surgery, maybe a protective coating to help his skin heal, and Kirk's visit only happened to coincide with the time he was wearing it.

(Seven of Nine's catsuit was meant to be a dermal regenerative garment protecting and sustaining her healing skin, though that explanation ceased to make sense after a few months.)


I have some other questions. Kirk was supposed to be 34/35 so how old when he was 'assigned' to Tarsus.
He wasn't assigned there, since he would've been only 13 or thereabouts. Presumably he and his family were living or visiting there at the time.


So Kodos daughter is to be forgiven after killing 7 people? Doyou think its just up to Kirk to 'forgive' her. What does Leighton's wife think about it?
That's the second time you've put something in quotes even though the word is never actually used in the episode (at least not in that context). Nobody says anything about Lenore being "forgiven." She's judged mentally ill, and has apparently had a psychotic break, since she has no memory of committing the murders. Therefore, she'll get "the best of care," which is all anyone says on the subject of her fate. Getting the best of care is not necessarily incompatible with being tried for her crimes, although she may be found not guilty by reason of insanity.


Push The Button wrote: View Post
The whole idea that Kodos, a fugitive that is wanted for mass murder, would believe that simply adopting the Karidian persona would allow him to escape justice is absurd. Other than natural aging, he makes no attempt to alter his appearance, and becomes an actor of all things, not exactly a low-profile occupation.
On Earth, maybe not. But we're talking about an expansive interstellar community spread across many star systems, systems that are probably months or years apart for civilians who don't have top-of-the-line Starfleet vessels to travel in. Space in the 23rd century was supposed to be less civilized and integrated than in the TNG era, more of a frontier environment. A governor on a small, distant colony world wouldn't necessarily have a face that people in other parts of the galaxy would be familiar with.

Not to mention that Karidian becomes a stage actor, not a video actor, so the size of his audience would be comparatively small.
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Old July 9 2014, 03:55 AM   #14
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Re: "The Conscience of the King": Plot Holes and Questions.

I'm surprised that no one has yet mentioned 33-year-old Captain Kirk hitting on a much younger 19-year-old Lenore Karidian. It seems ruthless ("I wonder where Ruth is") and it seems a little bit, well, creepy.
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Old July 9 2014, 04:01 AM   #15
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Re: "The Conscience of the King": Plot Holes and Questions.

GSchnitzer wrote: View Post
I'm surprised that no one has yet mentioned 33-year-old Captain Kirk hitting on a much younger 19-year-old Lenore Karidian. It seems ruthless ("I wonder where Ruth is") and it seems a little bit, well, creepy.
People back then weren't as concerned by such things as we are today; since there was a cultural tendency to infantilize women anyway, it wasn't seen as particularly strange. Anyway, she was a legal adult, and even though I heard the dialogue about her age many times, she never struck me as being anything but a full-grown woman.
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