"The Conscience of the King": Plot Holes and Questions.

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by t_smitts, Jul 8, 2014.

  1. t_smitts

    t_smitts Captain Captain

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    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.
     
  2. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer Moderator

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  3. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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?
     
  4. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    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:

    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.
     
  5. Push The Button

    Push The Button Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  6. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  7. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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

    http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=242743&highlight=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?
     
  8. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer Moderator

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    Watson and Crick published their "DNA is a double helix" article in April of 1953.
     
  9. t_smitts

    t_smitts Captain Captain

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    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.

    True, but the idea of using it for identification in criminal investigations wouldn't become commonplace until much, much later.
     
  10. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    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?
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2014
  11. SiddFinch1

    SiddFinch1 Captain Captain

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

    But still a fun watch.
     
  12. diankra

    diankra Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.)


    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.


    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.


    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.
     
  14. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer Moderator

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    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.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.
     
  16. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer Moderator

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    I think it might be true that people "back then" weren't concerned about Kirk and Lenore's age difference. It's true for me: "back then" I was seven years old, so I wasn't concerned and was pretty oblivious to such age differences. Today, I am more concerned: I'm more aware and concerned since I'm not really seven any more. I think it's less about some cultural changes nowadays and more about the fact that "the people who weren't concerned back then" have now come of age and they now longer have a seven-year-old's understanding of interpersonal dynamics. Hopefully my understanding of what is acceptable and what's unacceptable and what is considered strange has matured accordingly--regardless of how much or how little cultural norms might have changed.
     
  17. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    Hey, I'm 34 and I'd happily hit on a 20-year-old. Does that make me creepy?



    Well....maybe. Truth is my usual limit is 24-year-olds and up... so your point may stand...

    --Alex
     
  18. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    What happens in space stays in space....

    All kidding aside, Lenore was not only an adult, but seemed to be psychologically advanced for her years. Perhaps that was the character's acting ability and self-awareness making her seem sophisticated, but whatever the case, she did not seem like some giddy, fresh from home college student caught in the hands of a leering older man.
     
  19. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    One minor oversight here: the episode talks about Tarsus IV, a failed and obviously remote colony. And we don't know about the level of technology on Planet Q, either. If both, or either of these worlds, are on the frontier, then Kodos could've been a world dictator and still be unrecognizable in the Federation interior. For all we know, Kodos was only one of a line of colonial governors on Tarsus IV, and if the colony was sufficiently isolated (we don't know for sure if the Prime Directive applies; the colony could've declined Federation membership or otherwise never applied) then it is possible that all kinds of things happened there without Earth's / the Federation's knowledge.

    It's possible the photo Kirk viewed of Kodos was the only one available in the library computer.

    I think the great thing about this episode is that it leaves quite a bit the the viewer's imagination. I always saw that as an asset for TOS.
     
  20. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    BTW, Barbara Anderson was actually two months shy of her 21st birthday when the episode was filmed. She always had a mature look and manner about her.