The Squire of Gothos

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Qonundrum, Dec 30, 2019.

  1. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This episode's pacing is marvelous. The sense of threat accorded Trelane by the writer is built up very nicely...

    There's some nice visual f/x timing of Trelane's text onto the viewer in virtually perfect timing as Spock reads it...

    ...but for being 900 years away, why does Trelane act surprised when Kirk reveals the Squire (retired) has been looking at events 900 years old? (A nice bit of real science, coupled with the possibility of Trelane testing Kirk since Trelane knew what frequency to use to display his messages onto the screen. )

    The planet shown has nice atmospheric detail drawn onto it, complete with cloud detail. As usual, when the sausage party of the week lands we see a different color backdrop to represent the horizon (planet is red, backdrop with actors is teal.) Yet a later scene when Trelane teleports Kirk to an unprotected area of the planet, the camera avoids the skyline entirely. (It would have been nice to see a teal splotch on the orange/red planet, but being made in the 1960s with limited means to produce these images (TOS reuses planetary footage all the time too) it's not necessary.)

    Trelane is one of the few sci-fi characters that can pull off lime green trousers with that royal blue coat. Then again, so can Mike Nesmith of "The Monkees" since he wore that same coat in an episode (the one where Liberace cameos and destroys a piano with a sledgehammer. Trust me, it helps to be in your 20s in 1967 to understand the comedic aspect though one doesn't need to be... I'd swear that dungeon set was used on the sitcom as well... but I digress.)

    Shatner and Campbell have some great chemistry with their scenes. Indeed, William Campbell is clearly having a field day acting out this character as well. In some ways, I'm surprised over how much of it holds up.

    And, yep, it's easy to see how TNG got its character of Q from as "Squire" shares some of the same themes regarding humanity being a barbaric species. while I like "Encounter at Farpoint" and Q, the sense of threat and mystery surrounding Trelane just feels more palpable.

    DeSalle makes the mistake of crouching stealthily toward Trelane, all while ignoring that big and perfectly-angled mirror showing his reflection for all to see perfectly. Also note the possible anachronism of the mirror, of which its clarity of reflection and frame hark back to a process developed in the 1800s, suggesting Kirk and co are from 400 years into the future. The calligraphy could stem back to the 1600s...

    The audience is informed that the food has no taste and that the wood fire generates no heat. This works if Trelane is watching something unfamiliar 900 light years away and can only create a facsimile of the visage. But I really want to believe, oh yes I do, that Trelane is doing this deliberately to fool the humans.

    They beam up back to the ship and Trelane - who wiggles his nose in a bewitched way like Samantha - promptly appears on the bridge and goads, becomes all giggity about the "crewwomen" (as Kirk calls by name) aboard. So much for "crewmen" being an all-inclusive term, at least for this episode.

    I love it when Kirk looks all jealous when Trelane starts dancing with Teresa. Meanwhile, Gilligan is struck by lightning and becomes magnetic. Oh wait, wrong show - why was I taking a break to eat and switching to Gilligan's Island...

    Trelane points out Kirk's jealousy, with Kirk refuting that claim - as if the audience believes that for a second, the episode has Shatner putting out enough facial cues that - via rote, anyway - suggest Kirk is restraining himself.

    I didn't like it when Spock opined Trelane never strayed far from that mirror, since Trelane popped up to the ship earlier but the mirror didn't pop up with him. Again, is Trelane playing a multi-layered game? Perhaps he is, the destruction of the mirror leads to comedy sound effects being used. Or is Spock just having a bad bowl cut day?

    The pistol draw scene was rather good and note how Trelane deliberately misses, not to mention how Trelane earlier belts out how everything was better than what he planned... Campbell steals the show and keeps his performance perfectly balanced to ensure a sense of menace and threat mixed in with what would otherwise be deemed "camp". Suspension of disbelief retains intact.

    They manage to break free of Trelane again and get back to the ship, prompting an unusual yet exciting cat-vs-mouse game. Kirk informs the audience he's the mouse. Of all the things to point out in-episode via exposition, that's the smallest issue to spell out. (By the way, Trelane later makes a comment that infers the "mirror machine" wasn't important and one could read into it a bit lot and say he was tricking Kirk and crew, again. Ideally these tricks would have been summed up at one point since they went out of their way to spell out the obvious "cat and mouse" game, so it's open for interpretation - like any Beatles song is. Except the one about the Walrus, its maker said it was written to troll music critics who look for messages in their songs, but I digress. I love to digress. But I digress again...)

    In the courtroom scene, the lighting is used to great effect, taking a sparse set and giving it a truly onerous feel, complete with noose (in 1967, this was no kid show.)

    Kirk, tired of Trelane, shouts with exasperation he'll plead guilty to anything.

    I love how the episode turns into the oft-used 1960s trope of "hunting 'the most dangerous game'" (aka humans), which was based on a 1924 but took a few decades before it became popular to exploit on the airwaves. This wouldn't have flown well in the 1950s next to Wally and the Beav.

    Meanwhile, Squire Eddie Haskell there agrees to Kirk's gambit and allows him to contact the ship. Kirk falls for this, only to get static. He does this a few too many times, especially when it seems clear Trelane wouldn't let the ship and its personnel go under any circumstances.

    They begin a chase in the tiny plot of wilderness that's habitable.

    Trelane blinks like Jeannie again and makes cage bars appear around Kirk - the episode uses several times the trick where actors stay still on cue, the camera stops, the stage person adds a prop or changes a set piece then goes back, then the camera stops again to make it look like a magical being did something. Most instances this is done really well in this episode. Even when Trelane gets a sword and one can tell there's a slight movement, for the 1960s with no flash overlaid to conceal the shift, it's all really well done.

    Here's where the episode nosedives, and considering my score for this episode what precedes the downfall is fairly excellent material, acted out beautifully - Trelane's mommy and daddy appear (voiced rather well by Barbara Babcock and Bart LaRue) call him in for dinner - in what is surely one of the fledgling show's most cringeworthy dialogue to date. Granted, the effects of his nuclear family are rather good for being green glowing blobby things and are also stunt doubles for the Incredible Hulk's snot, but that dialogue is simply atrocious. At least their equating Kirk and crew as "pets" holds up. He's not examining them in terms of evolutionary progress but keeping them as cheap thrills.(But it's also true that not all Q are the same...)

    But the bit that amounted to "You're a bad boy so you can't make any more planets" is just laughably bad and not in the "it's so bad it's good" way. Maybe this show really is for kids... or the show is trying to reach the widest range of adults as possible. TOS was advertised as the first adult sci-fi drama, but not all the writers will have remembered or been told that. For a family show, it's certainly some gritty themes to it because kids of the day were neck-deep in episodes revolving around nooses and plague and gun violence... oh wait, most of them were adoring Granny making possum stew. This episode does have scenes that would send kiddies screaming in terror.

    But that's the episode in a nutshell - focusing on humans being savage as seen by a being who's been a Peeping Tom some 900 years in the past - which then begs the question of some missing persons cases that went cold. (Or the bodies were not found and decayed and some local vermicular critters ate them.) The episode is solid enough to show a newcomer today, who might enjoy it as camp appeal (but was dead serious in terms of 1960s viewership), was clearly an influence for TNG's "Q", and could arguably be made canon to show Trelane's people being the same as the Q but I'd rather they remain separate since TOS onward have numerous incorporeal life forms with remarkable powers, who may have started as corporeal beings but developed psi powers and/or outgrew their bodies, who promptly vanish at the end.

    8/10
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2019
  2. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    But since "all" means the camera and the audience, DeSalle isn't actually within Trelane's field of view at all...

    And of course, the surroundings, that is, the castle, quite plausibly date from 900 years before the 2260s... Even if the interiors are currently crammed with stuff such as Salt Vampires, 1800s mirrors and weirdly dressed aliens.

    No disagreement... We're seeing quite an act there. And whether Trelane even really gets intercepted by his parents, or fakes all that in order to make his grand exit when things start looking gloomy for him...

    Yes, losing the mirror didn't seem to hurt Trelane much, if at all. Since he is a superior creature by his very nature, I doubt Kirk's team ever scored even a single full point, and the mirror was just one of the Squire's games.

    I doubt Trelane has a shortage of victims, or a deep desire to hold on to a particular set beyond a few hours. Rather, I could well see him effecting a tactical retreat whenever his captives start to catch on to the game and get the first glimpses of Trelane's real limitations (of which the mirror isn't one). Enter the Mom and Dad Ventriloquism Act for saving face (and perhaps also Trelane's dear life, depending on how clever and powerful his captives are). If the guests fancy themselves superior to the Squire, their hopes are dashed by the appearance of "even more superior beings"...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. Henoch

    Henoch Commodore Premium Member

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    At first, I thought Gothos was a rouge planet (without a sun), then late in the episode:
    SPOCK: Can we know his range is, Captain?
    KIRK: We can take an educated guess. At the point we entered their solar system.
    At this point, I guess the star and any planets were known/charted by Starfleet (they were on the routine supply route to Colony Beta Six), except that Gothos was a new and unknown to the system.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2019
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  4. BillJ

    BillJ Canon Warrior Premium Member

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    It was the 1960's, there was a lot of LDS being passed around. ;)
     
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  5. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Agreed. Gothos was within a solar system when the Enterprise came along, but Spock said it was inconceivable this body, meaning Gothos, had gone uncharted until now. It wasn't there before. And later, Trelane had no problem moving the planet around faster then the Enterprise could evade it. So in my opinion, Gothos was absolutely a rogue planet.
     
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  6. UnknownSample

    UnknownSample Commodore Commodore

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    Trelane didn't know about the speed of light and how Earth would have changed over those centuries because he's not some sophisticated space traveler, he's a child. He knows no science, he's just playing. The end was always perfect to me. Absurdism (not goodiness or comedy) can work really well and add another level of reality, and abstraction. Very Twilight Zone.

    This was my first episode. I was stunned by all of it.
     
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  7. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ...But where did the "star system" come from? The heroes were in a star desert, Spock saying that there was nothing ahead, and apparently hasn't been for a while - and McCoy was more or less equating the reaching of their destination at Beta 6, eight days away, with clearing the void.

    So, is it the "or less" part here somehow? Was there something ahead of them after all, just beyond scanning range as per the carts, and McCoy was expressing his relief that the ship was about to reach this something? But the "there is nothing ahead" bit only gets modified by "oh, there is a lone planet there", with no mention of a star.

    Somehow this planet is smack in the way of the heroes, too. So I doubt Trelane was lurking in a natural star system. If there was a star, Trelane was dragging it along, or creating it on the spot when convenient.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  8. Henoch

    Henoch Commodore Premium Member

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    Based on the eight days to clear the void, then early on running across Gothos, this paints the picture that the star system was very early into the journey, possibly to last vestige of the star field they are exiting. If the star system was known to be inhabitable, even a wasteland of planets and/or a burned out star (brown dwarf), then McCoy's comment about a desert can still apply. Since we never see the mother star or sunlight on Gothos, it seems that Gothos was very far out from the star, like a Pluto-orbit.
     
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  9. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    So Gothos was a rogue planet in a rogue star system with a rogue star? While the Enterprise was on it's way to Beta Six!!! Yet this episode seems to be hinting to us that Kirk and crew are from the year 2766 instead of 2266 because of the nine centuries error made by the alien Squire Trelane! :brickwall:
    JB
     
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  10. Henoch

    Henoch Commodore Premium Member

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    Somebody made an error, and I'm so sure it was Trelane. The only thing that is clear is that the Enterprise is ~900 lightyears from Earth. The "newer" items are references to the Napoleon era which puts the timeline at only ~450 years back if we assume it is ~2266 for TOS. Two conclusions which escape Kirk and crew are that: 1. Trelane can move Gothos to be within 450 lightyears of Earth (a feat he demonstrates during the episode); or 2. Trelane has faster than light viewing capabilities, like peeking through a wormhole window, and is able to view Earth at multiple time periods (this would allow him to gather a lot of historic information in a very short time, also a possibility since Trelane doesn't seem the patient-type.) It is clear from the following lines, that it is the later situation, Trelane is using a viewscope:
    My feeling is that Trelane scanned the Enterprise, determined it was from Earth, peeked into Earth's past at multiple time periods, then created the zone of "mishmash Earth environment" on the planet surface for his new guests to visit. The story tries to give us, the viewers, the idea that Trelane's fasciation with Earth culture is old, but it is clear that the Earth-like zone is just an instantaneous creation:
    Kirk and crew are making an error about the viewing capabilities of Trelane, they think it must be viewing light from Earth like a telescope from a single point, but the evidence is all around him that Trelane must be looking into multiple time periods. Kirk should have said: "Then you've been looking in on the doings hundreds of years past."

    Trelane's true "fallibility" arises from his perception of TIME (non-linear?) as compared how humans experience linear time. Very "Q" like in many ways. It escapes the crew (and most of the audience) that they are dealing with the first being they ever encountered that is from outside our space-time continuum.
    Shame on you, Spock. :vulcan:
     
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  11. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Or he picked the era that excited him the most?
    JB
     
  12. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    I really liked your review, but I disagree about the ending. I thought it fit the episode very well, explaining both Trelane's superior abilities and shortcomings very well and resolved the plot. How else could Kirk really have stopped him? Answer, couldn't. But it's kind of a drag not to resolve the plot you made and this does that.

    I thought Kirk's line to Spock about dipping little girl's curls into ink wells is one of the most anachronistic lines in the whole series.
    Let's not worry about 200 or 300 years from now (or 900!) but even in the 60s did they still have ink wells in desks? That's more of a 40s thing I think.
     
  13. Methuselah Flint

    Methuselah Flint Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I like to think Kirk was being poetic and emphasising the timeless cheekiness of misbehaving boys by using archaic examples to amuse Spock, rather than suggesting Kirk himself did that when he was a boy. But I agree with you - it is very out of place.
     
  14. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Commodore Commodore

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    I wonder how Kirk and Spock decide the machine powering the atmosphere can't be in the mirror. How can they decide how large alien technology can be.
    Also I cannot see how the planet can be rogue without a sun. The temperature on the planet would be 0 Kelvin and when the rescue team beamed down they only had face masks not space suits.
     
  15. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The spacesuits hadn't been invented yet? :crazy:
    JB
     
  16. MAGolding

    MAGolding Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yes, how could they estimate how much more advanced Trelane, was, and thus how large his atmosphere maintaining machinery was? They could estimate a minimum degree of advancement, but not a maximum degree.

    And what if behind the mirror was Trelane's main control computer that controlled the vast atmosphere maintaining machinery elsewhere? Disabling the control computer might have caused the atmospheric control machines elsewhere to shut off despite them not being hit by the bullet.

    Should the temperature of Gothos be just slightly above absolute zero? Aren't planets usually red hot molten metal right after they are formed?

    If Trelane had just made the planet "recently", maybe ten minutes, ten thousand years, or ten million years ago, the waste heat generated by the process might heat up the planet to a nice room temperature, or even to red hot temperatures, as the planet slowly cooled off.
     
  17. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Commodore Commodore

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    Good point and maybe Spock had enough experience of rogue planets to know that temperatures would be stable for a number of years or so?

    Maybe the stuff with the machinery was so much bluster in that they don't have time for explanations.. Spock humouring Kirk to some extent. Spock thinks well the atmosphere is not going to change instantaneously so that gives Scott plenty of time to beam them up before they start choking to death.
     
  18. UnknownSample

    UnknownSample Commodore Commodore

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    Come on, if Trelane or parents can create a habitable zone, they can make it warm in that spot as part of that.
     
  19. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Creatures like that can make a planet, cool it off in about an hour or so and have it ready to play on by morning! :techman:
    JB
     
  20. Delta Vega

    Delta Vega Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    If ever a character needed a severe Kirk double drop kick to the teeth, it was Trelayne
    He was an absolute pollution