So, I knew when I launched this project that Season Three of Star Trek is often considered bad. True, I’ve seen most if not all of these before, but it has been a while in many cases. As it is, so far we’ve seen the crew of the Enterprise deal with an important member of the crew missing a vital organ and Kirk falling in with some Native American stereotypes. True, that espionage episode to steal that Romulan cloaking device worked pretty well even if the scheme seemed a little too complicated to make much sense, but surely we won’t see more ridiculousness in the future?
Oh wait, “And the Children Shall Lead” is one where a group of kids take over the ship. And it is rather dumb at that…
It all starts when the Enterprise does one of its routine check-ins with some planet. This time, they’re checking in with a scientific expedition where most of the party appears to be dead. Only the party’s leader is still breathing, and he quickly kills himself. At that point, the children of all the dead scientists come out, completely unconcerned over their new status as orphans, to dance and play a bit as kids are wont to do.
Well, that one kid looks a little too old for Ring-Around-The Rosie, but what do I know?
Wait, these people brought their kids to a potentially dangerous planet?
Now, the big mystery would seem to be why the children seem to have no reaction whatsoever to their parents’ deaths. McCoy is certainly worried about pushing them too hard for the foreseeable future. Kirk, after feeling anxious for no reason he could discern in a nearby cave, wants to know what happened and figures (correctly) the children might know something. But first, Nurse Chapel has to play babysitter because, um, I guess she’s the best equipped on the ship to do that?
Now, how in the heck do five kids, the oldest maybe 12, take over the Enterprise?
That’s simple. They summon a demon.
OK, it’s not really a demon. It’s a disembodied alien intelligence named Gorgon who has a mission for them. They need to go out and make more friends at a crowded colony world, or so he says. You either become friends with the kids or you die. That’s what happened to their parents. The parents wouldn’t let these brats do whatever they wanted, so they resorted to Satanic rituals or some such to find someone who would let them eat ice cream as part of every meal.
OK, that’s not what really happened, but it might as well have been. All this means is the kids are empowered to play with the emotions and perceptions of the crew by shaking their fists a couple times, leading Sulu to plot a course to another world while making him believe the ship is still in orbit. Anyone on the bridge who notices is quickly put under as well. Kirk, below decks trying to figure out the problem, only finds out after two redshirts try to beam down to the planet’s surface and no one notices until after the fact that they’re too far away to do so.
You’d think they would have checked the co-ordinates first or something.
From there, it stays silly. Kirk tries to get his crew to see reason. Sulu believes the ship is flying through knives in space, so he can’t change course. Funny how the blades are pointing away from the ship. You’d think a guy into fencing would notice such things.
Uhura, meanwhile, sees herself as a very old woman because if there has to be a crewmember concerned with vanity, it would be the lone woman on the bridge. And the make-up for that effect was terrible.
Scotty meanwhile just can’t change course because he’s scared or something.
Heck, even Spock seems to fall under the children’s command.
Kirk, after speaking gibberish, leaves defeated, but that allows Spock to remember he has some mental powers and snap out of it. He then talks to Kirk and that somehow snaps Kirk out of it.
Where is McCoy during all this? I dunno. He disappears until the end of the episode.
Is there anything else really silly about all this stuff? How about how Kirk summons Gorgon using a recording of the children’s chant, then somehow shows the kids their parents are all dead, prompting grief and banishing Gorgon once and for all.
Huh. Fun fact: the guy playing Gorgon was actually a lawyer, not an actor, but his son was one of the kids.
Anyway, the day is saved. McCoy returns to see children crying and says that’s a good thing. Leonard Nimoy will later claim this was the single most embarrassing episode of the entire original run. And I know why Picard doesn’t care for kids.
Was Star Trek going for some kind of “Village of the Damned” sort of thing? Because if it was, well, the only really damned thing I noticed was the viewer. I think I’d rather watch “Spock’s Brain”. At least that episode seemed to acknowledge it was ridiculous.