July 22, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Weekend Trek “The Conscience Of The King”

There's a Shakespearean acting troop on board the Enterprise...and one of them may be an infamous mass murderer!

Yeoman Rand doesn’t have any lines in this episode, but she does appear in the background of this episode, coming off the turbolift onto the bridge.  Kirk’s love-interest-of-the-week passes her, and Rand gives the woman a bit of the stink eye.

I really appreciate little moments like that.

Then I learned the actress had been fired from the show just before this episode was taped, and she knew it at the time.  She may be giving all kinds of people the stink eye.

Star Trek has often had live performances on the Enterprise.  It’s more of a Next Generation thing, and that may be due to having Patrick Stewart, an incredibly talented Shakespearean actor, as the captain, and Picard was always sure to be sitting in the audience, enjoying the show.  These scenes were meant to show the Enterprise was a place where the various members of the crew could relax with some high culture, often performed by other members of the crew.

When Kirk goes to see a play, he’s hunting a murderer.

That is so Kirk.

To be fair to Kirk, he didn’t go into the theater expecting to see a murderer.  A friend, one Dr. Thomas Leighton, asked Kirk to see the lead actor in a traveling acting troop.  Leighton believes the actor is the notorious mass murderer Kodos.  Most believe Kodos to have died in a fire after killing 4,000 people on a colony world that was running out of food using some sort of eugenics-type logic to remove people who wouldn’t make it or some such.  Despite being a governor and a famous killer, only nine people who saw Kodos face-to-face had survived the colony.  Leighton, missing half of his face, was one while Kirk was another.  Is this actor the infamous Kodos, twnety years later?

And what happens when Kirk meets the man’s 19 year old daughter Lenore?  She’s young, blonde, pretty, and talks about the pulsing and throbbing of the Enterprise‘s engines in a manner that made me wonder a bit how that talk got past the censors.

Then Leighton turns up murdered himself, and Kirk figures he needs to know exactly what’s going on.  Is Anton Karidian also the long-thought-dead Kodos?  Kirk needs to be sure.  He pulls some strings to transport the troop and determine if this man is who Leighton died believing he was.  And, if he is, is he responsible for Leighton’s own death?

Now, here’s where I take a few issues with the episode.  Kirk decides to investigate this all on his own, keeping what he knows a secret from the rest of the crew, but Spock is obviously going to notice something is up.  And I have to wonder why Kirk didn’t go to Spock immediately.  Spock figures out pretty quick what’s going on, and then he brings McCoy in.  McCoy was already in on it because Lt. Riley, last seen in “The Naked Time,” was also a witness, was poisoned by…someone, and Spock discovered the other witnesses all met bad ends around the time the acting troop was visiting.

Riley would live, but Spock and McCoy, working well together, confront Kirk over his secrecy.  Spock believes Karidian must be Kodos.  Logic dictates it.  McCoy is concerned Kirk is looking for vengeance instead of justice.  Kirk isn’t sure at this point, but he doesn’t want to do anything until he is sure.  More and more evidence points towards it being true, and even the recovered Riley is certain it’s Kodos, the man who killed Riley’s family.

But Kirk really does want justice.  While the troop performs Hamlet, Kirk sneaks backstage, first to stop Riley, and finally to confront Anton and Lenore Karidian.  He confronted the father earlier, only for the daughter to scare him off, and even Anton seems a little unsure of everything.

Considering how much of Hamlet is about the title character trying to determine whether or not a man accused of murder actually is a murderer, that was a smart move.

Then again, the episode doesn’t really seem to use much Shakespeare given the whole thing about there being a Shakespearean acting troop on the ship.  You get some speeches from Hamlet and then some random lines from other plays, mostly well-known ones.

Now, somehow, I knew there was more to the murders than just Anton Karidian is also Kodos.  What told me that?  Well, for one, Spock determined that much.  Spock is the smartest guy on the Enterprise, and he isn’t wrong about Karidian being Kodos.  But Kirk is still the top-billed character on the show.  If Spock figures out who a murderer is around the halfway point of any given episode, he’s probably at least a little wrong, especially if McCoy seems to be backing him up.

And, well, let’s be real here:  if Anton/Kodos is not the killer, there can be only one possibility left:  Lenore.

Considering someone makes an attempt on Kirk’s life involving an overloaded phaser in Kirk’s quarters, Lenore seems the likeliest suspect after all that talk of pulsing and throbbing engines.  The other alternative is that somehow just anyone can walk into the captain’s quarters.

Plus, in the opening scene, Lenore is playing Lady Macbeth opposite her father’s Macbeth.  That’s downright creepy and wrong.  So, of course, Lenore is creepy and wrong.

Ultimately, Kirk’s cautious approach proves wisest.  Lenore is clearly unwell, as is her father–yes, he really is Kodos.  Her grand plan was to eliminate all the people who could recognize Kodos as a way of helping her father.  And her final move was the one that pushed her over the edge:  attempting to kill Kirk with a snatched phaser hit her father instead, and she just can’t deal with it.

Was Kirk really attracted to her?  McCoy wants to find out at episode’s end to make sure his friend and captain is OK.  Kirk’s answer?  He smirks a bit and says nothing.  Kirk may have only been getting close to Lenore in order to investigate her father, or perhaps she simply interested him.  Regardless, it’s Kirk.  He’ll be over her by the next episode if he isn’t over her already.

His one true love is still the Enterprise.