There’s a strong Shakespeare vibe to this episode, this time going for a play that is far less controversial, namely The Tempest. That play shows the sorcerer Prospero, a man with great knowledge and magical powers, watching out for his daughter Miranda until the day some other men wash up on shore. Miranda falls for Ferdinand, the son of a king, and the two are happily engaged by the end of the play. Now, Prospero does all this somewhat on purpose. He knows Miranda will need a husband (theoretically since they’re aristocrats), so he better make sure she gets a good one.
But “Requiem for Methuselah” is something else since the man calling himself Flint has less savory things in mind for his version of Miranda.
The Enterprise has an awful outbreak of disease, namely Rigellian fever, a disease that kills anyone infected within a day or so. There’s a cure in the form of a rare mineral, but a nearby planet has what seems to be a large deposit of the stuff. That leads Kirk, Spock, and McCoy to beam down only to find the planet without life signs does have someone down there, namely Flint.
That comes after they find his robo-butler/bodyguard. That thing reminds me both of NOMAD from the episode “The Changeling” and those weird drone things that kept attacking the crew in a season one episode of Next Generation. What is it with Star Trek and unstoppable floating drones?
Now Flint is one of those guys who says everyone back on Earth is uncivilized and at first refuses to help until McCoy describes the disease on the ship being like the Bubonic Plague. Flint reacts like he went through that himself and changes his mind. Granted, his help doesn’t always seem all that helpful. McCoy reports that the cure doesn’t seem to be coming along as well as it should be, and Spock keeps finding things that suggest a guy rich enough to own a planet shouldn’t need art in the form of forgeries of famous artists’ and composers’ work. And then Flint shows up with a young woman named Rayna. She’s apparently very smart, able to talk science with Spock, and here’s where I have some issues.
See, Flint is, it turns out, many millennia old. Something made him immortal, and sometimes he did great things. He was Da Vinci, Brahams, Alexander the Great, and a host of others, many of whom were a lot less notable. He left Earth because he was tired of how awful and violent other people were, holding himself up on a high horse, condemning Kirk and Co. for flying around, colonizing worlds in a ship full of weapons.
You know, an anti-colonial message in the 60s sure is a different approach to things.
But as Kirk is quick to point out, the weapons are for defensive purposes only, and anyone who’s been watching the show knows that is more or less true as long as there are no Klingons around. But Kirk let is be known he would use force to get the cure if he had to, and for all Flint claims moral superiority, he’s also quick to suggest he is physically stronger than Kirk and not afraid to show him so.
That comes before Flint shrinks the Enterprise down and freezes it in time.
What does he really want? He wants Kirk to teach Rayna about love. She’s a robot designed to be the perfect woman for Flint. Too bad Kirk also fell for her. Flint wants privacy, so he decided to freeze the crew in place for a thousand years or so, and, I assume, hope no one ever came looking for the Enterprise.
Does this seem like the work of a superior, civilized man to you?
Granted, I suspect that may be the point.
Of course, then Flint and Kirk get into a fistfight over Rayna because both men are in love with her. Spock keeps pointing out that this is a bad idea, but here we are.
Rayna then dies because she’s overwhelmed by emotions and maybe can’t decide. She loved Flint, but more as a father. She loved Kirk, but knows she can’t leave. The emotions were too much for her.
Really, always listen to Spock.
As it is, Flint, defeated, gives up the cure to McCoy, and then learns off-camera he himself is also dying. Whatever was keeping him alive was back on Earth, and now he doesn’t have it anymore. Kirk, meanwhile, is heartbroken over Rayna.
You know, Rayna was a good enough character of this type, but Kirk seems to pick up a new love interest every two episodes or so. Why is she the one he’s really missing?
Well, maybe it was just so we could see Spock use the Mind Meld to order Kirk to “forget”.
Maybe Spock’s been doing that for a while now that I think about it…
It’s probably a good thing they keep him around, then.