The Squire of Gothos
Overall Ep :
First Aired :
12 Jan 1967
Season Ep :
Main Cast :
Guest Cast :
It's established at the start of the episode that they are 900 light years from earth, thus Trelane's information should be this much out of date. However, he talks of Napoleon who lived only 467 years ago.
Great Moment :
When the planet Gothos chases down the Enterprise, it brings home just how overmatched the crew are by Trelane.
Body Count :
Paul Schneider's original inspiration for this episode was watching children playing war.
William Campbell dislocated his shoulder during the fight with Shatner. However, as he threw his arm out in pain the joint popped back in again immediately.
Casting director Joseph D'Agosta wasn't sure Campbell was right for the part, so he came in to audition for it. After he had got through one single paragraph D'Agosta ended the audition on the spot and sent him straight to wardrobe to be fitted for the part.
Since the first landing party were beaming down into what they thought was a hostile environment, the original script called for them to be in environment suits. However, Bob Justman thought that fitting them all out in the suits seen in "The Naked Time", which were made from cut up shower curtains, would just make them look ridiculous and lose credibility. They settled on simply giving them face masks instead.
The Enterprise is passing through a "star desert", a region of space devoid of star systems, whilst on the way to the Beta VI colony. They discover a planet ahead, strange since the area has been charted before with no sign of it shown on the charts. Uhura finds that she cannot contact Starfleet to report the finding... and suddenly, both Sulu and Kirk vanish from the bridge.
The ship scans the area for several hours and finds no sign of the officers on the ship and no Human life on the planet. The world is inhospitable, with no soil or vegetation and a toxic atmosphere swept by storms. As Spock considers their options a message appears on a screen offering "Greetings and Felicitations". Spock sends a landing party down under the command of Lieutenant LaSalle to investigate the source of the transmission. They find themselves in Earth-like conditions on the surface, rather than the toxic environment they expected. Unable to contact the ship, they explore the area and discover a large gothic structure nearby.
Kirk and Sulu are inside, apparently paralysed in some manner. They also find another person who introduces himself as General Trelane, the self proclaimed Squire of the planet Gothos. Trelane is a strange character - foppish, enthusiastic, apparently enjoying the proceedings greatly. He releases Kirk and Sulu with a gesture and announces that he saw the ship passing by and couldn't help but bring them to the planet to meet them. He mentions having observed Humans - and apparently, being 900 light years from Earth, he has been seeing life as it was 900 years ago and has based their surroundings on that. He wants to know all about the Enterprise's missions of conquest and the battles they have thought, and dismisses the idea that the ship's mission is peaceful. He is delighted by the destructive power of their hand phasers, prompting Kirk to wonder if he plans to start killing people. Trelane hands the phaser back and explains that he and others like him have the power to rearrange matter on a fundamental level, transforming it into energy and back in any form them choose. He has used this power to create their surroundings so that he can interact with them. When Kirk resists his overtures Trelane transports him briefly beyond the protected zone, exposing him to the toxic environment of the planet.
On the ship Spock has managed to detect the protected zone on the surface and scans it for lifeforms. Although he may not be able to find the Enterprise crew specifically, he hopes to transport up whatever living things may be in the zone.
McCoy scans Trelane and finds the results incomprehensible; he shows as not alive, not dead, not really even there at all. They also realise that there are mistakes within the setting Trelane has created, such as the fact that the fire burns steadily without ever consuming the wooden logs, and without giving out any heat at all. Trelane obviously has incredible power, but he does have limitations. As they talk Spock enacts his plan, and the officers are beamed up. McCoy points out that since Trelane didn't beam up with them, he must not be an actual life form. As Kirk prepares to warp out of orbit Trelane appears on the bridge, annoyed to have had his plans disrupted. He announces his dislike for Spock and transports most of the bridge crew back down to the planet again.
As Trelane continues to entertain himself Spock suggests that there must be some highly powerful and advanced machinery nearby to achieve the affects he can produce. Kirk notices that Trelane rarely strays far from the large mirror on one wall and speculates that the machine might be behind it. Kirk challenges Trelane to a duel using pistols. On his turn to fire, Kirk shoots the mirror. There is indeed a machine behind it, which explodes into flames. Trelane is furious but the communication with the ship is restored and they are able to beam up again. Kirk warps out of orbit at maximum speed, and for a moment it seems that the crisis is over. However, the planet Gothos looms up in front of them once more. No matter how the ship manoeuvres the planet re-appears before them, making escape impossible.
Kirk finds himself transported down into a courtroom setting. An angry Trelane conducts a mockery of a trial, declaring Kirk guilty of the crime of opposing him. Kirk hits on a strategy, mocking Trelane for the shallowness of his games. It is all too easy for him, Kirk argues. His power means that he cannot risk anything, since there is no possibility of losing. Kirk offers him a genuine challenge, a hunt with Kirk himself as the prey. Trelane once again wins, using his power to force a victory. Kirk just dismisses the victory out of hand, insulting Trelane.
Suddenly the solution presents itself in the form of Trelane's parents, glowing energy beings who literally arrive to tell him that it's time for him to go home now. Despite his complaints the Squire of Gothos vanishes. Trelane's parents explain that they had allowed him to play in the star desert, not realising that there was anybody there to become tangled up with him. They apologise to Kirk and depart. Back on the ship, Kirk muses that despite all his power and abilities, Trelane was ultimately just a naughty child who behaved like any other.
As with many Season 1 Trek plots, the idea of the super powerful being whose apparent malevolence proves to be nothing but the naughtiness of a child has become a cliche over the years... we have to remind ourselves that it was a new, fresh idea when it was used here. They do a good job with it - Trelane is a perfect blend of good humour and frantic playfulness mixed in with just a little menace. You gradually start to realise that whilst he threatens horrible consequences here and there, he never actually follows through on them because his attention span is so short that within a few minutes he shifts over to some new game he wants to play instead. Even at the end when it really does seem like he's finally decided to finish Kirk off once and for all, the Captain is able to snap him out of it with some harsh words and well place slaps to the face. Trelane could have killed him in a second... but he doesn't, because ultimately he doesn't want to kill, he just wants to keep playing the game.
TNG would go to this well again in the pilot episode, drawing heavily on Trelane in creating the character of Q. Indeed there is so much similarity that many fans have speculated that Trelane is indeed a young Q. Voyager would later explain that the Q don't reproduce, instead living an ageless, rather dead-end existence. Yet they do make a point of showing us that Q and a female Q break this trend by reproducing, and give us a "Son of Q" in a later episode. We see Q's son as the equivalent of a baby and as the equivalent of a teenager... could Trelane actually be that person as the equivalent of five or six years old? Maybe. The one thing that really argues against it is Trelane's apparent reliance on a machine to perform his tricks for him, whereas the Q have always manifested their powers as a natural ability. Personally I tend to think that Trelane is not that Q, or indeed any Q, for this reason. One might speculate that he and his parents are some early precursor to the Q, though, beings from a time when the Q still needed machines to achieve their powers and had not yet found a way to make those powers inherent. But that's really just speculation, of course.
As usual the remastered version has all new special effects. Of special not is Gothos itself, which now looks much better with clouds and huge lightning bolts flaring in the atmosphere occasionally.