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Requiem for Methuselah

Review

Series : The Original Series Rating : 2
Disc No : 3.4 Episode : 77
First Aired : 14 Feb 1969 Stardate : 5843.7
Director : Murray Golden Year : 2269
Writers : Jerome Bixby Season : 3
Guest Cast :
James Daly as Flint
John Buonomo as Orderly
Louise Sorel as Rayna Kapec
Stunts :
Phil Adams as Flint's stunt double
Moral :
Love : Not for the mechanical of heart
YATI : Flint tells McCoy he can supervise the M-4's work, yet the robot locks McCoy out of the laboratory a few seconds later.

Flint claims that rats died of the bubonic plague. In fact rats are immune to the effects of the plage, which is how they were able to live long enough to carry it around everywhere on infected fleas.

The signs over the Androids read "Rayna", but the end credits list the character as "Reena."
Great Moment : The android's confusion as she died was very well played.
Body Count : The Android Rayna, plus the robot. Flint is dying but still alive at the end of the ep.
Factoid : Janeway would later meet Leonadro da Vinci in a holodeck program, apparently unaware that he was really Flint. One might surmise that Kirk never revealed this information to the Federation, perhaps because it was one of those details Spock edited from his memory?

This is the last Vulcan mind meld we see in TOS - Spock melds with Kirk and says "forget..." Ironically, in Star Trek II : The Wrath of Khan, he melds with McCoy and says "remember..."

The episode title is a reference to a character from the bible who is said to have lived for 969 years.

The M-4 robot is recycled from Nomad. Possibly the M-4 designation may refer to the M series of computers devised by Doctor Daystrom; M-1 through M-4 were described as having encountered development difficulties, so perhaps the robot has a limited version of M-5's decision making capabilities.
Quote : Rayna: "What is loneliness?
Flint: "It is thirst, it is a flower dying in the desert."

Plotline

Desperate to find the cure for a plague that threatens to wipe out the Enterprise crew, Kirk rushes to Holberg 917G to find supplies of ryetalyn, a key ingredient of the cure. On beaming down the landing party are confronted by a Human who orders them to leave his planet. Kirk manages to convince him to help them, and the man, Flint, takes them to his nearby home. His beautiful ward, Rayna, is immediately attracted to Kirk and he to her, much to Flint's displeasure. Whilst waiting for McCoy to process the ryetalyn Kirk discovers that Rayna is in fact an android, one of many which Flint has been working on as he perfects the technology. Flint reveals that he is an immortal, born over 2,700 years ago. Over the course of his life he has used many aliases, including Brahms and da Vinci. Unwilling to watch his partners age and die, Flint has avoided relationships but has been terribly lonely as a result. He has embarked on the project to build Rayna so that he would have an equally immortal partner.

Kirk and Flint fight over Rayna, but their combat provokes her to emotions she is unused to and she is overwhelmed, destroying her mind. A devastated Flint releases Kirk and his officers with a plentiful supply of ryetalyn. With the plague cured, McCoy reveals that his tricorder readings of Flint show that he is ageing normally, apparently a result of his leaving Earth's environment. After he leaves, Spock mind melds with the sleeping Kirk and urges him to forget.

Analysis

An episode full of interesting ideas, this one. Although it's really a side issue, my curiosity is piqued by the idea that the Enterprise could become so badly infected by any disease. In theory a Starship is a nearly ideal environment for preventing the spread of disease; the air is easily subjected to any manner of cleaning and filtering as it is recycled, and any given part of the interior is easily isolated behind air-tight seals at a moment's notice. Still, even the mighty Enterprise-D fell victim to such things on occasion so unbelievable as it may be, there you go.

The concept of an ageless character who has lived for millennia is an interesting one, which has been done many times in fiction. You have to wonder at Flint's penchant for becoming famous, though. He presumably adopts multiple identities precisely to prevent people from discovering his secret, so you would think he would try to live fairly inconspicuously. Yet he has chosen to become famous, time and again!

The subject of androids rears its head once more. Interestingly enough, in both "What are Little Girls Made Of" and "I, Mudd" it was automatically assumed that the primary purpose behind the creation of a female android was to use her as a "mechanical geisha", as nurse Chapel so delicately put it. And truthfully, that would probably be the case if this technology ever is created. While Flint likely has this on his mind, his intentions are more romantic than simply sexual - he seeks to end his eternal loneliness. An eminently understandable motive, and it makes him all the more tragic a figure because of it; not something you often get even in a Star Trek villain.

My low score is a result of the fact that Kirk is quite badly out of character here. His crew's lives are at stake, and he is dependant on Flint's good will to ensure their survival. Yet he takes time out to try and form a relationship with Rayna, even knowing full well it will enrage his host. Even assuming Kirk were genuinely in love with Rayna, which he seems to be, it's just not like him to put that above the safety and well being of his crew.


Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 2,350 Last updated : 12 Mar 2013