The Great Star Trek Rewatch: The Squire of Gothos

I have to admit, I wasn’t looking forward to rewatching this episode. It’s a very silly episode, and I didn’t enjoy it much the first time round. Although I found it slightly more bearable this time, my viewing companion confirmed that no, it isn’t very good at all.

This is another episode where powerful aliens toy with the lives of the Enterprise crewmen, and it’s definitely one of the weaker ones. When Kirk and Sulu are snatched from the bridge of the Enterprise, Spock sends a landing party to a mysteriously habitable area on an otherwise barren planet. There, the landing team discover that Kirk and Spock are being held at the pleasure of Trelane, a powerful being who has been observing Earth from 900 light years away. Trelane is playful and immature, but also likely to kill the crew just to further his own amusement.

Most of this episode takes place on the planet’s surface, with various characters forced to play games with Trelane. Since his information on Earth dates back to the 14th century, his manor is similarly old fashioned, although also filled with other bits and pieces such as a salt vampire (taxidermy or statue). Trelane spends his time acting like a jerk and being a major annoyance – he’s a proto Q, right down to putting Captain Kirk on trial. Naturally, where Picard deals with Q by quoting Shakespeare, Kirk’s approach involves pistol duelling, swords and good old fashioned kicking. I never really enjoyed the Q episodes, but at least John de Lancie brought quality to the part – Trelane is just plain irritating.

Character development

  • Spock does an admirable job of maintaining his calm and logical demeanour in the face of Trelane’s provocation. In fact, whilst the characters of the week are quick to react to Trelane, the main characters show an emotional maturity that far exceeds that of their alien host.
  • Since the departure of Janice Rand, we’ve had a different yeoman every week, and this week is no different. Is the Enterprise filled with loads of beautiful female yeomen just for this purpose?
  • Uhura doesn’t know how to play the piano.

Life in Space

  • One of the jobs of the bridge yeoman seems to be to bring cups of coffee to the bridge crew.
  • Trelane is the child of a powerful race of alien beings. He is meant to be studying predatory life forms, with an emphasis on humanity, but his parents take exception to the way he treats his specimens, and step in just in time to rescue Kirk and crew. Trelane himself relies on at least one piece of machinery to convert energy to matter, rather than being able to do this intrinsically. Some non-canon fiction has connected him to Q – and before you object that the Q didn’t have a child until Voyager, recall that space and time are nothing to them. The Q, however, do appear to have innate powers, and do not rely on machinery – however, as Trelane is immature, his parents may have limited his powers until he learnt to control them, and given him machinery instead. Or they may just be a different race entirely – one that is evolved enough to have shed physical bodies, but still need machinery to enact their great feats.
  • For a non-breathable atmosphere, the crew don what appear to be simple oxygen masks without an airtight seal. This appears to offer little protection against, say, acid rain or fog that turns you inside out, but maybe the technology is merely so advanced that it appears simplistic and retro to our unevolved twenty-first century eyes.

Summary – The Squire of Gothos: Everyone hates the annoying spoilt child whose tantrums ruin the birthday party. Thank god Trelane’s parents came to fetch him home.

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