Star Trek – The Squire of Gothos
|Episode Title||“The Squire of Gothos”|
|Air Date||January 12, 1967|
|Written By||Paul Schneider|
While on a routine mission to a colony (as the Enterprise always seems to be, when it’s not exploring), the Enterprise encounters a rogue planet in the middle of a star desert. Before they even do any investigating, Captain Kirk and Lt. Sulu suddenly vanish from the bridge. Spock immediately takes charge and begins an investigation. Strange text-based messages start emanating from the planet, and Spock determines that this is where Kirk and Sulu are likely being held. Upon beaming down, they meet Trelane (William Campbell), another seemingly all-powerful, godlike being who sees humans as mere playthings for his own amusement. Kirk and his crewmen must outwit Trelane and escape before his play becomes a bit more dangerous than fun.
Let’s Dig Deeper into The Squire of Gothos
I’m going to put this right out front: I love this episode. Is it treading much of the same trail as “Charlie X,” “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” “The Cage,” or “The Menagerie”? Yes. I don’t care even a single groat. So what’s different here? It’s immensely fun. And when Star Trek has fun, something shines through that draws its viewers in and holds us there. By this point, we know the characters, we’re enjoying their interactions, and throwing a crazy wrench into the mix like Trelane, played by the superb William Campbell, is so enjoyable. Placing the hammy comic William Campbell next to the humorless Spock and the irritated Kirk works so well.
Trelane dresses like a French dandy. He’s decked out his impossible home with weapons and creatures and knick-knacks from throughout the galaxy, each item more ostentatious than the next. The only thing that transcends his extravagant decor is his excessive personality.
Whereas the last few godlike beings they came up against were solely about killing them and achieving universal domination and subjugation, Trelane just wants to have fun. He does get a bit sinister in the end, but it’s more like a child about to lose his toys than a Gary Mitchell who wants all to bow before him, or a Charlie Evans who creeps all over everyone all the time. In fact, it’s revealed by his vapor-like parents that Trelane is just a child. This explains a lot. He throws tantrums when people try to leave without his permission: “Wait! I won’t have this! I haven’t dismissed you yet! Stop it! I won’t have this!” Trelane is at once whimsical, capricious, and temperamental, and Kirk is often able to easily maneuver him and trick him. While he might be all-powerful, he’s not all-knowing. He’s no god and is quite fallible.
The message remains the same, such as it is: “With great power comes great responsibility.” But we’re not hit over the head with this message. Of course, Trelane shouldn’t steal people from their ships and play General Zaroff. Of course, Kirk is going to put him in his place. And I’m going to love every minute of it.
Most longtime Star Trek fans, myself included, have assumed that Trelane is a member of the Q continuum, which we first see in the pilot of Star Trek: The Next Generation. They’re an all-powerful race which transcends space and time and like to mess with us mere mortals.
We’ve got another in our long line of new Yeomen, following Janice Rand’s departure from the show. This time is Venita Wolf as Yeoman Teresa Ross. I still want Yeoman Barrows. At least Barrows had a personality; Wolf is just a pretty face that Gene Roddenberry or the casting directors found while reading Playboy in 1967.
William Campbell stars here in his first of two outings in Star Trek: The Original Series. He will appear in season two as Koloth, a Klingon commander, in the essential episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.” He’ll later reprise his role of Koloth in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s “Blood Oath,” one of the few characters to be in both The Original Series and one of the spinoffs.
“Why, Mr. Spock, you do have one saving grace after all—you’re ill-mannered!”
–Trelane, who usually finds Spock a bore, giving Spock a moment of credit
“Fascinating is a word I use for the unexpected. In this case, I should think interesting would suffice.”
–Spock to McCoy, winking to the audience about the “fascinating” stereotype he’s creating
If you’re not having fun yet, I can’t really help you. But next week’s “Arena” is considered a Top Ten Star Trek episode, so stay tuned!
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Tyler is a teacher, librarian and the Co-host of The Geek Card Check Podcast. He has been a Film Critic for Ready Steady Cut since 2018.