And the Children Shall Lead

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"And the Children Shall Lead"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 4
Directed by Marvin Chomsky
Written by Edward J. Lakso
Featured music George Duning
Cinematography by Jerry Finnerman
Production code 060
Original air date October 11, 1968 (1968-10-11)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"And the Children Shall Lead" is a third-season episode of the original science fiction television series Star Trek, and was broadcast October 11, 1968. It is episode #59, production #60, written by Edward J. Lakso and directed by Marvin Chomsky.

In this episode, on a distant planet, Kirk, Spock and McCoy find a scientific team dead, and their children who, unknown to the crew, have great powers at their disposal.

Plot[edit]

The Federation starship USS Enterprise intercepts a distress call from the planet Triacus, where a scientific expedition is located. Arriving at the planet, Captain Kirk, Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy, and First Officer Spock beam down to investigate. They find the expedition leader, Professor Starnes, has gone insane; he almost immediately dies. The other adult members of the team have apparently committed suicide. However, the expedition's five children (led by Starnes's pre-teen son Tommy) remain alive and well, continuing to play as if nothing has happened.

Recordings made by Prof. Starnes explain that the survey team were driven to suicide to escape "the enemy from within". The landing team buries the dead adults. The children continue to appear emotionless toward the loss of their families. After the funeral, the children and Dr. McCoy beam to the Enterprise while Kirk and Spock investigate a nearby cave. Once inside, Kirk finds himself in the throes of an anxiety attack which abates the instant he leaves the cave. He wonders if the anxiety might be caused by the same phenomenon that is causing unusual tricorder readings.

McCoy speculates that the children witnessed the shocking deaths of their parents and are now suffering temporary lacunar amnesia; they are unaware of what has happened and incapable of grieving. He warns that confronting them with the truth too soon could damage them psychologically, and that it would be best to wait until they begin to remember in the natural way. Kirk tries to talk to them and they reveal that they did not like living on Triacus and were resentful their parents wanted to stay. Kirk tries to ask more questions but the children begin to chant "busy busy busy" and simply ignore him.

The children are assigned quarters and, once they are left alone, form a circle and begin to perform a summoning ritual. Answering the call is Gorgan, a humanoid apparition surrounded by a green glow. He tells the children they have completed their "first step": he encourages them to take over the Enterprise and change its course to the planet Marcus XII. There he promises the children will be happy, living without responsibilities or rules, once they are with the others of his kind.

On the bridge, Tommy asks Kirk to take him and his friends to Marcus XII, explaining that he has relatives there. Kirk denies the request and tells him the plan is to take the children to Starbase 4 where their relatives will be contacted. Kirk and Spock watch a recording from Prof. Starnes who documents the onset of paranoia and anxiety among his staff after excavation of a new archaeological site. Just then, Tommy concentrates deeply and, using a series of gestures made with his clenched fist, telekinetically disrupt the playback.

Kirk and Spock leave the bridge to watch the tape elsewhere. Tommy stays behind and observes Lt. Sulu and Ensign Chekov at the helm. He telepathically forces them to change course — though they believe they are still orbiting the planet. Lt. Uhura notices they have left orbit, but before she can say anything, Tommy gives her the same illusion.

In a briefing room, Kirk, Spock and McCoy watch the rest of Professor Starnes's recordings. Starnes speaks of doing things against his will and how he requested a transport with no apparent need of it. When he realized what was happening, he decided to send out a dispatch to Starfleet to warn them. Starnes closes the entry shouting, "Alien upon us, the enemy from within!"

Mr. Spock reports his findings on the history of Triacus that may be linked to the disturbances felt by the research expedition. Triacus was the ancient home of planetary marauders who fought wars throughout the sector thousands of years ago. The marauders were eventually defeated, but according to legend, the embodiment of their evil remained, and only needs some sort of catalyst to bring it alive again.

Kirk assembles two security members to beam down to the planet to relieve personnel looking over the excavation site. While attempting to beam up the first team, Kirk realizes the Enterprise has left orbit and that he has just had two men beamed into space.

Kirk rushes to the bridge to discover the children in the midst of their circling, chanting routine and the crew merely watching and smiling indulgently at the "game". Gorgan appears, encouraging them to maintain their control of the ship.

Kirk realizes the children have taken over. He attempts to regain control by issuing orders, but the bridge crew's minds have been affected in a variety of ways so that they can no longer hear or obey. Kirk fears that he has lost his ability to command, and his fear is amplified by Tommy's telepathic control. Spock manages to resist Tommy's influence and quickly leads Kirk into the turbolift, reassuring him that he is indeed in command.

Once back on his feet, Kirk goes to auxiliary control to convince Chief Engineer Scott to put the Enterprise back on course, but Scott and his technicians are under the children's control as well, refusing to obey Kirk's commands. During the argument, Kirk notices one of the children standing behind a screen making peculiar gestures. Spock says that the children are not evil, but are being used by an evil, alien power. In the corridor, they encounter Chekov, who believes he has received an order to arrest them. As they disable him, they notice one of the children nearby making the same gestures.

Back on the bridge, Kirk confronts the children and demands that their alien friend show himself. When the children refuse to call him, Kirk replays the audio chant. Gorgan appears and sneeringly describes his plan, saying that people who are full of goodness and gentleness are unworthy of being his followers and will always be vanquished by stronger forces.

Kirk plays back video recordings of the children playing with their families on the planet's surface, followed by a few shots of the dead bodies and the graves. The children realize what has happened, and Kirk implores them to see Gorgan as he truly is. The children begin to sob as their faith in Gorgan fails and the entity's face begins to decay. He fades away, chanting "Death to you all!"

With the evil gone, the illusions subside and control of the ship is restored. The Enterprise resumes its course to the Starbase.

Production[edit]

In an interview with Sondra Marshak, published in Star Trek Lives (written by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Sondra Marshak and Joan Winston), Leonard Nimoy explained that when he complained about the script to producer Fred Freiberger, Freiberger said, "This script is going to be what 'Miri' should have been". Nimoy objected, calling "Miri" a beautiful, well-acted story, and felt that Freiberger's comments were as much as saying, "'Miri' was a piece of trash".

Reception[edit]

While the general fan consensus was that this was one of the poorer third season episodes, and that Captain Kirk's "brusque, exaggeratedly authoritarian and at times unmistakably hostile attitude" towards the titular children undermined both the moral and the plot, Richard Keller of TV Squad listed Gorgan as the tenth scariest television character.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Keller, Richard (October 24, 2008). "All-time scariest TV characters". TV Squad. Retrieved March 13, 2012. 

External links[edit]