Charlie X

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"Charlie X"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 2
Directed byLawrence Dobkin
Story byGene Roddenberry
Teleplay byDorothy C. Fontana
Featured musicFred Steiner
Cinematography byJerry Finnerman
Production code8
Original air dateSeptember 15, 1966 (1966-09-15)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Man Trap"
Next →
"Where No Man Has Gone Before"
Star Trek: The Original Series (season 1)
List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"Charlie X" is the second episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek. Written by Dorothy C. Fontana from a story by Gene Roddenberry, and directed by Lawrence Dobkin, it first aired on September 15, 1966.

In the episode, the Enterprise picks up an unstable 17-year-old boy who spent 14 years alone on a deserted planet and lacks the training and restraint to handle his superhuman mental powers wisely.

The eponymous character Charlie Evans is featured as an adult in the fan-created, non-canon miniseries Star Trek: Of Gods and Men.

Plot[edit]

The USS Enterprise meets the merchant vessel Antares to take charge of Charlie Evans, the sole survivor of a transport ship that crashed on the planet Thasus. For fourteen years, Charlie grew up there alone, stranded in the wreckage, learning how to talk from the ship's computer systems, which remained intact. Charlie is to be transported to his nearest relatives on the colony Alpha V. Crew members aboard Antares speak praises about Charlie, but seem pleased to see him removed from their ship. He tells Dr. McCoy the crew of Antares did not like him very much, and that all he wants is for people to like him.

Despite his eagerness to please, Charlie becomes obnoxious since his lack of upbringing has left him with no knowledge of social norms or control of his emotions. He latches on to Captain Kirk as a father figure and develops an infatuation with Yeoman Janice Rand. He demonstrates extraordinary powers of telepathy and matter transmutation, though the crew initially fail to recognize the cause. Charlie meets Rand in the recreation room, where Mr. Spock plays a Vulcan lyrette and Lt. Uhura suddenly starts singing. Charlie is annoyed with being a subject in Uhura's performance, as well as with Rand paying more attention to the song than to him, so he causes Uhura to temporarily lose her voice.

When the Antares is nearly out of sensor range, it transmits a message to the Enterprise. The message is cut off before it can convey a warning. Scanners show the Antares has been reduced to debris.

Kirk tries to teach Charlie martial arts. Sam, Kirk's training partner, laughs at one of Charlie's falls, and Charlie makes him vanish. Shocked, Kirk calls for security guards to escort Charlie to his quarters. Charlie makes all phasers on the ship disappear, but ultimately yields to Kirk's order that he return to his quarters. Records show that Charlie's abilities are the same as those of Thasians, but the medical examination McCoy conducted when Charlie came on board confirmed that he is human. Charlie admits he used his powers to remove a vital component of the Antares. Frustrated at the adversarial turn in his relationship with the crew, Charlie breaks out of his quarters and begins to use his powers on the crew. When Rand resists his romantic advances, he makes her disappear.

Realizing Charlie's powers are too great to be controlled, Kirk opts to divert from Alpha V so as to at least keep Charlie away from a civilized world, where he would wreak havoc. Charlie discovers Kirk's plans, and takes control of the Enterprise. Speculating that controlling the Enterprise may sap Charlie's power, Kirk orders all of the ship's systems to be activated and attacks Charlie. However, his hypothesis proves incorrect.

A Thasian ship approaches and restores the Enterprise and its crew. The Thasian commander says that his race gave Charlie his powers so he could survive on their world, but these powers make him too dangerous to live among humans. Charlie begs Kirk to not let the aliens have him, since the Thasians lack any physical form or capacity for love. However, the Thasians reject Kirk's argument that Charlie belongs with his own kind, and transport Charlie away. Yeoman Rand cries for him.

Production history[edit]

The premise for this episode formed part of Gene Roddenberry's original March 1964 pitch for Star Trek, under the name "The Day Charlie Became God". When the series entered production, Roddenberry assigned it to Dorothy C. Fontana to dramatize.[1]

For a while during production, the episode was known as "Charlie's Law"; a name which survived in the James Blish adaptation of the episode for Bantam Books. In a scene in the script which did not air, Charlie's Law is stated as "You'd better be nice to Charlie ... or else."[2]

Gene Roddenberry made an uncredited audio cameo as the cook (or mess officer) who exclaims that the turkey-shaped meatloaf in the galley ovens has turned into real turkeys. This was his only appearance in The Original Series.[3]

Reception[edit]

Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode a "B" rating. Handlen marked the episode down for its poor treatment of Yeoman Janice Rand and use of the "god-child" cliché, but praised more "disturbing" elements of the episode, such as Charlie's pranks and his eventual fate.[4]

In 2016, Syfy ranked guest star Robert Walker's performance as Charlie, as the 6th best guest star on the original series[5] and Uhura's singing as the character's seventh best moment in Star Trek.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Herbert Franklin Solow and Robert H. Justman (1996). Inside Star Trek: The Real Story. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-00974-5.
  2. ^ Charlie X Archived January 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, final draft by D. C. Fontana, online at Orion Press
  3. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0708424/trivia. Retreieved August 7, 2019.
  4. ^ Handlen, Zack (January 16, 2009). ""The Man Trap"/"Charlie X"/"The Naked Time"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 10, 2009.
  5. ^ Kaye, Don (September 16, 2016). "The 17 best Star Trek: The Original Series guest stars (hero or villain)". SYFY WIRE. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  6. ^ Roth, Dany (December 28, 2016). "The Top 10 Uhura Moments from Star Trek". SYFY WIRE. Retrieved July 24, 2019.

External links[edit]