Requiem for Methuselah

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"Requiem for Methuselah"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 19
Directed by Murray Golden
Written by Jerome Bixby
Featured music Ivan Ditmars
Fred Steiner
Cinematography by Al Francis
Production code 076
Original air date February 14, 1969 (1969-02-14)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"The Lights of Zetar"
Next →
"The Way to Eden"
List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"Requiem for Methuselah" is a third season episode of the original science fiction television series, Star Trek, first broadcast on February 14, 1969. Its repeat broadcast, on September 2, 1969, was the last official telecast of the series to air on NBC (Star Trek would immediately debut in syndication on the following Monday, September 8, a full three years after its debut). It is episode No. 74, production No. 76, written by Jerome Bixby and directed by Murray Golden. It guest-stars James Daly as "Mr. Flint", and Louise Sorel as "Rayna Kapec" ("Kapec" is an anagram of Capek, after Karel Čapek, who introduced the term robot).

In this episode, the crew of the Enterprise encounters an immortal human.

Plot[edit]

The crew of the Federation starship USS Enterprise is struck with deadly Rigellian Fever. They arrive at the remote planet Holberg 917-G in search of the mineral Ryetalyn, used to manufacture a cure. Sensors detect no humanoid life.

Captain Kirk, first officer Spock and medical officer Dr. McCoy beam down to the planet to investigate and are attacked by a robot. The robot is called off by its master, who identifies himself as Flint. Flint claims that the landing party is trespassing, and orders them to leave immediately.[1]

Kirk will not accept Flint's authority, and orders chief engineer Scott on the Enterprise to fire the ship's phasers at their position if they are harmed. McCoy tells Flint about the disease threatening the Enterprise crew and their urgent need for Ryetalyn. Flint displays emotion when he hears McCoy's comparison of the disease to bubonic plague, and describes the agonies suffered by the stricken in Constantinople in the summer of 1334.

He gives the landing party two hours to gather the Ryetalyn, offering his sentry robot M4 to find and gather the mineral. Flint escorts them to his home, which has an impressive collection of Earth artifacts (including paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and a Gutenberg Bible). Spock, however, is puzzled when his tricorder scans indicate that the works are recent creations with contemporary materials.

The party is surprised by the appearance of Flint's beautiful young ward, Rayna Kapec. Rayna likes Spock, who is impressed by her knowledge of physics. According to Flint, her parents were employees who died in an accident. Kirk plays billiards with Rayna, and they dance to a waltz played on the piano by Spock. The Vulcan calls the waltz an unknown piece by Johannes Brahms, written in manuscript with contemporary ink. In Flint's lab, McCoy analyzes the Ryetalyn gathered by M4; it is contaminated with irilium, and useless.

When Kirk kisses Rayna, M4 attacks him and Spock destroys the robot with his phaser. Kirk confronts Flint about the attack and Flint says that M4 misinterpreted Kirk's actions as hostile. Although Kirk forgives the incident, Flint summons a replacement sentry.

Kirk contacts the Enterprise and asks communications officer Uhura to research Flint and Rayna. Uhura learns that Holberg 917-G was purchased thirty years earlier by Brack, a private investor. With a surreptitious tricorder scan, Spock learns that Flint is over 6,000 years old.

Rayna comes to say goodbye to Kirk, who has fallen in love with her and begs her to accompany him. McCoy tells them that the Ryetalyn is missing, and Spock follows tricorder readings to a chamber with the bodies of other Raynas—all androids.

Kirk demands an explanation, and Flint confesses that he was born in Mesopotamia in 3834 BC. A soldier, after falling in battle he discovered he could not die.[2][3] Flint lived "lifetimes" as Leonardo da Vinci, Brahms, Solomon, Alexander, Lazarus, Methuselah, Merlin and others. He made Rayna as a mate who would "live" forever, and refuses to let them leave knowing his secret. According to Flint, Kirk has taught Rayna how to love and he wants Kirk to redirect her love to himself. Kirk refuses to cooperate, but when he orders the Enterprise beam them up Flint miniaturizes the Enterprise and its crew in his home. Although he is shamed into restoring the ship, when he realizes Rayna will not return his love Flint attacks Kirk. Rayna tries to stop the fight, her feelings torn between the two men, and she dies. Flint and Kirk, grief-stricken, stop fighting.

Flint allows Kirk to leave with the Ryetalyn. On the Enterprise, McCoy discovers from his tricorder readings that Flint is dying. Although earthly conditions made him immortal, living outside that environment has caused him to gradually age normally. Kirk is distraught over Rayna, and Spock helps him forget her with a Vulcan mind meld.

Analysis[edit]

According to fantasy and science fiction scholar Ace G. Pilkington, Requiem for Methuselah is a Star Trek adaptation of the film Forbidden Planet (1956). [4] Actress Anne Francis reported that Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, had talked to her about lifting some ideas from Forbidden Planet. [4] Actor Leslie Nielsen noted the similarities between Forbidden Planet and Star Trek, suggesting that the film served as a pilot for the television series. [4]

Forbidden Planet was the first big-budget science fiction film to be released by a major film studio, in this case Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It differed from previous science fiction films in several ways. [4] The setting of the film was a future era, where mankind is "spreading out into the universe". Humans are using faster-than-light starships in the film. [4] The film is set in part in outer space, and in part on an alien planet. [4] Human beings arrive on flying saucers. [4] A notable character from the film is Robby the Robot. "He" is a robot programmed according to Three Laws of Robotics, as defined by Isaac Asimov. [4]

In turn, Forbidden Planet itself was based on an earlier work, the theatrical play The Tempest (written c. 1610-1611) by William Shakespeare. [4] The Tempest happened to be the favorite play of Irving Block, one of the story writers of Forbidden Planet. He had the idea to use the play as the basis of the film's action and characters. [4] Block co-wrote the main story of the film with Allen Adler. The screenplay was mainly written by novelist and screenwriter Cyril Hume. [4] Hume turned the film into a meditation on the nature of technology, on human ambition and human frailty, on the destiny of civilizations, on power, and on fatherhood. [4]

Ruth Morse, a Shakespearean scholar, has written on the influence of The Tempest on both Forbidden Planet and Requiem for Methuselah. [5] Flint, the powerful recluse, seems to be based on both Prospero and Methuselah. [5] Rayna appears to be Flint's daughter and is based on Miranda, Prospero's daughter. [5] The twist here is that "Rayna-Miranda" (as Morse calls her) is an android and is not Flint's actual daughter. Flint in fact hopes that the female android will fall in love with him. Flint offers her knowledge and intellectual stimulation, but Rayna falls for the "irresistible" James T. Kirk. The female android faces new and (to her) unfamiliar emotions, having to choose between two men. The pressure causes her to short-circuit into self-destruction, her version of death. [5]

Morse finds it is unusual for "the Miranda" in a Tempest adaptation to die, but points that this version of Miranda is neither a true daughter to her Prospero, nor even human. She is a creation who came to life, and was intended to be an immortal companion to Flint. She finds Rayna's story to be similar to that of Galatea from Greek mythology. Galatea was a female statue who came to life and mated with her creator Pygmalion. [5] Morse finds the depiction of the relationship between Flint and Rayna surprisingly innocent. Flint is both Rayna's creator/father and her intended mate, but there is not a hint of incest or sexual abuse in this pairing. [5]

An original point of the episode is the motivation of Flint. He is immortal and apparently unable to die. He has outlived his human attachments, and it is hinted he has repeatedly outlived them in his long life. He wants a female android to be his mate, because he hopes that Rayna would also be practically immortal. His previous loves were apparently mortal women, who he has lost to the ravages of time. He suffers from the pain of loss. [5] Flint wants to awaken emotion in his creation, but Morse observes that Flint has apparently lost his own ability to feel strong emotions. [5]

Morse observes that this is not the only Star Trek episode which refers to William Shakespeare and his works. The Conscience of the King makes references to Hamlet, and Catspaw makes references to Macbeth. [5] Morse finds that the romance story of the episode has some similarities with a much earlier Tempest adaptation, The Tempest (1667) by William Davenant and John Dryden. She finds it likely that the Star Trek writing team was unfamiliar with this version, but they apparently came up with similar ideas. [5]

There is also an allusion to a completely different work in Requiem for Methuselah. There is a locked door in Flint's laboratory and behind it are the bodies of women, duplicates of Rayna. This alludes to Bluebeard, who kept a locked underground chamber in his castle. The chamber contained the bodies of women, the murdered corpses of his former wives. [5]

40th anniversary remastering[edit]

This episode was remastered in 2006 and aired June 21, 2008 as part of the remastered Original Series. It was preceded a week earlier by the remastered "The Way to Eden" and followed a week later by the remastered "The Savage Curtain". Changes made specific to this episode include:

  • Flint's home is now a large palatial home, complete with observation tower. Originally, Flint's home was represented by a reuse of the matte painting of Rigel VII from "The Cage".
  • Planet Holberg 917-G is now more realistic, with two moons orbiting behind it.
  • The effect of the Enterprise being miniaturized from space is remastered.

In other media[edit]

  • The Crew meet up again with the character Flint in the Star Trek book The Cry of the Onlies by Judy Klass, which is a follow-on from both "Requiem for Methuselah" and "Miri". He is also encountered in Greg Cox's non-canonical novels The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, as Dr. Evergreen, a 1980s scientist who discovers a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, in Immortal Coil by Jeffrey Lang, and in Federation (Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens) as Zefram Cochrane's benefactor Micah Brack.
  • The author of the Star Trek screenplay, Jerome Bixby, would write a film script at the end of his life which has many plot elements of this previous story, including an ageless man who is 14,000 years old, and has been a student of the Buddha, while he himself was the basis for the story of Jesus. This film, The Man from Earth, was released in 2007.
  • In the crossover comic Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes, the crew of the Enterprise joins forces with the Legion of Super-Heroes to investigate an alternative timeline where Earth has become a galaxy-conquering empire, learning that the villain is immortal Vandal Savage, who turns out to be an alternative version of Flint, Flint being a Vandal Savage who turned his back on violence and conquest.

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ David Greven (26 August 2009). Gender and Sexuality in Star Trek: Allegories of Desire in the Television Series and Films. McFarland. pp. 25–. ISBN 978-0-7864-5458-7. 
  2. ^ A. Bowdoin Van Riper (2002). Science in Popular Culture: A Reference Guide. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 175–. ISBN 978-0-313-31822-1. 
  3. ^ George Jaroszkiewicz (21 March 2016). Images of Time: Mind, Science, Reality. Oxford University Press. pp. 111–. ISBN 978-0-19-871806-2. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Pilkington (2015), p. 43–44
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Morse (2000), p. 164–171

External links[edit]