The Rewatch 10: The Conscience of the King

Series: Star Trek (The Original Series)
Episode:  1.13 The Conscience of the King (12-8-66)
Rating: 5/5
Redshirt Status: 0/16

Notable Guest Stars:

Arnold Moss – Anton Karidian/Kodos. Mr. Moss did not have an extensive filmography, but was on the radio version of Guiding Light.
Barbara Anderson – Lenore Karidian. She is probably best known for her role as Eve Whitfield on Ironsides.

Review

This episode is actually really interesting. Not only does it give some backstory to Kirk, but it also is one of those few times when the Federation’s history isn’t all shiny.

According to this episode, about twenty years prior, Kirk lived on the colony of Tarsus IV for at least a short time. There was a problem with supplies and the Governor, Kodos, decides to employ a Thanos-like strategy and has half the population murdered to reserve supplies. He keeps to himself so most of the people who know who he looks like are either dead or part of a group of 9 people, who seem to be made up of several teenagers (Kirk was 13 according to Memory Alpha) and younger children (I’m assuming Riley is younger than Kirk). He disappeared when relief arrived and was assumed dead.

Another witness, Dr. Leighton, calls Kirk to his planet under false pretenses because he is sure he found Kodos. An shakespeare acting group has been traveling the galaxy and it stars Anton Karidian. Kirk initially doesn’t agree, trusting that the Governer died, but after Leighton is killed he starts to wonder.

He brings the group on the Enterprise to better investigate. This episode brings into focus the relationship between McCoy, Spock and Kirk. I often see McCoy and Spock seen as advisories with Kirk in the middle playing mediator but its usually the other way around. Both men keep Kirk steady, and I think they know and respect that about the other. Kirk knows it too.

Kirk keeps the investigation to himself, which causes him to act unlike himself – alarming Spock (in a Spock like way). Spock then goes to McCoy to throw ideas around before taking them to Kirk.

I do wish they had Riley on the bridge helping Uhura in the last scene, to show that he had been brought up to communications.

This also has an interesting thought. Karidian has a daughter, Lenore, whom he has tried to keep away from his past. In fact he refers to the event as a past role he played. Yet somehow she found out about it. She decided to protect her father from retribution. Lenore seems a bit off, which I’m not sure if she’s just generally got some mental heath problems, or finding out about her father made her snap into this obsessive person determined to save her father from those who might identify him. As if when they are all gone it never happened.

Interesting Notes:

  • For once the production order and air order match. This is the thirteenth episode produced and aired.
  • features MacBeth and Hamlet (from which the title of the episode comes from)
  • Directed by Gerd Oswald
  • Written by Barry Trivers
  • Apparently in an earlier draft, George Kirk, the captain’s father was assigned to Tarsus IV, and he was also one of the victims. However it was decided it would restrict their ability to write stories later down the line.
  • I find it interesting that Karidian didn’t recognize Kirk, but he recognized Kevin Riley’s voice.

Pros:

  • Kirk Backstory
  • Uhura singing

Cons:

  • This was the last filmed scenes with Grace Lee Whitney (Janice Rand) till she was brought back for the films. I feel she deserved better. I do not know why she was fired or removed from the show, but what little they gave her could have been better. Her last scenes aired will be the next episode, Balance of Power
  • Most awkward scenes between Leanore and Kirk. I don’t know if it was a decision by Shatner to show he wasn’t all that into her at first, or if it was just awkward but it was.
  • A bit too much of the Shakespearean lines

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