Charlie X

Episode Reviews (12)

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7.6
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  • 7.5

    A young man copes with his special mental powers on board the Enterprise.

    By Celedorian, Dec 03, 2014

    Before it even developed its core audience of kindred spirits, Star Trek created this bottle episode about a socially awkward teenager who finds it difficult to cope with life among humans - and who has godlike powers he can't help but use when he feels threatened or disrespected. It's an adolescent story from an adult perspective, with Charlie representing many young men who yearn to be liked and understood with the science fiction twist throwing him into a power struggle with Captain Kirk.



    For William Shatner, it's a rare chance to portray a father figure, and he does it with such ease it makes you wonder why it took 44 more years before he landed the part of a sitcom dad. His Kirk balances patience and respect with firmness and conviction. In short, he gives the character a disarming kindness while still staying true to his duties as captain. But it's Robert Walker as the titular Charlie, who carries the episode with his brilliant and convincing performance, giving the character an innocent enthusiasm that's lovable and pitiable at the same time. 26 year old Parker sees to it that 17 year old Charlie X wears his heart on his sleeve, and the compelling performance creates a heartbreaking character study that carries through from the first to last act. By the end, the dues ex machina solution (repeated many times throughout the series) feels earned because the study has run its course.



    But make no mistake, "Charlie X" is still Star Trek trying to find its way. The rhythm and joy the writers would find in subsequent episodes isn't here yet. In fact, like "The Man Trap" this one's really a downer, though Grace Lee Whitney (who turns in a fine performance as Yeoman Rand, the object of Charlie's first crush) has talked about spying Walker at a roller rink in 1979 and skating up to him with a, "Hi Charlie!" So I'd like to think that somewhere in an alternate universe, Charlie and his crush are able to find peace together skating around in circles.



    The episode (which takes place on Thanksgiving) is notable for Gene Roddenberry's first and last Star Trek cameo: he's the voice of the galley chef telling Captain Kirk about the meatloaf turning into turkeys.



    Remastered Edition: With all the action happening aboard the ship, most of the new effects are the standard Enterprise establishing shots. One notable exception is the cargo vessel Kirk references at the top of the episode. It's not seen in the original version (which gets all its space footage from the two pilots), but in the remastered edition it appears with a design that's been borrowed from the freighters seen in the Animated Series episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" (where they appear as robot ships)... a nice touch of retroactive continuity.

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  • 8.5

    A young man tries to find love in a cold, unforgiving world.

    By belial_77, Nov 13, 2011

    this is one of the early God-like-beings stories... A young man who had been left for dead after a transport ship crashes on a mysterious world... is found 17 years later... never knowing another human, he longs for attention, love and sex... but these are three things Kirk would rather have himself... a power struggle ensues... Kirk being a measly ships Captain vs a deranged teen with god-like powers and insane amounts of hormones... Wackiness Ensues!!! i just rewatched the episode and I forgot how much the faceless crewman crawling down the hall freaked me out when I was a kid... And the Lizard sound effects were AWESOME!!!!moreless

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  • 9.5

    A young teenager comes aboard the Enterprise, who, it transpires, has dangerous metal powers to make anything that he thinks of happen. Although I don't always like totally ship-bound episodes, I liked this one...

    By Jay-Spacedust, Oct 19, 2008

    Generally (but not always), I'm not as keen on completely Enterprise-bound stories. But I really like this story.

    As with many stories from the Original Series, it very much serves as a moral fable, and in its own way is quite poetic.



    Being an early episode, there are a couple of slightly out-of-character moments with Spock, especially during Uhura's song in the rec room when he can be seen to break a smile. Personally, I like to explain this away rather on the same level as Data experiment with different moods in 'The Next Generation' – Spock was just "trying it out" (!).



    Charlie is well played by Robert Walker, Jr., giving a disturbing and sad performance in equal measure.



    There are some good moments as Kirk tries to teach young Charlie how to behave properly, and later when Charlie starts to use his mental powers to take out his anger on people. One particularly notable moment comes as he wipes away the face of a poor young woman.



    The resolution of the story is quite eerie and haunting, although I did feel that it played out a bit too long and the pacing could have been tightened up.



    All-in-all, although it probably wouldn't make my Top 10 favourite episodes, I like this episode.moreless

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  • 7.0

    A boy with the ability to do anything he wants can be quite dangerous.

    By Deo13, Sep 04, 2007

    This episode involves a boy named Charlie Evans who was stranded on a planet by himself for most all of his life. When Captain Kirk and the Enterprise have Charlie come aboard from another vessel all seems fine on their way to Earth Colony 5. But then something strange about Charlie crops up. Turns out he has the power to do anything he wants. He can make people disappear if they stand in his way, and he can change meatloaf into turkey if need be. By the end when the Thasians come to take Charlie you half feel bad for him, but then you think of the people he made disappear and its all good.moreless

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  • 7.9

    The Enterprise crew encounters <i>another</i> god-like being who threatens the wellfare of the ship.

    By adam8it2, Dec 25, 2006

    Even though it would seem like another tired plot, this was a pretty good episode. Kind of reminded me of the classic Twilight Zone where Billy Mummy plays the kid with power over everything.



    Kirk and crew meet up with a ship who have recently picked up a stranded teenage male, Charlie, who crashed on the planet when he was a child. Miraculously, Charlie has learned to talk and survive while being all alone.



    Soon it become evident Charlie has power to do almost anything he wants, though it can be temporarily drained if he's doing several things at once. Charlie has the patience, or lack thereof, of a child. He can't get everything he wants fast enough, and when people stand in his way, he either makes them disappear, or changes them horribly.



    Eventually, the species who gave him the power arrive and take him back, telling Kirk if Charlie was to stay, he'd destroy mankind or they'd be forced to destroy Charlie.moreless

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  • 4.7

    Some kid turns everyone into lizards because Kirk ordered meatloaf for the crew instead of turkey for Thanksgiving

    By hrtonslv, Dec 24, 2006

    I was fascinated to read about Robert Walker (Charlie Evans) not mingling with the rest of the cast so he could seem unknown and "alien" to him. Perhaps that worked despite the fact that he looked no where near seventeen years old. However, I still just wasn't interested in the story that much. I guess this was the first of many shows where at the end, some super being comes in and saves the day to wind up the show. ie "The Squire of Gothos", "Errand of Mercy" and "The Corbomite Maneuver" to a certain extent.moreless

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  • 8.0

    Tiger, tiger, burning bright in the forests of the night!

    By amazingwebhead, Jul 28, 2006

    The Enterprise takes aboard Charles Evans, a young teenager whom was found by the USS Antares and is confirmed to have been raised by a ‘mysterious alien race’. Once onboard Charlie continually feels out of place and alienated amongst the humans aboard the Enterprise, just as he did on the Antares and begins to vent out his frustrations on the crew using his reality-twisting powers which at their worst can make people ‘go away’.



    Charlie X is a story that focuses around a young boy and his ever increasing struggle to control an immense amount of power given to him by his superiors. The writers do a great job of the ‘alien’ this week by presenting him as a threat that actually tries to fit in with humans but is continually misunderstood and fails to adapt; rather than one that simply wants to destroy the Enterprise and its crew straight away. Throughout the tale we are greeted by moments that both make us feel sympathetic to Charlie but at the same time wish he could just drop the angst and act a little more responsible.



    The love struggle between Yeoman Rand and Charlie is also worth mentioning as it is particularly important to Charlie’s ever increasing discomfort whilst onboard the Enterprise. As Charlie has never even seen a female before, he fails to understand the complications that his love for her will surface. Being continually rejected by Rand, we see a somewhat jealous and humiliated teenager, haunted by his feelings and emotions that he doesn’t know what to do with. In a brilliantly written, performed and directed scene, Charlie eventually makes Janice ‘go away’ before cursing her for making him do it. Not only is this great insight to Charlie but it makes room for a clear vision of Charlie’s extent that he will go to, sacrificing his own feelings just to get his way and release his anger.



    In addition to the more serious aspects of the story, we also have some nice scenes with Kirk, Spock and McCoy debating on how to approach the treatment of Charlie. There’s also Uhura’s and Spock’s brilliant musical performance, and who can forget Kirk’s speech that he gives to Charlie on how to treat women? If that doesn’t sum up Kirk’s viewpoint on the opposite sex, I don’t know what will. We also get a brilliant insight into the closeness and great bond the crew of the Enterprise have with each other, and specifically with their captain during the final action scenes where the entire bridge is trying to take Charlie down at the command of Kirk. In addition to this, the ever pitiful Charlie seems almost breakable and vulnerable as the young teenager he is inside, without his powers.



    One problem I had with this episode however was the sometimes jumpy repetitive writing that after the first half of the episode relied to heavily on ‘Charlie does something bad, Charlie gets told off and storms away’. I did get a little tiresome, but wasn’t too much of a big deal. Other minor areas that struck me as a little off were some of the special effects (Sulu’s pet, the faceless woman) and Kirk in skin-tight red leggings. It doesn’t leave much for the imagination to say the least, and my imagination hadn’t even imagined it yet. Let’s just hope we never see the gym again.



    The conclusion to the story is that Charlie is condemned to return to his alien guardians, as they cannot trust him to use his powers responsibly and cannot take them away from him. As the aliens come to take him away, Charlie begs to be saved from his banishment over and over before finally disappearing onto the alien vessel. It’s at this final point in the story where you may come to feel sorry for Charlie’s damnation of never being able to see his real relatives on Colony 5. Sure he tormented the crew of the Enterprise out of his own personal feelings of which were very much unjustified but was he really another real villain? Or was he simply a confused and misunderstood teenager with too much power -power which proved to be more of a weakness than any true force of strength- at his disposal?



    Charlie X is a brilliantly written episode that creates a complex character and ‘villain’ perfectly in the short time that it’s given. Performances are top-notch, with special regard to Walker who plays out Charlie with fantastic depth and emotional grounding that his character deserves. With some intense action scenes, great character development and a perfect blend of science fiction with character based scenes; Charlie X is an episode of classic Trek that shows real understanding of plot and character build-up that eventually ends in a somewhat unfortunate fashion for Charlie, our villain that’s a little more grey than black.moreless

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  • 8.5

    Strong early episode

    By peck2000, Jun 26, 2006

    CHARLIE X deminstrates just what it was that separated STAR TREK from the other \\\"sci-fi\\\" shows on tv at the time. The main thrust of the plot is about how humans react in extraordinary situations. The sf trappings are incidental, rather than fundamental.



    Charlie is a kid who\\\'s been raised without proper adult supervision. As such, he has no discipline, he wants whatever he sees and he wants it now. And he has the power to make those things happen. Kirk tries to fill that authority / father figure role, but eventually Charlie rebels.



    1966 audiences would have felt comfortable with the familiar story, despite the alien environment. And STAR TREK was able to gain a foothold in the ratings and do what it was best at doing. Using sf to make engaging observations about the world the rest of us live in.moreless

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  • 6.5

    Not a bad story, but we've seen it before, here and elsewhere.

    By CommanderBalok, Sep 03, 2005

    From the moment the Antares hands young Charles Evans over to the Enterprise crew -- nervously and in a hurry -- we know something isn't right with the boy. As the episode develops, we learn just how wrong he really is. He has been given a suite of psionic powers by the enigmatic Thasians, and he proceeds to misuse these abilities in a variety of ways.



    The episode's strength is that it conveys the sense that literally anything can happen in space, and that a lot of it is likely to be beyond man's capabilities. But that's also, to a degree, a weakness. In the end, the fact that the crew had to be "bailed out" of their predicament, and the final fate of Charles Evans, detracted from an otherwise tense episode. As well, Kirk's last ditch effort to keep the boy with his own kind rang false, considering the desperation of his attempts to overwhelm and incapacite the boy immediately preceeding this. Surely, by this point, Kirk understood that Evans' lack of self discipline would have made coexistence with humans impossible.



    The episode is further weakened by the fact that it is quite similar to "Where No Man Has Gone Before". In both cases, the central theme is Lord Acton's old maxim: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts, absolutely. The subtle difference is that "Where..." clings to this belief, whereas this episode suggests it doesn't have to be that way; the Thasians have power superior to what Evans has been granted, and they do not (as far as we see) misuse it. In a sense, this shows as that social evolution is as important as cultural and technological evolution, a theme that appears from time to time in Trek. The human, Evans, despite the utopian Trek universe, misuses his power. But maybe, at some point, men will develop this power (as the Thasians did) and learn not to misuse it.



    A rough and somewhat derivative plot, but with a strong central theme, good characterization and decent acting.moreless

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