Star Trek

Season 3 Episode 4

And the Children Shall Lead

Aired Unknown Oct 11, 1968 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
167 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The Enterprise travels to a planet where a scientific team has killed themselves... except for the children, who begin to act oddly.

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  • The Enterprise is threatened by a group of orphans who are being manipulated by a sinister ghost.

    Back in the 70s and 80s when Star Trek was scoring big ratings in syndication, this episode was a perennial favorite among Trekkers. Each time it was scheduled to air, it gave Trekkers a chance to tell their significant others, "Honey, you're more important to me than Star Trek; let's go out tonight".

    This ship-based episode is basically a devil worship story with children, which gives it two elements Star Trek has difficulty handling separately, let alone together. For the part of "the friendly angel", aka, the evil ghost luring children to the dark side, Fred Freiberger uses his friend, super-attorney Melvin Belli, who would seem a wise choice on the surface. Belli, infamous for defending seedy characters such as Jack Ruby, The Rolling Stones, and Jim Bakker and renowned for his oleaginous, hypnotic delivery, comes across on paper as both perfect for the part and a ratings coup all in one. But the stunt backfires, with Belli coming across as more robotic than hypnotic and no ratings boost to show for it. In truth, it wouldn't matter if Freiberger had cast Jack Palance; the part is doomed from the beginning by the weak script. (Indeed, Palance plays a similar role in a 1979 episode of Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century, and even he can't make it watchable).

    The heart of the problem is the lack of a central theme or point. The episode itself is sort of like a mashup of "Charlie X" and "Miri", but whereas they each have a focused storyline, this one just meanders along, forcing us to endure a series of scenes of misled children before a climax appears out of nowhere. Meanwhile, the disappointing special effects and wardrobe choices add to the misery, with Belli seemingly wearing a shower curtain taken from a cheap 60s motel... which considering the third season budget might actually be the truth. You can argue that "Spock's Brain" and "The Way to Eden" are hokey, but at least they're fun. "And the Children Shall Lead" lacks any entertainment value and makes a strong case for never having kids... at least in a Star Trek episode. (For all the grief people give Star Trek V, comparing Sybok's takeover of the Enterprise to little Tommy's is like comparing Shakespeare to Captain Kangeroo).

    Curiously, TNG does its own version of this story with its seventh season episode, "Imaginary Friend". It's not very good either.

    Remastered Version:

    This just gets a vanilla redo with a new Enterprise and new planet (replacing the original's reeuse of the "Operation: Annihilate!" planet). CBS doesn't even replace a viewscreen shot of the Enterprise flying through a tunnel of knives, which you'd think would be about as easy to upgrade as creating a screensaver. (Actually, that's just what the original looks like). But really, why bother? As an internet message board user calling himself "Evil Dr. Puma" writes, "This episode is less in need of remastering than regret, remorse, and

  • On a distant planet, Kirk, Spock and McCoy find a scientific team dead, and their children continuing to play as if nothing has happened; and who, unbeknown to the crew, have great powers at their disposal. Not outstanding but not the worst episode eithermoreless

    Here is another third season instalment that is considered a very bad episode by many. Personally, while it is far from 'Star Trek's finest hour, I don't find it to be out-and-out terrible. It's certainly better than a certain "Spock's Brain" a few episodes ago.

    The story has elements of the first season's "Miri", both concerning children who harbour a sinister secret.

    I don't know why the story is held with such low regard amongst many fans, as personally I think it has a semi-decent plot. I think the main flaw of the episode is that it has a reasonable concept, but doesn't unfold all that well; the story isn't developed half as well as it might have been.

    I agree with another reviewer that maybe they weren't able to make it as chilling as it might have been, with the limitations of 1960s television requirements; the story is crying out to be much darker.

    The effects that the various crew members suffer under the influence of the children is a mixed bag; Uhura seeing a terrible 'reflection' of herself is good, but I wasn't as convinced by Sulu hallucinating about piloting the Enterprise through the giant 'space daggers' (!).

    Kirk's breakdown is nowhere near as good as various influences in the first season episodes "The Enemy Within" or "This Side of Paradise"; and his sudden 'recovery' seemed rushed and forced.

    It's also hard to decipher what exactly the 'point' of the story is, as in what is the moral. There seems to be elements of stranger danger, vague child abuse and all sorts mixed in, but the 'point' is not very clear.

    [Minor spoilers] The climax with Gorgan is an interesting one, as it is not a fight or a battle, but a simple case of Kirk convincing the children to 'stand up to him', thus robbing Gorgan of his power over them.

    The final moments of the episode, as the children finally start to cry, is probably the best moment of the story, and makes for a good closing. [End of minor spoilers]

    All-in-all, not as terrible as some would make out (as I say, I consider "Spock's Brain" to be far worse), but hardly a great episode either.moreless
  • Adventures in Babysitting!

    The enterprise took some kids on board after the parents were killed for no reason. Then some leader came out of nowhere to tell the kids to take over the enterprose and take them to another planet. Most of the crew fell under their spell, but Kirk and spook fough back. I can't reveal the ending, but it come with a bang, but with a wimper. I like this epiosde enough to give it a 7. that may be low, but it's an acceptable rationg for an episode of the series. Kirk, spoock and McCoy at at the top of their game.moreless
  • attack of tort lawyers

    This is a classic example of how not to write a ghost story. There are parts that are very good and a little scary. Then they show you the the evil thing and its Melivn Beli in a shower curtian. While, some tort lawyers such as Peter G. Angelos are pure evil in this case it just does not work. It would have much better if form had been left to viewers. Also there question of why have evil look ugly, is that not a bit tripe, and would not have been a much better story if evil was attractive.moreless
  • Kirk and the landing party investigate the remnants of a scientific teamon Triacus.

    Great episode. This really is a terrific episode when you think about it. The episode itself is dark at times, funny and intense. The special effects were limited but Gene incorporates a lot of imagery to make the episode interesting.

    Kirk and landing party find a previous expedition dead but their children are still alive? How and why this is will be explained. In life one finds out that the truth to many ugly things usually harbors a bitter secret.

    In this case the children of the dead team under a bad influence do the unthinkable to their parents.

    They don't know that they've aided the murder of their parents because they've been manipulated into doing so. That is the point of this episode. The manipulation and control of one authority figure over young kids.

    Groups like Third Reich did it to young kids in Germany. You find more relative examples in something like a gang where one mature gang takes advantage of a younger one. You get the picture.

    This makes the finale of the end that more memorable. Kirk decides not to use force to drive the entity away from the ship but make the kids realize that they've been manipulated the whole time to do some truly evil things.

    That's a lesson that most parents and educators should really take not upon. That is a resolution not by force but driven more by understanding.

    This is an excellent episode with a lot of interesting themes to it. Sure it's a bit funny at times with the whole emphasis of the kids taking over the ship. However, once you really piece together what the episode is trying to say you realize it's a great episode.moreless
Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy

Mr. Spock

DeForest Kelley

DeForest Kelley

Dr. Leonard Horatio "Bones" McCoy

William Shatner

William Shatner

Captain James Tiberius Kirk

James Wellman

James Wellman

Prof. Starnes

Guest Star

Melvin Belli

Melvin Belli


Guest Star

Pamelyn Ferdin

Pamelyn Ferdin

Mary Janowski

Guest Star

Majel Barrett

Majel Barrett

Nurse Christine Chapel

Recurring Role

Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols

Lt. Nyota Uhura

Recurring Role

Walter Koenig

Walter Koenig

Ensign Pavel Chekov

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (9)

    • When Tommy looks across the bridge after Kirk leaves, the long shot shows Hadley at the navigational station. However, when Tommy walks over to look at the console, Chekov is in the position.

    • In one of Prof. Starnes' log entries he says that the civilization on Triacus was destroyed by a "natural catastrophe". Yet later when Spock is asked about them by Kirk, he says they were a "band of marauders" who "made constant war" and that they "were themselves destroyed by those they preyed upon".

    • When Spock grabs Kirk and they get into the turbolift, it starts up and goes exactly where they want it to go even though they don't give it any verbal commands or use the hand control.

    • No wonder McCoy doesn't like to use the transporter! Kirk beams down two security guards to the planet - they don't "lock on" to the planet or call up the guards already on the planet to get a lock-on signal, or do any kind of double-checking to see if there are any gravitational anomalies, or anything. Who would want to travel by a transporter when they're that careless?

    • The stardates of Starnes' entries are 5025.3, 5032.4, and 5038.3 But Kirk gives the stardate of when they arrive at the beginning of the episode as 5029.5, so apparently Starnes made two entries after he died.

    • Who is taking the picture of Professor Starnes as he records his entry? Presumably he's recording himself using his tricorder...but in the picture he's holding the tricorder.

    • Unlike in "City on the Edge of Forever", Kirk is able to play back the tricorder's recording...on the tricorder. He doesn't have to give it extra power or hook it up to a computer or anything.

    • How does Kirk know Gorgan is called Gorgan? The children never call him that, Spock never mentions it in the research. The first time anyone calls him Gorgan is...when Kirk calls him Gorgan.

    • What happened to the two security guards stuck on the planet? At the end of this episode the Enterprise just flies on to its next assignment.

  • QUOTES (10)

    • Don: Parents like stupid things.

    • Kirk: Most legends have their basis in facts.

    • Spock: Humans do have an amazing capacity for believing what they choose... and excluding that which is painful.

    • Spock: Captain, so long as the children are present, there is danger. They are the carriers.
      Kirk: Spock, they're not the alien beings. They're children being misled.
      Spock: They are followers. Without followers, evil cannot spread.
      Kirk: They're children.
      Spock: Captain, the 430 men and women on board the Enterprise and the ship itself are endangered by these children.
      Kirk: They don't understand the evil that they're doing.
      Spock: Perhaps that is true, but the evil that is within them is spreading fast, and unless we can find a way to remove it...
      Kirk: We'll have to kill them.

    • Spock: Evil does seek to maintain power by suppressing the truth.
      McCoy: Or by misleading the innocent.

    • Uhura: ...Captain...I'm old...disease...a slow horrible death...disease captain!

    • Children: - Bizzy. Bizzy. - Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Guess what we are.
      Chapel: I know - a swarm of bees.
      Children: Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy!

    • Kirk: Maybe that's what's registering on your tricorder.
      Spock: I'm not familiar with anxiety, but I wasn't aware it could be registered on sensors.

    • Gorgan: I would ask you to join me, but you are gentle, and that is a grave weakness.
      Kirk: We're also very strong.
      Gorgan: Ah, but your strength is canceled by your gentleness. You are full of goodness. Such as you cannot be changed.

    • Children: Hail, hail, fire and snow. Call the angel, we will go. Faraway, for to see, Friendly Angel come to me.

  • NOTES (1)