Star Trek

Season 1 Episode 2

Charlie X

Aired Unknown Sep 15, 1966 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
263 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The Enterprise's newest passenger is a young man - what they don't know is that he has the power to make anything he thinks of happen.

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

    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 "More Tribbles, More Troubles" (where they appear as robot ships)... a nice touch of retroactive continuity.

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

    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
  • A terrific Trek outing....

    The Enterprise has picked up a strange passenger: Charlie Evans, the sole survivor of a crash at three years old who continued to survive on his own until he was fourteen. Now seventeen years old, Charlie has little tact and knowledge of how to behave as a young man - the small amount of human contact for the majority of his life seems to account for this. Charlie likes The Enterprise, likes Captain Kirk, and is particularly enamored by Yeoman Rand, of whom he finds incredibly beautiful. But Charlie's interest in Rand quickly turns into obsession and the crew also finds out how quickly Charlie can lose his temper - and what dangerous things happen when he does.

    What is especially great about "Charlie X" is how the episode is put together - being perfectly paced, having enjoyable atmosphere, and every scene is full of Trekisms and great character moments. Plus, the episode also has a very good performance from guest star Robert Walker Jr., who brings depth, mystery, creepiness, but also sympathy in his portrayal of Charlie.moreless
  • 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...moreless

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

    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
Gene Roddenberry

Gene Roddenberry

voice of Galley Chef (uncredited)

Guest Star

Laura Wood

Laura Wood

Old Lady (uncredited)

Guest Star

Beau Van Den Ecker

Beau Van Den Ecker

Sam (uncredited)

Guest Star

Frank da Vinci

Frank da Vinci

Security Guard (uncredited)

Recurring Role

Grace Lee Whitney

Grace Lee Whitney

Yeoman Janice Rand

Recurring Role

Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols

Lt. Nyota Uhura

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (13)

    • When Charlie arrives on the Enterprise, Kirk instructs Yeoman Rand to show him to his quarters. Then later, he is in Sickbay and McCoy says that he will show Charlie to his quarters, which Rand should have already done.

    • Trivia: We learn that Thanksgiving is still practiced in the 2260s.

    • Spock blinks when he is frozen by Charlie.

    • As this is an early episode, established characteristics are a bit off. When Spock plays his lyre so that Uhura may sing, he can be seen smiling. Spock is a Vulcan. Since Vulcans don't express their emotions, he shouldn't be smiling.

    • Charlie is being examined by Bones, but when we cut to a close-up on the display screen, we see a reflection of Charlie standing up staring at something off camera.

    • When Spock was saying poems on the bridge, the Space sensor array wasn't spinning.

    • When Charlie enters Rand's quarters later in the episode, she is wearing lingerie. Then she backs up and hits the switch on the viewscreen. But...she apparently turns it off (the red light was on, and she turns it off). So...she was broadcasting herself on the viewscreen? And despite the fact she turns the screen off, Kirk and Spock overhear her and Charlie.

    • When Charlie leaves Rand's quarters, the doors don't quite open - they stick out about 6 inches.

    • Kirk first says the Antares is a cargo vessel, but after it explodes he calls it a science probe vessel.

    • Yeoman Rand said that Recreation Room 6 was on deck 3. Deck 3 is the physics level.

    • When Kirk steps into the turbolift with Charlie he has his dress uniform shirt on, but when he exits the elevator on the bridge, he has his day uniform shirt on.

    • When Kirk and Spock rush to Rand's quarters, Charlie's mind flings them against the wall. Walls aren't what they used to be, the 'metal' cracks but when they pan back to Nimoy and Shatner on the floor, the wall is repaired.

    • When Spock plays Charlie in 3-dimensional chess he doesn't even bother to reset the pieces. Of course this really doesn't matter since both actors are obviously just randomly moving pieces whenever we see 3-dimensional chess being played in any episode.

  • QUOTES (10)

    • Charlie: Growing up isn't so much. I'm not a man, and I can do anything!

    • Charlie: (to Rand) She's not the same... not like you. She's... she's just a girl. You're... you smell like a girl.

    • Spock: Check.
      Kirk: Checkmate.
      Spock: Your illogical approach to chess does have its advantages on occasion, Captain.
      Kirk: I'd prefer to call it inspired.
      Spock: As you wish.

    • Spock: We are in the hands of an adolescent.

    • Uhura: (singing) Oh, on the starship Enterprise, there's someone who's in Satan's guise, whose devil's ears and devil's eyes could rip your heart from you. At first his look could hypnotize and then his touch could barbarize. His alien love could victimize and rip your heart from you. And that's why female astronauts, oh very female astronauts, wait terrified and overwrought, to find what he will do. Oh fools in space, be wary, be wary, be wary. Fools in space be wary, we know not what he'll do. Now from a planet out in space, there comes a lad not commonplace. A-seeking out his first embrace. He's saving it for you. Oh Charlie's our new darling, our darling, our darling. Charlie's our new darling, we know not what he'll do.

    • Charlie: Do you know about being with somebody? Wanting to be? If I had the whole universe, I'd give it to you, Janice. When I see you, I feel like I'm hungry all over. Do you know how that feels?

    • Kirk: You go slow, be gentle. It's no one-way street -- you know how you feel and that's all. It's how the girl feels too. Don't press. If the girl feels anything for you at all, you'll know.

    • Charlie: (to Spock) Very nice, Mr. Ears

    • Charlie: I wanna stay ... stay ... stay-y-y ... stay-y-y-y...

    • Kirk: Charlie, there are a million things in this universe you can have and there are a million things you can't have. It's no fun facing that, but that's the way things are.
      Charlie: What am I going to do?
      Kirk: Hang on tight and survive. Everybody does.
      Charlie: You don't!
      Kirk: Everybody, Charlie. Me too.

  • NOTES (10)

    • At the beginning of the show, Kirk states in his log that they are pulling alongside the Antares, but the 1960s version reuses the opening flying shot of the Enterprise from "The Cage" which doesn't include the Antares. In 2007, when the episode was remastered, the Antares was included, and was based on cargo vessel designs from the Animated Star Trek.

    • During the shooting of this episode, actor Robert Walker (Charlie Evans) never came out of his dressing room to interact with the rest of the cast or crew except to film his scenes, because he felt his character was supposed to appear to act strangely, and be alienated from other people.

    • This episode was based on the very first script accepted from D.C. Fontana, who would go on to become the original series Story Editor, and later pen several episodes in this and other Star Trek series.

    • This episode features a debate between Spock and McCoy regarding the existence of the Thasians, during which Spock implies that McCoy is allowing his emotions to interfere with his objective, scientific thinking. This marks the beginning of the myriad famous arguments between Spock and McCoy, which are one of the landmarks of the Star Trek legend.

    • Robert Walker was actually 26 years old when he played the 17-year-old Charlie Evans.

    • The voice of the chef is supplied by Gene Roddenberry. This is the only episode of any Star Trek series in which he appears and/or lends his voice.

    • The Gym is a redress of the Engineering section.

    • Charlie's brown shirt that he wears is actually a rejected version of the wrap-around shirt that Kirk wears sometimes.

    • The woman that Charlie makes old is one of the few women in the original series that wears black pants instead of a skirt. Dr. Elisabeth Dehner in "Where No Man Has Gone Before" also wears pants.

    • In this episode, the Enterprise has spikes on the front of its nacelles and an extended bridge dome. (Revised to a more standard appearance in the 2007 remastered edition.)