Star Trek

Season 1 Episode 2

Charlie X

12
Aired Unknown Sep 15, 1966 on NBC
SUBMIT REVIEW

Episode Fan Reviews (12)

7.6
out of 10
Average
260 votes
  • Tiger, tiger, burning bright in the forests of the night!

    8.0
    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.
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