Star Trek

Season 3 Episode 19

Requiem for Methuselah

Aired Unknown Feb 14, 1969 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
148 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

While seeking a cure for a fever ravaging the Enterprise, Kirk and Spock encounter Flint, a hermit-like Earthman, and his beautiful young ward.

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  • Kirk gets entangled in a love triangle.

    This talky, planet-based story introduces two characters with secrets and lets Kirk, Spock, and McCoy hang out with them to develop a love triangle. (It's like "The Man Trap", but without the dreariness or a salt vampire).

    Theatre actors James Daly and Louise Sorel lean on their stage training to play Flint and Rayna, with all their scenes taking place on uniquely dressed sets representing the interior of Flint's castle. Daly brings an appropriate world weary attitude to the title character, and Sorel shines as an innocent intellectual. They're joined by M4, which would seem to be Nomad's cousin ("The Changeling") and serves about the same purpose.

    Flint, himself, is sort of an historical Forrest Gump; and Bixby's idea of combining several important figures in human history into one is a creative thought with some interesting dramatic possibilities. Unfortunately, Kirk is less interested in him and more interested in his "ward", Rayna. By setting aside the wonders of Flint and the millions of people counting on the Captain to save them from the plague of MacGuffin, the good captain makes a poor showing, seemingly only concerned about scoring with a woman he's just met. If he were more concerned about her freedom, it would be more believable, but it seems like the fine science fiction idea here is only brought up to get Kirk into a fight for a woman.

    Fortunately, Spock seems to genuinely grasp the importance of their discovery, and he even gives us a rare musical plot point, playing a beautiful piece of music that could really pass for the unknown work of Johannes Brahms it's supposed to be. (It was really composed by Ivan Ditmars, the man who did the music for the game show Let's Make a Deal from 1963 to 1976). And there is something interesting about seeing the big three find divergent interests: Kirk wants the woman, Spock is fascinated by Flint, and McCoy needs to obtain a cure to the plague.

    But despite it's good bits, including the first onstage use of the Enterprise three foot miniature, an iconic shot of Kirk's face in the Enterprise viewscreen, and a memorable last word and act from Spock that sets up an important antonym in the second feature film, "Metheselah" doesn't quite get off the ground, with budget cuts turning it into a radio play and the writer failing to use its premise for an original or worthwhile story.

    Still, it's one of the third season's few true science fiction episodes and would have been a fine filler episode for the first or second season.

    Remastered Version:

    The centerpiece of the new effects is a new matte painting of Flint's castle that even incorporates Flint and the landing party into it as they approach his abode. (This replaces a reuse of the matte painting from "The Cage", which does a fine job on its own, though it's not unique). There are, of course, new shots of the Enterprise in orbit (though the new, more Earth-like planet doesn't match the planet set's pink sky as well as the original's pink-tinted version of the "Operation: Annihilate!" planet). Interestingly, the original version has a blob of a moon composited into "Enterprise in orbit" shots, whereas the new version has two (much nicer) moons that appropriately appear in the new matte painting as well.

    Bonus Review

    From Star Trek Continues: "The White Iris": 7

    After taking a blow to the head, Kirk finds that he's haunted by the ghosts of women from his past.

    Breaking out of its usual box, Star Trek Continues offers an episode here the original series would probably never have considered: a character driven piece about Kirk searching for a way to deal with the deaths of those he loved and lost.

    As a Kirk story, it's easy to see why this one was made. Showrunner Vic Mignogna, who plays Kirk in his series, likely couldn't resist the opportunity to carry an episode and explore such weighty emotions. Colin Baker (the sixth Doctor from Doctor Who) guest stars as an alien minister who spends the episode whining, and there are twin planets and some Federation issues tossed in, but all that's there just to provide a background for Kirk's internal struggle. And for fans of The Original Series, well familiar with Edith Keeler, Miramanee, Rayna, and their episodes ("The City on the Edge of Forever" "The Paradise Syndrome", and "Requiem for Methuselah"), the episode itself can be quite therapeutic, providing closure that "City", in particular, lacks.

    Star Trek Continues, of course, doesn't have to worry as much about casual TV fans as the original series, and here it's a good thing; it's likely the regular guy sitting on his couch who enjoys an occasional Star Trek episode would consider this one a clunker; an episode lacking action and excitement with a predictable ending. But the reason most of Mignogna's episodes succeed is that they don't try to be any more than they are, content to be as simplistic as the story calls for. In this case, there's no need for fancy effects or fistfights, and so there are none. What there is is an intelligent, personal story with a clever title that, reminiscent of some episodes of the original series, sneaks up on you at the end.

    "The White Iris" is available to watch for free online and can easily be found by any search engine.

  • Love this Episode

    This is a very interesting Episode. It sort of tackle the age old question of "If you could Live forever what would it feel like" There are some interesting story elements here and by the end you actually feel very sorry for Flint and what he has experienced and witnessed.
  • There can be only one!

    Presumably Flint/Brahms/Akharin/Brack is an Immortal, and can be killed if decapitated. One figures the Highlander folks saw this episode, at any rate, and got some inspiration from it.

    Probably the worst case of a decreasing end-of-season (and end-of-series) budget, recycled sets and a minimal Enterprise presence keeps the costs low.

    What's disappointing is that Jerome Bixby, who displayed his writing talents for Trek in the second season "Mirror Mirror" seems to have tossed it all away for an exploration of immortality, which he would return to later anyway in "The Man From Earth." It's a well-written exploration as far as it goes, but it fits awkwardly in the Trek universe. It takes a bogus plague (we never see anyone with the disease the entire episode) to create a false sense of drama. It also requires Kirk and McCoy to act wildly out of character: Kirk falling in love instantly and McCoy pouring himself booze when the ship's crew have four hours to live. Even Spock somehow recognizes Brahms' handwriting, and then tampers with Kirk's memories.

    There's also just general silliness like the Incredible Shrinking Enterprise.

    Only McCoy's speech at the end, and the power of the concept, really pull it out from a 1-2 rating. Daly and Sorrel give good performances and this would have been interesting as a Twilight Zone episode (it doesn't have the "bear" for an Outer Limits story). But here there are just too many contrivances to fit the square peg in the round hole.moreless
  • One of those third season episodes that wants to examine the human condition and the meaning of emotion, I think somewhat under-rated as an episode.

    The Enterprise is drawn to a planet in order to synthesize a cure for a plague on another world and encounters a mysterious man and his winsome ward.

    I really like this episode, despite some drawbacks. Flint is a sympathetic if misguided man who has suffered the curse of never being able to die. His solution, to create an android companion, is no where near as repellent as Kirk tends to believe. The mystery of Flint's identity is well-played, the scenes of Spock putting the story together are interesting. The secondary plot of working to distill a fever plague cure is workman-like but only meant to keep the main players on the planet. Of all the sturm and drang of this episode, WAY over-played by Shatner (though I like the ending scene of Spock helping him to forget), are Rayna's repeating of Flint's lines on loneliness, - "it's a hunger, a flower dying in the desert" - heartfelt and genuine. At the same time, it's probably best to just accept that Kirk could fall in love with a naive young android in 20 minutes time given that he's done something similar many times before. A ton of believability would be added by having the action take place over a few weeks rather than a couple of hours. Amazingly, Kirk is at least scripted as saying that he "put on a pretty poor show."

    There are some real turkeys in Season 3, but I like this one, "The Empath", and "All Our Yesterdays" in going to the very heart of emotion and sacrifice and how they strike a universal chord about what it means to be alive. Since "Star Trek" was never really going to explore the idea of radically different life forms, at least these episodes scraped beneath the superficial aspects of our own species' behaviors.moreless
  • When Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down the only planet that has the cure to an epidemic raging on the Enterprise, they encounter a mysterious man and his beautiful young ward. Not a classic, but one of the third season's better examples...moreless

    This episode is far from a series classic, but at the same time, it plays out as one of the shaky third season's better offerings, which a decent story and reasonable performances. Indeed, it deserves to be, as it is written by Jerome Bixby, who was behind favourites such as the second season's classic "Mirror, Mirror".

    In the US, the episode was originally broadcast on St. Valentine's Day 1969, and I wonder if it was deliberately picked for such, as it is a very romance based story.

    This episode is one of just a couple that barely features the Enterprise at all (the other example I can think of being the first season's "The Devil in the Dark"). Instead, the episode plays out on the planet below.

    I do agree with some other reviewers that with such a deadly plague raging on the Enterprise, more crewmen would have beamed down to look for the cure, but that is a minor plot point to be overlooked for sake of the story. Flint's floating robot reminded me of the one from the second season episode "The Changeling", but thankfully the story went in a different direction.

    In one of the most notable instances of a matte painting being recycled, the exterior shot of Flint's caste is reused from one of the fantasy sequences in "The Cage" (note that I am reviewing the original version; I understand that it has been changed in the remastered version).

    Also as has been commented, despite the fact that his crew are about to die a terrible death from disease, Kirk spends no time falling in love with Rayna. We've seen similar in previous episodes of the similar, and again, is just one of those plot points we have to accept.

    The story moves along well (I, like others, enjoyed Spock playing the waltz on the piano, for example), and has an unexpected twist about Flint.

    The final scene on board the Enterprise, with Spock, McCoy and the sleeping Kirk, is one of the best moments of the third season, ending with Spock's almost haunting "forget".

    This is by no means one of the best episodes of the Original Series when compared to some of the other greats, but it probably is one of the best of the weak third season. I cam easily imagine it being part of the (superior) first or second season, where it would no doubt have fared even better.moreless
William Shatner

William Shatner

Captain James Tiberius Kirk

Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy

Mr. Spock

DeForest Kelley

DeForest Kelley

Dr. Leonard Horatio "Bones" McCoy

James Daly

James Daly


Guest Star

Louise Sorel

Louise Sorel

Rayna Kapec

Guest Star

John Buonomo

John Buonomo

Orderly (uncredited)

Guest Star

James Doohan

James Doohan

Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott

Recurring Role

Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols

Lt. Nyota Uhura

Recurring Role

Paul Baxley

Paul Baxley

Capt. Kirk's Stunt Double (uncredited)

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (15)

    • Despite the fact Flint doesn't want Rayna to know her true origins, he doesn't shut the door behind him when he confronts Kirk and the others in his laboratory.

    • The remastered syndication cuts remove the entire ending scene where McCoy explains to Spock that Flint will die, leaving a rather large unresolved plothole.

    • When they find the Raynas, McCoy says "Physically human, but not human." However, there's no indication that he scans any of them, or has even scanned the current Rayna. So there seems to be no way for him to know what they are physically. Even if he did scan the newest Rayna, he'd have no way to know if she's a real human and the others are android duplicates.

    • Despite the fact they are presumably infected with Rigelian fever the same as the rest of the crew, Kirk and McCoy (and presumably Spock if it affects Vulcans the same way) display no ill effects at any time during the episode. Also while it's not specifically stated that Rigelian fever is contagious, no one seems concerned about giving it to Flint and Rayna, despite Kirk having rather... close contact with the latter.

    • Spock is standing at the piano playing the Brahms waltz. Flint invites him to play, the camera cuts away for barely two seconds, and when it cuts back Spock is comfortably seated and already several bars into the waltz.

    • When Kirk and Rayna are playing billiards, the position of the balls changes between continuous shots.

    • Kirk begs Rayna to come with him. What exactly does he plan to do with her is she comes? Is Kirk just going to have a girlfriend riding around on the Enterprise with him at all times? Starfleet might not like that.

    • Flint says to Kirk, "Your crew is not dead, but suspended". Kirk then replies with "Worse than dead!". Um, how is being suspended worse than being dead? A suspended person can be unsuspended at some point, but a dead person is, well, dead.

    • Ater the first batch of ryetalyn is contaminated with irillium, McCoy goes with Flint to gather more. Kirk then tells Spock to wait in the main room while he goes to lab to see if there is a way to reverse the irrilium's effect and save the existing ryetalyn. If there's a way to save the existing ryetalyn, why isn't McCoy in the lab trying to do this? When Kirk goes to the lab he does absolutely nothing with the ryetalyn.

    • Why didn't McCoy go with M4 to get the ryetalyn in the first place? Instead, he decides to go with Flint when the first ryetalyn is useless.

    • Kirk peers in through the front of the ship and he acts like he can see the bridge - the viewscreen is like a television screen, it's not a window - he shouldn't be able to see anything.

    • Rayna the android collapses - McCoy knows what she is and yet still goes over and feels for a pulse.

    • Exactly how much does that miniature Enterprise weigh? The desk it's on must be very sturdy. Alternately, what did Flint do with the tons and tons of extra weight and how does he put it back when he puts the Enterprise back in orbit?

    • At the end when they finally find the ryetalyn, McCoy hangs around with the important, live-saving cure for the dying Enterprise crew and explores Flint's robot room, watches Kirk and Flint slug it out, etc., rather then... get up to the ship and save the crew.

    • Kirk seems curiously unprofessional in his pursuit of Rayna and handling of the matter - his whole crew is dying from the plague and he's hitting on her repeatedly. Did Flint slip Viagra into the Captain's drink?

  • QUOTES (13)

    • Kirk: Stay out of this, Spock! We're fighting for a woman!
      Spock: No you're not, Captain, for she is not!

    • McCoy: You wouldn't understand that, would you, Spock? You see, I feel sorrier for you than I do for (Jim)...because you'll never know the things that love can drive a man to: the ecstasies, the miseries, the broken rules, the desperate chances, the glorious failures, the glorious victories. All of these things you'll never know...simply because the word "love" isn't written into your book. Good night, Spock.
      Spock: Good night, Doctor.

    • Kirk: Restore them. Restore my ship!
      Flint: In time: a thousand, two thousand years. You will know the future, Captain Kirk.
      Kirk: You have been such men! You've known and created such beauty. You've watched your race evolve from cruelty and barbarism...throughout your enormous life, and yet now you would do this to us?
      Flint: The flowers of my past. I hold the nettles of the present! I am Flint now, with my needs.

    • Flint: Be thankful that you did not attack me, Captain. I might have accepted battle, and I have twice your physical strength.
      Kirk: In your own words, it would be "an interesting test of power."
      Flint: How childish he is, Rayna. Would you call him brave or a fool?
      Rayna: I'm glad he did not die.
      Flint: Of course. Death, when unnecessary, is a tragic thing.

    • Kirk: Indeed, your greeting, not ours, lacked a certain benevolence.
      Flint: The result of pressures which are...not your concern.
      Kirk: Yes. Well, those pressures are everywhere in everyone, urging him to what you call savagery: the private hells, the inner needs and mysteries, the beast of instinct. As human beings, that is the way it is. To be human is to be complex. You can't avoid a little ugliness...from within and from without.

    • McCoy: Saurian brandy, 100 years old. Jim? Please. Mr. Spock, I know you won't have one. Heaven forbid those mathematically perfect brain waves be corrupted by this all-too-human vice.
      Spock: Thank you, Doctor. I will have a brandy.
      McCoy; Do you think the two of us can handle a drunk Vulcan? Once alcohol hits that green blood...
      Spock: If I appear distracted, it is because of what I have seen. I am close to experiencing an unaccustomed emotion.
      McCoy: I'll drink to that. What emotion?
      Spock: Envy.

    • McCoy: Have you ever seen a victim of Rigelian fever? They die in one day. The effects are like bubonic plague.
      Flint: Constantinople, summer 1 334. It marched through the streets, the sewers. It left the city by ox cart, by sea, to kill half of Europe: the rats, rustling and squealing in the night as they, too, died. The rats...
      Spock: Are you a student of history, sir?
      Flint: I am.

    • Kirk: Kirk to Enterprise. Mr. Scott, lock phasers onto our coordinates.
      Scotty: Aye, Captain, all phasers locked on.
      Kirk: Mr. Flint, if anything happens to us, four deaths. And then my crew comes down and takes that ryetalyn.
      Flint: An interesting test of power: your enormous forces against mine. Who would win?
      Spock: Mr. Flint, unless you are certain, I would suggest you refrain from a most useless experiment.

    • Rayna: What is loneliness?
      Flint: It is a thirst... it is a flower, dying in a desert...

    • Flint: To be human is also to seek pleasure. To laugh... to dance.

    • Flint: The intellect is not all... but its cultivation must come first, or the individual makes errors... wastes time in unprofitable pursuits.

    • Spock: The joys of love made her human and the agonies of love destroyed her.

    • Flint: I... am Brahms.
      Spock: And DaVinci?
      Flint: Yes.
      Spock: How many other names shall we call you?
      Flint: Solomon, Alexander, Lazarus, Methuselah, Merlin, Abrahmson – a hundred other names you do not know.
      Spock: You were born?
      Flint: In that region of Earth later called Mesopotamia in the year 3834 BC, as the millennia are now reckoned. I was Akharin; a soldier, a bully – and a fool. I fell in battle, pierced to the heart... and did not die.
      McCoy: Instant tissue regeneration, coupled with some perfect form of biological renewal – you learned that you were immortal!
      Flint: And to conceal it. To live some portion of a life. To pretend to age, and then move on before my nature was suspected.
      Spock: Your wealth and your intellect are the product of centuries of acquisition. You knew the greatest minds in history:
      Flint: Galileo, Socrates, Moses. I have married a hundred times, Captain. Selected, loved, cherished. Caressed a smoothness, inhaled a brief fragrance. Then age, death, the taste of dust. Do you understand?

  • NOTES (3)

    • Injoke: Writer Jerome Bixby gave Rayna the last name of Kapec, a reference to Karel Čapek, who created the word "robot" for his 1921 play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots). Despite that, the mechanical beings seen in the play are androids rather than the modern definition of robots. In fact, they are biological constructs not dissimilar to Rayna.

    • The shot of Flint's home (in the original version) is the shot of the fantasy castle seen in "The Cage/The Managerie." In the re-mastered version in 2008, a new digital matte was created.

    • A repeat of this episode on September 2, 1969 marked the end of Star Trek's original run in NBC Primetime.


    • Flint's Identities
      Flint mentions a number of famous people who were all him. Johannes Brahms was a German classical composer who lived from 1833 to 1897. Leonardo DaVinci was an Italian painter and inventor, most famous for his depiction of The Last Supper and for the enigmatic Mona Lisa. He lived from 1452 to 1518. Methuselah was a Hebrew patriarch who, according to Biblical sources, lived for nine hundred and sixty nine years. Merlin is most famously associated with the tales of King Arthur, and was anything from a prophet to a wizard, depending on whose account one reads.