Star Trek

Season 1 Episode 13

The Conscience of the King

Aired Unknown Dec 08, 1966 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (12)

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out of 10
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  • An actor who is part of a Shakespearean troupe aboard the Enterprise may possibly have once been a mass-murdering dictator, and is out to kill the last survivors – including Kirk. Although I like the Shakespearean feel, not one of my favourite episodes...

    Reading other reviews for this episode, I'm relived I wasn't the only one who wasn't completely overwhelmed by it. While there may be worse in the 'Star Trek: TOS' barrel (several third season episodes, for example), I found this to be an average-at-best instalment, and felt that it really dragged in places.
    On the Season One DVDs, it is singled out as one of the episodes deserving a text commentary, suggesting that it is one of the highlights of the season, but I would have chosen many other episodes over this one for such a prestige. (I do wonder why such a landmark, influential series such as 'Star Trek' doesn't have such text commentaries for every episode, but that's for another discussion forum!).

    Don't get me wrong, I really like what the episode is going for. Many 'Trek' episodes are littered with Shakespearean references and themes, and this one is such an example. I like its classic themes mixed in with its future setting, and the tragedy that goes with it. But the final episode is, in my opinion, very slow and, in some points, uninteresting.

    It is one of those episodes that could really have used a separate b-plot (as often became common in 'The Next Generation' and later spin-offs) to even things up a bit. With just the main plot, I found my interest wandering.

    It is good to see Bruce Hyde returning as Lt. Riley, after his memorable appearance in "The Naked Time" earlier in the season. It makes the Enterprise feel as if it is more fleshed out with individuals, rather than the faceless, nameless crewmen who appear each week. Sadly, this would be Riley's final appearance.

    Talking of final appearances, it also marks the final appearance of Yeoman Janice Rand (although she doesn't have any dialogue in the finished episode). I've heard various reasons why the character was dropped, which I won't go in to here; but the character later returns as a minor character in 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture' and various other 'Trek' incarnations).

    The daftest moment of the episode comes as Dr. McCoy makes his log about Kodos possibly being on board into his recorder, leaving Riley, in the very next room, to overhear the whole thing and set off to try and bump Kodos off! Careless, McCoy, very careless. I really like that not each episode of 'Star Trek' was about the standard 'alien of the week' or the 'space battle of the week', etc., and I think it is one of the things that made it such a popular series. I re-watched this episode recently to review it, and I did enjoy it slightly more than when I was younger. But it still isn't exactly one of my favourites.