We're moving Forums to the Community pages. Click here for more information and updates.

Star Trek

Season 1 Episode 17

The Squire of Gothos

Aired Unknown Jan 12, 1967 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
191 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

The Enterprise finds itself at the mercy of a seemingly omnipotent being who fancies himself a 18th century Englishman.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
No results found.
  • The Enterprise is trapped in orbit around a planet run by an illogical but powerful alien.

    The comedic episode features Captain Kirk in a battle of wits against titular character, a part played by William Campbell, a friend of the cast and crew. Written by Paul Schneider ("Balance of Terror"), it contains several of the plot elements in "Charlie X" but is quite a change of pace from the seriousness and dreariness of the first half of Season One with Star Trek making a concerted effort to lighten up. (In fact, the two episodes before this both end with forced laughter, with Scotty nearly falling over in a fit of giggles at the close of "The Galileo Seven". And this is after the deaths of two crewmen!)

    The Squire himself, "Trelane", is sort of an interstellar version of Liberace, full of energy and delight and devoid of Charlie's uncertainty and longing. The idea of a serious Captain faced with a more powerful but whimsical adversary is one Star Trek gets a lot of milage out of, and it works here right off the bat. Trelane does what no crew member could get away with, having fun at Kirk's expense and making fun of his people. With Star Trek's original audience including many kids (especially boys), it a great way to connect with viewers; what young fan wouldn't want a chance to play with Kirk and the Enterprise as if they were toys - or at least see someone do it? (The script even borrows from "The Most Dangerous Game" with an outdoor hunt... though it's unfortunately shot on a stage). Meanwhile, the wardrobe department and the set designers get a chance to let their hair down, with Trelane favoring an antique look that's a nice change of pace from the spartan designs of the Enterprise. (The music is also a The question, of course, is "what's it all leading to?" Whereas TNG stretches the Q issue throughout the entire series, this episode puts a cap on the Trelane, coming up with a satisfying conclusion that, like a Twilight Zone ending, changes the perspective of the episode and makes sense out of the madness.

    Remastered Version: There aren't many special effects in this one other than a sequence where the planet Gothos actually chases the Enterprise around for a bit. The original sequence is actually pretty good. though the planet appears a little translucent (it was probably printed at less than full opacity to hide matte lines). The new effects more or less copy the idea of the original, but show the engine nacelles in the viewscreen when applicable and include a fully opaque, more realistic planet. Unfortunately, as in "The Conscience of the King", there's an unusually slow fade that throws the CGI team off, forcing them to fade into a shot of their updated Enterprise early, which looks awkward. (Again, the problem is that any fade from a character to the original footage of the Enterprise is unusable footage for this project and can't even be used for a crossfade into the new CGI Enterprise. The only way around this would be to create a CGI version of the original footage of the characters, giving them extra footage to use for the fade into the CGI Enterprise, but that would be expensive and eat up most of the budget for this project). It is notable that the team leaves the aliens at the end alone, a cost saving decision made easy by the fact that the original effect works just fine.

  • A God of War

    The inspiration for the much more prominent TNG character "Q", this episode accomplishes a lot in a short time. And it makes it's point clearly. Spock: "I object to you. I object to power without intellect" I wish I could get away with talking like that at the office! And somewhere the Joseph Stalin's and Sadam Husain's of the world are spinning in their graves! Got it, thanks ST.

    As a kid I loved this one because I've always had a martial slant in my bones. In fact, re-watching it in the new Hi-Def for the first time last night I found myself feeling the same way I did growing up.

    We're all kids deep down that need to learn to control our yearning to war and unfortunately also our yearning to play. And play is the part that I think ST was less concerned with.

    I kept asking myself last night re-watching - "huh, why doesn't Kirk just play along with Trelane a little? Spend a day down there sword fighting and talking, and perhaps learning something about his new "friend"? I got the feeling he'd just let them go after he was done with them.

    Surely Picard would play right? Not so fast; Picard never wanted to play with Q; and again I'm not altogether sure why. And Riker has no excuse after TURNING DOWN becoming a Q?! That's about 1,000 times worse than turning down $100 million bucksbut I digress.

    TOS is a rare series that has consistently good endings. And this is no exception; it makes us think about dictators, generals, and awkwardly.ourselves.

  • Enjoyable, but Marvel Comics did this story first

    On the surface, "The Squire of Gothos" seems like a great idea for a story, but the truth of it is that Marvel Comics' Stan Lee did this exact same story in the 24th issue of Fantastic Four (March 1964) ...

    This time Kirk and his officers are faced with an enemy who power seems limitless and they don't use good old Earthman reasoning to get themselves out of the jam. The fact that the situation is resolved by a "deus-ex-machina" is a bit unsatisfying, but William Campbell's performance as the Q-like Trelane is so enjoyable and brattish that you can almost forgive this lapse of quality on the part of the TREK scripting team.

    Beautifully lit and shot, I had always assumed this episode was originally transmitted around Halloween, but apparently not. No matter, an enjoyable, atmospheric mystery with a twist ending that will surprise you - if you're not a fan of Silver Age Marvel Comics ...moreless
  • Kirk's poor Hide and Seek skills almost cost him the Enterprise

    Trelane stole the show, hands down. I read somewhere how he was really insistent about some of the lines and costumes he wore in the show. I think he had trouble with the wig he wore as the judge. I saw him interviewed about that role as well as the part he played as Koloth in "The Trouble with Tribbles" and he was very genuine and quite serious about playing his part as well as he possibly could. This is in my top ten of Star Trek episodes.moreless
  • When Sulu and Kirk are suddenly teleported away by an unknown force, the Enterprise finds itself being toyed with by a being with omnipotent powers called Trelane, who treats the crew as his playthings. An interesting episode with an interesting adversarymoreless

    Another really good episode – (in its original broadcast order) the series seemed to be going through a great patch of episodes at this point.

    Trelane is a great adversary, and superbly brought to life by William Campbell. He breathes life into what could have been a rather two-dimensional and silly character, and makes him both believable and awkwardly amusing at the same time.

    When 'The Next Generation' introduced Q, a similar omnipotent character with a love of costumes and meddling fascination with other species, especially humans, there began speculation that Trelane might himself be a member of the Q. (I understand that one of the tie-in novels indeed stated him as such, but I've never read it, and it's debatable whether it's official canon or not). They certainly do share many identical traits, and I like to think that they are somehow connected.

    Also to look out for in Trelane's castle (or whatever it is), is the salt vampire from the first broadcast episode, "The Man Trap". While in one respect it was probably just a simple reuse of a prop (no doubt to cut costs, to save money not constructing a new prop that would only be seen on-screen for a few moments), it does nonetheless add credence to the fact that Trelane likes to 'study' other species.

    It's hard to decide whether this episode qualifies as a comedy or a drama. It has elements of both; personally, I like that it a mixture of the two.

    [spoiler] The conclusion, of it emerging that Trelane is a 'child', and his parents coming to scold him and take him away, seemed a bit over-convenient to me. We had already seen a somewhat similar conclusion earlier in the season in "Charlie X"; the ending works, but at the same time, it does feel like a very slight letdown. [End of spoiler]

    All-in-all, this is mostly a very good episode, with a great adversary. It probably gets nudged out of my Top 10 favourite episode list, but it's a very good episode all the same.moreless
William Campbell

William Campbell


Guest Star

Richard Carlyle

Richard Carlyle

Lt. Carl Jaeger

Guest Star

Michael Barrier (II)

Michael Barrier (II)

Lt. Vincent DeSalle

Guest Star

Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols

Lt. Nyota Uhura

Recurring Role

George Takei

George Takei

Lt. Hikaru Sulu

Recurring Role

James Doohan

James Doohan

Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (9)

    • Stars can be seen through the darker parts of the planet Gothos--look especially for this when the planet is chasing the ship. (This is eliminated in the remastered 2007 version.)

    • Kirk and Spock both remark that Trelane's power source must have something to do with his mirror, because he never gets too far from it. This, in fact, is not true: just several scenes ago, Trelane had teleported all the way up to the Enterprise's bridge.

    • Kirk reaches for Trelane's arm before he begins to raise it to fetch more crew members down from the Enterprise.

    • Uhura is scanning all bandwidths for Kirk and DeSalle after their abduction, despite the fact they weren't wearing communicators at all on the bridge.

    • When the landing party find Kirk and Sulu, they're immobilized like statues. But look closely and they can be seen moving before Trelane frees them.

    • When DeSalle beams down to the planet and tries to call back up, he gets no answer and we see a closeup shot of him snapping the communicator shut. Then the camera cuts to a long shot and he snaps it shut again.

    • It's not clear how Spock determines that the mirror can't be the machine sustaining the breathable atmosphere. Spock says it isn't large enough, but how the heck can he tell, given their lack of knowledge of Trelane's technology?

    • DeSalle isn't too smart, he tries to sneak up on Trelane even though he's in plain view in the mirror Trelane is admiring himself in.

    • Trelane says he studied Earth images that travelled to him at light speed, and earlier they establish Gothos is 900 years from Earth. But Trelane references Napoleon and Hamilton, who weren't around until 1800 or so. That would put this episode in 2700, but the original Trek episodes are set in the 2200s.

  • QUOTES (19)

    • McCoy: The word (desert) conjures up pictures of dunes, oases, mirages. Sunlight, palm trees.
      Spock: We're 900 light-years from that kind of desert. The precise meaning of the word 'desert' is a waterless, barren wasteland. I fail to understand your romantic nostalgia for such a place.
      McCoy: It doesn't surprise me, Mr. Spock. I can't imagine a mirage ever disturbing those mathematically perfect brain waves of yours.
      Spock: Thank you, Dr. McCoy.

    • Jaeger: I'm a scientist, not a military man.
      Trelane: Oh come now we're all military men under the skin! (admiring himself in the mirror) And how we do love our uniforms.

    • Kirk: Remember, Trelane, you promised to let my ship go!
      Trelane: Yes but this is such sport! I should fetch all the others down to play!

    • Kirk: We're living beings, not playthings for your amusement!
      Trelane: Silence! This trial is over! You are guilty. On all counts you are guilty. And according to your own laws, this court has no choice in fixing punishment. You will hang by the neck Captain, until you are dead, dead, dead!

    • Spock: My father is from the planet Vulcan.
      Trelane: And are its natives predatory?
      Spock: Not generally. But there have been exceptions...
      Trelane: You will see to his punishment, won't you?
      Kirk: On the contrary, I commend his actions.
      Trelane: But I don't like him!

    • Trelane's Father: Stop that nonsense at once! Or you'll not be permitted to make any more planets!!

    • Kirk: Our missions are peaceful -- not for conquest. When we do battle, it is only because we have no choice.

    • Trelane: Oh, how absolutely typical of your species! You don't understand something so you become fearful.

    • Trelane: Well, I don't know if I like your tone. It's most challenging. That's what you're doing, challenging me?
      Spock: I object to you. I object to intellect without discipline. I object to power without constructive purpose.
      Trelane: Oh, Mr. Spock, you do have one saving grace after all - you're ill mannered. The human half of you, no doubt.

    • Trelane: Dear Captain, so many questions. Make the most of an uncertain future. Enjoy yourself today. Tomorrow...(ominously) may never come at all.

    • Kirk: (introducing) Lieutenant Uhura of Communications.
      Trelane: Ah... a Nubian prize. Taken on one of your raids of conquest, no doubt, Captain. No doubt. She has the melting eyes of the queen of Sheba, the same lovely coloring.

    • Trelane: Don't fret, Captain. I'm only a bit upset with you, but this Mr. Spock you mentioned, the one responsible for that unseemly, impudent act of taking you from me, which is he?
      Spock: I'm Spock.
      Trelane: Oh, surely not an officer. Isn't quite human, is he?

    • Trelane: Do you know that you're one of the few predator species that preys even on itself?

    • (reading from the screen)
      Spock: "Hip-hip... hoorah"? And I believe it's pronounced..."tallyho".
      DeSalle: Some kind of a joke, sir?
      Spock: I'll entertain any theories, Mr. DeSalle. Any at all.

    • Trelane: How do you plead?
      Kirk: I haven't come to plead in your court, Trelane.
      Trelane: Anything you might say has already been taken down in evidence against you.

    • McCoy: Does your logic find this fascinating, Mr. Spock?
      Spock: No. "Fascinating" is a word I use for the unexpected. In this case, I should think "interesting" would suffice.

    • Kirk: You've got a lot to learn about winning, Trelane.
      Trelane: I'll fix you for this!
      Kirk: In fact you've got a lot to learn about everything, don't you?

    • Trelane: (sobbing) I would have won. Honest! (fading away) I would have. I would have. I would have...

    • Kirk: (Trelane) was probably doing things comparable to the mischievous pranks you played when you were a boy.
      Spock: 'Mischievous pranks', Captain?
      Kirk: Yes -- dipping little girls' curls in inkwells, stealing apples from the neighbors' trees, tying cans on -- forgive me...Mr. Spock. I should have known better.
      Spock: I shall be delighted, Captain.

  • NOTES (5)

    • When William Campbell got the part of "Trelane" and was to begin shooting the courtroom scene, he was given a French period wig to wear rather than an English barrister's wig as described in the script. After debating a bit with Shatner, Gene Coon was called and Campbell told him that it would not only prompt a change in his acting style for the scene, but wouldn't be "right." Coon reportedly agreed saying "Campbell's right. Get the right wig. Shoot something else. We'll pick it up later."

    • The original script for this episode called for Kirk's saber to pass clean through Trelane's body. However NBC deemed this "unacceptable" and demanded that "another device (be found) to accomplish this". NBC also demanded that dialog be added to ensure that Trelane "would suffer the consequences of his actions".

    • William Campbell who plays Trelane would return in the second season to play Captain Koloth in the episode "The Trouble With Tribbles". Campbell's next appearance in the Star Trek universe would not be until his return as Koloth in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Blood Oath" in 1994.

    • Though probably not official, it's revealed in the Star Trek: TNG novel, Q-Squared that Trelane is a member of the Q.

    • Among Trelane's collection, you can see the Salt Monster from "The Man Trap".


    • Trelane: Is this the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium? Fair Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.
      References The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe.

    • Trelane: A matched set. Just like the pair that slew your heroic Alexander Hamilton.
      Alexander Hamilton was an influential early American statesman. A quarrel with Aaron Burr led to a pistol duel between the men that caused Hamilton's death. In the duel, Hamilton fired into the air, perhaps unwilling to kill Burr, just as Trelane fires into the air here.