Star Trek

Season 1 Episode 17

The Squire of Gothos

Aired Unknown Jan 12, 1967 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (6)

Write A Review
out of 10
194 votes
  • 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 ...
  • 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.
  • 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 adversary

    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.
  • We're living beings, not playthings for your amusement!

    Although lacking in any form of an intelligible or substantial plot, 'The Squire of Gothos' is nevertheless one of the better 'Alien of the Week' episodes in that it creates a character that is brilliant to watch, and even more brilliant to hate.

    William Campbell makes his Trek debut here, playing the ever memorably annoying yet entertaining Trelane: a seemingly obsessive collector and researcher of Humanity. And so even though the villain here is written as an incredibly pompous power-freak, it is these qualities that make him at least a nice break in a source of conflict for the series. Perhaps the best thing that comes out of Trelane is his words, which more often than not create wonderful lines of dialogue that are both thought–provoking and of a humanistic style that is refreshing to hear every now and again. One of my favourite lines is the rather simple: "Did you know that humanity is one of the few predatory species who preys even on itself?": Interesting and very hard-hitting.

    Essentially what I found was that this was an early prototype for the much more developed character of 'Q' who will appear in The Next Generation, twenty years later. Similarities include the rather proper tone of voice, the condescending nature of their words, and the topics on which they are built upon. Both also share a strange amount of knowledge on Humans. But where Q was seemingly of knowledge because of his power, Trelane just seems to be interested in us; Where Q was repelled by Humanity's barbarity, it seems Trelane revels in it, enjoying playing with the phasers and picking fights. Nevertheless, I do enjoy how this character is written, and I especially enjoy watching Campbell bring him to life in all his animated glory.

    Another of the episodes themes is that of power, and how it can corrupt those who do not know how to use it. Indeed this is a recurring theme in many Star Trek shows, and one that has been better developed before and after 'The Squire of Gothos'. Actually, by the time the final twist of the episode is pulled on you, you may actually begin to see massive parallels between this episode and the very early 'Charlie X' in which both Charlie and Trelane are simply not mature enough to be given such a responsibility. I doubt there are much people out there who haven't heard "With great power, comes great responsibility" but there you have it, in a nutshell.

    Even though much of 'Squire of Gothos' decides to focus on the conflict between Kirk and Trelane, I found that the sparse moments of tension involving Spock were far more interesting. Both scenes which made me sit up and take notice were when Trelane boards the Enterprise and mocks Spock -"but I don't like him!"- And when -back in Trelane's mansion- an argument of sorts ensues. In the end, Spock as calm as ever, routinely assures him on both accounts that he is not impressed nor is he amused: something that obviously gets to Trelane- The Great Showman. Spock simply states in what I believe to be one of the series' best lines- "I object to you; I object to intellect without discipline; I object to power without constructive purpose."

    Nicely said Mr. Spock, stick it to him. Kirk on the other hand, takes another route, eventually slapping him with a glove before challenging him to a duel: Probably not as civilised, but still just as, if not more, effective when dealing with Trelane (and a whole lot more hilarious).

    My major problem with this episode is the distinct lack of plot and/or threat. In the beginning what we have is a kind of heightened version of someone who doesn't want you to leave their house. Sure, it's annoying and inconvenient to your other plans, but it doesn't really make very engaging drama. Things admittedly do pick up however towards the last act where we are led to believe that the crew is safe until danger rears its head again, this time proposing some real threat of danger to the ship. Kirk eventually goes on trial for being a savage human who spoiled Trelane's plans. This leads to a well performed and written scene where Kirk manages to change his imminent death sentence to eventually getting into a sword fight, breaking his opponent's weapon and then slapping him before telling him he's stupid.

    There are also a lot of historical inaccuracies present in 'The Squire of Gothos' that only serve to distract. Most annoying was the establishment that the Enterprise had to be at least 900 light years away from Earth. Furthermore, if you can ignore these minor faults in the script, the story itself as mentioned earlier is pretty thin: Nothing much really happens. The crew are held against their will; Kirk tries to out think the villain and wins. That's about it.

    If there is one thing I love about the plot, it's the final twist at the end. Not only does it fit the tone of the preceding moments well but it gives the episode a very strong and imaginative wrap-up. Sure it's something that'll be done to death in science fiction for years to come, but it's handled well here and I fully appreciate it every time I watch. So in the end, while not a perfect episode, 'Squire of Gothos' is still a good one, with a very memorable performance from William Campbell.