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Recap / Star Trek S1 E13 "The Conscience of the King"

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There's enough ham in this scene to feed a small country—or a space colony.

Original air date: December 8, 1966

The episode opens with a performance of Macbeth on Planet Q attended by Kirk and an old acquaintance of his, Doctor Thomas Leighton. Throughout the play, Leighton urges Kirk to pay attention to Anton Karidian, the actor playing Macbeth: Leighton is sure that he is actually Kodos The Executioner. (No, not THAT Kodos - though that is where they got the name.)

After the play, Kirk is pretty angry with Leighton since the latter claimed he had some sort of new food concentrate to end a famine, causing the former to divert the Enterprise three lightyears off course. Leighton claims he and Kirk are two of the nine people alive that can expose Kodos and is insistent that Karidian is him, since Leighton cannot forget the voice of the man who horrifically disfigured him. Kirk will have none of it, claiming Kodos is dead, and leaves, wondering what the hell he's supposed to write in his report.

The story of Kodos is revealed gradually over the course of the episode: 20 years ago, Kodos was the governor of the Tarsus IV colony, in which Kirk and Leighton resided. When a fungal infection destroyed most of the colony's food supply, the colony's 8,000 residents faced starvation. Kodos responded to the crisis by having half the colonists executed, using his personal eugenics theories to select who would live and die. Eventually supply ships arrived much earlier than predicted, making all those deaths utterly pointless. All that was found of Kodos was a body burned beyond recognition, and he was declared dead.

Kirk decides to go over a photo record of Kodos, and notes his similarity to Karidian. He also finds that there are no records of Anton Karidian older than 20 years, the same time as Kodos' "death". Intrigued, he decides to stay on the planet a while longer and attend a party Leighton is giving hoping to trap Karidian.

At the party, he finds that Karidian isn't attending but his daughter Lenore is. Kirk turns on his usual charm and they go for a walk, during which they stumble upon Leighton's dead body. Kirk is now determined to get to the bottom of this: he calls in a favor with the captain of the ship Karidian's troupe was meant to take off world to make it leave with no prior notice, stranding them there. Lenore then asks Kirk to give them a lift, just as he planned. Kirk accepts, in return for a "special performance".

Kirk then uses the ship's computer to look up the identities of everyone who met Kodos in person other than himself. One eyewitness is Lt. Kevin Riley. Riley appeared in "The Naked Time", played by the same actor. Despite having been recently promoted, he orders that Riley be reassigned to his former position, presumably to protect him. He also gets closer to Lenore, though whether it's to get more information on her father or it's just Kirk being Kirk is up for the viewer to decide.

Meanwhile, Spock is getting suspicious about Kirk's recent behavior and decides to investigate. He manages to figure out the Karidian/Kodos situation thanks to the ship's computer and reports his findings to McCoy. Spock also discovers that of the 9 people who could identify Kodos, only Kirk and Riley are still alive. Worse, all the others died in mysterious circumstances... and always in relative proximity to Karidian's theater troupe.

Speaking of Riley, he's not taking his reassignment well. While distracted by Uhura playing him a love song on comms at his request, a gloved hand sprays an industrial lubricant in his drink, poisoning him. Luckily Uhura hears his cries, and he's transported to Sickbay in time to save him. Spock urges McCoy to save Riley, since if he dies, then Kirk is certainly next.

Riley survives, and Spock and McCoy finally decide to confront Kirk. Kirk doesn't like "meddling in his personal affairs" but as Spock points out, this affects the functioning of the ship and thus is their concern. However, he does agree that all the evidence points to Karidian being Kodos. McCoy then starts questioning Kirk's motives:

Spock: Even in this corner of the galaxy, Captain, two plus two equals four. Almost certainly an attempt will be made to kill you. Why do you invite death?
Kirk: I'm not. I'm interested in justice.
McCoy: Are you? Are you sure it's not vengeance?
Kirk: [dejected] No, I'm not sure. I wish I was. I've done things I've never done before. I've placed my command in jeopardy. From here on I've got to determine whether or not Karidian is Kodos.
Spock: He is.
Kirk: You sound certain. I wish I could be. Before I accuse a man of that, I've got to be. I saw him once, twenty years ago. Men change. Memory changes. Look at him now, he's an actor. He can change his appearance. No. Logic is not enough. I've got to feel my way, make absolutely sure.
McCoy: What if you decide he is Kodos? What then? Do you play God, carry his head through the corridors in triumph? That won't bring back the dead, Jim.
Kirk: No, but they may rest easier.

This dramatic exchange is interrupted by the loud hum of an overloading phaser, which would blow up the entire deck. After finding and disposing of the phaser, Kirk finally decides to directly confront Karidian. Karisian is evasive when asked if he is Kodos, so Kirk makes him read Kodos' often repeated execution order. Karidian recites the order barely glancing at the paper, as if recalling the words from memory. Nevertheless, he is still evasive, though he mentions that "Kodos" might be considered a great hero if the supply ships hadn't come. He asks Kirk why doesn't he kill him now if he's so sure he's Kodos, to which he replies it would change nothing. Karidian mentions how tired he is of life and that he no longer treasures it, not even his own. He ends the conversation with this:

Karidian: Did you get everything you wanted, Captain Kirk?
Kirk: If I had gotten everything I wanted, you might not walk out of this room alive.

Lenore then enters and asks Was It All a Lie?. Kirk says it was initially, but not anymore. Lenore calls him merciless and storms off.

Meanwhile, Riley overhears McCoy talking about how Karidian is suspected of being Kodos. Since Kodos murdered Riley's family, he hatches a plan for revenge.

Spock tells Kirk that Karidian's voice is a match, but Kirk isn't convinced, since it's not an exact match and there's a man's life at stake. They then receive news that Riley has gotten out of sickbay and stolen a phaser. They head towards the ship's theater where the "special performance" of Hamlet by Karidian's troupe is taking place.

Kirk finds Riley getting ready to shoot Karidian from backstage, but talks him into dropping the phaser. Karidian and Lenore arrive backstage and the former finally comes clean and explains to Lenore that this is a result of the "part he played long ago" that he never told her about that has resurfaced. At this Lenore decides to drop the bombshell: she knew all along that Karidian was Kodos and she was the one who killed all the witnesses, including Leighton and the attempt on Riley, all to protect her father. She grabs a phaser and points it towards Kirk. Karidian, completely horrified at what his daughter has become, takes the shot meant for Kirk. Lenore breaks down in tears and is led away.

Later on in the bridge, McCoy mentions how Lenore will be taken care of. Apparently she has gone completely insane and thinks her father is still alive, giving performances to cheering crowds. When McCoy asks if Kirk really cared for her, he refuses to answer and the episode ends.

The Conscience of the Tropes:

  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Lenore breaks down in tears after having accidentally shot and killed her own father before she is taken away.
    • Kodos himself to a degree, despite his ruthless calculation, executions of the four thousand colonists, and evading justice, having done so in order to save the other half of the colonists instead of everyone starving to death, until it proved to be All for Nothing. He demonstrates a Heel Realization through the episode, and in the end he takes a phaser blast intended for Kirk, perhaps in an act of Redemption Equals Death.
  • All for Nothing:
    • The massacre that got Kodos the moniker 'The Executioner' happened when the colony he governed lost most of its food supply. The remaining food wasn't enough to hold until ships bringing food relief were expected to come, so he killed half of the 8,000 colonists according to personal eugenics theories, making a hard decision (or using it as an excuse) so that at least some colonists would survive. And then the relief ships arrived early, meaning nobody had to die at all.
    • Lenore trying to ensure her father doesn't get identified by witnesses who saw him only leads to him getting noticed, and when she tries to prevent his arrest she accidentally shoots him when he took a shot aimed at Kirk.
  • Ax-Crazy: In the midst of a Villainous Breakdown when confronted by Kirk, Lenore responds to his insistence that she'd never get off the Enterprise by proclaiming, with a mad glint in her eye, that the ship would become "a floating tomb, drifting through space, with the soul of the great Karidian giving performances at every star he touches".
  • Bait-and-Switch: Kirk is convinced that Karidian/Kodos is responsible for the murders and attempted murders. Both men are shocked at learning that it was really Lenore.
  • Beard of Evil: Kodos the Executioner had one. He shaved it when he changed his name to Anton Karidian.
  • Berserk Button: This is one of the first episodes to introduce the Federation's hatred of eugenics. It would become much more clear in Space Seed.
  • Bewildering Punishment: How Reilly views his reassignment to Engineering.
  • Catch the Conscience: The reason the quote from Hamlet was used.
  • The Chains of Commanding: "The chain of command is often a noose."
  • Character Development: When we last saw Riley in "The Naked Time", his most prominent traits were being able to lock everyone out of Engineering and singing a horrible rendition of "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen". Here he's given a tragic Backstory and Revenge as a motivation. Interestingly, this was accidental - originally the character whose family died at Kodos's hands was a completely different person. However, the casting director unknowingly cast the same actor who had played Riley in that role, and they just went with it.
  • Cold Equation: Kodos the Executioner/Anton Karidian used this as his excuse to execute half the colonists of the Tarsus IV colony when a fungus destroyed most of their food supply. It's worth noting that the only reason it counts as this trope was because he was wrong about one of his assumptions: it turned out that the Federation did manage to get relief supplies to the colony in time. Had he turned out to be right...
  • Contrived Coincidence: The fact that 2 out of the remaining 9 witnesses in all the galaxy who can positively identify Kodos (and as is later shown in the episode, the last 2 who haven't been murdered) just so happen to be assigned to the Enterprise.
  • Cope by Pretending: After she accidentally kills her father, Lenore's already dubious sanity shatters completely, and she clings to the delusion that he's still alive performing to cheering audiences.
  • Cute and Psycho: Lenore Karidian catches Kirk's eye even before he seriously starts suspecting her father of being Kodos, and she comes across as a bright-eyed, innocent young woman. Beneath that, however, she's revealed to be deeply disturbed, considering her father's past crimes to be nothing compared to the possibility of him being punished for them, even proclaiming that she'd murder an entire world if it meant keeping him free.
  • Cry into Chest: Thomas Leighton's widow, Martha, briefly clings to Kirk as she weeps.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Lenore becomes this. Karidian is distraught once he realizes his daughter is killing people for him, having thought that she was the one part of him which remained untainted by his past.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Kirk, Leighton and Riley are all haunted by the events on Tarsus IV — and so is Karidian.
  • Dark Messiah: Kodos took control of his colony during a famine, killing off half the population to save the rest. He never really apologizes for it, either; had the food supply ships not chosen that inconvenient time to appear, Kodos might be hailed as "a great hero!" The carnage was needless but the conspirators didn't know that at the time. To save face (and coincidentally his skin), he faked his death and went underground.
  • Death Ray: One of the few times that a phaser kills someone without vaporizing the body.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Lenore's confession drives Karidian over the edge into anguished guilt.
    Karidian: Oh, my child—my child...*sobs* you've left me NOTHING!!!
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: The theme song is performed by the lounge band at Tom Leighton's party. This is the first time the theme has been played as "source music".
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Kodos culled people based on his eugenics theories, and has lived under an assumed name to escape the punishment for his crimes decades later. The comparisons to the Nazis (especially in the '60s when knowledge of the many fugitives living underground became prominent after the capture of Adolf Eichmann) are probably intended.
  • Drinking on Duty: Spock struggles to get Bones to focus on the topic at hand due to the latter hitting the sauce pretty hard during a quiet time in Sickbay. Possibly also a case of Values Dissonance, since by present-day standards a doctor drinking in a medical facility, even if off-shift, would be seen as pretty egregious. invoked
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • McCoy casually mentions that Vulcans were a conquered species, though not when or by whom. This is the only mention of any conquest of Vulcan; future episodes and series would firmly establish that Vulcans have been a more advanced species than most for centuries. Furthermore, Spock states outright that Vulcan has not been conquered within its collective memory in "The Immunity Syndrome".
    • Kirk refers to Riley as a lieutenant in the "Star Service", as opposed to Starfleet.
  • Easily-Overheard Conversation:
    • Uh-Oh! Riley just heard Bones talking to his computer! Why did they phase out the keyboard again? Though twentieth-century doctors often dictated their notes to save time, it is shocking that by the 2260s they haven't come up with something better.
    • Karidian is implied to have overheard Kirk trying to talk Riley down backstage, leading to his distraught conversation with Lenore once Act 1 finishes.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Karidian clearly loves his daughter, and is horrified to find out she's been killing innocent witnesses on his behalf - he didn't want his crimes to affect her. Lenore herself adores her father to a disturbing extent, murdering seven people (with plans to murder two more) to make sure he could never face punishment for the crimes in his past.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • While Kodos' actions were brutal and based on his own eugenics theories, Spock notes that the victims of the massacre at least died painlessly.
    • Karidian is horrified and disgusted to learn that Lenore has been murdering witnesses to his past crimes; he hates the idea of being further stained with innocent blood, and even more so that Lenore stained herself with it.
  • Evil Malthusian: Kodos, Governor of Tarsus, also known as Kodos the Executioner. He killed half the population of the planet when a famine was threatening starvation, little knowing that relief ships were en route. James Kirk was one of a handful of people who saw Kodos in person and could identify him.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Karidian hid his past as Kodos from his daughter Lenore so that she would grow up untainted by his crimes. Alas, she found out on her own and followed in his footsteps, much to Karidian's horror and disgust.
  • Evil Redhead: Kodos when he was younger. As Karidian, his hair has grayed and his personality is much more mellow.
  • Explosive Overclocking: A phaser rigged to overload is placed in Kirk's quarters. He and Spock tear the room apart to find it, because if it blows it'll take out half the deck.
  • Eye Scream: During the play, just after Leighton hisses to Kirk that Karidian is Kodos we hear Karidian-as-Macbeth lament: "Pluck out my eyes!". When Leighton reveals that the left side of his face has been destroyed, we see that that does indeed include his eye.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: We are introduced to Thomas Leighton. We only see the right side of his face for five minutes, until he says that he survived a massacre by Kodos the Executioner, at which point we see that the left side of his face is covered by a patch.
  • Faking the Dead: Kodos the Executioner was presumed dead on Tarsus IV, but all that was found was a body burned beyond recognition, and the episode reveals that Kodos did survive and flee justice.
  • Fake-Out Opening: A bloody dagger? In a sci-fi show? Turns out they're just watching a production of Macbeth.
  • Femme Fatale:
    • Lenore gives a hint of her true intentions when she compares herself to Cleopatra VII and Kirk to Julius Caesar. Before long, she does reveal that she is indeed "green in judgment, cold in blood."
    • Kirk himself does a particularly cold seduction of Lenore in this one, as he manipulates her in order to get closer to her father. It's used as an example of him going too far, and both Lenore and Spock call him out on it, although Spock is more justified than Lenore, given what she already did and what she does later on.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: Riley is served a lunch that looks composed of Jolly Ranchers. Yeah, that's a color found in nature. He might've liked it better if Lenore hadn't spritzed 409 into his chocolate milk.
  • Genocide Survivor: Kirk is stated to be a survivor of a genocide on the planet Tarsus IV, where the Governor ordered thousands of citizens killed to ensure the rest could survive, using eugenics to decide who lived and died.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Despite two very recent murder attempts aboard the ship, security fails to keep an eye on one of the victims or a storage locker; Riley manages to slip out of Sickbay without McCoy even noticing, he breaks into a weapons locker and gets a phaser without being caught, and he very nearly murders Karidian despite Kirk alerting security to both his actions and his intended destination.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: Kodos killed 4,000 people but maintains I Did What I Had to Do, and is deeply sorry that his daughter got caught up in all this. Kirk is traumatised from the massacre, but uses Lenore (at least at first) and is called out for being a Knight in Sour Armor. It was this episode that inspired later deconstructions in Trek.
  • Hand of Death: The opening shot of the episode. Goodbye, King Duncan.
  • Heel Realization: Karidian had one of these a long time before the episode began. Look at the abject horror on his face as he rereads the words he spoke as he sentenced thousands to death. Or, even before that, his cryptic, wistful reply to Kirk:
    Kirk: You're an actor now. What were you twenty years ago?
    Karidian: Younger, Captain. Much younger.
  • Hidden First Act Parallel: The production of Macbeth that Kirk and his friend, Leighton, watch at the beginning of the episode, parallels the events of the episode; witnesses who know what Kodos looks like have mysteriously died or disappeared under unusual circumstances, much like Macbeth and Lady Macbeth murdered others to keep their power on the throne. Leighton is found dead, Lt. Riley is almost poisoned, and Kirk is almost killed by an overloading phaser. Later, when Kirk tries to stop Riley from getting his revenge, it's revealed that Lenore was the murderer, and that she had gone insane, trying to protect her father from being caught, paralleling Lady Macbeth's descent into madness.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Kodos never apologizes for his actions, arguing that he'd be seen as a hero had the rescue ships not arrived early.
  • Incestuous Casting: In-universe, Anton Karidian plays Macbeth and his daughter Lenore plays Lady Macbeth.
  • Irony: While Karidian, in character as King Hamlet, gives a speech entreating his son to avenge his murder, Kirk is backstage, convincing Lt. Riley not to murder Karidian to avenge his father.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Kodos faked his death and fled justice, becoming Anton Karidian, but he never managed to outrun karma; his beloved daughter dove headlong into madness to protect him from possibly facing judgement, murdering seven people and further staining her father with innocent blood before accidentally killing him. Even before all this, Karidian lived with the weight of what he'd done, to say nothing of the fact that his actions were All for Nothing; by the time he finally dies, he's a shell of a man who finds no joy in life outside of his daughter, and even that, he loses when he realizes what she's done.
  • Kick the Dog: Just to make sure we don't think the massacre was a Shoot the Dog situation that went horribly wrong, they mention that Kodos used his own theories on eugenics to select who got spared and executed, instead of a fairer/more pragmatic method such as a lottery.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Perhaps Lenore's accusation "There's a stain of cruelty on your shining armor, Captain." isn't far from the truth.
  • Large Ham:
  • Laughing Mad: Lenore loses her marbles after the phaser hits the wrong man. Actually, a bit before that. But once Karidian dies, she checks out for good.
  • Leave No Witnesses: The motive behind the recent murders. It almost leads to a variation of Nice Job Breaking It, Herod, as Riley is ignorant of the danger until he's poisoned, thus allowing him to find out who's on board and trying to kill him.
  • Literary Allusion Title: It's part of a line from Hamlet, where the title character plans to see if Claudius really did kill his brother by watching his reaction as he sees the murder scene reenacted in a play within a play.
    Hamlet: "I'll have grounds More relative than this—the play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King."
  • Love Makes You Evil: Lenore's devotion to her father has made her unapologetically willing to murder anyone who could possibly reveal the truth about her father's identity. She is completely dismissive of their lives having any value whatsoever, since they are "dangerous" in that they could identify him. To protect him, she has been systematically murdering each of the surviving witnesses no matter where they were.
  • Mad Artist: The Karidian Company. The script hints that "Anton" gravitated toward acting to get away from the "ghosts" and assume new identities. ("I play many parts.) His daughter is a few fries short of a Happy Meal herself.
    Lenore (of the ship) It will become a floating tomb, drifting through space with the soul of the great Karidian giving performances at every star he touches.
  • Mathematician's Answer:
    Kirk: Are you Kodos? I asked you a question.
    Karidian: Do you believe that I am?
    Kirk: I do.
    Karidian: Then I am Kodos, if it pleases you to believe so.
  • Missing Mom: There's no mention in the episode of Lenore's mother, what happened to her, or whether she also knew that Karidian was in fact Kodos.
  • Moral Luck: Karidian's opinion of the Tarsus IV situation. Yes, the genocide was a horrible act, but the only reason that it went down in history as a monstrous one is because the Federation got lucky and was able to send relief ships earlier than anticipated; had Kodos not committed the massacre and the relief ships been on the expected schedule, far more than just half of the colony would've faced slow and miserable deaths from starvation.
  • Moral Myopia: Lenore challenges Kirk's right to judge Kodos for committing the massacre of 4,000 people — an event Kirk himself actually lived through and witnessed. Lenore herself had not even been born yet at the time of the massacre, and is thus judging the entire matter based solely on her love for her father, with no concern for the thousands that were executed or for the surviving witnesses she herself has been murdering in order to protect his secret identity. The only thing that gets her to show any remorse whatsoever is when she accidentally takes her father's life.
  • More Hero than Thou: When they discover that an overloading phaser has been hidden in Kirk's quarters, Spock and the captain briefly have an argument over who should escape from the room and who should take the risk of staying to find it.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Lenore is horrified when she accidentally kills her father while aiming for Kirk, her shock and remorse shattering her already fragile mental state.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Kodos the Executioner.
  • The Needs of the Many: Kodos' rationalization for all the people he killed. It turned out to be a Senseless Sacrifice.
  • Never Found the Body: Well, there was a body, but it was never positively identified as Kodos.
  • Not Me This Time: Anton Karidian is Kodos, but he isn't the killer. His daughter Leonore was doing it on his behalf, much to his horror.
  • Not So Stoic: When Spock discovers what Kirk is trying to hide, namely that he survived an infamous mass-killing as a kid, and that the man responsible may be aboard Enterprise, he becomes extremely animated, much to Bones's amusement.
  • Parents in Distress: Lenore sees herself as just protecting her father.
  • Peaceful in Death: Leighton's wife sadly notes that in death he finally found the peace that had eluded him his entire troubled life.
  • Planet Baron: Kodos, while initially a legitimate governor, was temporarily dictator of the world Kirk grew up on after declaring Martial law due to a famine and executing a large chunk of its population to save the others.
  • Please Wake Up: After Lenore's attempt to kill Kirk instead kills her father when he blocks the shot, her mind snaps and she starts begging him to wake up. According to Bones' final report, she clings to the delusion that he's still alive.
  • Power is Sexy: Lenore thinks so.
    Lenore: And this ship. All this power. Surging and throbbing, yet under control. Are you like that, Captain?
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Although Kirk does use his influence to manipulate the acting troupe onto the ship, he refuses to move against Karidian until he has ironclad evidence that he is Kodos—unlike Riley, who grabs a phaser and nearly kills the old man on suspicion.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Riley believes being demoted back to Engineering is this, when in reality Kirk wanted to protect him from the murderer.
  • Red Alert: When the overloading phaser is discovered in his cabin, Kirk, for the only time in the series, orders Double Red Alert. Justified, in that the expected explosion was only seconds away.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Spock and Bones, per usual. This time, Spock is Red, certain that Karidian is Kodos and urging action, while Bones is Blue, arguing that they don't know for certain and Kirk could be making a terrible mistake.
  • Retired Monster: Kodos the Executioner, a notorious tyrant who had murdered thousands in a massacre decades before the date of the episode. The true villain of the episode, however, is his daughter, who tries to kill every remaining witness of the crime - this includes Kirk - to prevent her father from being arrested for it; Kodos dies when she tries to kill Kirk, taking a phaser blast meant for him, making him a somewhat tragic figure as his past crimes not only catch up to haunt him but to destroy the one thing in his life he had hoped to keep pure and untainted.
  • Revealing Cover-Up: Leighton's claims regarding Kodos might have gone unheeded had Lenore not murdered him, and then tried to kill both Reilly and Kirk. The other murders only cast further suspicions on her father.
  • Revenge: Kirk spends the episode torn over the possibility of taking revenge against Karidian for his actions as Kodos, while Riley is driven to nearly murder the man to avenge his father. Ultimately, Kirk, choosing not to give in to his own rage, talks Riley out of killing Karidian and sends him on his way.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The culling of 4,000 people was to prevent the population from starving, but the relief supplies came early.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Two of his plays are partially acted. References are made to Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra and As You Like It, while the title comes from Hamlet. This marks the first mention of Shakespeare in the franchise, and the first episode title to quote a Shakespeare work, marking the beginning of a very long association of Star Trek with the works of the Bard.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: Karidian appreciates neither Kirk's claims that he is Kodos the Executioner, nor Kirk's eagerness to judge Kodos's actions with the benefit of hindsight:
  • Skewed Priorities: While Kirk is trying to arrest her and her father, Lenore just insists that the play has to go on, refusing to allow little things like her father's crimes against humanity or her own string of murders to interfere with "the great Karidian" giving one last performance.
  • Stepford Smiler: Lenore speaks of her evil deeds with a chipper smile on her face. Pity things ended when they did. She would've made a good Ophelia.
  • Stock Footage: One of the Enterprise fly-by sequences is from the second pilot, Where No Man Has Gone Before.
  • Stupid Evil: Lenore's murders were done because her victims could all potentially identify Anton Karidian as Kodos... but all this ends up doing is making people wonder why the witnesses to Kodos's crimes keep dying when a certain innocuous acting troupe is there. Had she done nothing, no one would have reason to suspect that Karidian was anyone more than some random civilian who bore a passing resemblance to Kodos. Given that she's insane, one can forgive her this.
  • Survivor's Guilt: A deleted scene would have Kirk reveal to Spock and Bones that the only reason why he escaped execution was because he met Kodos' eugenicist standards. Even in the finished episode you can sense hints of Kirk's guilt.
  • Taking the Bullet: Lenore fires her stolen phaser at Kirk. Kodos jumps in front of him and takes the blast.
  • The Teetotaler: Spock boasts how Vulcans never drank alcohol (what he says exactly is that Vulcans lack a weakness to alcohol). Bones doesn't see it as much of a bragging point.
  • Title Drop:
    Lenore (raving) There's no time to sleep. The play. The play. The play's the thing, wherein we'll catch the conscience of the king.
  • Two-Faced: Leighton is missing half his face, along with an eye. Ironically he is one of a few eyewitnesses who can identify his attacker by sight.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Lenore ties with Edith and Khan for the most costume and hair changes (six). Unlike the Depression-era "slum angel" and the refugee fleeing from Earth on a sleeper ship, she at least has a very good excuse (she's an actress).
  • Villainous Breakdown: Lenore after revealing she had killed seven of the nine witnesses who knew her father as Kodos the Executioner ran out to the stage with a phaser, trying to kill Kirk, one of the witnesses. The mad glint in her eyes told us that she lost her mind. And when she accidentally killed her father, she broke down into tears and later on, she insistently believed that her father was still alive and still performing.
  • Villainous BSoD: Lenore suffers two - one when she confesses to her crimes, ranting that she had eliminated all the "ghosts" of his past, and again after she shoots her father by accident. She sits over his body, crying that he needs to wake up because it's time to perform.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Kodos led a revolution and killed half the colonists on Tarsus IV so that the other half would be able to eat—if the relief ships hadn't arrived, it might have gone down in history as a grim-but-necessary action. The fact that he used his own ideas of eugenics to determine who lived and who died tarnishes this, however.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Bones tries to save Kirk from becoming He Who Fights Monsters with "Do you play God? Carry his head through the corridors in triumph? That won't bring back the dead, Jim!" Kodos also gives his daughter a rhetoric "What have you done?" when he realizes that she's been killing people to protect him.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: In addition to the title, this episode shares many plot elements with Hamlet: a leader's troubled conscience, his crimes being exposed during a play, and a daughter going insane (or more so, in Lenore's case) after the accidental killing of her father. Lenore recites the lines leading up to and including these over her father's body.
  • You Killed My Father: Kirk has to talk Riley out of shooting Kodos, who had killed Riley's parents. In an odd juxtaposition, this happens while Kodos is playing the Ghost of Hamlet's Father, who is telling his son to avenge him (incidentally, in many productions of Hamlet, the actor who plays the Ghost also plays Claudius. That would explain why Lenore could insist that he still has a role in the play to finish).
  • You Owe Me: Kirk calls in a favor to a passenger ship captain, telling him to skip picking up Karidian's acting troupe so that they have to hitch a ride on the Enterprise.