The Enterprise happens on a planet ruled by a being named Trelane, who has unnatural powers. When he attempts to force his will on the crew, Kirk determines to leave - a decision that is easier made than implemented.
It all started when the Enterprise was just on its way to Beta VI and crossing a "star desert" when they come across a rogue planet comprised primarily of iron-silica. Sulu is just going to steer around it when BOING! He disappears! Kirk soon also disappears with a similar BOING!
Soon after, the Enterprise receives a text greeting in Old English Font. After a quick scan, Spock assigns three officers (no Red Shirts this time) to rescue the Captain and Sulu. The place they beam down to has thick vegetation and a manor house in French style architecture, and they can't get a communication signal. Maybe they're in Louisiana?
No such luck. The landing crew investigates the manor to find it filled with unusual artifacts, including one that looks suspiciously like their old nemesis, the Salt Vampire. Sulu and Kirk are frozen like wax figures, but freed with a touch. Slam goes the door. Tinka-tinka-tink goes the harpsichord. They are introduced to General Trelane (retired), the Squire of Gothos.
The Tropes of Gothos:
- Affably Evil: Trelane fancies himself a retired general with an elegant home to show his captives every hospitality in. Or to at least play at doing so.
- Aliens Steal Cable: Trelane wasn't receiving radio signals, but clearly was limited by speed-of-light transmission when he thought that 18th-century fashions and behavior were the latest things for Earth people, there on his planet some 900 light years from Earth. Then again, he was merely a child from a race of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens and might be excused from making such a mistake.
- Bilingual Bonus: Trelane counts to four in German and says "Gehen wir mit dem Schießgewehr!" (We go with the rifle shooting!) Jaeger responds (in English) with "I'm a scientist, not a military man." (However, his last name does mean "Hunter".) Trelane asks DeSalle (in French) if he is really French. ("Un vrais Francais?") DeSalle responds (again in English), "My ancestry was French, yes."
- Bling of War: It's unlikely he did anything to earn them, but Trelane believes no general costume is complete without a few medals.
- Continuity Nod: The salt vampire from "The Man Trap" is among Trelane's collection.
- Dance of Romance: Trelane starts his idea of one with Yeoman Ross while Uhura plays the harpsichord. (After he magically gave her the ability to do so?)
- Deadpan Snarker: Sulu, of all people, and more than once:
Trelane: Welcome, good physicianer! (bows) And honourable sir.Sulu (aside, to Bones): Is he kidding?
- When Kirk introduces Bones and Sulu, Trelane (correctly) intuits the latter's Japanese ancestry (somehow, since Sulu isn't a Japanese name) and bows deeply to him in a hilariously over-the-top fashion.
Trelane: Anyway, the decor of my drawing room is much more appropriate - (Jump Cut to everyone in his drawing room) - and tasteful. Don't you agree?Sulu (very dryly): No.
- Later, after Trelane teleports the entire bridge crew back down to his "estate" on Gothos:
- To add insult to injury, Trelane bows at him again in response.
- Deconstruction: Of the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens plot that regularly showed up in science fiction (and would again on Trek). Why would god-like aliens even bother with unpowered humans? Because in Trelane's case, he's a Spoiled Brat. And how do the puny humans defeat such an incredibly powerful foe? They don't, they just survive long enough for his parents to basically call him in and tell him to wash up before dinner.
- Deus ex Machina: Trelane's parents show up and take their son away, also giving Kirk the ability to return to the ship.
- Distracted by My Own Sexy: Trelane likes admiring his reflection. Of course, this makes sneaking up on him difficult.
- Early Installment Weirdness
- There was still a very vague idea of just how far into the future the series was set, but going from this episode, it's at least the 27th century given the statement that Trelane's information is 900 years out of date. The TOS era would later be firmly set in the 23rd century.
- At one point, Uhura refers to Spacefleet Command rather than Starfleet Command.
- Energy Beings: What Trelane and others like him are when they aren't pretending to be human.
- Flynning: Justified, as Trelane is a fan of swordfighting but has never actually tried it before.
- Ghost Butler: When the group sent down to find Kirk and Sulu enter Trelane's house, the door closes itself just before Trelane appears.
- A Glitch in the Matrix: The crew realize that Trelane is not all-powerful because of numerous mistakes in his playground; the food he provides has no taste, and the fires in the fireplace and on the Hollywood Torches on the wall do not produce heat.Kirk: Whatever we're dealing with, he certainly isn't all knowledgeable. He makes mistakes.
- Glove Slap: Kirk uses one of Yeoman Ross' gloves to challenge Trelane, who is all too eager to take part in an old-fashioned Duel to the Death.
- Go-Go Enslavement: Subverted. Trelane transformed Ross' uniform into an expensive-looking ballroom gown, which covers more than her uniform.
- Graceful Ladies Like Purple: Trelane believes this. The Regency style gown with Opera Gloves he zaps Yeoman Ross into is a fine shade of lavender.
- Hanging Judge: Trelane makes believe at being one, complete with powdered wig.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Kirk intends this, staying behind to distract Trelane so that the Enterprise can escape from orbit. This would have two possible outcomes - either the vengeful Trelane kills him or Kirk dies from oxygen deprivation after defeating him. It's subverted when Trelane's parents show up just as he is about to finish Kirk off.
- Hollywood Torches: There are a number of them burning at various places on the walls of Trelane's mansion. This is Justified In-Universe because Trelane is a Reality Warper who created his mansion using his powers;Notice the wood fire, Captain? Burning steadily, ember bed glowing, and it doesn't give off any heat at all.
- Hot Blooded Sideburns: The passionate and quick-tempered Trelane has a pair. Granted, he may only be wearing them because they were fashionable in the timeline he's trying to re-create, but it still fits.
- Humans Are Bastards: Trelane believes this. That's why he admires them so!
- Humans Are Special: Trelane's father chides him for his high-handed attitude, telling him, "They're beings, Trelane. They have spirit. They're superior." (though he seems to be referring to corporeal intelligences generally rather than humans specifically).
- Immortal Immaturity: Trelane is an extremely powerful near-god and hundreds if not thousands of years old, but acted like a child... and by the standards of his race, he washis parents showed up at the end to drag their whining kid home.
- Insult Backfire: "I can't imagine a mirage ever disturbing those mathematically perfect brain waves of yours," snipes Bones at Spock. Spock thanks him for the compliment.
- Japanese Politeness: Trelane bows to Sulu and calls him, "Honorable Sir." Sulu responds, "Is he kidding?!"
- Judicial Wig: When Trelane puts Kirk on trial for defying him, he wears one along with his judges' robes.
- Large Ham: Trelane.
- Mood Whiplash: Goes from a whimsical "we're dealing with a weird alien" plot to a God-like Trelane going berserk over Kirk's actions. And back again when we find out Trelane isn't God, just a spoiled brat.
- Must Have Caffeine: Yeoman Ross serves up cups of coffee for everyone on the bridge at the opening of the episode. Doesn't it strike anyone as odd that they're allowing open beverages near what is probably very important electrical equipment?
- Negative Space Wedgie: Gothos itself, an uncharted planet which shows up light years from any star and heralds the beginning of the weirdness.
- Nightmare Fetishist: Trelane practically squeals with delight over thoughts of savagery, war, and violence. He abducts the crew specifically to hear stories of their military achievements.
- No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Trelane provides a sumptuous dinner the second time he abducts part of the Enterprise crew. Too bad none of it tastes like anything, because all he knows about Earth food is what it looks like.
- No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: Trelane repeatedly complains that hunting Kirk is "too easy" to be any fun.
- Offscreen Teleportation: The entire planet Gothos does this when Sulu tries to get the Enterprise away at warp speed. No matter where the Enterprise goes, there's Gothos, right in front of them!
- The One Thing I Don't Hate About You: Trelane doesn't like Spock, but does approve of him being ill-mannered.
- Psychopathic Man Child: Trelane treats the crew like his toys and he essentially throws a tantrum after Kirk destroys his computer, thus ruining his fun. He loves boasting about his authority and tries to make the crew play his little games. Once Kirk realizes what kind of person Trelane is, he plays on his need for fun. Based off the ending, he seems to be a child by his species standards and he is chastised by his parents for his treatment of Kirk and his crew.
- Reality Has No Subtitles: In order to show off his knowledge of Earth, Trelane speaks French to DeSalle and German to Mr. Jaeger without any translation for the audience.
- Reality Warper: Trelane. Which brings us to....
- Reality Warping Is Not a Toy: Trelane is a godlike alien reality warper who creates new worlds to suit his whims. He torments the Enterprise crew with his powers, but just as he's about to kill Kirk, his parents show up and remonstrate him.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Kirk dishes one out to Trelane, along with a couple of bitch slaps.
- Scheherezade Gambit: Kirk convinces Trelane to spare him because it would be more fun to Hunt The Most Dangerous Game.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Kirk and co. try to pull this at first. Trelane punishes Kirk for attempting to do so by briefly transporting him to another part of the planet with a noxious atmosphere. When Trelane is distracted by his broken toys, Kirk and co. beam back to the Enterprise, where Kirk tells Sulu to floor it. (Not that this works.)
- Silly Walk: On hearing the name of the meteorologist is Karl Jaeger, Trelane does an exaggerated goose-step while counting in German. Lt. Jaeger is not amused.
- Spoiled Brat: What Trelane ultimately is. He drops his suave gentleman act when his parents show up and starts acting like a whiny little child. The parents apologize, realizing that it's partially their own fault for over-indulging him.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The character of Yeoman Ross was very likely written as Janice Rand until Grace Lee Whitney was fired.
- Sword Fight: Trelane and Kirk get in one. Trelane doesn't fight fair.
- Taken for Granite: Trelane's first act is to kidnap Kirk and Sulu, turning them into statues; he turns them back to normal when the rest of the crew arrive, seeing as that was his intent.
- Trial of the Mystical Jury: Kirk is put on trial by Trelane.
- Wacky Sound Effect: Along with the usual "BOING" whenever anyone disappears, we get a cavalcade of goofy noises right out of an old Warner Bros. cartoon when Kirk shoots out Trelane's mirror, where he's been hiding the power source of his illusions.
- Where's the Fun in That?: Kirk asks his captor, "Where's the sport?" in simply hanging him, as he had planned. Instead, Kirk talked his captor into staging a "royal hunt". This bought Kirk enough time for a Deus ex Machina rescue.
- You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You: Bones tries to tell Uhura what Trelane is like, but gives up. She'll soon find out for herself anyway.