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Recap / Star Trek S3 E19 "Requiem for Methuselah"

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A romance for the ages. Or four hours, anyway.

Original air date: February 14, 1969

Our usual Power Trio beams down to Holberg 917-G in search for ryetalyn, the antidote for the disease ravaging the Enterprise crew. It seems now everyone has trouble sitting still and focusing, wait, that's what they'd need Ritalin for. Sorry. Actually, the disease is Rigellian fever and has already killed three crewmen off screen. (We are to assume they all wore Red Shirts.) It was assumed from previous scans that the planet was uninhabited. However, not only is Spock's tricorder picking up life signs, but they are greeted by a flying robot that resembles a two foot tall metallic Mayor McCheese. They are soon introduced to a man who only gives the name Flint. He brings Kirk and company to his well appointed home and tells them to help themselves to brandy. No, Brandy is not the name of the blonde bombshell watching them on closed circuit TV (on a very snazzy flatscreen, no less). Her name is Rayna Kapec (Louise Sorel), however, Kirk will indeed help himself to her.

While Bones inspects the promised ryetalyn, finding it to look remarkably like sno cone syrup, Spock inspects the paintings, writings and sheet music in Flint's home. He concludes that these paintings don't just look like the work of Leonardo Da Vinci, they are the work of Leonardo, even though they were made recently. Same with the sheet music: it doesn't just sound like Brahms, it is Brahms. Kirk, meanwhile, inspects Rayna, a young lady that Flint has introduced him to.

Requiem for Tropes:

  • Androids Are People, Too: At least Flint and Kirk think so, in this case.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Leonardo da Vinci, Brahms, Alexander the Great and many other historical artists and leaders were actually the same person, a human gifted with immortality.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Power Trio got the cure they came for, but Rayna is dead and Kirk and Flint get their hearts thoroughly broken. Also, Flint is finally dying due to being outside Earth's "fields" so long, implying he won't have time to try and create another Rayna even should he have the heart to do so. He will, at least, get to finish living out his life and plans to use his remaining time researching and giving back to the universe.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Bones jokingly accuses Spock of being like this.
  • Characterization Marches On: Rayna is the last Girl of the Week for Captain Kirk in the series proper and even for the rest of his tenure in the animated series. In the movie era, there is Dr. Gillian Taylor. note  Given the ending and his reflection on his behavior, it might be somewhat appropriate.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Flint's guardian robot catches Kirk and Rayna together and prepares to fire. Kirk moves Rayna away and prepares for the attack. Then, pow! The robot explodes with sparks, and we see Spock standing in the doorway, phaser in hand.
  • Dance of Romance: Kirk and Rayna waltz while Spock plays the piano.
  • Dumb Blonde: Subverted, then played with. Flint boasts that Rayna is the smartest woman in the universe, having enough intelligence to hold seventeen different degrees. She is, however, lacking in even the basest practical experience due to being cut off from the universe. Of course, her high IQ is due to being an android. She's not even a real blonde! All of the Rayna series are bald and wear wigs.
  • Famous, Famous, Fictional:
    • Spock identifies the artworks in Flints' collection as "the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance period, some of the works of Reginald Pollack, 20th century, and even a Stenn from Marcus Two."
    • Five of the names Flint credits to himself are historical or mythological; the sixth is "Abramson."
  • Fate Worse than Death: How Kirk views suspended animation.
  • Fictional Painting: While in Flint's mansion Spock discovers a number of da Vinci paintings that have never been cataloged, as well as an unknown waltz by Johannes Brahms. It later turns out that Flint is an immortal who was da Vinci, Brahms, and other famous men. He created the new works after leaving Earth. Flint also has fictional antiques like "The Creation lithographs by Taranullus of Centauri Seven" and "a Stenn from Marcus Two".
  • Forbidden Fruit: In "Requiem for Methuselah", the only part of Flint's mansion that Rayna Kapec is forbidden to enter is one specific room. Guess where she wants to go more than anywhere else? Flint doesn't want her to go in there for a good reason. It's the laboratory where she was created: she's a humanoid robot.
    • She tells Kirk she comes to the room just outside that one whenever she is troubled or needs to think things over. This is the first room she would have seen after she was activated, so it makes sense she uses it kind of as a secular chapel.
  • Foreshadowing: Near the beginning, McCoy compares Rigellian fever to bubonic plague, and Flint describes how the plague swept through Constantinople in 1334, devastating the city on its way to kill a third of Europe. The team assume he's just a very learned student of history, but the way he describes it sounds more like someone recalling the trauma of events he witnessed first-hand. Because that's exactly what's happening.
  • Hands-On Approach: How Rayna shows Kirk how to play billiards.
  • Heroic BSoD: Kirk's breakdown seems to be as much finding out that yet another person used him as it is falling for Rayna so fast. When he yells at Flint "you used me!" he's trembling, shaking and seconds away from crying.
  • Hikikomori: An unusual case. Flint keeps an entire planet to himself without interacting with the universe. Well, after a six thousand year life span, maybe he's just tired of it all.
  • The Ingenue: Rayna.
  • I Have Many Names: Flint lists many of the people he has been over the years.
  • Incest Subtext: Flint can't seem to decide whether he loves Rayna as a daughter, a romantic partner, or just a good piece of engineering. Total isolation may be screwing with his head a bit.
  • Inconspicuous Immortal: Flint was born 6,000 years ago and played the part of numerous famous historical figures. However, in Captain Kirk's time, he's long since left the spotlight: essentially, he's an interstellar Hikikomori who bought a remote uninhabited world to live on, and he's remained there ever since - right up until Kirk and company show up looking for a cure for Rigellian Fever.
  • Incredible Shrinking Starship: Flint shrinks the Enterprise to model size, placed on a tabletop. Kirk lurks through the main viewscreen.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Bones needs one when Spock says he believes he is experiencing an emotion. The ultra rare Saurian brandy will do.
  • Julius Beethoven da Vinci: Flint claims to have been, among others, Johannes Brahms, William Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Merlin, Lazarus, Alexander the Great, King Solomon, and Methuselah. His birth name was Akharin, a Sumerian soldier.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Kirk is so upset over what happened, Spock Mind Melds with him and says "Forget." Let's hope Kirk doesn't say "Oh, crap, we forgot the ryetalin!" and turn back to start things all over again.
  • Little "No": Rayna gives one in protest to Flint harming Kirk or his crew.
  • Logic Bomb:
    • For a change, Kirk didn't mean to drop one and in fact dropped one on himself. When he realized the truth about Rayna, he told himself he couldn't love her, and yet he did.
    • As for Rayna, the strain of having to decide between two men she loved caused a mental breakdown. More of an emotion bomb than a logic one.
  • Magical Security Cam: When Rayna and later Flint are watching the away team on the security monitor, it zooms, pans, and changes angle just the same as the bits where the camera is showing the audience the away team directly.
  • May–December Romance: The romance between Flint and Rayna would be an extreme version of this. He is over 6000 years old. She's maybe not even a year old.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Avoiding this is what drives Flint to create a Robot Girl as a lover.
  • Metaphorically True: Flint said at first he lived alone. Of course, he meant alone except for his family.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Rivals!: Flint created the Robot Girl Rayna Kapec to be a companion for himself. He guided her and James T. Kirk into falling in love with each other to awaken her emotions, then planned to take over. He and Kirk end up in a fight over her, and during the fight she is so stressed out over having to choose between them that she malfunctions and dies.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Flint invites Kirk and co. in for brandy and later, dinner.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Kirk completely ignores the fact that his crew is in danger and keeps hitting on Rayna. Even though Kirk is a well-established ladies' man, he would never put that above duty to his ship and friends; he is not, in fact, a total horndog, but a decent man who has realistically had serious and casual sexual relationships over the years. Granted, as far as he knew the antitoxin was being created (and far faster than it would be on the Enterprise), so there was no reason not to find a pleasant way to pass the time; but his focus on Rayna does cause him to seem rather unconcerned when McCoy and Spock bring their concerns to him about the ryetalin and their host's duplicity.
  • Pygmalion Plot: Rare example where both the literal (Flint made Rayna, the last of a line of android models) and figurative (he used Kirk to try to spark her further emotional development) variations of the trope are used for the same character.
  • Reality-Changing Miniature: Flint reduces the Enterprise to a tiny model, which puts the crew into suspended animation. Did he get the idea from the aliens in "Catspaw"?
  • Recycled In Space: It's The Tempest in space — except when it's Bluebeard in space.
  • Robotic Reveal: Spock tries to prevent Kirk from finding out the truth, knowing what it will do to his fragile human mind. Kirk soon finds the Rayna duplicates, revealing the truth.
  • Shout-Out: Rayna's last name Kapec is a reference to Karel Capek, the sci-fi writer who coined the term "robot" with his play R.U.R..
  • Stock Footage: Flint's castle is a reuse of the matte painting depicting Rigel VII in the first pilot, "The Cage".
  • Stumbling Upon the Lost Wizard: Mr. Flint owns a planet in the Omega system. He has a number of robots as servants and a beautiful female ward named Rayna Kapec. He has tremendous technological power, enough to destroy the Enterprise. He has two dark secrets. The first is that he is an immortal man from Earth and is thousands of years old. The second is that his ward is not human, but actually an android robot in female form, and he needs to have her emotions wakened so she will love him. Her name may be a reference to Karel Čapek, who coined the word "robot".
  • Title: Requiem: The episode is called "Requiem for Methuselah", an allusion to the Biblical Methuselah, who was reported to have lived for 969 years (and who, according to Flint, was another of his past identities).
  • Virus and Cure Names: The episode introduces the Rigellian Fever, a bacterium-caused disease similar to Earth's bubonic plage. It's cured by Ryetalyn.
  • Warts and All: Not only was Flint once Solomon, Alexander, Merlin, Leonardo, Lazarus, and several other beloved historical figures, he also rubbed elbows with Socrates, Moses, Jesus, Galileo and William Shakespeare. It's somewhat heartbreaking to see this same man shun humankind as well as threaten the Enterprise crew, exploit Kirk's attraction to Rayna, intentionally withhold the antidote that Kirk needs to save his crew, all for some manipulative game he was playing, and then resort to a fistfight with Kirk. But in the end, Kirk ended up pitying him far more than hating him: "an old and lonely man..."
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Rayna does not understand love. All she knows about loneliness is that Flint tells her it is "Thirst, a flower dying in the desert." Spock feels a pang of envy for the first time in his life.
  • What Measure Is a Human?: Kirk admits that Rayna's only flaw is that she's not human. Seconds later, he is defending her right to individuality and free will as he would any sentient being.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Flint has gathered the experience and knowledge of the finest minds in history. He has read every available book, studied every art and science until he mastered them. And yet, he must deal with unbearable loneliness.
  • Wife Husbandry: Appears this way at first. Flint claims to have raised Rayna. In reality, he built and programmed her.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Flint says as much when Kirk finally gets Rayna in touch with her emotions. Imagine The Tempest if Prospero were an incestuous bastard.