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Recap / Star Trek S3 E4 "And the Children Shall Lead"

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They're Creepy Children, but it's not their fault.

Original air date: October 11, 1968

Kirk, Bones and Spock beam down to Triacus to find that Everybody's Dead, Jim. Well, not everybody. The five children that went with their parents are still alive and oblivious to the fact that their parents are dead. It is at this point, the viewer learns one essential thing. In the future, there is no fashion sense! Tommy appears to be wearing an Old-Timey Bathing Suit. Mary looks like a flower child's acid trip. Don is wearing the curtains from Hell's dining room. Ray looks like he's been stealing from the closet of a dwarf used car salesman. And Steve looks like he's wearing William Wallace's hand-me-downs. (His family name is O'Connel, but this is taking Celtic pride a bit far!) Seriously, Will, what were you thinking?

OK, fashion rant over. The children's behavior is disturbing. Not because it's Troubling Unchildlike Behavior. They are acting exactly like children. Like unusually mouthy, disrespectful children who only care about fun to the point that they couldn't care less if their parents are dead. They were no fun anyway. Kirk wants to find out what went wrong, if something is still going wrong. The kids want to go to Markos XII. If they don't get what they want, they won't throw a tantrum or anything...

They'll just make YOU throw a tantrum!

Oh, yes, this is also known as the episode where Melvin Belli plays the villain.

And the Tropes Shall Lead:

  • Apocalyptic Log: Prof. Starnes (Tommy's father, incidentally) has left one.
  • Call-Back: The Gorgon preys on Uhura's fear of growing old. Previously in I, Mudd she had been tempted by an offer of near-eternal youth (in an android body).
  • Children Are Innocent: See-sawed. First, the kids seem a little too innocent, merrily playing while oblivious to the death they're surrounded by. Then they look like manipulative little brats. Finally played straight when it's revealed that they're the ones being manipulated by an alien entity.
  • Cool-Down Hug: A frightened Kirk gets pulled into the turbo lift by Spock. Hello, Ho Yay! Looks like Miramanee from that last episode didn't banish you after all!
  • Creepy Monotone: Presumably how Gorgan is supposed to speak, though the actual result is much nearer to Dull Surprise.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: What Kirk has to do isn't pleasant at the moment, but it's ultimately for the best.
  • Driven to Suicide: All the adults of Triacus.
  • Dull Surprise: Melvin Belli delivers most of his lines as if he were still in a courtroom (though his slow, clearly enunciated delivery can also be considered in character given that Gorgan spends most of his time addressing young children).
  • Evil Redhead: Tommy, but finally subverted since they're all manipulated by Gorgan.
  • Fiery Redhead: Tommy
  • Five-Token Band: This episode plays it quite straight, with two white boys, one white girl (each with a surname from a different European ethnicity), one black boy and one Asian boy. Under the influence of Gorgan, they also count as Equal-Opportunity Evil.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Mary sports a golden pair.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Averted for the most part, due to Melvin Belli's flat performance, but he finally starts hamming it up near the end after Kirk breaks his control over the kids. Even then he comes across pretty subdued next to William Shatner, who turns his performance up to eleven for this episode.
  • Happier Home Movie: Believe it or not, this is instrumental in defeating the Big Bad! Captain Kirk shows the children tapes of them playing with their parents to remind them of the happy life they had before Gorgan the Friendly Angel corrupted them.
  • I Know What You Fear: Gorgan taught the children the power of learning another person's fears and using the fears to disable and control them.
    • Sulu sees swords surrounding the Enterprise so he wouldn't change course.
    • Uhura's fear of dying to prevent her from calling Starfleet Command.
    • Kirk's fear is losing command of the Enterprise (at least until Spock helps him overcome it).
    • Scotty's fear for his machines prevents Kirk and Spock from overriding the Bridge from Auxiliary Control.
    • Chekov's need to be a dutiful and loyal officer, when he claims he has orders from Starfleet to take Kirk and Spock into custody to get them out of the way.
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: The kids sing and play "Ring Around The Rosy" within sight of their dead parents. "We all fall down!" indeed. The tune is played again where ironically appropriate. The chant that the children use to summon Gorgan could fall under this trope as well.
  • Kids Versus Adults: The kids have their own agenda and will not let adults stand in their way.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The title comes from Isaiah 11:6.
  • Mind Control: How the kids get adults to do what they want. Since pouting, saying "pretty please" or endlessly repeating "Will you take us to Markos XII? Will you take us to Markos XII? Will you take us to Markos XII...." doesn't always work.
  • Mouthy Kid: All the kids, but especially Mary.
  • The Mutiny: Caused by Mind Control, though more of the "too terrified to follow orders" rather than "actively fighting your CO" type.
  • Namedar: Kirk addresses Gorgan by name in the final confrontation without the name having mentioned before, in his hearing or at all.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Shouldn't there be some kind of warning on the transporter to let you know that you're beaming crew members into outer space?
  • Our Angels Are Different: Gorgan's not a very friendly angel, despite what the kids' rhyme would say. And what's with the Mylar dress?
  • Papa Wolf: Captain Kirk. He'll make kids cry if that's what it takes to make Gorgan lose power over them. Then he'll pick them up to reassure them while confronting the monster.
  • Plot Hole: It is never explained how Kirk knew to refer to the Friendly Angel as "Gorgan." Based on early drafts of the script, and in a bit of sloppy editing, episode writer Edward J. Lakso alternated between the various names, explaining why it appeared and stuck so late in the episode. A deleted scene had revealed that Tommy did tell Kirk the name, however, this scene took place in the script after Kirk had used the name.
  • Powering Villain Realization: the evil entity called Gorgan gets its power from the fact that the children believe it has power. When that belief is taken away, Gorgan dies rather messily.
  • Premature Encapsulation: The episode makes repeated thematic reference to the "enemy within". Too bad "The Enemy Within" was already the title of an episode two seasons earlier...
  • Recycled Premise: The Enterprise is no stranger to omnipotent children.
  • Red Shirt: Two of them get beamed into empty space because the kids have caused everyone to believe they are still in orbit around Triacus.
    • Presumably, the security officers stranded in the planet are also Red Shirts, and by the time the episode is over Kirk has apparently forgotten about their existence. Expendable indeed.
  • Shattering the Illusion: Kirk breaks the control Gorgan has on the kids by showing them video of their parents to show they weren't as bad as they said. Destroying this illusion also breaks the illusions they caused the crew to have.
  • Space Clothes: Oh, good Lord. Who the hell dressed these children?
  • Summoning Ritual: "Hail, hail, fire and snow...."
  • Teenage Wasteland: The adults kill themselves, leading the children to their own devices.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Tommy (whose actor, Craig Huxley, was 13 at the time of filming) is the de facto leader of these children who would take over the universe. He takes perverse pleasure in tormenting the adults.
  • There Are No Adults: Because Gorgan killed all of them.
  • The Unintelligible: When Kirk orders a security guard to take Sulu to his quarters, the children make the guard hear nothing but gibberish.
  • Vanity Is Feminine: When the characters' worst fears were shown: Kirk's was losing command, Sulu's was facing certain death that he had to maneuver the ship out of, and Uhura's was...being old and ugly. Granted, it seemed to be that her fear was more a lingering, wasting, painful death than just not being sexy anymore.
    Uhura: I see my death. A long death. Disease and pain. I see my death.
  • Villainous Breakdown: When Gorganís control of the children begins to slip, he becomes agitated and demands they return to their posts to resume control of the Enterprise. His face also begins to melt and angrily curses them until he fades away.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Kirk leaves two security officers on the planet when he beams up, and they're left behind when the children take over the ship and force it to set course for Markos XII. When Kirk regains control, he orders the ship to the starbase where he had intended to offload the kids. No mention is given of the officers who are left on the planet. Unless Kirk goes to pick them up later, he seems to have forgotten all about them and just abandoned them!
  • Youthful Freckles: All the kids have them except for Don (who is black) and Ray (who is Asian).