Friday, May 8, 2009

Star Trek--"Charlie X"

If there is one thing trek has been consistent with, it is making children centered episodes terrible. The only exception across five series I can come up with is TNG’s “Worship,” the episode in which a boy coping with survivor’s guilt emulates Data in order to shield his emotions. I am pretty sure I am in a minority for liking that episode, too. All of all those sub par episodes, “Charlie X” is right down there with TNG’s ’Imaginary friend’ as the worst.

Charlie Evans is The Twilight Zone’s Anthony Fremont without a drop of imagination in him. The kid is just a vicious little psycho. I am not certain he has a better excuse for his behavior, either. Fremont was an undisciplined little boy. You can understand why he would turn the world into his own personal playground and rough up people like they were his toys. But while Charlie has had no human contact for seventeen years, he has been raised by a wise, powerful race of aliens called the Thapians. They granted him powers to help him survive. Surely they would have taught him how to conduct himself better. Apparently, he did not bother to learn. I assume that was just Roddenberry’s heavy handed preaching that power corrupts.

Not that the Enterprise crew does a better job with him. When he immediately develops a crush on Yeoman Rand, she finds a teenage girl to dump on him. That is a fantastic idea. Here is a antisocial, hormones raging teenager for whom strange and bad things keep happening around. Why not give him a hot, young girl to romp around with unsupervised/ it sounds like a winning idea to me. Kirk does not do much better when he decides to teach the kid to fight and winds up losing a crewman to Charlie’s tantrum.

The most uncomfortable part is Kirk’s plan to stop Charlie once he takes over the ship and plotsa course towards the colony home of his nearest relatives. Kirk know he will cause even more havoc there, so he cannot allow Charlie to reach the colony. So what precisely could he do? Kill him? Before the question can be explored, he Thasians show up to take Charlie back after realizing he is too dangerous to be among his own kind. There, at least, is an acknowledgement they have made a mistake with him.

We are supposed to sympathize with Charlie. The Thasians are cold beings, unfeeling beings. But he has been such an untamed brat beyond redemption, I just could not. He got what was best for him. At least we did not have to see Kirk come to the decision to kill Charlie or otherwise permanently pacify him. Such a solution would have been the only thing that could have made this episode any worse.

Rating: * (out of 5)

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