Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Star Trek--"Friday's Child"

There are two kinds of bad episodes of TOS. First, there is the good idea poorly executed. “The Alternative Factor” falls into this category. The idea of matter/antimatter universes conflicting with one another is a fascinating concept, but it was a terrible mess because Lazarus’ motivations were never well defined. The second kind of bad TOS episode is the bad idea poorly executed. We are going to see a bunch of these from here on out. “Friday’s Child’ is not the worst of the bunch, but Kirk’s Clique encountering Klingons on the Renaissance Fair planet could not have sounded promising even on the drawing table.

The episode attempts to serve as two allegories: the Cold War and the birth of Jesus Christ. The first one is done in earnest, but it was also done the last timethe Klingons showed up in “Errand of Mercy.” Once again, the Federation and the Klingon Ampire represent the United States and the Soviet Union competing for the loyalties of a potential satellite state. Note that, much like the Cold War, both sides attempt to curry favor with the potential satellite state regardless of whether the philosophy of governing suits them or not.

The second allegory of the birth of Jesus Christ is a bit more strained. “Friday’s Child” originally aired on December 1st, 1967. It is not a Christmas episode in the same sense “Catspaw” was all about Halloween, but you cannot miss the allusion. Or the humor in Jews William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy fighting to save the child, for that matter.

None of the above makes sense without a recap, so herewe go. The Enterprise is sent to the planet Capella in order to alleviate their complete absense of musical instruments. No, wait..I mean negotiate for mining rights. Unfortunately, the Klingons have gotten there first. The two powers make every effort to their governing philosophies as appealing to the Capellans.

A coup breaks out and the Big Kahuna’s pregnant wife, Eleen, has to be killed in order to prevent her child from automatically becoming ruler. Kirk, in flagrant violation of the Prime Directive, saves her, and the landing party takes her and heads for the hills. Literally.

Kirk and spock have to hold off the faction that wants the woman killed using primitive weapons they have made from the surrounding woods. You would think the Capellans would have an advantage, but lo and behold, they have never seen a bow and arrow before. Wondrous bit of technology, that.

In meantime, Eleen gives birth, so Herod has already failed and we are not even in the last act yet. She does not want the child, so she bonks McCoys over the head and does the exact opposite of heading for the hills since she is, you know, already there. Bearing in mind, she just gave birth like twenty minutes ago. She runs into the confrontation between the klingons, Capellans, Kirk, and Spock. Before things get really bad, a rescue team beams down, forcing the Capellans to surrender. The klingons get killed for no other reason than they are the bad guys. Eleen sings the mining treaty with the Federation on befalf of her son, the new ruler of Capella and the kid she did not want until she remembered she could rulethe planet as his proxy.

You see how these things work out? Eleen gets to exploit her unwanted son for power, so she is happy. Kirk has affected political change in a pre-warp society against the Federation’s most sacred rule, so he is happy. Bonus poits for the Klingons being kiled for doing exactly what Kirk succeeded in. The Federation gets its mining rights, too. That is a happy ending, right?

Rating: * (out of 5)

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