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Episode 59 – TOS 3×04: “And The Children Shall Lead”

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This week’s episode is widely considered to be the worst of the Original Series, and while we beg to differ on “worst,” it’s still pretty damn bad. From inconsistent characterization to random dialogue to one of the most random stunt-casts in our shared experience, this ep goes from “uhh” to “what?” to “umm, no” with great speed and all the agility of a drunken wildebeest.

The kids from Triacus, standing in a group.
This week’s Sailor Moon Says? Don’t Trust Orphans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ship’s first mistake is answering a distress call. Seriously, when does that ever go well? They arrive at Triacus to find that all the adult members of the archaeological expedition have committed suicide, leaving only their children alive. Children who are… shall we say disturbingly unaffected? Creepily cheerful? by the horrible deaths of their parents, apparently right in front of them.

Now you know, and I know, that creepy orphans are not to be trusted, especially in sci-fi, but the crew takes the kids aboard without even a biohazard scan (yet another checkmark in the fail column for the Enterprise crew!) and they promptly take over the ship.

Chapel tries to bribe the kids with replicated ice cream.
You can’t stop the darkness with ice cream. At least, not for long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What follows doesn’t make a whole lot more sense than what comes before, nor does the tone get any less inconsistent. We discover that the children are being manipulated by some kind of immortal demon, Gorgan, a translucent holographic dude who most closely resembles an inverted lampshade, but the villain’s motivations – beyond “conquest!” – and the children’s reasons for going along are never really explained or, when they are explained, even remotely plausible. Not to mention that for an episode centred around children, the children themselves are so bizarrely written that we have to wonder if the people writing them had ever met a genuine human child.

 

The kids play Ring Around The Rosy around Kirk.
Unless the human child was the kid from The Exorcist. In which case, fair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Verdict: baffling, off-key, and left us cold. Even Shatner’s famous, oft-mocked performance in the Homoerotic Turbolift Scene couldn’t save this one.

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