Star Trek “And the Children Shall Lead...” (part 2 of 5)
Cut to the Enterprise. We find the kids all gathered around Nurse Chapel, the formerly male, horse-faced wife of Gene Roddenberry. Okay, she’s not that bad, but you’ve gotta admit she looked a little manly at certain angles.
Chapel’s standing in some kind of whacked-out terrarium, and she has a set of plastic cards fanned out in her hands. She explains to the kids that “each card is a different flavor” of ice cream, and they only need to pick what they want and “the computer will mix your favorite combinations!”
The kids mob Chapel and just snatch the cards right out of her hands. They run to slip them into a computer, causing lights to flash and a little spooky theramin music to play. Soon, the panels on the machine slide up, and three of the boys grab bowls of ice cream. Nurse Chapel then asks “Stevie”, the short, dark-haired white kid of the group if he’d “like a surprise”.
She sticks a card at random into the machine, but Stevie gets a deflated look as he sees what the computer has resequenced for him. In fact, he seems much more bummed out about this than about seeing his parents dead. He yells, “It’s coconut and vanilla. They’re both white!” Damn! Ain’t it just like The Man, always keeping the chocolate down?
Nurse Chapel tries to console Stevie by reminding him that “there are unpleasant surprises as well as pleasant ones!” Ooh, an important lesson! “That was your unpleasant surprise,” she explains, then asks what he wants for his “pleasant surprise”. The opportunity to kick you in the teeth, I would imagine.
Stevie asks for a bowl of “chocolate wobble and pistachio” off the top of his head. Right before Chapel sticks a card in, he adds, “And peach!” So she sticks a different card into the computer instead. Yes, that’s right, this means Chapel had just one card programmed for chocolate wobble, pistachio, and peach. I guess in the future, this must be a popular combination.
Anyway, Stevie gets his ice cream and runs off, and Chapel suddenly stops forcing herself to smile and just sighs. Yeah, you’ve got to feel sorry for Nurse Chapel here. All that medical training at Starfleet Academy, and here she is playing nanny to a bunch of brats.
Cut to Kirk and McCoy strolling through a corridor. McCoy explains that he’s checked out the kids, and they’re all healthy, both physically and mentally. There’s no trace of any “foreign biochemical substance” to explain why they’re acting so strangely. McCoy suggests they take the kids to a Starbase where they’ll be off his hands, oops, I mean, so that a “child specialist” can check them out.
Kirk, however, doesn’t want to leave Troyaikman until they find out what happened to the parents, and again suggests they just question the kids. McCoy says this could be dangerous, but Kirk insists he must for the safety of the ship.
Back in the psychedelic terrarium, the kids are all scarfing down ice cream as poor Chapel is still forced to babysit them. Kirk enters, and as he walks in, there’s plenty of stupid watermelon, watermelon dialogue dubbed in, including Chapel saying, “You like getting your ice cream out of a computer!” Hey, who doesn’t?
Kirk strolls on over with an overly chipper demeanor like he’s suddenly the captain of the Good Ship Lollipop (registry number NCC-6437). He sits down with the kids and tells Chapel to get him some ice cream, too. What the hell, dude? If I were Chapel, I’d be like, see this uniform? That means I’m a nurse. N-U-R-S-E. Not your own personal servant. So get your own damned ice cream, Tubby.
Kirk asks the kids if this is better than being on Troyaikman. Token Black Kid shouts, “That dirty ol’ planet!” and the rest just bitch and moan about how much it sucked being there. Kirk tells the kids that their parents liked being on Troyaikman, prompting Black Kid to shout, “Parents like stupid things!” You know what I think? I think Mr. T needs to get in here pronto and fix this kid’s attitude. Don’t be talking bad about nobody’s momma, fool!
Nurse Chapel returns with Kirk’s ice cream and adds, “Oh, I don’t know about that. Parents like children.” Which would actually seem to support Black Kid’s argument, if you ask me. Mary says, “Hah! That’s what you think!” Kirk patiently explains to the kids that their parents loved them very much, which is why they were brought to Troyaikman in the first place. Otherwise, he says, “They’d miss you! I’m… sure that you… would miss them, too.”
The gravity of this statement almost starts to sink in with the kids, until Tommy the Howdy Doody replica starts chanting, “Busy! Busy!” All the kids laugh and join in with the chant, and then they get up and start scrambling around one of the psychedelic potted plants. One of them asks Chapel to “guess what we are!” and she guesses they’re a “swarm of bees”. Not exactly the first thing that springs to my mind, but she turns out to be right.
“Watch out,” Mary shouts at Kirk, “I’ll sting you!” She runs straight at him, so Kirk scoops her up in his arms. However, this doesn’t prevent her from “stinging” him by poking him in the chest and face over and over again. Kirk is on the verge of getting massively ticked off, when suddenly Tommy comes up to him and demands more ice cream. Kirk tells the little monster that it would “spoil your dinner”. Tommy bitterly says to the others, “See what I told you? They all say it!”
Finally, Kirk has had enough and tells Chapel to escort the kids to their quarters. However, he asks Tommy to stay behind. Kirk sits him down and wants to know what he saw in the Styrofoam Cave back on Troyaikman, but Tommy’s non-responsive. Kirk asks if Tommy saw his father today, and Tommy explains that his dad was really upset. “He was always upset… Just like you, Captain Kirk!” Kirk does a poor job of pretending like he’s not upset, then claims he wouldn’t have had the kids brought up to the Enterprise if he didn’t like them. Unfortunately, the fabric of traumatization doesn’t prevent Tommy from seeing right through this line of BS.
Kirk continues gingerly questioning him, asking Tommy if he’s upset about leaving Troyaikman and his parents. Tommy creepily starts referring to his parents in the present tense, saying things like, “They love it down there! Always busy!” He asks to be excused and a dumbfounded Kirk just lets him go. Once he’s gone, Kirk gets on the intercom with security and orders them to keep the kids under “constant watch”.
Then, appropriately enough, we cut to the kids under no watch of any kind. They’re in their quarters, all walking in a circle, with their hands linked in the center. As they walk, they chant an incantation: “Hail, hail, fire and snow! Call the angel and we will go! Far away, far to see, friendly angel come to me!”
Sure enough, a green haze appears in a corner of the room, and a translucent gray-haired man wearing a big parka materializes. Sadly, this will be the episode’s decidedly non-threatening villain, and in one of the most bizarre casting moves of the entire series run, he’s played by Melvin Belli.
Melvin Belli was a relatively famous trial attorney at the time, representing celebrity clients like the Rolling Stones, Mae West, and Zsa Zsa Gabor. (At one point, he even defended Jack Ruby.) But what he’s doing in this episode is anybody’s guess. It certainly wasn’t for his acting ability, as he delivers all his lines like, well, a trial attorney. And it certainly wasn’t for his look, because the guy will remind you of nothing more than your kindly, rich uncle who lives somewhere out in central California. For an accurate picture, just imagine an untalented version of Jon Voight all wrapped up in a floral print shower curtain.
“You have done very well, my friends,” Jon Voight says, with several other voices echoing the same words behind him. “You have done what must be done. You have come aboard the Enterprise.” He explains that the captain wants to take them to the closest Federation Starbase, “but do not let that deter you.” He tells them their true destination is “Marcus XII”, which has “millions of people on it”.
“Nearly a million will join us as our friends!” Jon Voight says. “The rest will be our enemies!” Because either they are with us, or they are with the terrorists. He explains, “Together with our other friends, who will join us, will we defeat our enemies, as we defeated them on Troyaikman!” Yes, I’m sure that “defeating” a guy in a pink jumpsuit was quite a feat. Jon Voight then switches to speaking in Incoherent-ese: “Million friends on Marcus XII. Will make us invincible. No one will tell us where to go. When to sleep. Where to eat.” When not to use sentence fragments. “The universe will be mine to command! Yours to play in!”
He says that the kids must gain control of the Enterprise to accomplish these goals, which means controlling the crew. “You know how to do that!” I sure do, Uncle Jon! Then he says over and over again that “As you believe, so shall you do, so shall you do! As you believe, so shall you do, so shall you do!” Meanwhile, we get a shot of the kids all pounding their fists on a table [?].
On the bridge of the Enterprise, Sulu informs Kirk that they’re “maintaining standard orbit” around Troyaikman, and Uhura says there’s no reports from the security team down on the planet. Spock then enters carrying several plastic cards. I guess someone’s in the mood for ice cream! He holds up one, declaring that it contains “the salient portions” of Prof. Starnes’ tapes. And for some reason, Spock is now calling him “Professor Storn”.
The two stroll on over to Spock’s station, and Spock warns that “Professor Storn” had some very “unscientific hypotheses”. He slides in the card, and one of the model kit screens above his station suddenly shows Prof. Starnes, again in his trendy pink jumpsuit. He’s making a log entry about feeling an “uneasiness” as soon as his group arrived on Troyaikman. I think he was uneasy about eventually having to come out.
One of the oddest things here is that, presumably, Starnes was using his data recorder to make this log entry, and yet the recorder is in the shot with him [?]. So, uh, what was filming him? And even stranger is how Starnes gives a Stardate in his log, and it’s a later Stardate [!] than what Kirk said in his log at the start of the episode. (See? Random numbers.)
Prof. Starnes says the rest of the colony is having these “anxieties” too, but strangely the children are not affected at all. In fact, they find the whole expedition to be “an exciting adventure”. “Ah,” the Prof exclaims, “to be young again!” And gay!
The image fades to the model kit starfield, and Kirk orders Spock to show him more. Spock slides a Community Chest card into a slot and pushes a button. It’s Prof. Starnes again, and this time the actor is conveying growing unease in the most hamfisted way possible, namely by speaking in halting tones and shifting his eyes around wildly. He says that the anxieties are growing worse, and then the clip ends. So, this one card only had that five-second clip on it? Spock, never become a film editor.
Spock says there’s another section of the tape that the captain might find “particularly interesting”. What, is it porn? Starnes is a little calmer in this clip, describing how whatever civilization used to be on Troyaikman was destroyed by a “natural catastrophe”, but “one of the race [sic] took refuge in the cave.” According to Starnes, this somehow relates to them all being “apprehensive”. See, Spock thought this would be “particularly interesting” to Kirk because of that time he totally pussed out in the cave. Well, thanks for bringing that up again, Spock. What a pal.