Star Trek 1.2: Charlie X

Charlie XThe second episode aired (but the 8th produced) is “Charlie X“. Being an early episode, they are still getting into the groove of things with this one. We don’t see Sulu at all, but we do see more of the Unresolved Sexual Tension between Spock and Uhura in a memorable scene in the recreation room. Spock plays the Vulcan lute and Uhura sings a song with suggestive lyrics, indicating her view that Spock is some sort of heart-breaker. Interestingly, as Uhura encourages Spock to play, he flashes an obvious smile – something he tends not to do later in the series.

3D chess plays a plot-important role in this episode, but I also noticed that when it is first shown there’s another 3D game on the same table, which looks a bit like a 3D version of checkers. Some post-viewing research proves this to be so! Well, I’ve learnt something I didn’t know about Star Trek before.

Another plot point is introduced when Kirk mentions that it is “Thanksgiving back on Earth”. I found this curious. Apparently in the 23rd century, the entire Earth has adopted American customs and holidays. We also learn that the Enterprise has a cook, who prepares food in ovens in the ship’s galley. I thought this was odd at first, because later they have food replicators – but some research shows that they only appeared in The Next Generation. Clearly my Star Trek memories are slightly garbled.

I’ve long wondered about the relationship between Yeoman Janice Rand and Captain Kirk. This episode provides an interesting bit of dialogue that can be read in a number of ways. When it becomes obvious that the 17-year-old Charlie has a crush on Rand, Kirk tries to talk some sense into him, and says that any relationship between Charlie and Janice can never happen: “The years are wrong for one thing. And… there are other things.” Does this imply Rand is involved with someone else? We never (in the entire series) see anyone else who this could feasibly be, except for Kirk himself. Hmmmm.

Perhaps it’s obvious by now, but if not, these reviews are not necessarily going to go much into the actual plot of the episodes. I’m just recording a brain dump of things I notice and think are worth commenting on, often in the context of knowledge of the entire series or from our 21st century cultural perspective. I guess most of you know the plots, and if not, I’ll always link to the episode summary on Memory Alpha.

Body count: Entire crew of Antares (number not specified). One redshirt “disappeared”, one junior yeoman turned into an iguana, several crew members’ faces removed, Janice Rand “disappeared”, but all returned as before at the end.
Tropes: Psychopathic Manchild, Reality Warper, Raised By Wolves, Friendless Background, Unresolved Sexual Tension, Stalking Is Love, Surprise Checkmate, Shirtless Scene, Rapid Aging, The Blank, Sufficiently Advanced Alien, Deus Ex Machina.
(Image © 1966 Paramount Studios, used under Fair Use.)

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