Star Trek 3.4: And The Children Shall Lead

And The Children Shall LeadNext up is “And The Children Shall Lead“. It’s another permutation of the omnipotent alien and creepy kids themes, but this time combined into one for something different… oh wait, just like in “Charlie X“.

Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down to answer a distress call from a scientific colony on Triacus, only to find the adults dead and the surviving five kids oblivious to the loss of their parents. They gather around the Enterprise trio and sing “Ring a Ring o’ Roses” – adding to the creepiness if you know the (discredited) theory about the nursery rhyme referring to the black plague. The crew bury the bodies, complete with a cheesy “UFP” (United Federation of Planets) banner on a stick – that the kids knock over in their eagerness to play games and ignore the sombre mood.

Kirk checks out a creepy cave nearby, and expresses a strange feeling of anxiety, which Spock dismisses casually, despite the last records of the scientists being that they were overcome with fear. Spock’s logic circuits have apparently been short circuited. Back on board, the kids turn out to have psychic powers activated by shaking a fist in the air at their victims and making them see things they fear. Their victims include Sulu – who they get to pilot the ship to a populated planet, Uhura, and Scotty. They don’t bother controlling Kirk or Spock for some inexplicable reason, which would pretty much ensure their success – instead they leave them to figure out how to stop the kids.

Spock recalls a detailed thousand-year-old old legend about Triacus – which is weird because they said the science expedition was the first time anyone had ever been there. This legend apparently tells of a mysterious malevolent force on the planet. Kirk decides to relieve the security detail on the planet and beams down two guards, not realising that the Enterprise has left orbit, meaning they get beamed into empty space. Kirk storms to the bridge and the kids turn him into a hammy simpering pile of anxiety. Spock drags him away and they regroup to try again, this time summoning the mysterious alien entity that directs the children by playing back a tape of their summoning chant. The alien stands by as Kirk then disempowers him by playing back videos of the kids playing with their parents, which results in the kids regaining their emotions and rejecting the alien, who simply fades away into nothingness.

Well, it’s not a terrible story. There’s some intrigue and drama in how Kirk and Spock can possibly prevail, but the trouble is we’ve seen it all before (multiple times) and the omnipotent psychic kids fall prey to their own lack of planning more than any cleverness by the heroes. Ho hum. Slightly below average.

Tropes: Sufficiently Advanced Alien, Creepy Child, Freudian Trio, He’s Dead Jim, Forgot About His Powers, Psychic Powers, I Know What You Fear, Kids Versus Adults, Thrown Out The Airlock, Large Ham, Summoning Ritual, Happier Home Movie.
Body count: At least 7 science expeditionists, 2 redshirts beamed into space, the alien entity Gorgan.

3 Responses to “Star Trek 3.4: And The Children Shall Lead”

  1. Monica says:

    Also, this episode has a lot in common with “Children of the Corn.” It’s based on a short story by Stephen King, and I’m not sure when that was written, but the movie wasn’t around until the 80s.

  2. LittleCaity says:

    I have to admit to a great big pile of sheer love for this episode. It was the first episode of original Trek I saw, at age 8, and I was going through a period of being ticked off at the seeming mindless stupidity I was surrounded by.

    Creeped me out something chronic. To this day, even though I know it’s not a great episode, I still get shivers up and down my spine.

  3. The Ridger says:

    I was in jr high, but I remember this as a really creepy episode, too.

Leave a Reply