Star Trek 3.19: Requiem for Methuselah

Requiem for Methuselah“Requiem for Methuselah” is something of a take on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and so shares some similarities with that other classic of science fiction, Forbidden Planet. It begins with Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beaming down to a supposedly uninhabited planet to find a source of ryetalyn, which they need to cure a lethal outbreak of Rigellian fever on board the Enterprise. (At first I thought the drug they were talking about was Ritalin!)

On the planet they are attacked by a robot (shades of Robby, or Ariel/Caliban), and saved by an old man calling himself Flint (shades of Morbius, or Prospero). He first angrily orders them to leave, but changes his tone when Kirk insists at phaser-point on finding a cure for the fever. Flint invites them to his home while the robot, M-4, gathers and processes the ryetalyn in a technicolour science lab. Is his amazingly well-appointed home (he even has a flat-screen TV!), Spock is amazed to see what are apparently original works by Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, and other famous historical artists. In a turnabout, Kirk is concerned with science (the ryetalyn), while Spock is preoccupied with art. Kirk is equally amazed to see the beautiful Rayna (shades of Altaira, or Miranda), Flint’s young ward, who he immediately begins seducing. He dances with her as Spock plays an original piano composition written in the unmistakeable hand of Brahms. Although beautiful, Rayna is probably the most clothing-covered girl of the week yet seen in the series.

Things are looking good until McCoy reports that M-4 has botched the ryetalyn and M-4 decides to try killing Kirk. He phasers it, and Flint appears to apologise. Suspicious now, they search behind a forbidden door that Rayna had indicated earlier, finding primitive versions of Rayna, now revealed to be an android! Not only The Tempest, but also Pygmalion! And Flint is revealed to actually be Leonardo, and Shakespeare, and Brahms, and thousands of years old!

It turns out Flint has created Rayna to be his companion and assuage his immortal loneliness, but needed Kirk to stir her emotions so that she would be a real woman. Rayna enters the forbidden room and discovers the secret about her own creation, turning her against Flint as he talks to Kirk about her in the third person while she is present. Kirk and Flint fight and Rayna is so torn between her loyalties that her circuits overload and she dies. Kirk and Flint are both shocked. Flint, now distraught and alone, lets them leave with the ryetalyn. Kirk is depressed too, having fallen in love with Rayna. In the closing scene, Spock uses a mind meld on Kirk as he sleeps, and says the word, “Forget…” – a touching variant on the famous “Remember” line he would utter at the end of The Wrath of Khan.

I really enjoyed this episode. The story is decent, the mystery is intriguing, the revelation is clever, and the execution is pretty well done. This is definitely one of the best episodes of season 3, IMO.

Tropes: The Plague, Technicolour Science, Girl Of The Week, Forbidden Fruit, Robotic Reveal, Robot Girl, Pygmalion Plot, Julius Beethoven Da Vinci, Beethoven Was An Alien Spy, Really 700 Years Old, Who Wants To Live Forever?, Disney Dog Fight, Logic Bomb, The Dulcinea Effect, Laser Guided Amnesia.
Body count: 3 Enterprise crew form Rigellian fever pre-credits, Rayna.

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