Star Trek TOS: The Elvis and Liberace Manchild Has an Ego

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Season 1, Episode 18

The Squire of Gothos

The episode began with Dr. McCoy playfully chiding Spocky for his logic-based approach to life. This is becoming a thing. Then, crew members started vanishing when the Enterprise spotted a rogue planet. Zulu was the first to go, then Kirk. Time to find him — always a quest in this show. 

Something began sending “You up?” type text messages on screen to Uhura, heightening the mystery and displaying before-its-time communication techniques. Couple the weird correspondences with the disappearance of crew members — and a Spock-led team headed down to the rogue planet for a look around. 

On the strange planet, Kirk and Zulu were frozen as wax figures with a greenish tint. In the same room, a man dressed and facially-manscaped like Elvis was playing the harpsichord. He was creepy and jovial, prone to a humongous vocabulary and an apparent knack for time travel.

The man wanted to know about war and killing — for some reason. Kirk lifted up a core principle of the show, stating that his crew was in the peace-thru-exploration business, not conquest. His name was General Trelane, and he showcased a serious obsession over war. Kirk was not impressed by his, well, everything. 

Trelane admitted to shapeshifting capabilities — which sounded wildly dangerous — while maintaining a positive attitude, almost joker-like. Before the end of Act I, Trelane turned quasi-hostile with a Hulkish “don’t make me angry” warning aimed at Kirk. 

It should be noted — The Squire of Gothos, like Shore Leave, also had a trippy feel. Star Trek was fearless for hallucinogenic-laden tropes. 

Image Courtesy of SFDebris Red on YouTube

About halfway through the episode, Trelane learned about women on Enterprise. Unsurprisingly, he turned misogynistic like many men in TOS Season 1. It didn’t help matters that the crew transported back to Enterprise to regroup — and Trelane followed along. 

Trelane added to his scorecard — warmongering, chauvinism, and now cultural prejudice — when he declared his disdain toward Spock based on his Vulcan heritage. Sound like anybody you’ve witnessed in modern United States history?

This guy, Trelane, was a real piece of work. He was a powerful irritant. 

Meanwhile, Kirk and Spock [on brand] formulated a plan to dispel Trelane’s unpleasantries from Enterprise. But Kirk must play around with Trelane’s games to bait him into destruction — and that involved a duel of the gun variety. 

Kirk discovered that Trelane’s power was somehow linked to mirrors — a clear nod to the invader’s egomania — and fired a single gunshot at the mirror in Trelane’s vicinity. It worked. Trelane retreated, if only for a moment.

Trelane returned after the gunfight as Kirk was whisked back to the rogue planet. This time Trelane morphed into a judge at a trial. Not only was he a terrible executioner, now he was the judge and wannabe jury. He sentenced Kirk to death in a whiny fit of judgment. 

At his core, Trelane’s emotional capacity was akin to that of a child or teen — spontaneous and pleasure-seeking. Kirk used that against Trelane, outsmarting him to the point Trelane’s alien mom and dad retrieved him. Whoodathunkit? Trelane’s parents even apologized to Kirk. 

He was just a giant kid cocking off all along.

The analytical style of “slaying” Trelane was a page out of Spock’s playbook. Kudos, Kirk. 

Themes: Egomania, Adolescence 

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. His odyssey with Star Trek starts from beginning to finish, watching ‘The Original Series,’ all the way to the present day. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).