Star Trek TOS: Emotional Tug of War for the Android Woman
Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 3, Episode 19
Requiem for Methuselah
A “raging epidemic” beset the crew, requiring an antidote from a small planet in the Omega system. The cure was needed, otherwise, everyone on Enterprise was susceptible to death.
Of course, things were immediately weird on the planet with the antidote. A floating spherical device fired on Kirk, Spock, and McCoy — more of a threat than a fatal blow. Then, a hostile grey-haired man told Kirk and his men to leave, causing Kirk to push back with tough-guy swagger. Kirk needed his damn antidote even with the older inhabitant of the planet threatening to kill him.
The illness was Rigelian Fever, and the planet with the cure was Holberg 917G led by the rude man, Flint. McCoy likened the Rigelian Fever to the bubonic plague, but Flint countered in stating he knew about plagues from Constantinople history. Flint was a prickly fellow.
Regardless, Kirk’s tough talk toward Flint worked, securing time to peruse Holberg 917G for the Rigelian cure. The Starfleeters had two hours. An intelligent blonde woman arrived in Requiem for Methuselah, desiring to meet Spock because of his Vulcan intellect. How long before Kirk would have the hots for her?
Flint lived in a luxurious home, stocked to the gills with brandy. He was unexpectedly and suddenly hospitable, allowing Kirk, Spock, and McCoy to sip his alcohol. While the men were drinking, the spherical mean robot reappeared, dropping off the antidote for McCoy. Flint invited everyone to say — even though the cure was in hand — using the woman, Rayna, as a bargaining chip. To answer the question in the paragraph above about Kirk’s budding lust for Rayna — it took about five minutes of screen time.
The whole group played billiards, and Kirk laid on the flirtation pretty thick. Vintage Kirk.
Spock played the piano while Kirk and Rayna danced, a rather beautiful scene for Star Trek — piano ditties were a rarity. McCoy busted up the dance, announcing the antidote was useless. The mood dampened. Something was fishy.
Kirk questioned Flint’s trustworthiness as the hours wasted drinking and dancing gave too much benefit of the doubt to a perhaps-shady Flint. Rayna chatted with Kirk about her happiness when the floating robot interrupted their kiss. Flint explained the machine was trained to protect Ryan and did not know Kirk was merely after a smooch.
Kirk and Spock decided Flint was jealous of Rayna’s dealings, although he watched without objection as Kirk and Rayna danced earlier on. This was turning into one of those episodes where the antagonist was riddled with too much of a bad human trait. Of note: the discussion between Kirk was Spock was telecast via surveillance to a monitor belonging to Flint. He was genuinely interested in Rayna’s emotion, even if his intentions would later turn wicked.
Eventually, Kirk and Rayna finally locked lips, and Flint watched that, too. Kirk served up the “come with me back to Enterprise” speech. After that, Kirk and his men explored Flint’s mansion, discovering a morgue of bodies. Flint was trying to attempt the perfect woman. And Rayna was not human — she was an android.
The bombshell hit: Flint was a prehistoric immortal, born almost before Christ in 3834 BC. His goal was to develop a woman as brilliant as himself. This theme would be used by science fiction art for decades to come.
Flint apparently had the power to freeze history as the crew back on Enterprise was shown frozen in time. It turned out Flint’s observation of Kirk and Rayna was an experiment to determine if the android lady was totally human-like. Because of the revelation entailing Flint’s superpowers, Kirk proposed he and his crew escape while Enterprise would simply leave Flint alone.
The episode climaxed with a fight between Kirk and Flint, mano-e-mano. Rayna begged for an end to the violence. The two listened when Ryan shouted her preference for one of the men — she wanted none of them. She wanted no one to order her around. Rayna didn’t want to be owned, a fair stance on the conflict.
Rayna sought the human right of choice, which Kirk vociferously endorsed. She keeled over, dying due to the complexity of the choice. It was too much for this brand of android.
Kirk was melancholy, the epidemic was vanquished on Enterprise, and Spock commanded his captain with Vulcan power to forget the happenings of the mission. Can’t win them all.
Oh, and Flint was dying, too, all the while.
Requiem for Methuselah was a homage to a woman’s right to choice, particularly when under the pressure of a man. She spent an undefined amount of time with Flint, Kirk showed up and fell in love in a few hours, and her poor machine soul could not calculate the proper decision-making. The episode also highlighted a popular Trek theme of man versus machine.
Men ruin a lot of stuff.
Themes: Love, A Woman’s Choice, Man vs. Machine
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).