Hello and welcome! We are back for more Star Trek! Today we are heading into the second episode of season one of The Original Series, but before we dive in, I wanted to take a brief moment for a quick housekeeping item.
If you are following along at the time these are being written, you may notice that it’s been about a week since I posted. I haven’t taken any time up to this point to explain timeline here, so I wanted to make sure that I address that.
There is no timeline for this project.
I am on this journey and doing this blog for enjoyment and because I thought it would be fun and interesting to take time to actually reflect as I watch Star Trek and think about what I feel, and why I feel things along the way. I am not guaranteeing consistency or a timetable of any sort. I am planning to watch depending on how I am feeling. It could take me one year, it could take five. I could have some weeks where I watch an episode a day, a week or two with none, or maybe even a day with four or five. I am going with the flow and blogging as I go.
With that being said, onto “Charlie X”
OH MAN! This episode is CLASSIC. Some Grade A Star Trek right here. *chef’s kiss*. So many golden moments in this episode. So iconic. But I will get to that after the summary.
This episode begins with the Enterprise picking up a new crew member, Charlie Evans, from the cargo vessel, the Antares, to transport to a place called Colony 5. But Charlie is no ordinary guy (of course not, this is Star Trek). Charlie is the sole survivor of a transport vessel that crashed on the planet Thasus, which crashed when he was 3 years old. Charlie is now 17, and growing up in isolation has made him one awkward and emotionally stunted kid. Let’s get a photo.
There we go. This is a photo of Charlie when he first arrives on board the Enterprise at the beginning of the episode. Charlie is both timid and awestruck at how large the ship is and how many people there are. He also very quickly begins to respect Captain Kirk, who is sporting the GREEN CAPTAIN’S SHIRT for the first time in the series (Sorry for yelling, the green shirt is a personal fave). And then it happens…Charlie sees a woman for the first time. Yeoman Janice Rand to be more specific. Reaction included below.
As I’m sure you can imagine, this episode already has the makings for some epic teenage drama, but there is SO much more. Charlie discloses to Dr. McCoy that the crew aboard the Anatres didn’t like him, which was evident to us from the beginning, as they seemed to be in quite a hurry to be rid of him at the beginning of the episode. Charlie takes some time to explore the ship on his own, observing people and seeking to understand.
Meanwhile on the bridge, Spock is interested in the planet where Charlie came from- hypothesizing that it is possible that a species of legend, the Thasians must exist on the planet, as Charlie would have run out of food within a year and the planet was too barren to support sustenance for him to survive. The Thasians were rumored to have powers such as telekinesis and transmutation abilities.
We begin to see Charlie exhibiting these types of powers. It starts out benevolent, as a way for him to get people to like him. He performs card tricks for the crew and seeks to impress Yeoman Rand, who he has fallen in love with. However, as the episode continues, Charlie’s powers evolve with his mood. He becomes confused and defensive and he begins to use his powers as a way to make things that make him feel uncomfortable stop or go away.
And this happens a lot. You see, he doesn’t quite understand human interaction and gets things wrong a lot- he interrupts, he smacks Yeoman Rand’s butt because he saw two men do it to each other, he’s impatient and doesn’t really understand joking.
The responsibility falls to Kirk to try to explain to Charlie that feeling lost and confused is part of being a teenager and that everyone goes through it. Charlie doesn’t want to hear it. He thinks that because he has powers he can have anything he wants and he begins to display more dangerous powers, such as destroying the Antares, making people disappear, and causing people pain. Captain Kirk fears what Charlie’s powers could do if he comes into contact with a colony of people and seeks to reroute the Enterprise while he figures things out, but Charlie takes over the ship, seizing control of everything.
Kirk tries to use Charlie’s respect for him to control him, but Charlie goes off the rails, threatening everyone unless they do what he says. However, Kirk begins to notice that with Charlie controlling the whole ship, he is overextending himself and he makes a plan to turn everything on the ship on, and while he is distracted and overextended, seek to confront him. When this happens, Charlie loses grip enough that a transmission is able to come through from the Thasians.
The Thasian reveals that they gave up their physical form long ago so they could reach the Enterprise with their message. They revealed that they had bestowed power upon Charlie so that he could survive when he was younger, but that he would always use it and was therefore a danger to humanity and would destroy them all or they would be forced to destroy him. They agreed that they would look after him and they transported him back to their ship.
Oh my goodness so many. This episode is a host of great moments.
Uhura’s Song about Spock
During some down time, some members of the crew are hanging out and Spock is playing whatever instrument he is playing. He catches Uhura humming along and instead of getting annoyed, he plays her a tune and she makes up a song, poking fun at the dangerous allure of Spock. It is hilarious and honestly just such a purely fun part of the episode.
Kirk Trying to Handle Charlie
Poor Kirk. Throughout this whole episode, everyone is trying to get Kirk to take Charlie under his wing and be the father figure that Charlie never had. Kirk is 100% not interested in doing that at all, as he has a lot of other things that he is responsible for as captain, and Charlie also has a LOT to learn.
Both fortunately, and unfortunately for Kirk, Charlie looked up to him almost immediately after he came on board. Fortunate because it is ultimately what saved the crew. Unfortunate though because when Charlie does things wrong, he looks to Kirk to explain it to him. While observing the crew members, Charlie witnessed one man casually spank another after they made plans to meet up later. When he made plans to meet up with Janice, he tried to duplicate the action, but Janice called him out on it and said that it was rude. She told Charlie to tell Captain Kirk what he had done and he would explain why it wasn’t okay. That interaction is honestly probably one of the best moments of the episode because Kirk is just at such a loss for words and is completely stumped on how to explain all of this to Charlie. It’s also just such a pure moment because Kirk sees that it is truly coming from a place of not understanding and is slowly beginning to understand just how much Charlie doesn’t know about what it means to be a person.
Last but not least, 3 Dimensional Chess
While this is the first time in the series that Kirk and Spock play 3D Chess, it most certainly won’t be the last. I love the 3D Chess scenes because I think that it is such a beautiful way that the writers juxtapose Kirk and Spock. Spock, playing strictly on logic, should realistically always win, but Kirk tries to use emotions to misguide and trick Spock and ultimately ends up winning. I also love 3D Chess scenes because I feel like they usually depict that Kirk and Spock don’t see completely eye-to-eye on whatever scenario is playing out in the episode and you get to hear each of their different perspectives. Overall, I am 100% about the 3D Chess scenes.
FAN.TAS.TIC. This episode is a mess of emotions and I am so here for it. I feel like this episode is really interesting because it shows that someone can grow up in isolation and become a functioning human, but we need other people to help us mature and become emotionally intelligent.
This episode also has a really unique message. There is a part where Kirk is trying to explain to Charlie that he can’t have Yeoman Rand because she is significantly older and does not love him back. Charlie is upset and tries to convince himself that she could love him. We also see Charlie struggle with people because either he finds something wrong with them, or is convinced that they think something is wrong with him. What’s interesting is that no matter how much power he has, he can’t have the one thing that he really wants, which is human connection, to be liked and accepted by other people.
Kirk at one point says something along the lines of “In this universe, there are a million things you can have, and there are also a million things that you can’t have”. We all slowly learn to accept this as we grow up, starting in our childhood when our parents remind us that we can’t have candy for every meal, and we don’t get to have every toy in the toy store. We come to understand it more as teenagers and young adults, when maybe we didn’t get the job we wanted, or ouch they didn’t say “I love you” back, and no you did not get an A without studying for the test.
Life is not about getting everything you want. It is about learning to be thankful for what you have. This is a lesson that truly takes a long time to learn and we are constantly reminded of it again and again throughout our lives. And that is okay because we all experience it. It is a part of being a human as much as eating, sleeping, or having to pay bills. If everyone could have everything they wanted, there really wouldn’t be much of a point to trying or hoping or wishing. I can also speak to my personal experience and say that I think I have grown more and become a better person during the times where I didn’t get the things I wanted. Sometimes it turned out that what I wanted wasn’t actually what was best for me, and I am sure that is true for some other people as well.
So ultimately, the message isn’t about wanting. It is about looking at what you have and realizing that what you have is enough.
Until next time, LLAP.