|||[Boldly Going]||| Star Trek: The Original Series—Season Two: Ep. 2.11 “Friday’s Child” – (Original air date: Friday, December 1, 1967)

TrekFridaysChild

Welcome to my rewatching of the original 79 episodes of the series that launched the franchise. Below are the bulletpointed notes I jotted down while watching “Friday’s Child.”

  • On this date in history, the #1 song in the UK was Long John Baldry’s “Let the Heartache Begin,” which I’m sure everyone remembers. Over here in the colonies, The Monkees were ruling the airwaves with “Daydream Believer.” Something to keep in mind every time Chekov appears on-screen, with his Davy Jones haircut.
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience released its second album, Axis: Bold as Love, on this date as well. I’m listening to it as I’m typing this. Listening to entire albums is rapidly becoming a lost artform. Most of the tracks on this album are under 3 minutes in length.
  • The Monkees released three albums in 1967, all of which went platinum. In no way am I implying that The Monkees were better than Hendrix, because that’s just patently not true. I’m just reporting the stats.
  • Little Wing” is playing now. Well worth the wait. If this song doesn’t make you want to learn to play guitar, nothing ever will. Of course, you’ll never be able to play like Jimi. Following this up with “If 6 were 9” is just finishing up a one-two punch. This completed side one on the original vinyl album.
  • True confession time. I’m not listening to it on vinyl. I guess that makes me a fraud. But, better a fraud than a hipster.
  • Speaking of vinyl, the previous Monday, November 27, The Beatles released Magical Mystery Tour in the US. This had been an EP in the UK, but the US release added “All You Need is Love”, “Penny Lane”, “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” and “Hello, Goodbye”. The double EP would go on sale in the UK the week following this episode.
  • While it’s not always a popular opinion, I actually prefer Magical Mystery Tour over Sgt. Pepper’s. Go ahead, cast your slings and arrows.
  • On Wednesday, November 29, US Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara resigned and accepted a post as President of the World Bank. LBJ had rejected McNamara’s recommendations to freeze troop levels, stop the bombing of North Vietnam, and hand over ground fighting to South Vietnam. This resignation may have been a sign that things weren’t going as well as we’d been told in Vietnam.
  • Two days after this episode aired, Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the world’s first heart transplant in Cape Town, South Africa. The patient died 18 days later from pneumonia, the anti-rejection drugs being a contributing factor.
  • The Jimi album is less than 40 minutes long. As it ends now, I realize I’ve been writing about everything but the Star Trek episode “Friday’s Child” for that long.
  • There’s a reason for that. This is not a great episode. It’s not a bad episode, but it’s not a great one either. It’s also not particularly memorable. While I was looking over my notes from the rewatch, I had a difficult time remembering the episode at all.
  • I know I watched it. That’s my handwriting in the spiral-bound notebook, and it’s reasonably legible (as legible as my handwriting gets, at any rate), which suggests that I wasn’t blackout drunk when I watched the episode. But, I had to refresh my memory about this episode because the title itself brought nothing at all to mind.
  • Another confession: I don’t write these little synopses immediately after watching the episode. Instead, I take a lot of notes while watching the episode, in this same bulletpoint format, which I later try to translate into English. My actual notes include a lot of abbreviations, weird shorthand notations, and possible Delphic prophesies.
  • The first note I wrote for this episode is as follows: “costumes that look like leftover drapes from Tara and Muppet skins.” And the second: “Julie Newmar?”
  • I don’t think I was fully engaged while watching this. As much as I hate to do this to myself, I’m going to watch it again. Be right back.
  • Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy had been stationed on Capella IV for a few months, so he knows something about the planet and its inhabitants. As the teaser opens, the doc is leading the briefing with Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Scotty and Chekov in attendance.
  • It seems that the natives are tall and have a distinct warrior culture. They also shun medical attention, because they believe only the strong should survive. So, why was the doctor stationed there for months?
  • Scotty is left in command of the Enterprise, as he should be, and then Kirk, Spock, McCoy and an ill-fated redshirted security officer beam down to the planet. They are greeted by a group of Capellans, led by Maab. There’s also a Klingon officer in the group, which causes the redshirt to draw his phaser. Purely a defensive reflex, you understand.
  • One of the Capellan warriors kills the redshirt with some sort of throwing-star weapon. Purely a defensive reflex, you understand. This weapon would be the kligat, which Bones warned us about earlier.
  • By the way, the costumes do indeed look like leftover drapes from Tara and discarded Muppet skins.
  • End of teaser.
  • Act One. The captain’s log tells us that Capella IV is important to the Federation because it’s rich in topaline deposits. Topaline is a mineral that’s vital to the life-support systems of planetoid colonies. The Enterprise and its crew are there to hammer out a mining treaty with the Capellans.
  • It seems that the Klingons are attempting to do the same. This Klingon is still pre-brow-ridges, but we’ll whistle past that for now. There’s an in-universe explanation for this that I care nothing about.
  • Kirk and the landing party willingly give up their weapons, as a show of good faith, and perhaps as a way to keep from getting killed like the unfortunate redshirt.
  • Later, in their shared tent, Kirk seems to blame McCoy for the death of the crewman. A little unfair, since McCoy warned them that the Capellans could be dangerous.
  • Kirk is concerned because having a Klingon with them, here, on the planet, suggests that there’s a Klingon ship, out there, where he has 400 other crewmen who could get killed.
  • These lines are delivered with typical Shatner gusto and gravitas.
  • Right on cue, on the Enterprise, Chekov detects the presence of a ship just at the edge of sensor range. A brief conversation between Chekov, Scotty and Sulu leads to the conclusion that it’s probably a Klingon vessel, but not much of a danger to them yet. Certainly no reason to contact the captain.
  • Then Kirk apologizes to McCoy for chewing him out. Spock interjects his opinion that emotion is inefficient. I’m beginning to realize why I found this episode so forgettable. The story seems to be stuck in the mud, and the writing (with all apologies to D.C. Fontana) is abysmal.
  • A woman in a leftover costume from I Dream of Jeannie (which was on-air concurrently: I checked), comes into the tent. She offers Kirk food as a gesture of friendship. McCoy warns him not to touch it, because this will also break a cultural taboo and her nearest male relative will challenge Kirk to combat, which they find more pleasurable than love.
  • So Kirk doesn’t touch the food. The male relative seems disappointed when he enters the tent. He’s also wearing a furry sash, I feel I need to point out.
  • Whimsical oboe musical score.
  • If touching food offered by the Capellans is a taboo, how are our Federation officers expected to eat?
  • Our Federation boys are taken to the tent of Akaar, who is High Teer, the leader of the Ten Tribes of Capella IV. Kirk, who apparently has all the diplomatic skills of a case of rabies, decides that this is the time to formally object to his redshirt getting killed. Akaar is confused. Isn’t that what redshirts are supposed to do?
  • By the way, we also meet Akaar’s very-pregnant wife Eleen in this scene. This is Julie Newmar, my favorite Catwoman on Batman ’66. As Catwoman, Newmar wore her belt on her hips instead of her waist to accentuate her hourglass figure. Her figure is more globe-like in this episode.
  • The Klingon whose sudden appearance set off the trigger-happy security officer—the Klingon’s name is Kras, by the way, a strong one-syllable Klingon-type name—is trying to leverage the Klingon’s own warrior culture to gain diplomatic advantage over the Federation. “You see, Akaar, we Klingons are a lot like you Capellans, even if we prefer to wear fewer synthetic fur accessories.”
  • The Capellan named Maab seems to side with the Klingon in the Earthmen vs. Klingons debate going on in the High Teer’s tent.
  • Maab” could be a Klingon name, too. It’s not that far removed from “Mogh.”
  • Akaar seems to take Maab’s argumentative stance as a challenge to his authority. Hmm…I wonder if that will somehow factor into the plot of this story?
  • Meanwhile, to give the rest of our cast something to do, the bridge crew of the Enterprise notices that the ship they were barely detecting has disappeared from their screens entirely. And now they seem to be picking up a faint distress call, from somewhere out in that direction. An Earth vessel.
  • I think it was a short work week for everyone but Kirk, McCoy and Spock. Even the dead redshirt was able to clock out early.
  • Surprise! There was a coup, and now Maab is the new High Teer. Kirk and his boys caught Kras in the main tent, trying to do the same thing they had in mind: locating his weapons and gear. When Maab comes into the tent, declaring himself the new ruler, Kras demands that he kill Kirk. Maab’s deal with the Klingon no longer seems a certainty, because he saw fear in Kras’s eyes as he was dealing with Kirk. Take that, Klingon.
  • Back on the ship, Uhura does her job and determines that the distress call is coming from the SS Dierdre, a small freighter under attack from a Klingon vessel. Kirk is not responding to their calls.
  • Meanwhile, back at the tent, Eleen the pregnant widow of the former High Teer comes in to further complicate things for our Starfleet heroes. Maab trips her and she burns her arm in a fire. He then moves to kill her. She’s carrying an heir, you see, so he’s required to kill her to secure the power of his regime.
  • He’ll probably be deposed the following week. The position of High Teer seems to be tenuous, at best.
  • Kirk, the perennial Space Boy Scout, interferes to prevent Maab from killing the pregnant lady. Sure, it seems like the right thing to do, but was Kirk asleep during McCoy’s entire presentation about the warrior culture and all their taboos? It seems so. Because touching the wife of a Teer, even a dead one, is one of those taboos. Eleen demands to see Kirk die before she herself is killed. Ingrate.
  • It occurs to me now that maybe the earlier taboo that McCoy was warning Kirk about was touching the girl bringing the food to their tent, not touching the food itself. The fact that McCoy needs to warn Kirk about touching female strangers is a completely different issue.
  • Unaware of the life-and-death drama taking place on Capella IV, Scotty takes the Enterprise out of orbit to investigate the distress call.
  • Dramatic musical sting as things are looking dire for our heroes, and we head into the act break.
  • Act Two. Stuff happens in this act, but most of it seems designed just to draw out the rather thin story.
  • Kirk, McCoy and Spock escape from their captors and take the pregnant Eleen with them. They were able to locate their communicators but not their phasers.
  • They hide out in a box canyon probably somewhere in Vasquez Rocks.
  • McCoy gets into a slap fight with the pregnant lady to assert his dominance over her and tend to her injuries. Plus, she’s very pregnant. Have I mentioned that before?
  • Didn’t Anton Chekhov say something about if you show a very pregnant woman in the first act, she needs to give birth by the final act? I’m certain that Dorothy Fontana has read all the same Writer’s Digest articles I have.
  • Kirk and Spock use their communicators to create some sort of sonic blast that causes a rock slide that seals the entrance to the canyon.
  • I’m not sure if we ever saw communicators used in this fashion before or since. It’s amazing how destructive everything can be in the Trek universe. If you put a three-dimensional chess board into overload, it can take out a solar system.
  • Now the Capellan search party coming after them—including Kras the Klingon—will have to take the long way around to the other entrance to the canyon. Since there is apparently another entrance, I guess this isn’t quite the box canyon I thought it was.
  • Oh, by the way, the Enterprise crew was unable to locate the SS Deirdre or any signs of debris from the ship. Looks like someone lured them away under false pretenses. End of Act Two.
  • Act Three. During the confusion of the rockslide, Kras takes out one of the Capellans and steals a Federation phaser he has on him. Those untrustworthy Klingons!
  • Hey, it’s okay to make racist general comments about the Klingons until they become our allies.
  • Kirk and the others find a cave in which they seek refuge.
  • Back at the ranch—or, in this case, on the Enterprise—Scotty has Sulu pull the microtape on the distress call, and, even though they are certain they were duped, has Sulu complete a standard search pattern to ascertain that no ship is in danger. I’m not certain that Scotty has always been portrayed as a by-the-book type of leader, but he is in this episode to serve the needs of the story.
  • Kirk uses a magnasite-nitron tablet to create a light source in the cave, which is going to have to be an impromptu birthing room, of course.
  • As far as I know, magnasite-nitron tablets never made another appearance in Trek canon. I always imagined them as being analogous to those red rolls of caps we used to use in our toy guns before toy guns became such a terrible thing. I have a vivid sense memory of how those caps smelled when you fired them off, and like to believe that magnasite-nitron tablets smelled a lot like that.
  • Scotty and team prove that the distress call was bogus and are returning to Capella IV when they receive another distress call from the USS Carolina. Scotty wisely chooses to ignore this one.
  • This invites me to play the What If? game, just a little. What if the second distress call wasn’t actually a ruse? Could there be family and friends of the doomed ship’s crew out there who hold Scotty personally responsible for their deaths? Feel free to use this as a writing prompt to jump-start your own Trek novel.
  • Back planetside, there’s a whole bit about Eleen not wanting to have the baby because it belongs to the Teer. McCoy insists that the baby belongs to her. It’s all beginning to seem like a thinly veiled debate over abortion (one that continues decades later) when Eleen decides that this baby belongs to her and McCoy.
  • Kirk and Spock invent the bow-and-arrow in a warrior society that hasn’t invented the weapon yet.
  • Eleen, soon after giving birth, strikes McCoy with a rock and escapes the cave without the child.
  • As we’re easing into Act Four, the Enterprise encounters the Klingon warship that has been plaguing them with false distress calls. The Klingons, who also have a warrior culture, are daring the Federation vessel to cross an invisible line in space to ignite an incident.
  • Eleen meets the Capellans as they close upon our landing party. She claims that her baby and the Starfleet landing party are all dead. Maab is willing to pretend that she’s telling the truth, but Kras is not so forgiving. He pulls his stolen phaser, which angers Maab.
  • What follows is a bit confusing, so try to keep up.
  • Maab, whose scouts had already clocked Kirk and Spock, chooses to pretend to believe what Eleen is trying to sell him. For what reason? Maybe out of respect for the late Teer, whom he killed during his coup? Maybe because he realizes now that he made a mistake in allying with those deceitful un-brow-ridged Klingons?
  • Who knows? In any case, Maab is angry with Kras for pulling his stolen phaser. The fight would seem to be between Maab and Kras, but Kirk chooses that moment to put an arrow through Kras’s leg. A raucous melee follows, in which the Capellans prove to be terrible shots with their kligats, while Kirk and Spock can’t seem to miss with their crude bows-and-arrows.
  • Maab, in a final gesture of nobility, sacrifices himself to save Eleen. Kras is immediately killed by other Capellans.
  • Then Scotty shows up with a security detail. Apparently the Klingon warship didn’t want to rumble with a Federation starship, because it is just like the Klingons to back down from a fight.
  • McCoy shows up with the new High Teer, one Leonard James Akaar, a name that is a sign of the persistent patriarchy instead of McCoy’s assertion that the baby belongs to Eleen. Let’s whistle past that fact for a moment.
  • Eleen is the new High Teer’s regent, and, as such, she negotiates with Kirk for topaline mining rights. Then all is well with the universe.
  • In our traditional bridge outro, our Holy Trek Trinity discuss the fact that the new High Teer of the Ten Tribes was named after both McCoy and Kirk. Spock suggests that both of the humans will be insufferably pleased with themselves for at least a month.
  • The subtext being, of course, that the new infant High Teer and his regent will obviously be overthrown by then. That seems to be their way.

While I didn’t find this episode particularly memorable, I didn’t actually hate it. It is middle-of-the-road Trek at best, with some questionable character motivation and distracting costuming. I still gave it 3 out of 5 stars during my initial rewatch.

It’s not on my Essential Trek list. I’d hazard a guess that it’s not on any best of Trek list. I’ll probably forget it again soon.

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