As the original series continued, Spock’s popularity was becoming obvious to everyone. Network executives who had initially demanded that Spock be removed from the series for being too demonic in appearance were suddenly asking for more episodes focusing on the alien. Leonard Nimoy’s fan mail was reaching the studio in record amounts, and his character’s history was being filled in. Finally with The Galileo Seven we got to see him in command, and his reliance on logic over emotion was on display.
While Spock’s popularity surged, something strange had been occurring on the bridge of the Enterprise for quite a while: coffee. Later series have highlighted crews drinking in mess halls and replimats, drinking in the ready room, and sometimes spilling drinks on the captain when he visits engineering. However, on the bridge of the original Enterprise coffee would be served on a regular basis onscreen, with Kirk in command holding a Styrofoam cup. Sulu kept his on the console in front of him, something that would never have been allowed in later years. Strangely it seemed to fit. These were co-workers in a work environment, and refreshments would feature prominently in various episodes…
The Galileo Seven – Summary: The USS Enterprise is headed to Makus III to deliver medical supplies to a colony hit by a plague. On its journey they pass near a quasar-like formation of four planets, which Kirk has standing orders to investigate. Despite Commissioner Ferris’s objections, Kirk argues that they’re ahead of schedule and must investigate, and sends an away team in the shuttlecraft Galileo. The team, led by Spock, consists of Bones, Scotty, Boma, Latimer, Gaetano and Mears. However, the Galileo is pulled off course and makes an emergency landing on one of the planets. The Enterprise can’t locate them, and the away team must rely on themselves to escape.
Spock tells Scotty to try and fix the shuttlecraft, while Latimer and Gaetano are ordered to scout the area. Back on the Enterprise, Kirk is under pressure from Ferris to leave them behind since time is running out, but refuses to give up on his missing crew members. On the planet, Bones needles Spock about this being his big chance to take command logically, but Spock explains that he neither desires command nor is afraid of it. Spock explains to the crew that the Galileo is too heavy and three crew members must stay behind, which causes hostility. Latimer and Gaetano are attacked by indigenous creatures, and Latimer is killed. Spock reacts with Vulcan stoicism, and his lack of compassion causes more anger from the others.
Scotty announces that the shuttlecraft needs fuel, and the creatures attack again. While the crew want to retaliate violently, Spock insists that would violate their ethics and they merely try to scare them away. His plan’s success is only temporary and Gaetano is killed, while Scotty drains the phasers into the engine for fuel. This plan leaves them vulnerable, and nerves are frayed as everyone criticises Spock’s decisions. With time against them they make a break for it and barely manage to achieve orbit, but the Enterprise is out of range and their escape attempt is doomed. In a last desperate act, Spock jettisons the remaining fuel, igniting it as a signal flare. The departing Enterprise spots it and races back to rescue the crew, beaming them to safety just as the shuttlecraft burns up. Safely returned, Spock stubbornly refuses to accept that his final act in command was emotional, although the crew know better.
The Squire of Gothos – Summary: Heading through an empty void on a supply mission to a colony, Spock detects strange readings and they find what appears to be a planet that shouldn’t exist. Uhura is ordered to contact Starfleet, but can’t. Suddenly Sulu disappears, and then Kirk. Spock believes that they have been taken to the planet, but the atmosphere is deadly. Uhura receives a strange message on the screen: “Greetings and felicitations!” followed by “Hip-hip-hoorah. Tallyho!” Spock orders an away team to investigate, and they beam down to the source. The away team discover that the environment is perfectly safe, but communications are blocked. They find a medieval castle and locate Kirk, Sulu and a brash being who identifies himself as General Trelane, retired, also known as the Squire of Gothos.
Trelane explains that Earth is his hobby, and he’s been studying it for years. He seems obsessed with Earth’s violent history and wants to learn more, insisting they all stay as his guests. However, Trelane’s arrogance and playful bluster is overwhelming, as is his power. On the Enterprise, Spock has located the away team and teleports them back and they try to escape. However, Trelane appears on the bridge and transports the whole bridge crew back to his castle with a mere gesture. Trelane tries to charm Uhura and Yeoman Ross, before verbally sparring with Spock. Kirk and Spock notice that Trelane stays close to his mirror, and believe that this may be the source of his power. Kirk challenges Trelane to a duel, who childishly accepts, and destroys the mirror. The crew take this opportunity to beam back to the Enterprise and try to escape again.
The Enterprise leaves orbit, but the planet Gothos follows them and blocks their path whichever way they turn. Kirk finds himself instantly taken to a courtroom where Trelane is the judge. Trelane throws a tantrum and judges Kirk guilty, but Kirk plays to his childish nature and goads him into a royal hunt, where Kirk is the prey. Kirk gains the upper hand several times, but Trelane cheats and traps Kirk, telling him that he’ll repeat the same game with all the crew of the Enterprise. Finally Kirk has had enough, breaks Trelane’s sword and slaps him. Suddenly two energy beings, Trelane’s parents, appear and scold him and his identity as an immature child is exposed fully before he disappears. Kirk returns to the Enterprise, where he tells Spock to classify the Squire of Gothos as a god of war and a very naughty small boy.
The Galileo Seven is the best and worst of Star Trek. The concept is simple and a great way to see Spock in command. We can’t help but agree with him since his decisions are perfectly sound and the rest of the crew, particularly Boma and Gaetano, act far too impulsively. Yet Spock’s logic fails him here, and he faces his own Kobayashi Maru in a way. However, the creatures look like walking carpets and their giant spears look ridiculous as they get thrown about unconvincingly. It’s a shame that such a good story is let down by such silly things, but it’s still a great Spock episode.
The Squire of Gothos is a fantastic episode, with great performances all around, in particular from William Campbell as Trelane. He matches, and arguably even surpasses, John de Lancie as a Q-like being and his cocky arrogance and playful nature is a genuine highlight. There are many elements here from The Next Generation’s Encounter at Farpoint, only the story moves along at a far greater pace. Many have chosen to retrofit this episode into continuity, and it’s easy to imagine Trelane actually being Little q, still struggling to understand humanity. It’s a fan-favourite episode, and it’s easy to see why. For those who tend to avoid the originals in favour of the later series, they’re missing out on seeing Q-before-Q.