Star Trek TOS Recaps: “The Conscience Of The King”

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This episode contains Shakespeare references, and not just in the title, either. Which I actually quite enjoy, because Shakespeare is my fucking jam.

The episode begins with a dude stabbing another dude, but the camera then cuts to Kirk with some other rando in an audience, showing that it’s actually a stage play. Specifically it’s a production of Macbeth, and the title character has just stabbed King Duncan.


Kirk comments on the play to his companion, who responds by telling him to pay close attention to the lead actor, who he’s looking at with an odd intesity. He tells Kirk specifically to watch the lead actor.The other gentleman adds that he recognizes his voice, and that the lead actor is some guy called Kodos the Executioner. Sounds like a pleasant guy. Anyway, Kirk doesn’t seem to believe his companion as the scene cuts to the opening credits.

We return to a captain’s log, with Kirk explaining that the guy he was with was one Dr. Thomas Leighton, who called them to the planet to inform them of a discovery that could end all famine. Kirk is with Leighton and his wife, Martha, in their home, and is less than pleased to hear that the reson he was called there was a total lie.

See, it turns out that Leighton called the Enterprise to said planet because of his utter belief that the head of the acting troupe we saw earlier was this Kodos person. Kirk tells him that Kodos is dead, and that Leighton should drop it, but Leighton will not be moved.

We also learn a little bit more about this Kodos: basically, he’s responsible fo the deaths of about 4000 colonists, so “the Executioner” isn’t just a clever name. We also learn, again, that he was reported dead, but the body they found was burned beyond recognition.

Kirk looks to Martha to have her talk some sense into the man, but Martha reports that she’s already tried, and that he’s been on edge since the actors arrived. The captain repeats the part about Kodos being dead, which, of course, Leighton rejects again. He then turns his head, and we see a large patch covering not just his eye, but a large portion of his head. Which, yeesh.


He begs Kirk to help him prove that the actor is who he believes that he is, since Kirk is one of the few still alive who can ID the guy. Leighton then reveals that he invited the company to his home that evening for a party.
Kirk’s a bit fed up with the whole scnario, and says he has to go back to the ship to try and figure out a way to report this that won’t completely screw him over.

We then see Kirk, alone in the conference room. His recent interaction with Leighton seems to have unsettled him. He turns the computer console on and brings up files for Kodos and the actor, Anton Karidian, to see if there are any similarities between the two.

We get some more details on Kodos’s crimes, and it turns out he was the governor of a colony called Tarsus IV some 20 years prior. Towards the end of his governorship, he instituted martial law and ordered the deaths of about half the population. Which is pretty yikes, but somehow it gets worse.

The computer then moves on to Karidian. We learn two things of importance: 1), Karidian has a 19-year-old daughter named Lenore, and 2) there’s no information about him older than 20 years. That last bit is quite suspicious.

The computer also brings up a photo of each man side-by-side, and, of course, they look distressingly similar.


Spock enters, and Kirk asks him for his opinion on Leighton. Spock calls him “a good empirical research scientist, steady, reputable, occasionally brilliant.” Kirk comments that Leighton has “a very long memory,” and Spock says he wouldn’t know anything about that before reporting that they’re ready to leave. Kirk tells him to delay that, and that he’s beaming back down to the planet for a while.

At the Leighton’s party, Kirk comes into the house from the crowded patio. Martha walks in, and Kirk asks her where her husband is. She responds that he went to town, but called and told her that he’s on his way back. Kirk takes a drink, then turns as a blonde woman in a blue dress enters the room.


This turns out to be Karidian’s daughter Lenore. Kirk smiles at her, she smiles back, and then the two start flirting with each other. Because of course.

Kirk tells her that the party seems to be happening on the patio, and she asks if he’s the welcoming committee. Kirk hands her his drink, complimenting her earlier performance. He then introduces himself, and Lenore says it’s an honor that the captain of the Federation’s flagship is at the party.

Kirk says he’d hoped to meet her father, but she tells him Karidian doesn’t really do parties. This seems unusual, since actors are usually all about soaking up attention from adoring fans. Lenore says her father is “a most unusual man,” comparing him to the character he played that very evening.

Kirk says that if Macbeth is unavailable, he’ll be happy to talk to Lady Macbeth. Is it weird for a dad to cast his daughter as his wife in a play? Because that seems weird to me. Maybe it was different in the 60s, I don’t know.
Anyway, they move their conversation to the nearby sofa. Kirk asks Lenore where they’re headed next, and Lenore says that they’re headed towards a colony called Benecia, on a ship called the Astral Queen. Kirk takes a drink from a passing waiter and comments that the Astral Queen is a good ship, before again saying her performance as Lady Macbeth was impressive. She asks, “And as Lenore Karidian?” Kirk responds, “Very impressive.”

They stand up, and Kirk says he wouldn’t mind seeing her again, on a personal level. Lenore says that she’d like that too, but that they’re on a pretty tight schedule. Kirk says that she “doesn’t have a schedule now,” and suggests that the two take a walk together. She agrees, and Kirk goes to let Martha know that he’s heading out.

The scene shifts to Kirk and Lenore walking outside, and I’m sorry, but Lenore’s coat is one of the silliest things I’ve ever seen.


The dress she was wearing earlier was fine, but this makes her look like she has no arms or torso, just a head floating above a pair of legs. Anyway, Lenore stops and Kirk asks if she’s tired. She says she’s not, but has been thinking about something. Kirk asks what about, and she responds that Kirk seems different than he did at the party, somehow less brash and more lonely.

She moves in to kiss him, but is stopped when Kirk notices something nearby. That something turns out to be Dr. Leighton. Who is dead.

The scene goes back to the Leighton’s house, where Martha covers his body with a blanket. She says that she hopes he’s at peace now, before wondering why he was killed if the whole Karidian-is-Kodos thing wasn’t true. Kirk tells her he doesn’t know, but intends to find out. She breaks down, saying that she’ll miss Tom. He comforts her for a bit before she runs out of the room.

After she’s gone, Kirk pulls up his communicator and has Uhura put him through to the captain of the Astral Queen, a guy named Doyle, from whom Kirk calls in a favor. Basically, he wants Doyle to ditch the troupe. He protests at first, but Kirk assures him that he’ll take them instead. He also asks Doyle to keep this little arrangement a secret before ending the transmission and telling the Enterprise he’s ready to beam back up.

A bit later, we see Kirk in the captain’s chair as Spock enters the bridge. He lets the captain know that they’re ready to head out, but Kirk says that they’re “due for a pickup.” Spock asks what kind of pickup. Kirk is about to answer, but is interrupted by Uhura telling him there’s a Lenore Karidian in the transporter room wanting to talk to him.
Kirk tells her to have her escorted to the bridge, and Spock wants to know how he knew she was coming aboard. Kirk responds, “I’m the captain.” Spock looks exactly 100% done with Kirk’s shit.


Lenore arrives on the bridge, and says that she didn’t think she’d be seeing him again so soon. Kirk responds, “You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you I arranged it.” Yeah, it’s almost as if you did, you sneaky bastard.

Anyway, Lenore sums up the situation we’re already aware of, and tells the captain that they’re desperately in need of transportation to their next engagement. Kirk rather halfheartedly protests that regulations are pretty strict about this sort of thing. Lenore responds, “I appeal to you.” Which I’m sure she does. Kirk, smirking, asks her if she has anything to give in exchange, and Lenore offers a special performance for the crew.

Kirk tells her that the crew might appreciate the novelty, and magnanimously agrees to take them to their next destination. She’s delighted, thanks the captain, and heads back to the lift. Interestingly, we see Yeoman Rand leave said lift at the same time, and don’t think I didn’t see Janice give Lenore the stink eye as she passed her.


The captain orders Spock to prepare to leave after the rest of the troupe is aboard the ship. Spock asks where they’re heading. Kirk tells him, and Spock points out that the aforementioned colony is eight light years off their current course.

Kirk testily tells Spock if he needs information he’ll ask for it, and in the meantime to just follow his orders. Spock does the eyebrow thing again, but complies.

There’s a break, during which we hear another captain’s log explaining that Kirk has his questions about the Karidians, but isn’t sure that he really wants to know the answers.

On the bridge, Kirk asks Spock for an ETA on their arrival to Benecia. Spock says that they should arrive on startdate 2825.3. I…actually have no idea how long that is, since I never really understood the whole stardate system that they use. I always just thought it was to sound more science-fictiony.

Kirk moves to and turns on a nearby computer console, from which he brings up personnel files of the survivors of Tarsus IV to search for people who could possibly ID Kodos. He does this as if both Spock and Uhura weren’t clearly in earshot, which is kinda dumb if he wants to keep this a secret. The computer comes up with 9 names, but there are 3 of particular interest: Leighton, Kirk, and Lt. Riley. You may remember Riley as the dude in “The Naked Time” who was constantly singing.

Kirk turns off the console and calls Spock over. He tells him that he wants Riley moved from communications to engineering. Spock asks the captain to explain that decision because Riley was promoted from engineering and is likely to view this as a punishment. Kirk does not want to explain, and tells Spock to just follow his orders.
In light of what happens later, this is a supremely stupid decision.

We go to in sick bay, where Spock is pacing like a caged animal and McCoy’s pouring himself a drink.


McCoy basically tells him that “when the man on top walks along his street, the chain of command is often a noose.” Spock tells him that he’s not looking for metaphors, he just wants to know if McCoy has noticed the captain behaving strangely.

McCoy says that he hasn’t and offers Spock some of his booze. Spock declines, citing that “my father’s race was spared the dubious benefits of alcohol.”

McCoy retorts, “Oh. Now I know why they were conquered,” which doesn’t make much sense to me, but whatever. He asks Spock what the bug up his butt is, since Kirk usually knows what he’s doing, and Spock says he thinks bringing the players aboard was illogical.

McCoy says that he thinks it was perfectly logical, considering that Lenore is hot. Lenore, need I remind you, is 19 years old.

He follows this up with another jab at Spock’s ancestry, saying that it’s clearly preventing him from seeing how attractive she is. He then asks Spock if it’s occurred to him that Kirk, maybe, just, just maybe, likes her.

Spock has, in fact, considered this, and has dismissed the idea. Kirk busting Riley back down to engineering has also raised suspicions. He asks if McCoy knows he’s done that, and McCoy says a lot of stuff happens on board that he doesn’t know about. He then adds that the captain has free range to shuffle the crew around as he sees fit, before giving Spock another invitation to drink with him. Spock declines again, and McCoy tells him that’s fine, but he’s having another drink. Also, he would very much like it if Spock would stop being such a judgmental prick about his drinking, thank you very much.


After that little interlude, we see Kirk giving Lenore a tour. Kirk explains that they’re on the observation deck, overlooking the shuttlebay. Lenore humors him, saying that’s “interesting” before deciding to ask the captain if he dimmed the lights just for her.

Kirk tells her that if that were so, he would have brought her flowers and had music playing. He goes on to explain that the ship tries to stick as close to an Earth day/night cycle as possible, so the lights are dim to simulate night. Also, this is a bit of an aside, but Lenore is, once again, wearing one of the goofiest outfits possible. What old sci-fi thought would be fashionable in the future is hilarious.


Lenore looks out the window and starts reciting the old “starlight, star bright” nursery rhyme. She asks if Kirk is familiar with it, and Kirk responds that it’s “almost as old as the stars themselves.” Pretty sure stars are a lot older than a Victorian nursery rhyme, but I get it, he’s being poetic.

Lenore then gets a bit flirty, saying, “And this ship. All this power, surging and throbbing, yet under control. Are you like that, captain? All this power at your command, the decisions that you have to make.”

Kirk responds that those decisions “come from a very human source,” to which Lenore responds by asking if Kirk is, in fact, human. I think the person you’re on a date with asking if you’re even human is a sign things might not be going well. Anyway, Kirk basically responds that yes, he is, indeed, quite human, and Lenore asks him about the “women in your world.”

Kirk tries to deflect the question, and asks her when she first saw her father on stage. She’s extremely evasive, so Kirk pushes a bit. Lenore protests that he’s not being fair since she asked him first. He gives in, and asks her what she wants to know about the women on the ship.

She asks if “the machine changed them” and if it’s “made them just people instead of women.” Kirk tells her that “worlds may change, galaxies disintegrate, but a woman, always remains the same.” And then I threw up a little bit in my mouth.

Anyway, Lenore compares Kirk to Caeser, and herself to Cleopatra before the two start making out. Who could’ve seen that coming?


On the bridge, Spock decides he wants to do some research on his own. He turns on a console, and pulls up dossiers on Leighton, Kirk, Karidian, and Riley to find any connection between them. The computer tells him that there are, indeed, some correlations in their histories, and Spock brings his findings to McCoy.

McCoy’s a bit dismissive at first, but Spock presses on, telling him about the massacre on Tarsus IV. Bn addition to what we already know, there was a famine on the planet caused by fungus getting into the food supply, depleting it to the point where the colony couldn’t feed its over 8000 colonists. This lead to Kodos seizing power, declaring martial law, and separating out about half the colony to be killed. Also, that Kodos had “his own theories of eugenics.” And hoo boy, that’s a loaded phrase.

Additionally, while relief ships did arrive, they arrived too late to stop the massacre. McCoy asks what this has to do with Karidian, and Spock repeats the point we heard earlier: that Karidian has no records prior to 20 years before, which dovetails quite nicely with Kodos’s presumed death, and that Kirk suspects Karidian and Kodos may be the same person.

This isn’t great for, because everyone who could identify Kodos besides him and Riley wound up getting murdered. When the Karidian Company was nearby. Which isn’t suspicious at all.

Speaking of Riley, we cut to him, in engineering, alone, which I’m sure will end very well for him. I’m kidding, it doesn’t.

Anyway, he calls the rec room because he’s bored and a little depressed, assuming, as Spock believed he would, that he’s being punished for something. Uhura is there with some other officers, tuning a stringed instrument of some sort. Riley hears this, and asks for her to play him a song to help pass the time.


She agrees, and as she’s playing, the scene cuts back to someone spraying something into Riley’s drink, sitting with his dinner on a nearby counter. Of course, Riley takes a sip of said drink right after, starts choking, and passes out.
And here’s why Kirk’s decision to put Riley in engineering was a bad one: he would have to have known Riley would be alone down there at some point, making him a target, which makes no sense if this was done to keep him safe. Unless Kirk wanted him there as bait, which is a shitty thing to do.

At any rate, the scene cuts to sick bay, where Riley is not doing so well. Spock tells McCoy that if Riley dies, that puts Kirk in more danger since one down, one to go, but McCoy isn’t sure he’ll make it.

After a break, we get a captain’s log explaining Riley’s condition and that the crew is very concerned, before shifting back to sickbay. Spock enters and McCoy gives him the results of his analysis: Riley had somehow ingested an extremely toxic lubricant. Spock immediately suspects poisoning, but McCoy points out he was in engineering (aka where the lubricants are kept) and that the whole thing may have been an accident. Of course, Spock’s right, but they don’t know that.

Spock tells him he needs to give the captain his report now. McCoy says he’ll do it after he’s done logging it, but Spock is insistent.

Cut to Kirk’s quarters, and McCoy giving Kirk his report. Kirk asks if Riley will make it, and McCoy tells him that he likely will. Spock ominously adds, “And we predict the same for you, Captain.”


Kirk asks Spock what the hell he’s talking about, and Spock says he believes this was a deliberate attempt on Riley’s life. McCoy adds that, again, it could have been an accident, but Spock still isn’t buying that. The captain chews Spock out for butting in on his “personal business,” and Spock reminds him that his “personal business” could very well have gotten a member of his crew killed.

Kirk says he doesn’t want Spock meddling in his affairs. Again, his affairs almost got a member of his crew killed. McCoy tries to placate the captain by basically telling him Spock’s trying to do his job, and you know you’ve stepped in it when McCoy’s defending Spock.

Kirk doesn’t want to hear it, but Spock, again, points out that the captain is still a likely target, and wonders why he’s trying so hard to get himself offed. Kirk tells he’s not, he’s looking for justice.

McCoy pointedly asks him if he’s not actually out for revenge, and Kirk responds that he’s not. That’s why he’s been so reticent to actually confront Karidian about this, and make sure that he actually is Kodos before he does anything. That is very Hamlet of him.

Spock just flat out says that, yup, dude’s Kodos, and Kirk wishes he could be as certain of that as his second in command is. McCoy asks him what exactly he plans to do if Karidian does turn out to be Kodos, “carry his head through the corridors in triumph,” before adding that won’t bring back the people Kodos killed.
Kirk responds, “No. But they may rest easier.”

Some time later, still in Kirk’s quarters, Spock and Kirk are still discussing the Kodos/Karidian conundrum, as well as how Riley got to where he is now. Kirk points out, again, that McCoy still thinks that latter may have been an accident, but is interrupted by Spock, who points out a strange humming sound in the room.

Turns out a phaser set to overload is somewhere in the room. This is really, really bad, since this is something that could take out pretty much the whole deck. Seems a little overkill just to kill one dude, but OK.

Anyway, Spock starts searching for the phaser while Kirk gets on the intercom and orders an evacuation of before telling Spock to get out. Spock objects at first, but relents as the captain starts pushing him out the door, assuring him that he’ll find and deal with the phaser.

Which he eventually does, inside a light fixture near the door.


Kirk grabs it, runs out into the hallway, and puts it down some chute. The ship is rocked a bit by the explosion, but seems otherwise unharmed. Not sure where the chute lead to, but clearly it was somewhere it couldn’t do too much damage.

We cut to Karidian in his room, picking up a leather-bound book and sitting down to read it. Kirk enters, and tells him they need to talk. Karidian stands, and says he’d hoped to have some privacy here.

Kirk doesn’t give a shit about Karidian’s privacy, and tells him about the phaser that almost killed him, as well as Riley’s poisoning. Karidian says that he’s sorry to hear about that, but then Kirk gets to the point and just flat out asks the man if he’s Kodos.

He doesn’t answer until Kirk pushes the issue, then he says he is “if it pleases you to believe so. I am an actor. I play many parts.” Kirk says that while that’s the case now, “what were you 20 years ago?”
Karidian responds, “Younger, Captain. Much younger.”

Kirk says that he was too, but he remembers what Kodos did. He wants to give Karidian a little test: handing him a piece of paper, he tells him to read what it says so that it can be recorded, and compared to recordings of Kodos on file.


He relunctantly complies, and it turns out Kirk wants him to read the Tarsus IV execution order. Eventually, he stops reading from the paper, which Kirk notices. Karidian retorts that he learns his lines quickly. Kirk asks him if he’s sure of that, and if he didn’t know the words because he’d said them before mercilessly executing a bunch of people.

Karidian responds, “I find your use of the word ‘mercy’ strangely inappropriate, Captain,” before condemning the captain as a mark of basically everything wrong with society: that people rely so much on technology, they’ve “done away with humanity, the striving of man to achieve greatness through his own resources.”

Kirk disagrees, and says they just have better tools now. Karidian responds that whoever this Kodos person was, he had to make a decision, that “some had to die that others may live,” and that as a Starfleet captain, Kirk should understand this. Which, yeeesh.

Kirk says that all he understands is that 4000 people were killed for no real purpose, but Karidian continues, saying that if the relief ships hadn’t arrived early Kodos may have been praised for his decision. Yeah, I’m not real sure about that one, chief.

Kirk isn’t either, and says that it doesn’t matter anyway because that’s not how it went down. Karidian tells him that if Kirk is so sure that he’s Kodos, why not just kill him and “let bloody vengeance take its final course? And see what difference it makes to his universe of yours.”

Kirk says Karidian has said some “well-acted” words, but that changes nothing, and Karidian says that apparently not, since words are only tools. Kirk says he found that Karidian has no records older than 20 years.

Karidian then starts to break down a little bit: “Blood thins. The body fails. One is finally grateful for a failing memory. I no longer treasure life, not even my own. I am tired! The past, is a blank.”

He then somewhat bitterly, asks the captain if he got everything he wanted, and Kirk tells him if that were the case, Karidian “might not walk out of this room alive.”

We then hear Lenore call Kirk’s name, and whoops, turns out she was there the whole time and heard the whole exchange. And is, of course, very unhappy with the captain.


She tells her father to go and rest, before ripping Kirk a new one, calling him cruel, and accusing him of using her to try and get close to Karidian.

Kirk tells her that was case in the beginning, but he did actually come to care for her. Lenore tells him it’s too late now, and that he’s exactly like his ship: “powerful, and not human,” and completely merciless.

Kirk says, “If he is Kodos, then I’ve shown him more mercy than he deserves,” before saying if he’s not Kodos, he’ll just drop them off at Benecia Colony, “no harm done.” He turns to leave, but Lenore stops him and asks who he thinks he is to determine whether any harm has been done here. Kirk asks, “Who do I have to be?” Lenore just glares at him until he leaves.

In sick bay we see McCoy recording a log, and a recovered and rather antsy Riley having out in the background. McCoy’s mentions that Riley should be dispatched, but Kirk wants him kept in sick bay to keep him away from the troupe, and Karidian specifically. He then adds it’s because Kirk thinks Karidian may be Kodos, who killed Riley’s family. With Riley in earshot.

Needless to say, he doesn’t react to the news well.


There’s a break and another captain’s log explaining that they have Karidian under surveillance, and that certain areas have increased security. He also adds that the performance is going ahead as scheduled.

We then go to a set, with Lenore in costume announcing the play. And, of course, the play they’re performing is Hamlet.

We then see Kirk and Spock, looking over the voice comparison in the captain’s quarters. Spock says that there is a match, but Kirk responds that it’s not exact, adding, “We’re dealing with a man’s life. No machine can make that decision.”

Cut to sick bay, where McCoy is getting ready to see the play and grumbling about being late for it. He goes to say something to Riley, but is stopped short when he realizes the lieutenant is gone. Maybe you shouldn’t have recorded your log where he could overhear it, then.

McCoy calls Kirk and tells him that Riley’s gone missing. Kirk says he’s got it, then immediately gets another call from security, saying that the weapons locker has been broken into and a phaser is missing. This is not an auspicious combination of facts.

Kirk gets on the intercom and tells the rest of the ship to find Riley, who is likely heading to the room where the play is being performed to kill Karidian. He then gets up to leave to try and see if he can head him off.


We then cut to the play, in which Karidian is Hamlet Sr.’s ghost. Kirk goes backstage he spots Riley, also backstage, phaser in hand. Kirk orders him to go back to sick bay, and Riley responds that Kodos murdered his family. Kirk tells him that he could be wrong about that, and not to throw everything away on what could be a mistake. Riley however, is absolutely certain, because he recognizes his voice.

Kirk moves slowly towards Riley, and manages to get the phaser from him and orders him to go back to sick bay. Riley leaves as Karidian and the actor playing Hamlet join Lenore backstage.

Lenore notices that her father seems on edge, and asks what’s wrong. Karidian tells her that he just heard a voice from his past, which has him agitated. He adds that he has a past that he never told her about, but it seems to coming back and the time has come to face it.

So, as you probably already guessed, Karidian is Kodos.

Lenore says that will never come, and that she’ll take care of the last two after the performance is over.
Karidian looks at his daughter with shock and asks her what she’s talking about. And here we get to the big reveal: Lenore, not Karidian, has been the one killing the witneses. She already knew about her father’s past, and had killed seven people to keep that secret.

Karidian does not take this news very well, and just looks at her with a mixture of shock and disgust as Lenore tells him not to look at her like that, and that what she had done needed to be done.”


Karidian asks, “More blood on my hands?” Lenore tries to reassure him the blood is on her hands, not his, adding, “Don’t you see? All the ghosts are dead. I’ve buried them. There’s no more blood on your hands.”

Kirk, of course, is still there, and overhears all of this.

Karidian hugs his daughter, lamenting, “Oh, my child. My child. You’ve left me nothing! You were the one thing in my life untouched by what I’d done.”

Lenore tells him that he’s safe now, though, and that she’s saved him, before spotting Kirk. Karidian turns to look at him, and Lenore says that the captain is “awed by your greatness.” Karidian doesn’t seem to agree, as he just still looks sorta horrified.

Yeah, so she’s a bit off her rocker.

Kirk tells them both to come with him, and Lenore tells him they will after the play. Kirk insists that they come now, and Karidian tries once more to justify himself. Lenore tells him that he doesn’t have anything to justify. Karidian responds, “Murder, flight, suicide, madness. I never wanted the blood on my hands ever to stain you.”

Lenore, again, says that she did what she needed to save her father. Kirk says, “By killing seven innocent men.” Lenore insists that they weren’t innocent, and that she’d kill a world if it would save his father.

Kirk grabs Karidian’s shoulder, and Lenore tells him that he has to go on as Kirk calls for a security officer. Lenore wails that he can’t deny her father his last performance. The security officer arrives and Lenore, frantic, grabs the phaser from him and runs out onto the stage, Kirk and Karidian following. The audience sees this and starts running out as Lenore trains the phaser on the captain.

Kirk tells her she won’t get off the ship, and she responds, “Then it will become floating, too, drifting through space, with the soul of the great Karidian giving performances at every star he touches.” Um, OK, I guess. Kirk walks forward and Lenore fires the phaser, but Karidian jumps in front of the captain and takes the shot instead.


Lenore is absolutely horrified by what just happened, and Kirk uses the distraction to disarm her. She bends down to his corpse, sobbing and reciting lines from the play, before she starts laughing in an unhinged fashion and reciting the couplet that the episode is named for: “The play is the thing/wherein we’ll catch the conscience of the king.”

Kirk pulls her away from the corpse as her laughter becomes wild cackling.


Some time later, McCoy enters the bridge to give a report on Lenore’s condition to the captain. He assures him that Lenore will be placed in good hands, doesn’t remember what happened that night, and actually thinks her father is still alive.

McCoy asks Kirk if he really did care for her, which the captain pointedly ignores. Spock cuts in, letting them know that they’re ready to leave Benecia at any time. Kirk tells the helmsman to stand by before asking Uhura if the channels are clear. Uhura responds that they are, and Kirk tells the helmsman to go ahead when ready.

McCoy says, “You’re not going to answer my question, are you?” Kirk ignores this again and tells the helmsman to go ahead, but not without giving McCoy a sly look. McCoy says that he’s got his answer, and leaves the bridge as the episode ends.


I actually really liked this episode. The acting was, for the most part, pretty good, with the standout being Arnold Moss as Karidian.

What really interested me, though, are the parallels with the play it takes its title from: Hamlet. Kirk’s reticence to do confront Karidian is very reminiscent of Hamlet’s reluctance to confront his father’s murderer, for instance.
Also, both Kirk and Hamlet make some really stupid decisions, but unlike Hamlet, Kirks’ stupid decisions at least didn’t have a body count attached to them. So I guess that’s better.

The next episode, Balance of Terror, introduces the Romulans.

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