SCORE: (2/5 stars)
Beaming down to a research site to check in on the scientists, the landing party find them all dead. Every adult, dead. Strangely, the children are alive, well, and completely unphased or unaware of the fact that their parents are dead. Oh joy, an episode full of child actors. This’ll go well. (It doesn’t.) The… “talented”… child actors beam up to the Enterprise where they are given ice cream and asked questions about what happened on the planet’s surface. They avoid any questions about their parents being dead. At this point I’m screaming at the screen “KILL THEM, THEY’RE CHILDREN OF THE CORN!” but I don’t think Stephen King wrote that story for another ten years, so they don’t get the reference.
Anyway, I’m right and they’re children of the corn. They hold hands and spin in a circle to summon who they call the “angel,” an ethereal being who is using them to aid his goal of galactic conquest. (But what does an angel need with a starship?) He has given the children the power to trick and control the minds of adults by balling up a fist and making a swift downwards jerking motion. I don’t mean to be crass, but I’ve been trying this myself since I was a kid and the mind control part never worked. Maybe I just need to keep at it. Anyway, Kirk has ordered the ship to stay in orbit of the planet Triacus until they determine what killed the adults. This won’t do at all for the angel’s plans, so the kids manipulate key officers into setting a course for a planet the angel has his eyes on, while making them believe they’re still in orbit.
Kirk realizes something’s amiss when the two redshirts he beams down to the planet materialize in empty space. They weren’t scheduled to die until Friday! He and Spock seem the least susceptible to the mind control and are able to fight out of it momentarily. They know that the children are not working alone and they have to break the spell. Spock uses ship’s records to play back the nursery rhyme the children recite to summon the angel, and then plays records of the research base, first happy, joyous memories, then suddenly the footage of the dead parents. The shock to the children of what happened to their parents breaks the angel’s spell, revealing his true form as a hideous monstrosity. Since the angel apparently needs the children to sustain himself (which explains how he existed before they came to the planet how?), he dissolves away. The Enterprise sets course for the nearest starbase, and immediately after going to credits, Kirk discreetly jettisons those evil fucking kids out the airlock. Well, one can hope.
- Nobody in the transporter room was under the children’s control. Why would they not have sensors specific to the transporter to double-check the landing site? This seems like a failure of the transporter chief to do his job. I’m pretty sure question 1 on the transporter operator’s test is “Should I beam officers into deep space?” and the correct answer is “No, even if they’re wearing red shirts.”
- Kirk: A child suppresses the fact that both parents are dead? I can’t believe it.
Spock: Humans do have an amazing capacity for believing what they choose and excluding that which is painful.
- Spock: The attack on Professor Starnes’ party must surely have been unprovoked.
Kirk: Attack? Mass suicide is what it seems to be.
Spock: I stand corrected, Captain. Induced would be a more precise term. Induced by an outside force.