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Star Trek: And the Children Shall Lead

Spock: "Without followers, evil cannot spread."

Apparently, lawyers are evil aliens plotting to kill us all. Or maybe this episode was a morality tale about respecting your parents and doing your homework, and the evils of ice cream and ring-around-the-rosy.

Much like season one's "Miri," this was another episode centered around children that might have worked if it had been better written. An alien invasion carried out by children could have been creepy. But just one alien? And how was he doing it? There were several references to "the enemy within" and making the grownups call on their "beast," but no real explanation of what was going on. Apparently, the Friendly Angel brainwashed the children with the promise of play time forever, and gave them the power to make people hallucinate just by pumping their fists and looking threatening. Attorney Melvin Belli did inject genuine menace into his performance as Gorgan the Friendly Angel, but the sparkling muumuu he was wearing brought the threat level down significantly.

Forgive me for continuing to nitpick, but why would the children finally react with grief while seeing the graves on video, when actually seeing their parents die had no effect on them? How did Kirk know that the Friendly Angel was called a Gorgan? And how could the truth make the Gorgan ugly? For that matter, when the landing party arrived, they found all the adults dead and the kids having a grand time, and no one thought it was a little odd?

There were many call-backs to previous episodes. The sores on the adult colonists were bright blue, like those of the grups in "Miri." There were frequent mentions of "the enemy within." Uhura got a visit from "The Deadly Years" in her conveniently placed mirror on the bridge, while Sulu got "The Naked Time" on the viewscreen (tons of swords in space, which makes little sense). And the colonists were wearing the jumpsuits from "The Devil in the Dark." Those costumes certainly got a lot of wear.

Ben says...

Blech! I know everyone loves to hate "Spock's Brain," but allow me to draw your attention to this particular steaming pile of offal.

Probably the best part of the episode is how it alludes to much better SF origins, particularly Bill Mumy’s performance as Anthony Fremont in the Twilight Zone episode, "It's a Good Life." That’s the one where he sends people to the "cornfield" when they annoy him, and is a meditation on the cruelty of children in their un-enculturated form. Heck, little Craig Hundley as Tommy Starnes is pretty much a road show version of Mumy (which when that is the peak of your career should cause a young actor to pause and consider a career in trucking or nursing).

The Gorgon deserves special mention, as his presence completely muddles the whole episode. Is it his evil influence that has driven the children to murder their parents, or was his presence what made them all kill themselves (the whole feeling of dread thing)? In the end, it wasn't that the kids went all Lord of the Flies with superpowers, it was that they fell in with a bad influence because kids are never cruel. Right? The writers just couldn't bring themselves to really have the kids responsible, and the result is just a muddled mess.

All that said, a special moment of appreciation is deserved for the Gorgon's costume choice. Not everyone can wear a shower curtain muumuu while wrapped in Christmas tree lights, but he makes it work. Of course they seemed to have filmed him through about an ounce of Vaseline smeared over the camera lens, so there's that. Actually, while on the subject of costumes, a special costuming award to Dr. Seuss for Tommy's Onesie Striped Tunic-y jumpsuit. That this seems to be the only outfit he was allowed to bring to a distant planet may explain why he used his powers to drive his parents to suicide.

Back to Billie for bits and pieces:

— Stardate 5029.5. A science colony on Triacus that apparently had no shelters or structures of any kind. The third season budget cuts were making themselves known.

— Two redshirts were accidentally beamed directly into space instead of down on the planet.

— The landing party put a UFP flag, red with white stars, by the graves. I don't remember seeing that flag before. It was actually not all that cool-looking or inspiring.

— Nurse Chapel got stuck babysitting, but at least she was in the episode. And she got to do it in a brand new set: an arboretum.

— I'll mention again that I have no interest in slash, but Kirk and Spock were practically in a passionate embrace during the turbolift scene.


McCoy: "He's dead, Captain."

Spock: "Evil does seek to maintain power by suppressing the truth."
McCoy: "Or by misleading the innocent."
Or both. All this going on about evil seemed uncharacteristic of Spock. Kirk talking about killing children was also a bit out of character.

Truly awful episode. One out of four previously unseen arboretums,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. Agreed, this is not a good one...but those kids could cry on cue! Impressive tears.

  2. I've never wanted to see a child beaten as badly as I did during this episode.

    Oh my god, this was just awful

  3. Unseen Arboretum sounds like either an alternative band or a very weird spell from an RPG! "I cast unseen arboretum!" has a nice ring to it!

    The Gorgan's outfit reminds me a bit of Light in 7th Doctor story 'Ghost Light', where there to, the outfit made the character less threatening and kind of silly, but at least Belli pulled off menacing here even with that garish thing, whereas Light comes off too silly with how he acts in that one, but then Ghost Light is an odd story from any angle!

    Have to agree here, it's not a good one, and reading through these stories with you folks here, ToS did reuse a lot of story lines, more than I recall from watching it as a kid, so when you have several similar stories, the bad ones come off even worse when you know they've done it better!


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