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Encyclopedia > The Conscience of the King (TOS episode)
Star Trek: TOS episode
"The Conscience of the King"
Image:STConscience.jpg
Kirk questions the mysterious Kodos,
The Conscience of the King.
Episode no. 13
Prod. code 013
Airdate December 8, 1966
Writer(s) Barry Trivers
Director Gerd Oswald
Guest star(s) Grace Lee Whitney
Majel Barrett
Arnold Moss
Barbara Anderson
Bruce Hyde
William Sargent
Natalie Norwick
Karl Bruck
Marc Adams
Eddie Paskey
Year 2266
Stardate 2817.6
Episode chronology
Previous "The Menagerie (Parts 1 & 2)"
Next "Balance of Terror"

"The Conscience of the King" is an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. It is episode #13, production #13, and aired on December 8, 1966. It was written by Barry Trivers and directed by Gerd Oswald. Image File history File links STConscience. ... December 8 is the 342nd day (343rd in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1966 calendar). ... Screenwriters, scenarists or script writers, are authors who write the screenplays from which movies and television programs are made. ... A television director is usually responsible for directing the actors and other taped aspects of a television production. ... Gerd Oswald (June 9, 1919–May 22, 1989), was a director of American films and television. ... Grace Lee Whitney greets a fan at a Star Trek convention (circa 1978). ... Majel Barrett as Lwaxana Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation. ... Arnold Moss (born January 28, 1909 in Brooklyn, New York; died December 15, 1989 in New York City) was an American character actor often playing sly or sinister foreigners. ... Barbara Anderson (born 27 November 1945, in Brooklyn, New York, USA) is an American leading lady known for playing the fictional character Eve Whitfield on the television series Ironside. ... Bruce Hyde (born September 14, 1941 in Dallas, Texas, USA) is an American actor and educator. ... Eddie Paskey-is an actor who is primarily known for playing the uncredited Lieutenant Leslie in the original Star Trek. ... A year is the time between two recurrences of an event related to the orbit of the Earth around the Sun. ... This article or section is not written in the formal tone expected of an encyclopedia article. ... The Menagerie is the only two-part episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. ... Balance of Terror is a first season episode of the Star Trek: The Original Series. ... The starship Enterprise as it appeared on Star Trek Star Trek is a culturally significant science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry in the 1960s. ... December 8 is the 342nd day (343rd in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1966 calendar). ... Gerd Oswald (June 9, 1919–May 22, 1989), was a director of American films and television. ...


Overview: Captain Kirk crosses paths with an actor suspected of having been a murderous dictator many years before. Captain James T. Kirk James Tiberius Kirk, a fictional character in the Star Trek television series, was the captain of the starship Enterprise (NCC-1701 and NCC-1701-A). ...

Contents

Plot

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

On stardate 2817.6, the starship USS Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, is transporting a Shakespearean acting troupe led by Anton Karidian to Benecia Colony from Planet Q. This article or section is not written in the formal tone expected of an encyclopedia article. ... The fictional starship Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) from Star Trek: The Next Generation. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Shakespeare redirects here. ... Kodos the Executioner in 2266 Governor Kodos, or Kodos the Executioner, a fictional character in the Star Trek television series episode The Conscience of the King, was the governor of a Federation colony on the planet Tarsus IV circa 2246 AD. In 2246, a rare fungus destroyed most of the...


Before their arrival, Captain Kirk is contacted by a Dr. Thomas Leighton who wishes to inform Kirk about the development of a new synthetic food. Leighton however, uses the opportunity to tell Kirk that Karidian is really Kodos the Executioner, the former tyrannical governor of Tarsus IV, who is responsible for many deaths - including members of both Kirk's and Leighton's families. He takes Kirk to watch a performance of Macbeth with Karidian in the title role. Karidian is shown having just killed King Duncan and delivering the lines: Kodos the Executioner in 2266 Governor Kodos, or Kodos the Executioner, a fictional character in the Star Trek television series episode The Conscience of the King, was the governor of a Federation colony on the planet Tarsus IV circa AD 2246. ... This article is becoming very long. ... Scene from Macbeth, depicting the witches conjuring of an apparition in Act IV, Scene I. Painting by William Rimmer Macbeth is among the most famous of William Shakespeares plays, as well as his shortest tragedy. ...

Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.

Twenty years before, Governor Kodos ordered that 4,000 colonists on his planet be put to death, thus acuiring the grim sobriquet of "the Executioner". His rationale for the slaughter was that there was a critical food shortage on the planet, to combat which some lives had to be sacrificed; but he apparently applied some personal theory of eugenics to decide who lived or died. Furthermore, the vital supply ships that could have saved the whole colony came much sooner than Kodos anticipated, rendering his measures unnecessary. Eugenics is the self-direction of human evolution: Logo from the Second International Congress of Eugenics, 1921, depicting it as a tree which unites a variety of different fields. ...


Kodos was commonly believed to have been killed sometime later and his body burned beyond recognition, but Leighton claims that he escaped and assumed a new identity. Until recently there were nine known people left who could identify Kodos, but the only three now surviving are Captain Kirk, Lt. Kevin Riley (also serving on the Enterprise), and Dr. Leighton. All the others have recently died.


Unsure if Karidian really is Kodos, Kirk decides initially just to keep a close eye on him - and his lovely but mysterious daughter Lenore. When Dr. Leighton is found dead, Karidian is the primary suspect, but Kirk takes no action for the moment.


Mr. Spock becomes curious about the Captain's behavior and decides to do some investigating of his own. Of the original nine eyewitnesses, only two now remain - Kirk and Riley - and when each previous witness died, Karidian's acting troupe has always been somewhere nearby. Later, Lt. Riley's milk is poisoned, and he would have died if he hadn't been communicating with other crewmembers at the moment of the poison's effect, allowing them to immediately dispatch assistance. Spock is certain that Karidian and Kodos are the same person; however, Kirk - deeply haunted by what happened on Tarsus IV - remains reluctant to draw the same conclusion regarding the gentlemanly and noble-seeming actor. A further complicating factor is that Kirk has fallen for Lenore. Spock, commonly called Mr. ...


Kirk's and Spock's discussion is interrupted by the ominous humming of an overloading phaser hidden in Kirk's quarters. While Spock is clearing the deck, Kirk finds the weapon and jettisons it before it explodes. The Star Trek fictional universe contains a very large number of weapons. ...


Kirk now decides to confront Karidian and demands point-blank to know if he is Kodos. Karidian is evasive (though clearly pained), but enough of his dialogue is recorded to determine whether it matches a voiceprint of Kodos. Meanwhile Lt. Riley is recovering in sickbay and overhears Dr. McCoy's log entry, learning that this Karidian is suspected of being Kodos - the man responsible for killing Riley's family. Riley sneaks out of the sick bay, clearly bent on revenge. Meanwhile, Spock runs the voiceprint analysis; the results reveal a close but not exact match, and Kirk is still reluctant to pass this final, damning judgement on the man. A sick bay is a nautical term for the location in a ship that is used for medical purposes[1]. Categories: Stub ... Leonard H. McCoy, M.D. (2227-) (nicknamed Bones, as in the old-fashioned colloquialism Sawbones for a doctor or a surgeon), played by DeForest Kelley, is a Starfleet officer in the fictional Star Trek universe. ...


The Karidian troupe begins their stage performance of Hamlet at the Enterprise's theatre. We see Karidian playing the Ghost, speaking to Hamlet: Hamlet is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, and is one of his best-known and most-quoted plays. ...

I am thy father's spirit,
Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away.

Lt. Riley sneaks backstage, phaser in hand, ready to exact his revenge on Karidian; however, Kirk finds him and persuades him to surrender the phaser. Their conversation is overheard by Karidian, who goes backstage to investigate, followed by Lenore. Karidian - who for 20 years has tried to forget his past and shield Lenore from it - learns to his horror that his adoring daughter has (by her own admission) been on a crazed crusade to protect him by assassinating the witnesses. She plans to complete her killing spree by eliminating the last two witnesses.


Lenore then produces a phaser and takes aim at Kirk. Desperate to prevent any more bloodshed in his name, Karidian/Kodos jumps into the line of fire as Lenore tries to shoot Kirk. As her beloved father lies dead, Lenore - quoting some poignantly apposite lines from Shakespeare - slumps over his body in a paroxysm of grief, driven out of her mind by the realisation of what she has done.

Spoilers end here.

Trivia

Shakespeare parallels

The episode takes its title from the concluding lines of Act II of Hamlet: "The play's the thing/Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king." But its use of Shakespeare goes further than that.


Karidian is the only one of the acting troupe shown doing so at length. The lines from Macbeth and Hamlet that he is shown speaking provide analogous insight into his character and past. Hamlet is particularly important since Kirk and several of the other main characters are written in this episode to correspond to characters in that play.

  • Leighton represents the Ghost, who lures Kirk to a private discussion to tell him that a terrible secret has been kept from him, and then dies not long afterwards. We see him first partially in shadow, and his face is partially masked from his injuries, linking him further with the Ghost through Karidian's use of a mask when he plays the part at the end of the episode (In the shooting script, the connection was further established through Karidian's habit of wandering the ship's corridors late at night, much as the Ghost wanders the ramparts of Elsinore, but the scene was cut from the aired episode).
  • Karidian represents King Claudius, as his seemingly comfortable and routine life hides a terrible crime.
  • Lenore is somewhat like Ophelia, whom she is set to play in Hamlet. Her innocence, however, is but a façade for her murders; and while she too ultimately goes mad she does not kill herself. She can also be seen as owing something to The Tempest's Miranda: she has no mother, has become very well-read from her father's tutelage and is too young to understand his past. As her father lies dead in front of her, she first recites the line "Those are pearls that were his eyes" from The Tempest, as well, before launching into Fortinbras's speech upon discovering the dead bodies at the end of Hamlet.
  • Finally, Kirk himself acts like Hamlet in this episode. Usually known for his decisive actions, Kirk is at first skeptical that Karidian is really Kodos and wants more solid proof than just the assertion of a now-dead man. Even when he gets that proof, he still hesitates to take action. When Riley acts without reflection, Kirk tries to talk him out of avenging his father, much as Hamlet dissuades himself when he has the opportunity to kill Claudius alone. Kirk also, like Hamlet, makes use of deception (when he asks a fellow captain to abandon the Karidian players on Planet Q so the Enterprise can take them to their next date) to get closer to the truth.

The episode also mirrors Hamlet with the use of a poisoned drink as a murder weapon (although the attempt fails) and the presentation of a play during the action as a plot device. Fang mask used for the ngil ceremony, an inquisitorial search for sorcerers. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Separation barrier. ... Kronborg Castle Helsingør , also known by its English anglo name Elsinore, is a city in Helsingør municipality on the northeast coast of the island of Zealand (Sjælland) in eastern Denmark. ... Claudius is a fictional character from William Shakespeares play Hamlet. ... John William Waterhouses painting Ophelia (1894) Ophelia is a character from the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare. ... Miranda and Ferdinand, Angelica Kauffmann, 1782 The Tempest is a comedy written by William Shakespeare. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Hamlet is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, and is one of his best-known and most-quoted plays. ...


Lenore also alludes to Antony and Cleopatra when she asks Kirk if he is a "Caesar of the stars, waiting for a Cleopatra to worship him?" Antony and Cleopatra is a historical tragedy by William Shakespeare, originally printed in the First Folio of 1623. ...


Holocaust allegory

Yet another of this episode's layers is Star Trek's first Holocaust allegory. Concentration camp inmates during the Holocaust The Holocaust was Nazi Germanys systematic genocide (ethnic cleansing) of various ethnic, religious, national, and secular groups during World War II. Early elements include the Kristallnacht pogrom and the T-4 Euthanasia Program established by Hitler that killed some 200,000 people. ...


Kodos's massacre took place, according to the episode, 20 years previously ... about the same amount of time that had elapsed between the end of World War II and the episode's airing in real life. Spock refers to "parents separated from children ... whole families destroyed," much as happened in the ghettos and camps. Also, in the shooting script, but not aired, a line of Kirk's referred to the victims entering an antimatter chamber and being killed, somewhat a parallel to the Holocaust victims being herded into gas chambers for execution. Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000...


Like Hitler, Kodos was believed to be dead but there was no objective proof since his body had been burned and could not be positively identified. Hitler redirects here. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ...


Karidian's current existence is blameless, like that of many real-life Nazi war criminals who lived as fugitives under assumed names for years after the war. And like them, he nevertheless (though clearly guilt-wracked) attempts to justify his crimes: "Things had to be done, horrible things."


Other trivia

  • It also marks Grace Lee Whitney's quiet departure from the series, as her character, Yeoman Rand, can be seen entering the bridge. She does not speak. Her absence in future episodes is never explained. The creators of the series decided it wasn’t a good idea for Kirk to have a love interest on the ship, and Whitney's alcoholism was affecting her work in any event. The actress and character later returned in the Star Trek feature films as a minor character, and eventually even as a guest-star on an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, ("Flashback").
  • Lt. Riley (in the script the character was Lieutenant Robert Daiken, but when Bruce Hyde was cast, "Kevin Riley" was handwritten in), also seen in "The Naked Time", was meant to show that the Enterprise had other regular crew members. However, he too was never seen or referenced again — possibly another example of Chuck Cunningham syndrome.
  • The Enterprise's observation deck is shown here for the first of only two times in the entire series. The other instance is in the third season (MOS #71) episode "The Mark of Gideon", in which Kirk and Odona enter the observation deck, gaze at the viewport, and see masses of people instead of stars.
  • The "Conscience of the King" is one of only two episodes in the original series in which we saw a woman actually fire a hand-held phaser (although one can argue that the android Andrea from "What Are Little Girls Made of?" was not a real woman).
  • According to the USS Defiant's computer records shown briefly onscreen in the Star Trek: Enterprise 2-part episode In a Mirror, Darkly, communications officer Hoshi Sato of the Enterprise (NX-01) and her husband Takashi Kimura are among the 4,000 colonists executed by Kodos.
  • "Kodos" is one of the two Trek-named aliens who appear in the halloween episodes of The Simpsons, the other being named after the Klingon character "Kang."
  • Guest star Barbara Anderson ties with France Nuyen (in the third season's "Elaan of Troyius") for the most number of costume changes in a single episode (4). Anderson's costumes (a fur dress, a blue and green mantle, a black dress and the Ophelia dress) aren't nearly as revealing as Nuyen's, however.

Court Martial is an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. ... For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky is a third season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. ... Obsession is a second season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series and was broadcast December 15, 1967. ... A Piece of the Action is a second-season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series first broadcast on January 12, 1968. ... Mudds Women is an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series first broadcast October 13, 1966 and repeated May 4, 1967. ... By Any Other Name is a second season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, first broadcast February 23, 1968 and repeated May 31, 1968. ... Spocks Brain is a third season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, first broadcast September 20, 1968. ... Wink of an Eye is a third season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, and was broadcast on November 29, 1968. ... Wolf in the Fold is a second season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. ... Shore Leave is a first season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. ... Grace Lee Whitney greets a fan at a Star Trek convention (circa 1978). ... In the original Star Trek television series Janice Rand (played by Grace Lee Whitney) served as a yeoman to Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) in 2266, assisting him with his job. ... Alcoholism is the consumption of, or preoccupation with, alcoholic beverages to the extent that this behavior interferes with the drinkers normal personal, family, social, or work life, and may lead to physical or mental harm. ... The starship Voyager (NCC-74656), an Intrepid-class starship. ... Flashback is the name of the 44th episode of Star Trek: Voyager, the second episode of the third season. ... Bruce Hyde (born September 14, 1941 in Dallas, Texas, USA) is an American actor and educator. ... The Naked Time is an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series first broadcast September 29, 1966, and repeated on April 27, 1967. ... // Chuck Cunningham syndrome is a term of criticism applied when a regular character in a television series leaves with no explanation, and is never referred to again despite the characters previous importance either to the show or to the other characters. ... The Mark of Gideon is a third season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, and was broadcast on January 17, 1969. ... What Are Little Girls Made Of? is a first season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. ... The starship Enterprise (NX-01) Star Trek: Enterprise is a science fiction television series set in the Star Trek universe. ... In a Mirror, Darkly is a two-part episode of Star Trek: Enterprise. ... Spoiler warning: Hoshi Sato (July 9th, 2128-2246) is a character in the fictional Star Trek universe and the communication officer aboard the starship Enterprise (NX-01) in the science fiction television series Star Trek: Enterprise. ... The Enterprise (NX-01) is a starship in the Star Trek fictional universe commanded by Captain Jonathan Archer. ... Halloween or Halloween is a tradition celebrated on the night of October 31, most notably by children dressing in costumes and going door-to-door collecting sweets, fruit, and other gifts. ... Simpsons redirects here. ...

External links

Last produced:
"Miri"
Star Trek: TOS episodes
Season 1
Next produced:
"The Galileo Seven"
Last transmitted:
"The Menagerie (Part 2)"
Next transmitted:
"Balance of Terror"

 
 

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