In Charlie X, the second episode of the first season of TOS, the USS Enterprise has a rendez-vous with the cargo ship Antares (even if afterwards Kirk that it’s a science vessel) to receive on board a 17 years old boy miraculously found alive on a desert planet, Thasus, after his ship had crashed there many years before. The captain of the Antares behaves in a somewhat strange way, but in any case Kirk willingly accepts to bring young Charlie (Robert Walker Jr.) to a nearby colony.
We soon realize that Charlie is not a normal boy: he has psychic powers that he activates with some eye movements. In fact, he is a spoiled and impatient teenager with enormous powers given to him by an ancient civilization that inhabited the planet where Charlie was found. After the whole of the Antares and various poor Enterprise crewmen die, the situation is solved by an incorporeal being belonging to that civilization who will take Charlie back to Thasus to prevent him from killing again.
It’s impossible not to notice the many similarities with The man trap, the previous episode: once again there’s only one person on a planet, there is an ancient civilization believed to have disappeared of which we see a last survivor, there’s someone on a killing spree aboard the Enterprise… in short, many things that make Charlie X a less enjoyable experience than the first episode of the season.
Despite this, there are many points of interest! The interpersonal relationships between the ship’s bridge officers continue to grow: McCoy and Spock have one of their endless discussions, Kirk and Spock play three-dimensional chess (it’s the first appearance of the game!), and Uhura sings a song accompanied by Spock playing an unlikely harp. The ending is remarkable: Kirk is fully aware of how dangerous Charlie is, but having established himself as a figure of authority respected by the boy, he offers to keep him and teach him to behave in a human and normal way without making use of his powers. This shows great courage and a great will to solve problems instead of forgetting about them. And this clearly demonstrates Gene Roddenberry’s optimism who imagined humanity in the future facing and solving problems (and in this case we simply talk about problematic adolescence, but with superpowers!). Ciao!
PS: and so far in two episodes out of two this famous Saurian brandy gets mentioned… lots of drunk people on the Enterprise!
Previous episode: The Man Trap
Next episode: Where No Man Has Gone Before