It seems that there’s no smooth sailing in this third season. After two good episodes that followed a bad start to the season, here’s another forgettable episode. And the Children Shall Lead deals with the importance of experiencing loss, and the importance of crying and of expressing one’s emotions. These are good life lessons that are worth learning early rather than too late. Unfortunately, this episode treats them with a repetitive plot which feels extremely slow and filled with annoying characters and an uninteresting antagonist. What a shame.
The USS Enterprise arrives on the planet Triacon for a routine check of a scientific colony installed there but finds out that all the adults apparently committed suicide. Only their children survived, and they seem to be unaware of the situation. In fact, a tape recorded by Professor Starnes (James Wellman) immediately explains to Captain Kirk what happened: an entity took possession of their bodies and the only way to defeat it was to self-destruct. This is quickly forgotten by our heroes, and maybe it’s a good thing because that’s not exactly an accurate report.
Only once the surviving children are transported on board is it clear that they are the cause of everything: they’ve awakened an ancient evil entity that wants to conquer the universe and to use its powers they only have to move an arm up and down with their fists closed… The entity takes control of its enemies, but not all of them: Kirk and Spock are sort of immune for reasons which are not entirely clear to me. It probably has something to do with controlling anxiety or fear, but the plot doesn’t do much to explain it. In any case, for half an hour we have to see these horrible children who control the various Scott, Chekov and Sulu by moving their fists and it’s even worse when the entity actually appears.
It’s a fat man dressed terribly who looks like a green ghost and it’s summoned by the children when they sing a certain song. The ghost is called Gorgon and is played by Melvin Belli who was not an actor and you can tell. He was, in fact, a lawyer who worked for famous Hollywood people and his acting skills were zip, zero, non-existent: he delivered his lines with an embarrassing flatness, saying death threats as if he were ordering a cappuccino at the bar. This doesn’t help at all an episode that wasn’t too good to start with. To be honest, this is one of the worst episodes of the whole series. And perhaps it’s better to stop here, without digging too much into the terrible ending in which the cruel Spock shows the video of the children playing happily with their parents immediately followed by the images of the corpses of the latter to provoke the children’s hysterical cries (in reality, only a small girl seems to be able to cry in front of the camera, the others are shown with drops of water under their eyes to make it seem that they were crying). Ciao!
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Next episode: Is There in Truth No Beauty?