Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Star Trek: Requiem for Methuselah

Episode: "Requiem for Methuselah"
Series: Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 3, Episode 19
Original Air Date: February 14, 1969
via Wikipedia
Five more to go.

"Requiem for Methuselah" is based on Shakespeare's The Tempest with shades of the mythological Pygmalion.  On the planet Holberg 917-G, our heroes encounter Mr. Flint, a being from Earth, 6,000 years old.  At various times, he has gone by other names: Da Vinci, Brahms, Alexander the Great and Methuselah among others.  His only company on this remote outpost is Rayna, a beautiful young woman who is Flint's protege.  We learn in time that she is, in fact, a robot created by Flint for companionship and, he hopes eventually, love.

Our gang's arrival has presented a complication.  Rayna, of course, falls in love with Kirk.  Flint is also reluctant to let the landing party (Kirk, Spock and McCoy) get away and reveal the secret of his existence to the rest of the galaxy.  Rayna, brilliant but a bit of a wet blanket up to this point, suddenly steps up in our friends' defense.  Rayna, in turn, is confronted with the dilemma of choosing between her love for Kirk and her devotion to Flint.  The dilemma overwhelms and destroys her.

The episode feels a bit labored at times, drawing upon many of what had become Trek's narrative staples: superhuman Earth-beings finding a home in another part of the galaxy, robots in human form, etc.  Even the Enterprise being shrunk to miniature is a trick we've seen before.  But a lot of the ideas introduced in "Requiem for Methuselah" resurfaced in a much better story, one of The Next Generation's most acclaimed episodes: "The Offspring."

An interesting wrinkle at the end of the episode: Spock, feeling sorry for his heartbroken captain, uses a Vulcan mind meld to make Kirk forget Rayna.  It's quite an awesome power to have.  One wonders how the Vulcans might have misused it in other instances.

*****
via Wikipedia
James Daly (Mr. Flint) was born October 23, 1918 in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.  His mother, Dorothy Ethelbert (Hogan) Mullen, would later work for the CIA. 

Primarily a stage actor early in his career, Daly found loads of television work from the early '50s onward, including regular roles on Foreign Intrigue and Medical Center.  He was also the star of Camel cigarette commercials for seven years.  He'd already won an Emmy by the time he appeared on Trek: Supporting Actor in a Drama for his portrayal of Dr. O'Meara on a TV movie entitled Eagle in a Cage.  His most famous big screen role was as Honorious in the original Planet of the Apes film.

Two of James Daly's children are also accomplished television actors.  Daughter Tyne Daly has won six Emmys - four of them for her work on Cagney & Lacey - and a Tony.  Son Tim Daly was the star of the sitcom Wings.  Granddaughter Kathryne Dora Brown is also an actress.  Daly died of heart failure in 1978.

14 comments:

  1. Yea for five?
    You know, when you started this series, I was all for going back and re-watching the whole run, just as you have, but, now, I don't know. So many of your reviews for these later episodes make me think it might not be the best use of my time.

    By the way, and I don't really ever do this but, I'm plugging my post from today. It seems to me that I should have scheduled it for a Monday, but I wasn't thinking about it at the time.

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    1. The first season is really good. In fact, it's tempting to go back and re-watch a few early episodes to remind myself how good they were. Starting with the tail end of the second season, the series starts feeling tired. Ratings were suffering but clearly the creative energy was, too. That decline is a worthy story in itself but it's a tough slog watching at times.

      I'll stop by soon.

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  2. I am so bored, blah blah blah they usually fall in love with Kirk. Argh !
    Once in awhile it would be nice to see anyone fall in love with someone else. Possibly a redshirt. Then they can all die together.
    hahahahahahahaha

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Last week's Scotty love story was a refreshing change.

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  3. If only Spock could offer that service in a home visit. There's a few things I would just as well wipe from my memory, eh?

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  4. Poor Rayna died of indecision. As Spock says, "The joys of love made her human and the agonies of love destroyed her." All within 45 minutes --hate when that happens, but she got one line I liked very much, in reply to, "What interests you?" She said," Everything. Anything less would be a betrayal of the intellect." Definitely a liberal arts major. Enjoyed watching it.

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  5. That's how Spock wins all his bets. Just ask McCoy...

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    1. Just imagine the practical jokes one could play!

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  6. Loved that episode. Felt so sorry for Daly and the loneliness of his life. Kirk always steals the girl, messes up a good thing.

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    1. Daly is surprisingly sympathetic. He pays a high price for what seems like the jackpot combination: genius AND immortality.

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  7. I thought the same thing about that TNG episode and this did carry a lot of Star Trek tropes. That trick would have come in handy a bunch of times

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    1. We are certainly led to believe that Spock acted out of compassion but one could easily imagine how the mind meld might be used in malice.

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