The Conscience of the King
Is Kirk watching MacBeth? Or is he seeing a war criminal, believed to be dead for the past 20 years? The Mission Log’s the thing wherein we’ll examine “The Conscience of the King.”
Tags: Anton Karidian, Arnold Moss, Barbara Anderson, Bruce Hyde, Executioner, Hamlet, Kodos, Lenore, murder, phaser overload, Riley, Shakespeare, Tarsus IV, The Conscience of the King, The Original Series, The Original Series Season 1, TOS
Another excellent podcast, gentlemen, and it made me want to revisit the episode, something I didn’t want to do before because my initial impression of it had been talky and improbable, for many of the reasons you raised, including the fact that Kirk’s dilemma about being correct about Kodos/Karidian was contrived. All he would have done was refer it to a Federation investigation team, it wasn’t as if he was trying, convicting and executing the man.
As for Kodos, any sympathy he might have desired about the choices he made is lost when you remember he didn’t stick around to justify or explain himself. He fled, adopted a new identity, and has spent twenty years eating good food, sleeping in fine suites, trading bon mots at cocktail parties and receiving applause and acclaim from adoring fans. He made a good life.
Something his victims couldn’t do.
Good notes – thanks!
I’m trying to figure out what happened to Thomas Layton, and why. I mean BEFORE we meet him. Did Kodos burn half his face off? Why not kill him? He killed others. I don’t get it.
They never really said what happened to Layton. There seemed to be some implication that his injury may have been due to Kodos, but that was never confirmed. It may have been a result of the mass executions that Layton somehow escaped from.
As for the phasers, the intensity operates with a dial that reads from 1 to 10. 1 stuns mildly, 2 stuns more intesely and so on until you reach the number that vaporizes. A person can be killed at a lower setting without being vaporized. They can even be killed at a stun setting if the phaser is held directly to their head.
Great discussion on this episode! Especially appreciated John’s comments on Kirk’s needing to be challenged by Spock and McCoy.
Not appreciated as much was John’s comments on Kirk “seducing” Lenore. To seduce is defined as to try to “entice someone into sex” or into doing something “inadvisable or foolhardy” or “to lead astray or corrupt”. So you think Kirk was just trying to bed the young woman? What indicates that?
Kirk beamed down to talk to Koridian but finds he does not go out in public. Lenore arrives and both Kirk and she are charmed by each other and she is a bit more forward than he in becoming personal at first. Kirk invites her to take a walk, not to take her to bed. And as they talked it was not Kirk who drew close, it was Lenore who was clearly very much in control of the situation.
On the observation deck, again, Kirk does not approach Lenore, nor is he suggestive to her in any way. He simply is explaining his ship. She, on the other hand, becomes very forward as she says, “All this power, surging and throbbing — but under control — are you like that?” Who is doing the seducing? Who is controlling the situation? The woman who’s profession it is to perform and manipulate emotions is, again, clearly in charge here.
Now what does Kirk do? Take her to his quarters? No, he starts asking her about her father. Kirk was seducing her? And when she starts getting closer you can see some concern in Kirk’s eyes. And again, it is she, not Kirk, who moves in for the kiss.
I think the accusation of Kirk (who John tries to convince us in in his late 30’s when he is actually only 32) is pretty unfair. Thus far in the series we have only seen Kirk be very professional toward women, even those who were interested in him. The incident with Miri showed a lack of sensitivity with understanding how his charms could effect a girl, but never as of yet has seduction of a woman been an accusation that could be made of him.
The Miri interactions were a bit uncomfortable, but I think he was mainly trying to be kind to her, and as you said he wasn’t aware of his Lothario-ish charm. And her crush on him may have fed a bit into his ego, lol.
One issue that I repeatedly have a problem with is how you guys challenge technology in Star Trek. In this episode you compared the lack of images of Kodos with today’s out of control proliferation of images throughout the internet. You suggest that an Earth colony must have some similar system.
I completely disagree. Several times throughout the Enterprise’s visitation to Earth colonies we have seen and heard discussed people’s desires to escape the technological world and to, in essence, get back to nature.
It is very likely that Taursus IV was such a colony. Why do I say that? Both Anton and Lenore made references to how de-humanizing technology was.
Beyond that, Lenore says that Koridian never sees anyone personally. It could be that even as Kodos he was an extreme recluse who avoided being photographed in a sub-culture that was on the rebound from the over-proliferation of technological attention. If he was already a person who had criminal tendencies, it makes even more sense that he would place himself somewhere where being identified could be avoided.
I think to discuss this episode one really needs to talk about the obvious Holocaust analogy.
Thanks. Need to rewatch this episode.
This episode has grown on me through the years. A semi-metaphor for Nazi War criminals — and Echoes of the Bard: The staging of the play akin to Hamlet’s; with the mad daughter a la Lady Macbeth.
I think Robert Justman said Shatner was trying to “steal” her key lights — which I doubt because the set-ups have to be pretty precise.
If you look closely, the theater was a redress of the Engine Room. … or maybe they didn’t have a theater and had to quickly throw something together, lol. (Like Judy Garland and Micky Rooney, “Hey, let’s put on a play!”) ^_^
Insightful analysis as usual by you two!