Star Trek TOS s01e02 Charlie X

Charlie X is regarded by many to be a seminal episode of the original series. I have heard, on more than one occasion, friends state that this was their favourite episode. Upon viewing it again, I can certainly see why. The episode has a great mix of humour, suspense, and mystery, all woven around the awkwardly relatable title character who is suffering the pangs of teenage angst, hormonal urges, unconstrained omnipotence.

Most of us have been teenagers at one point, and some of us even remember our teenage years. Often fondly, through rose tinted glasses, putting aside the hardships and agony we endured in order to store up a few nostalgic memories. (Notice to teenagers: Don’t let anybody tell you it’s just a phase.)

"He's a boy in a man's body, trying to be an adult with the adolescence in him getting in the way." - Kirk

“He’s a boy in a man’s body, trying to be an adult with the adolescence in him getting in the way.” – Kirk

Being a teenager sucks. And it’s amazing. There is so much that we experience for the first time, so much to learn about the world that we don’t understand, and so much that we understand implicitly in spite of the adult world telling us that we don’t. It is a point in our lives where we stop being shaped and start to choose how to shape our own idendity. We begin to choose what lesson we learn and who we learn them from. Teenagehood is complicated and painful, and this is something D.C. Fontana and Gene Roddenberry conveyed on a profound level.
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Star Trek TOS s01e01 The Man Trap

Let me first start off by saying that anybody who claimed the romance between Spock and Uhura that was presented to us in J.J. Abrams‘ feature film adaptation of the series was far fetched and unfitting of the characters need only watch the first twelve minutes of the first episode of the first season to see Uhura flirting shamelessly with Spock.

“Why don’t you tell me I’m an attractive young lady, or ask me if I’ve ever been in love?”

Got it? It’s pretty obvious. It wasn’t made up. It’s there. It’s been there from the beginning. Now we can move on.

I suppose it goes without saying that when I first watched these shows as a six year old, it probably went over my head exactly how sexually charged the series was. Especially this episode. There is no way the prepubescent mind would ever grasp the implications of what goes on at “Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet” nor why comparing McCoy’s old flame Nancy Crater to a woman he left behind there would earn Darnell a scolding and a time-out for inappropriateness. The youthful image that Crater —  being some kind of psychic shapeshifter —  projects to Darnell gyrates and rolls her shoulders in a way that exudes sexuality and eroticism. Then she struts away beckoning Darnell to follow. Darnell, of course, follows… to his untimely death. Oh. So that’s why this episode is called The Man Trap.

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