Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Original Series

"Friday's Child"


Air date: 12/1/1967
Written by D.C. Fontana
Directed by Joseph Pevney

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Just how much treachery and deception can fit into a single hour of Trek? That seems to be the most useful question to ask of "Friday's Child," an episode full of double-crosses and marginally clever traps and tricks.

The plot involves Kirk, Spock, and McCoy (and a soon-to-be-dead red-shirt) beaming down to Capella IV to negotiate a deal for minerals with the warlike tribes living there. The Klingons, however, are also there to negotiate, and the treachery between the Klingons and the Capellas—and even a struggle within the Cappella tribes' own hierarchy—quickly becomes a free-for-all. The landing party escapes imprisonment, but not before the show begins suffering from the fact it seems D.C. Fontana kept randomly inserting "[FIGHT SCENE]" into the script. Meanwhile on the Enterprise, Scotty chases a distress signal from a freighter. The signal turns out to be a Klingon forgery intended to lure the Enterprise away from Capella so the Klingons can thwart the landing party and plunder the minerals, but Scotty discovers the trick in time.

The editing technique with the cross-cutting storylines is rather annoying, switching back and forth so frequently that it's hard to care much about either storyline. The episode benefits from some great lines and sarcastic looks from Mr. Spock, and also some chemistry between McCoy and the pregnant Eleen (Julie Newmar), but it's not enough to save an hour so lacking in direction that it becomes a disjointed sum of its parts. What a shame to waste such effective outdoor photography.

Previous episode: Journey to Babel
Next episode: The Deadly Years

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13 comments on this review

Grant - Sat, Oct 31, 2009 - 7:18pm (USA Central)
Am I crazy? Friday's Child is one of my favorite episodes. First of all, this is McCoy at his "take no b.s." best and I agree that McCoy and the chief's wife have chemistry. I also found the customs of the clan to be really interesting.

Also, why only 3 stars for "Amok Time"? I've never met anybody who didn't love that episode.
Paul - Tue, Apr 17, 2012 - 10:56am (USA Central)
I think you're too hard on this one, Jammer. The fight scenes are over the top, but I actually enjoyed Scotty's part of the plot very much. And the Big Three chemistry is good.

The episode is hokey (and suffers from some continuity mistakes) but it's not boring. To rate this the same as "The Apple" -- which is really boring and lame -- is overly harsh.
Strider - Sun, Jun 3, 2012 - 10:14pm (USA Central)
One of the things that gets me in general is the occasional lack of discipline among the Enterprise crew. They land on the plant, Redshirt sees a Klingon, and he just steps out and fires? Doesn't wait for an order or anything? It doesn't seem very Kirklike to allow that sort of thing.
Paul - Mon, Feb 18, 2013 - 10:26pm (USA Central)
Strange that the Prime Directive doesn't seem to exist in this episode. The Capellans clearly don't seem warp capable.

That wouldn't prevent the Klingons from being there, of course.
langtonian - Mon, Jul 22, 2013 - 11:42am (USA Central)
I had the same reaction as Strider. The redshirt's reaction was completely indefensible, but Kirk acts as if it was totally reasonable.
SpiceRak2 - Thu, Oct 17, 2013 - 2:32am (USA Central)
You can see how much reinterpretation the Klingon species receives later on in the Star Trek Universe by looking at this episode. The concept of honor is wholly absent from the Klingon parts of the script and there were several instances where the character is fearful, irrational and impotent.

If TOS didn't need villains so badly, we may never have seen the Klingon species develop.

Two stars for the chaos.
Moonie - Sun, Dec 1, 2013 - 8:30am (USA Central)
This episode did not make one iota of sense to me.

Where was the prime directive?

And why would the Klingons even bother to negotiate with a primitive species like that?

Weak, as most episodes that deal with "primitive cultures" are.
Paul - Mon, Dec 2, 2013 - 3:33pm (USA Central)
@Moonie: Presumably, the Klingons would have had to deal with the Capellans, who were quite formidable even if they were backward. Remember, this is before Klingons lived for battle. TOS Klingons were more like TNG Romulans or Cardassians.

But the Prime Directive issue is certainly hard to figure, though this is far from the only example of TOS forgetting it existed.
William B - Mon, Aug 4, 2014 - 5:49pm (USA Central)
There are some good things to this episode -- I agree that there is chemistry between McCoy and Eleen, for instance. The reappearance of the Klingons here is what actually establishes them as recurring villains -- and while that strictly speaking could have happened in "any" episode, I think that it's important that it happens in a semi-serious context again before the Klingon threat gets threaded into the comedy in "Tribbles." The Scotty story is too long and protracted (especially so soon after a similar "Scotty investigates, very slowly" subplot in "Metamorphosis") but basically decent, with a good use of the "fool me once..." adage by Scott. So that's good.

The episode really is *so* all over the place. Jammer's statement that it's as if FIGHT SCENE was randomly inserted all over the script is right on. In general, this episode feels like a filmed first draft -- with huge sections of the plot either unexplained (dropping us in the middle of a Capella uprising somewhere in the first act, why the new Tier decides to let Eleen live when it's against the rules and she's just lied, why Eleen lied about killing the Earthmen, why Kirk starts shooting at the Capellans at all at the end) or halfheartedly described in a log entry (such as Kirk's saying that Eleen hates her unborn child in a log). The editing is frequently terrible, with unusually bad continuity and some shots with odd, washed-out colours. Behaviour is all over the place -- what's up with Kirk's defeatist revenge at the end, or, as discussed, the crewman's randomly getting ready to shoot a Klingon and Kirk et al.'s non-reaction to it? And there are other things that might not, strictly speaking, be errors, but are just so *weird*, like the suggestion that McCoy has spent three months with these people before this episode (...like, between last episode and this one? or pre-series? or, what?) which quickly becomes irrelevant to the plot, or the way in which Scotty's log entry is filmed with Scotty standing up, delivering the log entry, and signing a pad in the middle of it, instead of the usual voice-over (the style which is still used for Kirk's voice overs).

More generally, the episode has one of the least cohesive narratives up to this point in TOS (obviously, season three this problem more and more); the initial goal, to sign a trade treaty, gets ditched very early on and then the plot becomes merely a halfhearted "Kirk et al. must escape" scenario, wherein it's actually really unclear what the Capellan's emotional reason for pursuing Kirk is anyway, besides "they like rules," and the Klingon keeps stirring up trouble. Even this overarching desire -- get back to the ship -- sort of dissipates once Scotty arrives with a landing party, and the Capellans suddenly drop their desire to kill the humans, presumably because they're outnumbered now?, and they inexplicably sign a mining treaty at the end after all that. The Enterprise plotline seems to be building, eventually, to a fight with the Klingon cruiser, which gets resolved offscreen with the Klingons apparently backing down. The pregnancy at least gives some mild sense of focus to the proceedings, even if it leads to some annoying moments and some particularly unconvincing labour pains from Newmarr.

Anyway, I guess I'd say that it's not boring -- I *enjoyed* watching it more than "Catspaw," even to take recent episodes. But it's *such* a mess. 1.5 stars, I think.
Chris M - Wed, Nov 26, 2014 - 3:09am (USA Central)
I love Jammer's reviews. Often so spot on. But I do agree with Paul that you were too hard on this one. I find I enjoy watching this episode again and again. I'm not sure why. Maybe for one thing, like Grant said, the chemistry between McCoy and the chief's wife. Mac-coy, the child is yours. I love that. And the colorful visuals of the Cappelan village and clothing. And the unremitting evil of the early Klingons. And I gotta say, the Cappelans are not boring. A very different brutal culture. Lots of great humor and writing here too. Overall, one of my favorite TOS episodes.
G Mike - Sun, Jun 21, 2015 - 11:49am (USA Central)
So many unanswered questions. First, why would they beam down armed with phasers? They were there to negotiate, not fight. And just how many people did the Tier rule? How big was his territory? Was it the only territory on the planet with access to the minerals? If Maab was one of the Tier's highest ranking subordinates, wouldn't he be off somewhere else in what must have been a huge domain, acting as a kind of governor? And what did McCoy do on that planet for three months - spend the entire time trying to change their minds about medicine and hospitals? And though he knew the culture, how come McCoy didn't seem to actually know any individuals on the planet? Scotty was lured away by a false distress signal, only later realizing that the enterprise was mentioned by name, when there was no reason a freighter would have known the enterprise was in that sector. So basically, Scotty screwed up. And when they reached the place the ship was supposed to be, there was absolutely no physical evidence to support that a vessel had been there, much less been under attack. And STILL, Uhura wondered if the distress call could have been legit. By the way, it was never explained why, when a federation freighter would not have known that the enterprise was in the area, how the Klingons got this information. The Klingon ship was so far away, checkov couldn't even be sure they WERE Klingon ships, much less read the name on the ship!

But the most inexplicable aspects of this episode came near the end. Why didn't the Klingon have any backup? His ship was nearby. And why did Maab commit suicide? He acted as though the only way to defeat the Klingon was to lure him into the open so that one of the warriors could get him with that thrown weapon. But the Klingon was barely under any cover at all, and was already wounded. And he wasn't even that far away. And he was just one guy. And when the Klingon was killed, everyone seemed to relax, as if there was no reason to fight anymore. The natives seem to have forgotten that Kirk and Spock shot, and presumably killed, a couple of the natives by then. Now, recall at the beginning of the episode, a redshirt who drew his weapon was instantly executed. So how come when Scotty shows up with a weapon drawn, he is not similarly killed? And why did Scotty beam down in the first place? Wouldn't it have been easier to simply beam the landing party up?
mike - Sun, Aug 16, 2015 - 9:59am (USA Central)
I didn't understand why the parrot-tops were beefing with other. Fight seemingly happen with no motive and there doesnt seem to be a moral side to root for in this whole mess. The Klingon is so "un-Klingon". There's nothing menancing or sinister about him.

The only thing worth watching is the very pregnant Eliene and very take no BS McCoy slap each other into mutual respect.

There's a little something about a fake distress call with our crew on the Enterprise but it's hardly worth mentioning.

Pam - Mon, Nov 9, 2015 - 1:27am (USA Central)
This episode is one big eye roll. Cliches piled upon cliches abound, along with poor editing, poor pacing, poor acting by the "natives," terrible costume design (is this where Bob Mackie got his inspiration for Carol Burnett's "Went With the Wind" drapery-still-on-the-curtain-rod dress?)... And on and on. Two stars is way too generous for such a big pile of something unmentionable in polite company. Nothing anyone said or did made any sense. Shatner was pretty wooden throughtout, especially in his reaction to the death of the redshirt. And how did that guy, "young and inexperienced" (and apparently mentally incapacitated) as he was, make it out of Star Fleet Academy, much less onto the Federation's flagship??

PS, trust Kirk to bring fists to a knife fight, yet not receive so much as a scratch.

I give this mess two smelly toes down.

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