Star Trek: The Original Series

"Friday's Child"

2 stars

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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25 comments on this review

Grant
Sat, Oct 31, 2009, 7:18pm (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
@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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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.
Strejda
Fri, Apr 15, 2016, 2:02pm (UTC -6)
I dunno guys, I enjoyed this one a lot. Frankly, a lot of the complaints seem quite unearned.

Why is that redshirt putting his gun out so bothersome? Militaries and police put huge emphasis on avoiding this. Doesn't change the fact that it still happens. And I don't remember Kirk overly defending him either, he simply didn't think he deserved to die over it. This is Kirk we are talking about here, he takes these things very personally. Why beam down with phasers? Because negotiating or not, these locals have been establsihed as being easy to turn hostile. Klingons probably knew about them, because they were in contact with the locals and they knew they were already coming ect.

I do think locals looked absolutely ridiculous, even by TOS standarts.
Graham
Thu, Sep 29, 2016, 4:41am (UTC -6)
Red shirt attempts to attack Klingon with possibly lethal force, without the slightest provocation. Kirk says it was self defence, not sure how that would stand up in court !!
Why?
Tue, Jan 10, 2017, 3:30pm (UTC -6)
Sometimes you just have to forget about what the Klingons should be or look like., forget the prime directive for all we know this world was contacted before the prime directive. Then this is very entertaining with the lovely julie newmar as an added treat. As for the red shirt his phaser was on stun its not like anybody was going to die through his mistake - except him unfortunately!

Finally will anybody read this? 2009 - 2017 and still more comments! Maybe they'll continue until 2050 and the first warp drive according to metamorphesis :)
Skeptical
Sat, Jan 14, 2017, 3:19pm (UTC -6)
Of course people will still read the comments, Why. Isn't that the entire point of being a Star Trek fan, to obsess over a show that ended 50 years ago? There's always more things you could say about these shows...

In any case, glad I wasn't the only one utterly confused by everyone's motivations in this episode.

Well, actually, I'll give them some credit. Eleen did have something of a character arc... maybe. I'm assuming that her hitting Bones over the head and then lying about everyone being dead was just her trying to save their lives. She was nobly sacrificing herself for her baby and for her new respect for Bones. Beforehand, she was caught up in her people's ways - ways of rigid, inflexible rules that must be followed with complete honesty. Now, even though she knows she should die and that the Enterprise crew should die, she saw enough of an alternate way to want something different. Again, I'm assuming those were her thoughts. The episode certainly didn't make it clear, and everyone else's motivations are so suspect that it's hard to think of any subtlety in this episode.

Why did Maab decide that this was the right time to start an insurrection against the boss? We saw some disagreements between them at first, but why did it suddenly boil over when Kirk arrived? It didn't even seem linked to the mining negotiations. And why did Maab suddenly decide to let Eleen live? After all, she lied, right in front of him. If she needed a character arc to learn that the rules could be bent sometime, why did Maab suddenly decide he could bend the rules too? Doesn't that go against their entire culture?

And why did they suddenly decide they were ok with Kirk and company? Shouldn't they be killing Scotty fo pulling a gun on him? Shouldn't they still be inflexibly trying to kill Kirk and Spock? Why the sudden change of heart, other than the fact that the episode needed to wrap up in 3 minutes?

But perhaps most bizarrely of all, why did Kirk decide, out of the blue, to get revenge on the Klingon? He and Spock were sitting there, their lives threatened, their mission in tatters, a baby to protect, and Kirk just decides on some revenge killing for fun? Does that sound like the calm, collected Starfleet captain we all know? And why did Spock seem to just go with it? Wouldn't that be illogical?

Also, just how deadly could these ninja throwing stars be if Kirk and Spock could beat them with homemade bows and arrows?

And last but not least, why did they make the Klingon so annoying? OK, fine, I take back what I said earlier. I can see why Kirk would drop the mission to kill this guy, and I can see why Maab would break the rules to kill this guy. He was just that unpleasant of a character. And I don't mean that in a good way, of making a villain villainous enough to root against him. He was just a whiny moron who you wanted to shut up every time he appeared.
lizzzi
Mon, Feb 13, 2017, 10:23pm (UTC -6)
Hard to believe, but I don't think I've ever seen this episode before. I loved it--like "Spock's Brain", it's so bad that it's good--just cheesy, campy fun. "I'm a doctor, Man, not an escalator!" Hahahahahahahaha. And the Capellans uniforms--OMG--lavander, orange, blue fake fur--hilarious. Especially the leader, whose uniform was trimmed with what looked like gold drapery fringe. Spock, Kirk, Mack-Coy, Scotty...all great. Uhuru, Sulu, Chekhov--professional and fun to watch as usual, through all the ridiculous plot nonsense. Julie Newmar as Eleen--wow--what a pretty woman. And a sleazy, rotten Klingon for us to hate. What more could one want? This one is a keeper for me.
ChristineNotChapel
Mon, May 8, 2017, 1:12pm (UTC -6)
The Klingon reminded me more of a Ferengi, opportunistic but foolish.

I'm enjoying rewatching the entire series, glad I found this blog to help clear some stuff up.

RandomThoughts
Mon, May 8, 2017, 7:38pm (UTC -6)
Hello Everyone!

@ChristineNotChapel

Welcome aboard! :D

And... I'd not thought of that. Lying like a Ferengi, scheming like a Romulan. Yes, not very Klingon-like at all.

Have a great day... RT
NCC-1701-Z
Mon, May 22, 2017, 5:10pm (UTC -6)
I rewatched this ep the other day. The last time I saw it, I must have been eight - all I remembered was the blade-disk thingy killing the guard at the beginning (who didn't even make it past the opening credits!) and Kirk using his communicator to set off a rockslide - very clever idea, that last one - I hope we see this again in Star Trek Discovery.

Now that I'm an adult, I see this ep a lot differently. Still a fun way to pass the time, with some hilarious lines and interactions between the characters but not very noteworthy overall.

-Scotty: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Chekov: "I know that saying. It was invented in Russia."
-McCoy: "I'm a doctor, not an escalator!"
-Spock: "Fortunately, this bark has suitable tensile cohesion." Kirk: "You mean it makes a good bowstring?" Spock: "I believe I said that."
-Spock: [sarcastically] "I think you're both going to be insufferably pleased with yourselves for at least a month. Sir!"
Rahul
Sun, Jul 16, 2017, 9:44pm (UTC -6)
I think "Friday's Child" is all about action for the purpose of action but one good thing about it is the good moments with the Big 3 on the planet as well as having the rest of the important Enterprise crew (minus Chapel) all involved in the plot on the ship -- Chekov, Sulu, Uhura, and Scotty all had parts to play/enough lines to say.

McCoy and Eleen's interaction was pretty good. Kirk/Spock had some good lines re. the baby -- that was all the kind of stuff that makes 60s Trek so enjoyable for me.

As for the plot, @Skeptical raises a lot of valid questions/speculations. So many twists and turns in this one -- I was surprised Eleen said the baby/Big 3 are all dead at her hands (presumably to protect them from the warriors/Klingon). Then I assume Maab sacrifices himself so another one of his men can kill the Klingon (I don't get that at all). As for Kirk and the revenge comment, no idea where that came from.

The Klingon (did he even have a name?) was treacherous as could be -- but that was well portrayed. The viewer surely would like to see him killed and I think this is entirely consistent with how a Klingon would act under the circumstances. They are supposed to be evil and masquerade under a facade of honour. Just not sure why he didn't have any cavalry of his own.

I'd rate "Friday's Child" 2.5 stars. A fun, unpredictable episode that made good use of the outdoor environment, some interesting characters but some flaws in continuity and plot cohesion. Nothing too profound here.
Trent
Sun, Oct 8, 2017, 8:32pm (UTC -6)
I loved this episode. It's hilariously straight faced, with Bones slapping a pregnant woman, the absurd aliens, the cowardly Klingon, and of course those scenes in which Kirk gets to re-enact Rambo First Blood. It felt like a swashbuckling, colonial, nautical adventure written in the 1800s.
Matthew
Tue, Oct 10, 2017, 11:56am (UTC -6)
Interesting how some of the series regulars (Uhura and Sulu, at least) are heard pronouncing Klingons as Klin-gon (sounding almost like Klee-gone). Whenever an extra of the week says it that way, I just assumed they weren’t familiar with the show and had only read the script and never heard the dialog.

It happened enough in this episode that I wondered if someone like the director or some other crew person (maybe Roddenberry’s ever-present and meddlesome lawyer) decided it should be pronounced that way and was giving notes about it.

Trek fan
Fri, Oct 27, 2017, 9:47pm (UTC -6)
Ah, "Friday's Child," a classic TOS military adventure show in the mold that later became popular on DS9. Much like "A Private Little War" later this season, but perhaps not as good, we find the Federation and Klingons fighting their Cold War by proxy here as they compete for influence over strategic planets. This one is memorable for the colorfully violent Capellan giants and their boomerang weapons, some great dialogue, and a good showcase for McCoy in his relationship with the queen played by the legendary Julie Newmar. I give it 3 or 3 1/2 stars, not quite 4 since the Klingon agent makes a weak foil, but it's still entertainingly alien.

I also like the shipboard scenes in this one: Rather than repetitive cuts to the ship searching for the landing party, as often happens on these two-tiered TOS stories, we get Scotty leading the ship (good bits for Chekov, Sulu, and Uhura here as well) against a Klingon battle cruiser making threatening maneuvers to bait them. The whole Klingon thing seems a bit underwritten here, as a reference back to the Organian peace treaty (see "Tribbles" for that) would have been a helpful reminder that the two sides cannot engage in open warfare. And the unnamed Klingon agent isn't a strong villain in the mold of the classic Kor, Koloth, and Kang trinity who set the mold for great TOS Klingons. But the military posturing of the two sides works here and the Klingon is clearly a spy-provocateur in the mold of Soviet KGB agents, whichmakes sense to me as I'm sure even the Klingons (at least on TOS) have their version of a secret police.

And I have to say the McCoy stuff with the equally irascible/stubborn queen and her baby is fun. Newmar and Kelley create a believable chemistry in the picturesque (and rare for Trek) outdoor location scenes; when McCoy slaps her back, Kelley manages the delicate balance of playing the scene humorously (with a self-satisfied little smirk to match her own) rather than abusively, giving it a tough love feeling. The reaction of Spock and Kirk to this budding relationship is priceless.

Finally, I love the Western-style adventure pursuit through the canyons (neat bit with the communicator avalanche) and the final fight scene where the Capellan leader shouts defiantly at the Klingon to meet him in battle manfully right after he gives the queen her life back. This Klingon agent is particularly devious and sneaky, perhaps even "dishonorable" to a later Trek sensibility, but he does serve his "boo hiss" function well and we are happy to see him go at the end. Again, I don't mind him one bit, as I think the stereotypes on Trek (every person we see from an alien species must act the same from TNG onward) get too rigid at times. There's also a certain inconsistency or even hypocrisy to the Klingon honor thing: They like to claim great ideals (i.e. "Klingons don't take prisoners") that we constantly see Klingons breaking when convenient to serve their thirst for glory and victory. This inconsistency in the half-baked Trek ideology for the Klingon ethos, exposed in this episode, isn't so much inappropriate as jarringly honest.

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