Star Trek: The Original Series

“And the Children Shall Lead”

0.5 stars.

Air date: 10/11/1968
Written by Edward J. Lakso
Directed by Marvin Chomsky

Review Text

The crew discovers that the members of a research colony have been killed by an unknown force, the only survivors being their children, who are remarkably devoid of grief over their parents' deaths. Once beamed aboard the Enterprise, these children exhibit a bizarre power over the crew, inducing hallucination and mental incapacitation in their victims. It turns out that an alien entity named Gorgan (Melvin Belii) is using the children to hijack the starship so he can consume more worlds and cause more death for his own evil purposes. Bwahahaha.

"And the Children Shall Lead"—that is, lead this episode straight into the gutter. A dismally frustrating, repetitive, and bland hour, we're forced to watch five children take over the ship in extremely uninteresting ways, making the crew look helpless (who wants to see that, anyway?). The "magic pump-fist action" gets really, really goofy, becoming what feels like a lame parlor trick. Melvin Belii is terrible as the completely uninteresting Gorgan, reciting his lines like a robot. Meanwhile, Bones has the thankless role of telling Kirk every five or ten minutes that these children have to be treated with kid gloves in order to prevent psychological damage. Funny, you'd think their helping an evil alien that murdered their parents might already have done that.

The one potentially promising aspect of the episode—playing off the crew's fears—is not utilized the least bit effectively. This is an episode created on autopilot, lacking any and all sense of inspiration. At least "Spock's Brain's" level of badness made it somewhat amusing. This episode is simply dull to the point of being unwatchable.

Previous episode: The Paradise Syndrome
Next episode: Is There In Truth No Beauty?

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79 comments on this post

    Worst episode of TOS. Perhaps the worst in the history of the franchise.

    Absolutely worst episode I've ever seen, completely disregarding the fact tat it made no sense. On the planet, Spock cannot feel the anxiety that was influencing the other humans, making it seem as though he was immune to the effects, and then all of a sudden he was magically compromised? This episode totally ignores all of the star trek conventions and blasts the whole crew into a pit of stupidity. The fact that the red shirts questioned and even attacked Scotty, Uhura not being able to make a call because she appeared ugly, Sulu pushing the captain out of the way for fear of magical sword rays that for some reason would magically destroy a ship made to survive space travel.... It's like some random person heard of the show through word of mouth and wrote an episode about it based of lies and superstition. This had a potential (however vague) to be an interesting episode, but that was completely blasted out of existence by the writer, and not even the actors or the director could have honestly saved it.

    This episode would have been a lot quicker if Spock had just used his vulcan sleepy grip.... there were SEVERAL places and times when I was just screaming at the scream for him to do it.

    Lamest. Red. Shirt. Deaths. Ever.

    That's all I care to say. At least there was some snark value when the redshirt got shot by a flower in "The Apple".

    The whole time I just wanted to yell at them, "Put the children in the brig!"

    Much as I dislike admitting it, I have to agree with the review and all the comments. I just wanted to get through it and move on. Not even the remastering could save this turkey!

    Just terrible. One of the worst Star Trek episodes (any series).

    I never watch this episode. It has every story element I dislike. A simple villain who is just merely the embodiment of evil--how easy is that?, tedious wooden children and the crew succumbing to mind control. Mind control plots are just such a lazy way to make your characters do things without worrying if there's a believable motive.

    And Kirk's solution is so simple it destroys any credibility that evil really had such an iron grip on these kids anyway.

    This is not only the worst episode of TOS, but probably of the entire franchise

    Wow, never knew this ep was so hated. I actually always liked this one.

    Not the best but a good middle of pack. To each his own I guess.

    This whole episode is so unbelievably bad, easily my most disliked episode of Star Trek. Aside from all that's been already noted, a few others I'll point out,
    1. The kids have just been witness to severe psychological trauma, yet they have access to the bridge. Is there no security on he ship?
    2. Same point for engineering. Why do they have access to such key areas of the ship?
    3. This one really bugs me - 3 years in space, and Kirk calls Sulu "helmsman." Wut? Seriously?
    4. Every time something weird happens, a kid is present doing the magical fist pump action. Uh, so stun the kids or put them in the brig.
    5. Seems like there should be a lot more safety protocols in place so that you can't beam someone to the middle of nowhere.
    6. Gorgon - the fat, glowing, old kook delivering lines in a robotic monotone - NOT scary. Just stupid.

    Lastly, and most important, I just want to smack that ginger kid so freaking bad.

    This episode plain sucks. Remastering didn't improve it any.

    I totally agree with all calling this episode bad.

    While it at LEAST include
    *an alien planet or ship
    *an alien being
    *some unknown techology or power
    (and thats more than can be said from most TOS series)

    they make YET AGAIN the mistake of making the alien look human (come on!) and make this a drama play.

    But even than, there are the MAYOR plotholes :

    -the children SEE their parents dead perhaps even see them being killed, and are totally fine with than, yet when they rewatch it on tape, suddenly they have a change of hearth?

    -Children who are willfulling killing their own parents, and are fully willing to kill all adults on a whole planet, just to gain adult rights before actually being an adult, and hence are complete psychopats, suddenly turn back in totally fine kids after seeing 1 videotape, rather than needing severe psychotherapy?

    -Even how ridiculous the air-fist power may be
    (it gets on my nerves almost as much as the equally corky "no-bam-bam" from earlier episode)
    when kirk sees it performs as does spock, they both don't do a think to stop it?
    Yes in the end they conclude KILL THE KIDS, but really could one not have drawn that conclusion much earlier? or at very least stun them all?

    -they dont check the actual cordinates where they just beamed 2 people to?? how about checking where you beam people too before beaming, seems like standard protocol to me??

    -you just have something that killed many adults, and kids behaving like psychopaths, but you just bring them aboard? ever heard of quarantine untill the cause was found?

    -you see a field full of dead humans, on an alien world, but you walk around without rubber gloves or other sensable protection, and even rub inside their wounds, smell their breath, and all? thats a REALLY good way to spread infections! again protocol?

    Very little to add. The one thing that I will say *sort of* in the episode's defense, in contrast to some of the earlier comments, is that Gorgon's powers are so ill-defined that some of the "plot" problems can be attributed to those wacky powers. Like, yes, obviously Uhura and Sulu being stunned into complete inaction by fear of looking ugly and fear that the ship will be stabbed by giant swords is many kinds of ridiculous, but I don't quite think even this episode is arguing that they are *just* reacting to the images, as if ugly/old-Uhura and swords projected onto panels and viewscreens would be enough to deter them from action. Their fears drive them insane and distort their reality in the same manner and to a similar degree to the way the adults on the planet went insane.

    The other edge of that double-edged floating space sword or dagger is that Gorgon's/the kids' powers/motivations are so poorly defined that it's basically nearly impossible to discern what is going on throughout the show -- how much did the kids actually kill their parents, and how much were they purely mind-controlled? Were they mind-controlled at all, or just talked into it by a "charismatic" leader with no powers of his own? But then they got powers from him, so.... Evaluating what this episode is *trying* to say about kids and parents is pointless, because it's unclear whether we're to expect there was some kind of full-scale childhood rebellion or simply a massive case of brainwashing.

    1/2 star is probably fair; I don't think it quite reaches zero-star levels. Makes the way the similarly-themed "Miri" or "Imaginary Friend" deals with children seem like they're Mark Twain.

    I have to go with the majority on this one. This is just the worst episode of T.O.S. Perhaps the worst of the entire franchise. The writers must have been under the gun and just pulled this out of their ass at the last minute. Terrible, terrible, terrible. I won't even recount the plot it's so useless to do so. The only thing I will say is that as an adult I could see a bit of humor. "Hey kid what do you do when you are all alone in your cabin?" Kid makes pumping motion with fist. (Sorry. I had to do that.)

    A disappointing episode but far from the worst; I liked Uhura's and especially Sulu's fears, even if they went on long, and the idea of the ending, that the children could only be won over by immediately contrasting the families happy and then the parents dead.

    The episode probably is Shatner's worst hour.

    Five episodes into the third season (I'm watching TOS in production order) and so far I'm pleasantly surprised - of course I haven't seen Spock's Brain yet.

    This one here didn't have the best plot, acting (Shatner was obviously just phoning in on this one) or guest stars, but it wasn't exactly bad either. I actually found a few elements here quite scary - the children's performance (especially the red-haired boy), the alien's speeches and the fact that those two redshirts were simply beamed into empty space. The resolution, though a tad too simple, was also quite moving to me. So in spite of all its flaws, I'd give this episode at least 2 stars.

    Sorry, also this was funny, yes I missed Spock grip, or Kirk saying send them to the Brig or even Mccoy saying "Captain, they are all dead". Why did they not set the phaser on 1/4 stun.

    Captain Kirk did save Enterprise by doing the unexpected, he did what was right. Even in the very dark situation he did not beat or hurt the children. They where innocent. He met them on their own level, treated the with respect and dignity. He destroyed the devil by showing and exposing it.

    But I agree, it was, as some other plots have been, quite silly.

    I would love to see a YouTube video with scenes from this episode re-edited to feature the farting Preacher as the alien.

    Only positive thing about this episode is the fact that Edward J. Lakso is dead and will never make anything so horrible again.


    I really like this episode and give it 3 1/2 out of 4 starts. From the attention-grabbing cold open, the story builds into a potent examination of fear as an evil that destroys us. I appreciated the scenes of the children taking over the ship and of the crew facing its fears. And I like how the children's grief holds the key to finally defeating the Gorgon, whom I found much scarier when I was a kid. This episode is insane in g good way.

    The whole episode I was screaming at the TV. Just act zombified and the second those kids look the other way hit them with a haymaker! There is a world of wiggle room between killing and knocking them the hell out! I hate this episode with a fiery passion.

    Where's the kids from Miri and their bonk-bonk when you need it?

    Where do you start with an episode like this? I guess with the premise itself. I suppose there could have been some promise here, but it's hard to see. Kids that seem brainwashed by an all powerful entity? Kids unable to come to terms with their parents death and their own guilt? Kirk having to protect his ship from people who are as much victims as they are aggressors? Those ideas COULD work, but it's not a slam dunk idea to begin with. So you better make sure the execution makes the relatively weak idea worthwhile. And needless to say, this episode did not do that.

    When your all powerful entity that has to carry the episode is an old fat guy in a grandma dress whose voice makes Ben Stein sound animated, it's hard to take the episode seriously.

    When four little kids and one annoying teenager manage to take over the Enterprise that easily, even with magic powers, it's hard to keep the willing suspension of disbelief going. Almost as bad as the Ferengi taking over in Rascals.

    When that teenager has the worst fashion sense ever, it starts becoming impossible not to laugh at them.

    When the solution to the crisis is just Spock and Kirk, well, coming out of it for some reason, it just makes you go "huh"? So nobody else had the willpower as these two? Nobody that evil green guy ever met before? Or is this just more of the magic Swiss Army Knife powers that Spock gets whenever the writers find themselves stuck in a corner? And frankly, seeing them with strained faces for 10 seconds and then suddenly all better is hardly an effective means of showing their inner struggle. Then again, Shatner's acting was so over the top this episode that

    When the solution to the kids' lack of emotion over the death of their parents is nothing more than showing them pictures of everyone playing, it completely ruins any depth that this theme might have. By the way, what's with McCoy constantly saying that recognizing their parents' death would traumatize the kids, and then look pleased once they actually do recognize it?

    In other words, a weak idea, and now terrible execution. So yeah, it's definitely among the worst.

    This is so bad it could have been a TNG episode. Is it the worst TOS episode? Why not?

    I agree this episode is really bad.

    However, I don't think it is the worst Star Trek episode. To me, that dubious honor goes to The Alternative Factor (which, to my surprise, Jammer gave 2 stars), as it is the only truly boring episode of Star Trek TOS. I think the next worst are The Lights of Zetar and That Which Survives, both of which are somewhat boring.

    While this episode is absurd, at least it isn't boring. A show can be good or bad (preferably good obviously), but one thing it cannot be is boring.

    No question this is one of the worst TOS episodes. The premise for it is ridiculous - that some evil alien wants to use children to take over a starship and then take over some planets -- and for what purpose? It's not clear how the alien benefits, nor how the children benefit (I guess they don't have to eat veggies with dinner?)
    The idea that it plays on one's individual fears might work but it definitely did not in this episode as Kirk/Spock seem to somehow snap out of it. Inconsistent and convenient to suit the poor writing.
    And finally the kids snap out of Gorgon's spell by seeing the good times they had playing with their parents -- it's just an insult to the Trek fan who expects better.
    Unfortunately a similar theme comes up in "The Way to Eden" except it's not children but space hippies. Too bad TOS didn't learn its lesson from this disaster.
    This was a boring episode as well, which I can't say for many of the bad episodes -- I mean, how long do they have to spend showing the kids and their fist-pump inducing mental control/hallucinations in the crew? It was just stupid. The episode could have been done in 30 mins. instead of 1 hour.
    I'd give "And the Children Shall Lead" a weak 0.5 stars for the first 15-20 mins. of suspense as to what caused the mass suicides and setting up a potentially decent episode -- after that the episode just fell apart as the kids/Gorgon idiocy took over.

    While the episode is bad the production values
    And look of the series dramatically improved in the third season expect Spock's pinwheel scanner stopped spinning after the first season and it was static in season 2 and completely off on season 3 can anyone enlighten me?

    Worst episode ever for the entire Trek franchise?

    Not so sure of that...

    Try "Profit and Lace" or "Threshold" and maybe "Let He Who Is Without Sin" as either those eps were just as inane, or had an interesting idea but was too half-baked to begin with, unless the writers were already baked to begin with...

    “ATCSL”is three seconds of passable entertainment doled out in a 50-minute episode.

    Whose idea was it to hire Melvin Belii when an actual actor could had enough at least tried to make the Gorgon more than a holographic stick figure? Why is Belli dressed in aluminum foil? Was Reynolds Wrap having a fire sale?

    The episode has no point, no moral, no theme (not to mention no humor,no sense of pacing, and no sense of how bad it is), and the idea of Belli commanding an army of vulenerable children to do his bidding (why couldn’t he do it himself?Because it would have prevented him from double- billing?) ups the ick factor considerably

    The crew’s biggest fears are revewled to be knives,swords, and getting old (the latter in Uhura’s case). What a lethally dull way to establish backstory.

    No argument here about this being easily among the worst episodes of the franchise. But I found certain elements bothered me that haven’t been mentioned yet.

    Re: the crew’s fears: I get that Sulu’s vision of space knives is symbolic. His actual fear is making some mistake at the helm that causes damage or destruction of the Enterprise. Likewise, Uhura’s fear is death and painful disease, and not specifically ugliness. Okay.

    But since when is Kirk’s biggest fear losing command? I would have thought, from many previous episodes, his greatest fear is the death of his crew and destruction of the ship, as he clearly feels responsible for the safety of both. Making him out to be someone who cannot stand the loss of power, even for a few minutes, does a disservice to the character.

    A less important issue is the costuming. Normally I like what William Thiess did, even though he never met a pastel jumpsuit he didn’t like, but he really phoned it in on this one. The alien is dressed in some kind of shiny plastic tent meant to obscure his body. It looks weird with a normal-looking older guy’s head perched on top. Weird as in ridiculous rather than eerie. Contrast that tonthe aliens of Talos IV in the pilot, with their pulsing distended skulls and shiny robes, to see how an alien could be done well even back then. But the kid’s costumes are the worst of all. Like Theis decided to use some curtain fabrics to make pajamas for each of them.

    I really believe this is the worst episode in the history of Star Trek, regardless of the series. It is abominable. The only decent competitors in my eyes are Threshold and Let He Who Is Without Sin, but even they didn't offend me quite like this one.

    I'm surprised Spock's Brain seems to carry the banner for bad TOS episodes when this one exists.

    "Te kids were playing follow-the-leader---the wrong one." That about sums up this episode, which is forgettable except for one scene---the one in which Spock gets Kirk off the bridge and into the turbolift and uses his full telepathic powers to force the "beast" from the captain's mind. Watching this I could see the intent concentration in the Vulcan's face---no mind-meld here, just sheer telepathic force. And when Kirk is asked "Where to?" he replies, fully himself again, "To auxiliary control, my Vulcan friend--THIS SHIP IS OFF COURSE!" In addition, I couldn't help noticing the eerie resemblance of the Gorgan (who, by the way, was the last of his kind) to the current inhabitant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue---someone to whom I would love to take a photon torpedo...right in his face...

    I don't seem to hate this episode as much as the general consensus here. True, it's certainly not my favorite. But, there are affecting moments in it for me. Especially when the children finally get their breakdown. Yes, I wish the story was better. I wish the alien was better. I wish the pacing was better. But, I can say that about a variety of episodes throughout the franchise. For me, the Alternative Factor will always be my least favorite original Trek. This one, for me, is a 2-star episode. Certainly nothing great, but nothing as atrocious as some others I can think of. I'm not arguing the point. I certainly can understand and see why people feel the way they do about this episode. I'm just saying that, for me, it's just one to get through. But not one to banish.

    Yep, it is pretty bad. But I have seen worse. As far a Spock's Brain, I like it. And let me tell you this, it was not until about three years ago that I began to laugh out loud at the dialog and expressions on Nimoy's face when he is beamed down to the ice planet....

    After the theft of brain, it is a scream watching Shatner and Kelley talk about the loss. ...we will look for his brain; ......where(?) ...would we look? I would love to know how hard these guys laughed during filming. This proves that proper studying of the craft one can control one's own actions. They were very serious during this dialog......

    As for the swords, know this, George said in several interviews that he did not play with swords, he played cowboys and Indians. He was an American history buff. So, when he chased crewmen in THE NAKED TIME with an epee, it was out of his realm. He didn't do karate or any of the other martial arts; therefore he had to learn them.

    The old and ugly. My God, we have no choice, on our trip to death it will happen. I found that ridiculous.

    Melvin Belli wanted to be on Star Trek and so they let him. It was fun for him. He was one of the TOP attorney's in California at that time and served the rich and famous and many Hollywood stars.

    As for those hateful children, all spoiled brats who were probably offspring of the people who ran Star Trek just the same as it was in Miri. Only in Miri there were 3 kids who were real actors. In fact, one was a grown man.

    As for the story line, it was awful. I always hated to see the top crew put into being total idiots; everyone falling into coma-like stupors; I would love to kill the kids, esp. the red-headed brat from hell. There really was much of a story.

    Doc McCoy and his they need to grieve crap. If a child never grieved over a dead person, he would not become a killer. He would grow out of it.
    You have to consider the people writing, producing and such, which is their true nationalities, ------- the way Trek people live is some misguided jerks dream. Earth human beings will never be like that because of where we came from. Do research and learn because humans had to have their freedom for thousands of years before any of them became what we are today.

    As for the jumpsuits, think long underwear......go to DEVIL IN THE DARK......those were long underwear and they did not fit properly.

    I find this episode much more interesting when I consider the Gorgon as child-lore turned real, in the spirit of Jasper Fforde ‘s Nursery Crime series or Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Der Kindestod.” Not nearly as effective as either of those, but still exploring the question “what if that game/story/boogeyman the kids have turned out to be real?”

    Truly awful - nonsensical plot and actions from our characters, bad acting, (particularly Belli), nothing in the way of redeeming characteristics except possibly the lack of baby salamanders.

    Definitely worse than Spock's Brain. A smidge better than The Alternative Factor, Threshold, or Meridian.


    I would actually love the challenge of rewriting and redoing this episode and making it good. I think the premise is too flawed to make it great, but I think hidden with this sheetstorm is an actual good episode.

    Turn this thing into a detective story about why the adults committed suicide and the children didn't seem to care.

    And instead of a vague "evil" alien, it's a medical mystery.

    Second for second, this episode had the least entertainment value of any TOS episode. Its dullness is matched only by its sheer dopeyness and vice versa. I actually hope the reason Melvin Belii was cast because someone owed him a favor. If he was hired on the basis of his “acting ability,” you just have to wonder.

    When the show is not being boring, awkward, stilted, and repetitive (and when it is, come to think about it), it’s being offensively stupid. As in McCoy’s clueless grin at the end.

    Belli has feathers in his hair and feathers in his head

    McCoy: "Well, I won't stop you from questioning the children, but it could harm them if you do."

    So this DOCTOR believes that Kirk's intended course of action has a real possibility of harming children who have just been through a terrible trauma, but defers to the captain's decision? What happened to the Chief Medical Officer's authority in matters of health? Shouldn't he be ordering the captain to take the kids to the starbase for the treatment he believes, in his expert medical opinion, they require? Or at the very least ordering him not to play psychotherapist with them?

    Apparently, that whole "the doctor can overrule even the captain in case of medical necessity" thing only applies when convenient to the story.

    I do think that it is a better episode thannJammer and those who commented before me give it credit for.

    It's true that it is thin on motivation, apparently just evil for evil's own sake. I am willing to presume that the evil angel has more of a motivation than that, but I wish we were privy to it.

    His way of accomplishing that evil is the one thing of interest, and it underlies everything that happens in the episode: Evil manipulates the specific "beast" in each person, some quality that usually serves them well but has been twisted into a dangerous weakness:

    Sulu's enthusiasm for martial arts, a respect that needs but a nudge to plunge him into an abyss of terror.

    Uhura's youthful vitality and beauty, betraying a paralyzing fear of the ugliness of death.

    Chekov's reverence for Starfleet's hierarchy, which usually gives him unswerving loyalty to his captain but is rooted in a deep fear of disobedience, even when the situation calls for him to question authority.

    Scotty's dedication to the physical operation of the ship, perverted into a protectiveness that loses all sense of that ship's purpose.

    Kirk's own identity as a natural leader, turned against him as he fears losing control over his ship and crew.

    And of course, it all started with the children's beast, their dependence upon loving parents, a dependence they transferred onto an evil being who used their fantasies of power for his own aims.

    As for the evil angel himself, he insists, "I fear nothing," but he ultimately fears the most powerful beast of all, the one beast that could have conquered all the personal beasts he had exploited: the truth.

    The episode's execution is not always perfect, but the story beneath the plot is a profound one about the universal human experience. This episode implicitly asks two questions of every viewer: "What is your beast?" and then "How can you keep evil from exploiting it?"

    Entire spiritual retreats have been structured around such questions. I think they make this episode worth a great deal more than half a star.

    I'm not afraid of being alone in that assessment.

    @ Trish,

    "What happened to the Chief Medical Officer's authority in matters of health? Shouldn't he be ordering the captain to take the kids to the starbase for the treatment he believes, in his expert medical opinion, they require? Or at the very least ordering him not to play psychotherapist with them?"

    That's a very reasonable question and really does impact on how we read some of these Trek stories (by no means just this episode). Maybe someone who knows officer regs in the current military will comment too, but from what I can gather from Trek itself the CMO has medical authority with regard to the fitness of the Captain and crew only, and does not have any mission authority nor authority over the Captain's decisions so long as the Captain is fit for command. If the Captain gives an order that's that, although the CMO can file a protest if they wish. So the CMO can order the Captain to take leave or dismiss the Captain from duty if the Captain is medically unfit, but other than that cannot issue orders to a superior officer.

    Is it clear that McCoy outright lacks the authority to overrule Kirk on this point? It seems possible he has just decided not to, only to register objections.

    @Trish: Excellent analysis! Very perceptive.

    The kids got really annoying after a while, and for the love of God, why didn't Kirk throw a towel over Uhura's mirror? Still, I liked Gorgan and the overall story wasn't that bad. I found the scene where the two red shirts who got beamed out in space quite disturbing.

    II of IV

    Is it me or does Kirk leave a security team on triacus and go on to the star base. Surely not.

    1/2 star?!? What makes any of this dog shit of an episode worthy of such an accolade? If there were ever a time to introduce negative star ratings, this was it...

    The first 3 minutes sets the level of this episode - worse than anything ever made with the Star Trek brand.

    Kirk and McCoy take a receptacle out of a dead woman' mouth and examine it with....their own noses. Well done geniuses; you just died from the same poison. Except you didn't because this episode is fucking trash.
    Fist pumping ginger and that stupid instrument parp made me want to beam into space like a redshirt.

    I give it maybe 1.5 stars.

    It’s no beauty, and the orchestra sting each time they pump their fists wasn’t the best choice. Turn that into a drinking game and you’ll be dead before the credits roll.

    But there are a number of effective possessed character scenes, particularly Doohan when he tells K&S he will kill them if they don’t leave the room. Doohan sells the hell out of that scene.

    Chekov’s phaser scene is also quite strong.

    The casual death of the two security guards beamed into space is subtly horrific.

    It’s comical that a recording of the kids’ chant summoned the Gorgon.

    omg. just shoot the fucking kids. shoot everyone. blow up the ship. burn the whole fucking thing to the ground. aaaghhhh!

    @Trek fan, i love you, but you sound like baghdad bob.

    Spock's Brain is entertainingly bad. This is bad in such a lifeless, bloodless way. The only memorable thing is a ghost dressed in a mumu (yes, you read that correctly) and it's memorable for all the wrong reasons

    Worst Trek episode ever? Nooooooooo! How can anything reach the depths of the oil slick puddle that killed Tasha Yar in TNG? (Can’t remember the title).

    There is lots to hate about this one, but at its heart is a potentially scary Henry James style ghost story. The first third is actually quite good, until the first appearance of the “friendly angel” Gorgon. At least, until then it was a sinister mystery that had potential - kids are often at the heart of such stories as no-one expects evil to emerge from their innocence.

    But I agree - so many moments when the danger could have been diverted and neutralised. And the fist-pump got REALLY annoying!

    On the whole I would give this 2.5 stars for potential, but only 1.5 for the final production. However, the 3rd series isn’t as bad as its reputation (so far...)

    *Skin Of Evil was the appallingly bad episode where Tasha Yar died.

    Consensus seems to be that this is the worst episode of TOS. Sure, Spock's Brain gets the popular recognition, but that's because the title is snappier, so it's easier to use in shorthand and easier to make fun of. Everyone knows the plot of the episode immediately when you say Spock's Brain, and can groan in commiseration. And The Children Will Lead doesn't have that same factor, but it gets the worst ranking in polls, on IMDB, and in frequently in critical lists as well.

    Well, I don't quite think it's the worst episode. It's certainly awful. Bottom five, no question. No one would ever confuse this episode with entertainment. But for my money, it isn't quite the worst. The Alternative Factor is definitely worse. That one is painful to watch. This one is just silly, and campy. You can't watch it without your eyes wanting to roll out of your head. But it isn't mind-achingly painful like The Alternative Factor. Spock's Brain, Catspaw, and The Way to Eden are also in the running for second-worst episode . . . but I think this one takes that dubious honor.

    The beginning of this episode isn't all that terrible. If the Gorgon had been played by an actual actor who could be menacing . . . and if the kids had been portrayed more sinisterly . . . and if there had been more of a mystery surrounding them . . . and if the kids taking over the ship had been more subtle in method . . . well, maybe something adequate could have been made of it. It would be hard. But maybe. Kids can be very creepy, after all. Horror movies know this and use it to great effect all the time. But I have no idea how to save the last twenty minutes. Maybe the children aren't children at all but evil aliens disguising themselves as the children. And the crew have to kill them and come to terms with the reality that that's what they have to do. That might work. It couldn't get made that way, of course. Maybe now. Maybe. But not in 1968 for network TV.

    I still think many Enterprise season one & two episodes are worse than this. And, of course, Threshold.

    Another overly harsh Jammer review.

    Craig Huxley (Tommy Starnes) and Pamelyn Ferdin (Mary) were child actors seen everywhere in the period of production. I thought they did a great job of portraying children of priviledge twisted into becoming sociopaths. This was a rampant fear in 1968/1969; as was the fear of false messiahs (to quote David Bowie) enslaving young minds, which explains the episode from start to finish.

    The name Gorgan comes out of nowhere, it is true, but recalls the gorgon of ancient Greece and adds to the idea that the friendly angel is indeed monstrous.

    Well, that was far worse than Spock's Brian. This has to be the worst in the series.

    @Mal 2021)

    [[omg. just shoot the fucking kids. shoot everyone. blow up the ship. burn the whole fucking thing to the ground.]]

    “Jean-Luc, blow up the damn ship!”

    hahaha definitely one of the worst trek scripts, no doubt about it. But I'm pretty there's an excelent episode lost somewhere in there. I mean, the Enterprise gets to a planet and find everyone dead -- just the kids alive. Onboard the ship, under the influence of an ancient alien power, the kids begin to take mind control of the crew, playing with their senses and fears, and now captain kirk and spock have to notice it, resist it, and resolve it -- without practicing child abuse! By the way, Kirk and Spock discovers what is going on when they accidentaly beam two red shirts into space. That's heavy.

    C'mom, they obviously where not able to pull that off, but there's a cool story there.

    IT would have been nice to CGI or otherwise clone the images of the kids doing the masturbatory elbow-fist bump into an ST:NG episode-scene where Picard is giving one of his righteous speeches while the kids suitably gesture throughout it in the background.

    This has long been one of my least favorite episodes, if not my least. But a couple of noteworthy things in it, the first of which may be the first UFP flag we see in Trek? And the second of which is we see a child make up some dessert he wants and the food dispenser is able to serve it to him. So this is the first sign that the Enterprise in TOS had the ability not just to serve up pre-prepared food but apparently to conjure whatever someone requests, like later food replicators could do. I think it's interesting, anyhow.

    If I'm not mistaken I think there's a Federation flag in the "court room" on the Enterprise in "The Menagerie" and possibly as well in "Space Seed".

    Also in "The Trouble With Tribbles", Kirk orders some kind of soup & sandwich from the replicator (which came with tribbles).

    In season 1's Tomorrow is Yesterday, I think Mr. Kyle gives the 20th century Air Force security guard some hot chicken soup from a replicator located in the transporter room.

    Re: UFP flag I'll try to keep my eyes open on future rewatches. Maybe it was just the prominence of this particular flag that caught my attention. I do recall seeing a UFP symbol on the viewscreen in a previous ep.

    Re: replicators, I'm making a distinction between ordering food from the food dispensers, which obviously everyone does, from ordering some random dish out of left field and having it make it for you. In previous episodes, such as Trouble with Tribbles, Kirk does order a meal, but for all we knew he was ordering from a pre-existing menu out of a finite amount of choices, which are pre-prepared and just dispensed from the slot. Think re-hydrating a pizza, like Back to the Future 2. And the fact that the tribbles had already eaten it when it emerged suggests that the soup and sandwich were previously made and were sitting and waiting for him, giving the tribbles time to get into the system and eat it. The dispenser didn't pop it into existence just as Kirk ordered it, which is what seems to happen here when the kid orders the pistachio-whatever dessert he made up out of his butt.

    @Peter G.

    If I remember it correctly, the creepy kids each insert a plastic rectangle given to them by Nurse Chapel into the wall dispenser device and they get a different flavor of ice cream. Stevie didn't get what he wanted and gets weepy. Nurse C. asks him what kind of ice cream he wants and he, trying to over-tax her compassion, asks for a mixture that is somewhat off-the-wall. Nurse C. inserts one of those plastic rectangles into a slot in the wall device and it, (i.e. , the wall device whatever it is), produces the correct mixture for him.

    I may have to watch the scene again. Unless there was an "odd mixture" plastic rectangle that can work singly to make weird recipes, the operating system is a complete mystery to me.


    Yes, I remember this part in the episode the same way, as well as the soup in "Tomorrow Is Yesterday". So it would seem that either TOS wasn't consistent with replicators or food dispensers, as Peter G. I think rightly clarifies, or they just had them both.

    There were a lot of odd inconsistencies in TOS...

    Thanks. Yeah...I think TOS definitely channeled different ideas about food on-board. They were somewhat inspired by the old American automat Horn & Hardardt's, famous in several eastern US cities. The wall was filled with see-through sliding doors with prepared food behind each.

    Then there's the red, yellow and green nutritional cube things. I'm not sure where those came from.

    But coffee could be heated up with a hand phaser if the power went out...Yeoman Rand did that once. : )

    IMO Jammer's 0.5 stars is a few too many. One might consider this to be Freiberger's view of TOS: Roddenberry as Gorgan, leading a group of annoying child viewers, to a strange new world, for no clear reason. Or, more generally, perhaps this is the Greatest Generation's view of Boomers: a bunch of spoiled brats who throw their parents away for someone spaced out in electric boots and a mohair suit. The trouble with both ideas is they give this episode far too much credit.

    There is no character development, camaraderie, or substance. Viewers don't even get any redeeming features supplied by prior seasons, like a Playboy model, humor, or fun quotes. The best this has to offer is a highly-mockable hand gesture. This episode deserves as much as it gives: zero of four bowls of chocolate wobble, whatever that is.

    Oddly enough, on this watching, H&I had the title as "La Révolte des Enfants," French for "The Children's Rebellion." I'm guessing that's the title of the French version of the episode, but how it got paired withe English original in the database that powers the onscreen TV guide I don't know.

    Lameorama. At least Spocks Brain had the givers of pain and delight. This one reaches a Bluto Blutarsky level of stupidity. Zero point Zero.

    If I were mining this episode for interesting moments, I'd single out the one where Kirk acknowledges that they may have to kill the children to stop the spread of the Gorgon's influence. There's a dark edge to this episode that belies all of the silliness.

    I love TOS, so it hurts when an episode is irredeemably bad. This is one such episode. This outing would have been much better if upon seeing her aged reflection, Uhura had gotten up, calmly walked over to Kirk and said:

    “my reflection is, like, a hundred years old. I think these kids are fucking with my head. I say we throw them out the airlock.”

    At which point Kirk would reply:
    “Wait, hold on, let’s talk about this…”

    Then Chekhov would get up, put his hands on his hips, look down at the floor and sigh audibly:
    “Captain, the view screen is full of swords. I think these kids are pulling this crap too, I vote air lock, which was invented in Russia by the way.”

    Then before he can reply, Kirk is inundated with other calm but annoyed complaints from half the crew about these stupid kids messing with their minds. So he shrugs his shoulders and rounds up the kids:
    “Hey guys! Who wants some candy!?”

    Kids: “Me! Me! Me!”

    Kirk: “Ok, well it’s in this room here, go ahead, have as much as you want!”
    Kids rush in, Kirk slams the door, hits the giant red button, boom, whoosh, popsicle city. Gorgon fades into oblivion. Everyone enjoys a pithy quip from, oh I don’t know, Sulu. Roll credits.

    One thing I hate in an episode is when smart characters act stupid. This episode has lots of that. Also, we’ve done this before, and better(Charlie X, Miri), I think we’re good on the runaway super powered young people stuff.

    As to whether this is the worst episode across all series, it’s a tough question. I mean there’s a lot to choose from, you have episodes like Precious Cargo where Trip and Padma Lakshmi fuck in a swamp, or Threshold, where Tom Paris and captain Janeway turn into salamanders and…fuck in a swamp. Huh, that’s weird.
    There’s The Alternative Factor, which is physically difficult to view, or Profit and Lace, which hurts on so very many levels. Not to mention practically the entirety of TNG season 1, and the entirety of Discovery period. But I think And The Children Shall Lead is right in that mix for sure. I’ll give it half a star for making the kids cry at the end.

    0.5/4 highly suggestive hand motions.

    One of the few episodes that I really disliked.
    Some people might think this is a crude or opportunistic comparison, but during the Capital riot on January 6th 2020 this episode clearly popped into my mind when those people blindly followed the instructions that were given to them when they went on that rampage. The former president basically sounded exactly like the actor Melvin Belli who portrayed the role of the evil spirit in this episode.
    Beyond that , TOS played with the concept of raw evil on more than one occasion in episodes like Obsession , Day of the dove , Catspaw and Wolf in the Fold . Day of the dove was the made it to the favories list the rest did not.

    Uhura is apparently afraid of looking like the Salt Vampire.

    This episode might have been better if the script at least explained what was going on better. It keeps hitting notes it already hit and omits all the notes in between. How do they even know Gorgan's name? I never caught an introduction. I don't know where to stop, better do it now.

    Well this episode can test the knowledge of trekkies you might meet, during a discussion in which you want to stress a point or are having a difference of opinion about a character, episode, canon, ...... you merely do the elbow fist pumping motion thing a few times.... and they either get it, or they don't. If they do, it's always with a grimmace.

    This time I noticed how the director or cameraman used a lot of close shots, fast cuts, shadows and darkness, weird angles etc. to portray a panic among the crew members as suddenly seemingly all were affected by the spells conjured up by the fist pumping kids. I heard Gorgon was ordered covered by the green haze during post production because Gene thought he looked lame. If he had only given Gorgon the last line, before disappearing, Gorgon could have said, "And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those darned kids!" Tomorrow can't come soon enough.


    Zero stars - easily the most utterly boring dull episode of Trek ever made, a waste of 60mins of blank film, at least some of the other bad ones like Spocks Brain had moments of unintentional hilarity, this was a lame snoozefest from beginning to end, with the scriptwriters, production, cast, special effects, editing and wardrobe literally phoning it in.

    This is hands down the worst episode of TOS, and arguably probably the worst episode in all the Star Trek franchises.

    Once upon a time, circa 1968, two famous lawyers walked into a bar. One was a notable California trial attorney named Melvin Belli, who sat down to have dinner with the other esteemed litigator, F. Lee Bailey. Bailey had notably defended Sam Sheppard at the time (and later defended Patty Hearst, and of course O.J. Simpson). As all lawyers do, they began to argue at the table over who was the more famous one. They made a bet with each other that whoever gets recognized first gets their dinner paid by the loser. Cue a starstruck young couple who approached them nervously at the table. “Excuse me, sir, are you Melvin Belli?!” Belli, proud as a peacock and stoked at his newfound bragging rights, enthusiastically confirmed it and asked if they were law students. “Well, no,” they said. And then the kicker: ”Why do you ask?” Belli told them that since he was a well-known lawyer, he assumed they must have recognized him as such and were in the legal profession. To which they said, “Oh, wow, you’re a lawyer?! We just thought you were that Gorgan guy from Star Trek!” Melvin Belli, Esq., has been destined, it seems, to be more remembered for being backlit by a green hue and wearing a silly shower curtain on an episode of Star Trek than he ever was for his trial-lawyer career, which says a lot about our society. Now that’s a lawyer joke.

    As a father, I hesitate to speak ill of any child -- unless they deserve it, of course! Comedian George Carlin and I are on the same page about this: “Kids are like any other group of people; a few winners, and a whole lot of losers!” There’s no better example of the latter than “And the Children Shall Lead.” This episode has the most atrociously annoying gaggle of little jackass jackanapes ever filmed. The Enterprise is essentially taken over by the Little Rascals, but these kids aren’t nearly as charming as Buckwheat or Alfafa. When Kirk picks Mary up and she starts poking him incessantly, for instance, I turned to my wife and whispered, “Honey, gouge my eyes out just like that, please.” What I wouldn’t have given at that moment for a little “Bonk, bonk, bonk!”

    It’s fitting that I watched this episode on the date that I did, for this is one giant prank of an episode. There are silly plot implausibilities and incompetencies on the part of the crew (seriously, come on -- “Lock Them Up! Lock Them Up!”), adding up to an hour of pointless, dreadful irrelevance. There’s a silly shot of Old Decrepit Uhura that had me laughing at the criminally negligent makeup job (poor Nichelle!) There’s a character named “Tsing Tao,” which is a brand of Chinese beer if I recall correctly. There’s an absolutely clumsy mess of a setup as the ship is overtaken (A Spock line that’s so bad it’s good: “Captain, why are we bothering Starfleet?”) And, William Shatner follows his best performance yet with his worst performance yet: “I’m losing command. I’m losing the Enterprise. I’m losing my ability to command. I’m losing the Enterprise. I’m losing command. I’m losing the Enterprise. The ship is sailing on and on. I’m alone. Alone. Alone. I’m losing command.” (I’m losing my mind.)

    This piece of crap tries to say something deep about the 1960’s palpable fear of youth culture and activities leading adult society to ruin, or perhaps we can now read into it as a treatise on the current palpable fear of children being groomed and coerced by dirty old men or filthy influencers like Logan Paul, Jimmy Donaldson (“Mr. Beast”) and Andrew Tate, but it’s hard to care about anyone’s troubles here when the catalysts for all the shenanigans are a non-actor reciting lines off a teleprompter that completely excuses him from attempting any semblance of performance skill along with a series of masturbatory fist motions on the part of the child minions to the soundtrack of a guy blowing chunks into a trumpet.

    I just wanted to BEAT THE SHIT out of every one of those little brats. Stevie perpetually looks like he’s trying to fall asleep for a nap and just can’t for some reason--you just want to smack the stupor out of him. Tommy the Red-Haired Nightmare usurps Charlie X’s place as the worst teenager ever. And that Mary is one frightening little soul, her eyes completely dead with a full-on psychopathy. The only one who’s even remotely tolerable (mostly because I don’t think he even speaks) is the chubby kid played by Brian Tochi.

    For sure, one of the best consequences of “And the Children Shall Lead" is this message thread. I’ve been reading through the comments--quite of a few of them advocating for child murder or arson--over the past ten minutes and laughing myself silly. These are my favorites:

    >> Peace of Landru -- “I just want to smack that ginger kid.”

    >> R -- "I would love to see a YouTube video with scenes from this episode re-edited to feature the farting Preacher as the alien."

    >> Tarn Vedra -- "Only positive thing about this episode is the fact that Edward J. Lakso is dead and will never make anything so horrible again."

    >> Cinnamon -- “I would love to kill the kids, esp that red-haired brat from hell. … The way Trek people live is some misguided jerk’s dream.”

    >> Ovadohr -- “Belli has feathers in his hair and feathers in his head.”

    >> Mal -- “omg. just shoot the fucking kids. shoot everyone. blow up the ship. burn the whole fucking thing to the ground. Aaaghhhh!"

    Jammer, you have the best audience in the business!

    Many of you declare “And the Children Shall Lead” to be the worst episode of the entire Star Trek franchise. To that, I say that I sincerely hope you are correct. I truly wish that no other episode I watch will ever sink to the depths that this junk did, for that would mean that the worst is over.

    “Tommy the Red-Haired Nightmare
    Has a very shiny head
    And if you ever saw him
    You’d want him to end up--”

    Okay, you get the idea. That’s more creativity than this episode deserves. NEXT, PLEASE!

    Speak Freely:

    Don -- “Parents like stupid things.”
    Chapel -- “Oh, I don’t know about that. Parents like children.”
    (I’ll let you figure it out.)

    My Grade: A --pril Fools! LOL!

    My Real Grade: F

    Just hear to say the Randomizer has sent me to this 1/2 star episode three times in the last couple days. Pretty amusing :-)

    This show SUCKS. At least "Spock's Brain" is unintentionally hysterically funny. This episode is just cringe inducing and lazy. The "villain" is "played" (being extremely generous to call this acting ) by some ponderous fool who seems only to be on the set after being promised 5$ in ripple money. The kid 'actors" make the kid actors in 1950s westerns look like Paul Giamatti.
    They're not even cute. Just ugly little rugrats with ZERO talent. This episode is a STAIN on the honour of Star Trek. It accomplishes NOTHING. "Spocks Brain" at least has absurdly bad camera work and pointless "dramatic zoom in" shots that make it fun to watch. "Way to Eden" has the delightfully terrible music and its acting, while amateurish all around is at least delivered with conviction. However "Children" lacks passion, creativity and, most damingly, lacks the ability to laugh at itself

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