Star Trek: The Original Series
"Requiem for Methuselah"
Air date: 2/14/1969
Written by Jerome Bixby
Directed by Murray Golden
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
While scouting a planet's surface for the necessary medicine to combat a plague, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy encounter a social recluse named Flint (James Daly) who had long ago abandoned Earth and now lives alone with his enigmatic pupil and companion, an apparently young woman named Rayna Kapec (Louise Sorel). Flint subtly manufactures a series of situations that brings Kirk and Rayna together until a mutual attraction develops. Unfortunately for Kirk, Rayna's attraction to a third party was intended by Flint to awaken her senses beyond the intellectual patterns of thought—so that she and Flint could be united.
The implications of the episode are interesting: Flint isn't seeking merely a lover for companionship; he's searching for one who is also intellectual equal. He has literally built Rayna—an android—using the sum of his experiences. The story asks how useful a person is once he has outlived his own sense of purpose—and for Flint, a life of hundreds of years has produced everything from music apparently written by Brahms to artwork apparently created by da Vinci.
Admittedly, I couldn't quite understand how Kirk was so taken with Rayna so quickly (perhaps I should remind myself that this is Kirk we're talking about), but the triangular relationship that develops and ends in a tragedy (Rayna's inability to cope with her feelings causes a fatal shutdown) is best utilized in the show's final scene, where Spock uses a mind meld to relieve Kirk of his burden of grief. These are characters who feel for one another more than the plots often let on.
Previous episode: The Lights of Zetar
Next episode: The Way to Eden
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75 comments on this post
Mon, Feb 18, 2013, 9:40am (UTC -5)
Beyond that, the TOS cliche of Spock explaining why Rayna died at the end was really annoying. How did he know she didn't die because of an unrelated mechanical problem? How did Spock figure out what happened while Flint (who built Rayna) seemed clueless? And, really, why was the explanation necessary?
Also, Kirk's line to Spock about how they "were fighting over a woman" seemed really out of character for the supposed advanced sensibilities of 23rd century humans.
This could have been a really great episode if it stretched out over a couple days, if the guy playing Flint was a better actor and if less time was spent on Kirk falling in love and more time spent on the idea that one man had been such an important part of human history.
Tue, Mar 5, 2013, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 14, 2013, 12:25am (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 2:10am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 8, 2014, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Apr 26, 2014, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
Thu, May 15, 2014, 9:15am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 3, 2015, 2:56pm (UTC -5)
The tragedy around Rayna is that Flint and Kirk both want something from her, and while they do both care for her to an extent, neither sees her fully. Kirk wants to "free" her to "love," and Flint wants to give her everything he has to offer, which is quite a bit, on his terms. It's appropriate that one of Flint's past identities is Solomon, because I'm reminded a little of the story of Solomon suggesting splitting a baby in two to give to warring mothers, and the "true" mother being the one willing to let the baby survive with the other. Neither Kirk nor Flint pay enough attention to how badly this situation is tearing Rayna apart to stop their warring, and she dies. It's a decently effective strategy. I think that too much time was spent on the "mystery" of Flint's ancient origins, of his being Leonardo and Brahms, but given that Flint doesn't come across very well in the episode it's worth establishing why Rayna might think well of him -- his genius stretches back human centuries.
The big weak link in this episode is the Kirk/Rayna "romance," which is unconvincing. It might have worked had Kirk just gotten passionate about Rayna's need for freedom, but he's in love with her as a person, which given Kirk's character needs a fair bit more setup than is given here. Contrasting this with, say, Edith Keeler, that episode spent a great deal of time setting up the nature of Kirk's feelings for her and why she was special to him; and it also came at a point in the series in which Kirk's womanizing had not gone into overdrive. It's hard to say what Kirk likes about Rayna; Spock admires her intellect, but does Kirk? Does he think she's a good dancer? Is hot?
The last scene is interesting in its implications. McCoy suggests Spock is incapable of love, and then Spock administers the "forget" to Kirk, which is framed by the episode as an act of love. It is also nonconsensual, and even if it had been consensual it is an odd choice, one that goes counter to a lot of Kirk's usual gusto. I hate to bring up Star Trek V, but "I need my pain!" seems to define Kirk much more than an overwhelming desire to forget; for an in-series example, see "This Side of Paradise" for a quick demonstration of Kirk's absolute preference of messy reality over fantasy. Spock is somewhat defying Kirk's moral stance and violating his will because he doesn't want to see his friend in pain, which is also (possibly) a purely logical decision that whether Kirk would ascribe meaning to his suffering or not in the long term (he certainly doesn't seem to at this very moment), it probably is not worth the pain that he is going through right now. That the episode ends with something of a criticism of Kirk -- for throwing himself into "save the girl" to the point where the woman in question gets killed, and his bravado leading to heartbreak he couldn't recover from himself -- and Spock having to violate personal boundaries to save him suggests something a bit like the direction the movies will go in, in examining these characters' flaws and questioning the assumptions of their virtues.
The episode's very slow first half and the extent to which Kirk/Rayna was unconvincing means I can't really recommend this episode, but it has its moments. 2.5 stars, I suppose.
Sat, Feb 7, 2015, 2:26am (UTC -5)
I didn't get the impression that Flint died due to the landing party's actions, though. IIRC, the dialog stated that the reason he was dying was because the unique conditions that kept him immortal were only found on Earth, and he had left it.
Tue, Mar 31, 2015, 10:08pm (UTC -5)
Having watched most of TOS now, I can say it's surprising how much material was borrowed from it for later use in the feature films and episodes of TNG.
Wed, Apr 1, 2015, 4:17am (UTC -5)
If that was, indeed, the rationale driving this story, I sure would have appreciated a few lines of exposition by McCoy or Spock confirming it.
Sun, Jun 28, 2015, 10:37am (UTC -5)
The pace is slow, no sense of urgency.
The Enterprise turned into a model was Irwin Allen type gimmickry.
KIrk is more concerned with loving a robot woman than saving his crew. Totally out-of-character.
It was fun to watch, all episodes of Star Trek have fun moments but I'd have to rate this episode zero out of four. Meh.
Sat, Jul 11, 2015, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 4, 2015, 2:31am (UTC -5)
Sun, Dec 20, 2015, 11:07am (UTC -5)
But the story was not about saving Enterprise again, and I liked it. The two alfa men fighting over a female. Both actually just wants to posses, even if Kirk says something else. This fight though is the catalyst for Raynas development to become a human being as well as it crushes her realising its consequence.
Spock realises how senseless this is, tries to warn bit his boss does not want to listen. An excellent example on both modern and old management.
Yes this episode had potential to be something more, but I still enjoyed it as it was.
Mon, Mar 14, 2016, 12:48pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 14, 2016, 5:03pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 25, 2016, 12:24am (UTC -5)
Kirk demands the cure from the guy who owns the planet, after trespassing, and then later claims he didn't "demand", just "ask". His behavior throughout this whole episode is kind of off. Everyone of the ground team is acting odd, in fact. It's probably bad writing, but I'm going to say it could be that they were all suffering from early stages of the plague. I wish that had been established as the case, it would have made this episode easier to swallow.
The hostile planet owner changes his mind and invites them in, offering them a drink. Because the most appropriate time to have a drink and chill is when your crew is dying of plague. Even Spock has a drink. Wtf. There's some joking around about him not wanting his brainwaves messed with by alcohol and drunk Vulcans which doesn't make any sense. A previous episode established Spock saying that alcohol has no effects on Vulcans. So one of these episodes is lying. Or it's a retcon, or Spock was lying, or McCoy and Kirk were mistaken or joking. I'm not deep enough in this to know what's right, but I still had to point that out.
Spock says he's never felt envy before. I'd have assumed that since the pure Vulcans were cruel to him about his mixed race when he was a child and still seem to hold prejudices against him, he'd have at some point felt envious of them and their inclusion in society. I guess I can sort of hand wave that, he could be unaware of his own feelings, or lying about them, or maybe actually telling the truth. It just doesn't seem to go with what we've been told about the character so far.
Again, the crew are dying and Kirk and Co. are happy to goof off and let this guy bring the vital McGuffin instead of insisting on getting it themselves. Why did they even have the subplot about everyone dying if they were going to treat it like it wasn't a big deal? Kirk plays pool and dances with some chick, Spock wanders around saying contradictory things about how things are authentic but brand new despite the fact that age is the test for authenticity for all the things he's saying that about. Also, playing the piano seems like too unnecessary a skill for a logical being who values useful things and hates emotions to have bothered cultivating, especially when he already has that harp-thing, but that's just a nitpick. It's all pretty out of character. Kirk values his crew and duties above all else, and Spock his duties and captain, and while I would buy Kirk et al playing along to keep on their host's good side, that's obviously not the case here. It's played as them actually just screwing around.
The medicine comes back tainted and Kirk and Spock are content to let McCoy go alone with the robot that almost killed them earlier to acquisition more? These three men are always jumping all over each other to be the first to make a heroic sacrifice for the team, but they don't care enough about their dying crew to make sure nothing goes wrong this time? They're content to sit there and do nothing of value and just let McCoy do it? Really? Even if Kirk was distracted, surely Spock would say something and snap him out of it, remind him of his duties, or find out his real plan? Or McCoy would? Where are the checks and balances these three are supposed to impose on each other?
The woman acts like she's still a child emotionally, but Kirk finds her so irresistible that he just walks up and starts smooching on her with no provocation? Their only interaction was dancing and her showing him some pool moves. Those must have been some damn good moves. Kirk has romanced plenty of women, but his ship always comes first. Now he's forgetting about his dying crew to make out with his grouchy host's daughter? And Spock just watches? Really? Even though this could piss off their host, and screw them all over? And then the robot conveniently doesn't see Spock standing in the doorway watching when it comes in to kill Kirk. Mmmmmkay.
Kirk's known this girl for less than four hours, and doesn't even know anything about her other than she's magically good at everything but stupidly naive. And now he's forgetting about his duties and loyalties and risking everyone's lives to try to win her, even though he knows his host could easily kill them all. Wtf. Kirk's number one trait has always been loyalty to his ship, his crew. Even when he truly loves a woman, he'll leave her, because the Enterprise is his #1, it's even been explicitly stated that he's pretty much married to the Enterprise. But now this girl who's good at pool is making him throw it all away? No way I'd buy that.
The host is a lonely immortal, and the girl is just a robot he made for himself as a companion, and Kirk still keeps stupidly fighting to have her? People are dying upstairs and he's fighting for possession of a glorified sexbot? Against a being who could easily overpower him if it so chose? Really? When would he ever, ever do that? He insists she's real, and that she come with him? She's not a person, she's this man's property. Wtf Kirk.
The robot breaks and Spock somehow is the one who knows why, and not the 6,000 year old genius who made her? No. And he makes a big speech about love and how it killed her? No. Sorry, no. Spock being moved by the fate of a robot is stupid and out of character. Him making a speech about love is stupid and out of character. And the speech was contrived and boring, to top it off.
Back on ship, of course they got there just in time to cure everyone, even though so must time was wasted planetside. Instead of talking about what a horrible captain Kirk was this episode, Bones and Spock talk about how they feel sorry for him because the feelings he had for a robot he knew for three hours tops must have caused irreparable heartache to our womanizing hoebag captain who sleeps with a different girl every week. And for some reason Kirk is sadder here than he was for longer, more fulfilling romances (Edith, Miramanee) he had with real women that ended worse. (I guess I could hand wave this by saying it's the combined forces of all these heartaches weighing on him, but that's a bit of a stretch.) Then Bones goes to town on Spock for being incapable of love? Wtf? Again, that's totally out of character. Bones explicitly stated in a previous episode that he sees right through Spock's facade.
Spock engages in some non-consensual mind melding and memory erasing after Bones leaves. Again, this is pretty out of character. Kirk always says people need struggle and adversity to truly live, and always refused any other way. Now Spock is going against the captain's own wishes because he feels bad for him? It's his fault in the first place for hiding the fact that the captain's weekly conquest was a robot until the last minute. Then he makes it worse by screwing with Kirk's memories and feelings without permission or even Kirk's knowledge of the fact. Maybe it's a Vulcan lullaby. Maybe it's mindrape. Maybe this episode is really stupid.
Wed, Sep 28, 2016, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
Nice thoughts on this episode. The more I read your commentary, the more I thought of some of the earlier TOS novels, where the author had just the basic idea of what Star Trek was about, and wrote a novel that was totally out of character. And Roddenberry wasn't there during the third season, if I recall correctly, to keep things from running off the rails...
Have a great day... RT
Sun, Dec 4, 2016, 9:56am (UTC -5)
The premise of Flint was a fascinating concept, this lonely man who had been so many pivotal figures in human history..... but it was totally undone by the incredibly out-of-character behaviour of Kirk.
I do not buy for one second that our heroic captain, with the lives of all his crew on the line, would suddenly risk everything because he's decided he's in love with a woman he's met for an hour..... It is so wildly out of character it completely ruins the episode. Spock is chastising him throughout the entire episode - I expected him at one point to yell "Jim, you are acting incredibly unprofessionally - unbecoming of a starship captain".
And the less said about "Stay out of it Spock, we're fighting over a woman" the better. Can you imagine any military, political or civil leader uttering those words ever.
And then at the end, Spock removes Kirk's memories without permission!!!!!!! That is a serious violation or assualt, and again completely out of character for Spock.
What had the potential to be a 3 or 4 star episode is reduced down to a 1 star for the awful, awful characterisation.
Fri, Jan 13, 2017, 6:41pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 16, 2017, 2:37am (UTC -5)
This show did remind me of the Lal episode from TNG, but I think the notion of an android shorting out when it achieves human emotion is done better here. In particular, I like how Rayna's character is treated with intelligence and dignity here rather than some of the slapstick humor that Lal provides, and I'm sorry that some viewers seemed to miss that the "two men fighting over a woman" thing at the end is actually presented in a self-critical light as the woman in question firmly declares her freedom to make her own choices in life -- a scenario quite different from most shows of the 1960s where the woman would have declared herself the prize of the victor. If one watches this episode and genuinely thinks it's misogynistic, one is missing the point that the episode presents the misogynist attitude of Kirk and Flint simply to discredit it: In the end, Rayna belongs to neither of them, and her choice not to choose one of them defies the programming of her "owner."
I likewise appreciate that "Requiem" foreshadows Data's striving to be more human on TNG and recalls "Measure of a Man" in some of the polemics at the end. And I love Spock's quiet expression of care for Kirk with the mind meld at the end, which didn't feel out of character at all to me, as we don't even know what "forget" meant exactly. I interpreted it as Spock alleviating Kirk's pain more than removing it entirely or wiping his memory. It's a sweet and gentle moment that Nimoy wisely underplays as a quiet rebuttal of McCoy's condescending harangue.
Of course, the show drags in the middle, and some of the romance sequences do feel perfunctory. But the mystery of the reclusive man who simultaneously sets up Kirk with his female companion and feels jealous about it is generally enough to hold one's attention until the big revelations at the end. For what is essentially a high-concept story ("immortal man builds the perfect woman and strives to make her love him") that recalls Brannan Braga's work from later Trek series, Bixby brings a remarkable sensitivity and balance to the character dilemmas in this story, and his dialogue makes you think in places where it could have been so much more superficial. This one is a bit of an underrated gem for me.
By the way, check out the little callback to this episode by Captain Janeway in Voyager's "Concerning Flight," where she says James T. Kirk claimed to have met Leonardo Da Vinci, whom Janeway has befriended on the holodeck. Apparently, Kirk's memory of these events remained intact after Spock's mind meld, or else he wouldn't have been claiming such things in his official report.
Fri, Jun 9, 2017, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 14, 2017, 3:24pm (UTC -5)
But there are some things I didn't like -- how Kirk quickly falls in love with Reyna. That was very unnatural and then he's willing to fight over her. Another thing I didn't like is how Spock somehow knows what "kills" her -- that she can't tolerate the emotions of her love for Kirk or whatever she felt for Flint. How does he surmise all this?? This can only be speculation -- which is out of character for Spock.
The episode meanders a fair bit but the concept of a man like Flint is an pretty amazing. He certainly pulls off some remarkable tricks like immobilizing the Enterprise. He was Brahms and da Vinci but yet he throws the first punch at Kirk.
Kirk's acting in this episode is really out of character - at the end being so lost because of losing Reyna, knowing full well she was an android. And then Spock cures it with a mind-meld... Bit of a reset button here, which I'm never a fan of, but also out of character for him.
"Requiem for Methusalah" was definitely not done on the cheap, seems to me with the elaborate sets and backdrops. It is inspiring given how so many episodes come across as low budget. I'd give this episode 2.5 stars -- interesting premise and plot but again, poorly executed with Kirk and Spock really acting out of character to varying extents. A missed opportunity here.
Fri, Nov 17, 2017, 10:02pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 18, 2017, 11:47am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 8, 2018, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 20, 2018, 2:14am (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 2, 2018, 8:18pm (UTC -5)
I think most TOS episodes benefit from rewatches. You need to get an initial feel for what the episode is attempting, you need time to get over your assumptions, and you need time to assimilate some of the hokiness. In "Requiem for Methuselah", this entails accepting that Kirk's going to fall madly in love within the space of ten minutes, a floating robot and a shrunk Enterprise. You accept these minor "problems", and this plays like an excellent, soulful tragedy in the vein of season 1's underrated "Conscience of the King".
What I also like is how subtly hilarious this episode is. You have a guy, Flint, who basically literally was Da Vinci, Moses, Brahms, maybe even Beethoeven, Ghandi, Jesus and Mother Teresa. He's an immortal creature trying to live the best possible life and so teach humans how not to be giant jerks. But of course he gives up - you stupid humans! - and exiles himself on another planet, where he lives in a mansion and bitterly fumes about the stupidity of man whilst building himself a hot robot chick to live with. A hundred years later Kirk comes along and steals his robot babe. Even a hundred years in the future, humans are ruining poor Flint's day!
Wed, Oct 3, 2018, 9:10am (UTC -5)
I think you missed the point of the episode. Flint is not a villain. Yes, he uses Kirk and causes him to have his heart broken, but he's not evil and deliberately trying to inflict harm or achieve some other nefarious goal.
I think @Philadlj's comment re. the similarities between Flint and Kevin Uxbridge from "The Survivors" is helpful, although the 2 had different purposes. Uxbridge wanted to be left alone and Flint did too, until Kirk fell into his lap and so he tried to use him to give Rayna the ability to love like a real human.
Also I don't see how you can characterize an episode can be "subtly hilarious" but predominantly a "soulful tragedy". This episode is meant to be, as @ZITO CARNO says, "a tragic love story".
Wed, Oct 3, 2018, 10:20am (UTC -5)
And while I wouldn't call Flint a villain, exactly, he does have the trait Pygmalion does of esteeming himself so highly that other people are like gnats before him. This results in his concept that only "his equal" could satisfy him, and that he must create that equal. They gave Flint the 'superior case' of that, being absolutely speaking a superior individual to Pygmalion, who only had his vanity to brag about. Flint has something real to brag about, if we want to put it that way, but I think the point is that these accomplishments are nothing at all to brag about when it makes you belittle all life besides yourself. He's 'missed the point', if you will, and if anything his intellectual powers made it harder for him than for anyone else to recognize his own weakness. From that perspective it's more the story of a fool than a villain, although we might call him a villain insofar as he's an example of what attitude not to have.
And I suppose I agree with Rahul that Kirk stealing 'his babe' isn't funny or meant to be funny, but is a reflection of how sad a person Flint is. I also don't even think it needs explaining why Kirk falls for her so quickly; she's described as being the height of intellectual powers, equal to Flint, and is lovely and wanting to learn how to love. We don't even have to see Kirk as a horndog to explain this attraction; there is ample reason to actually admire her and also feel for her difficulties. She's literally the perfect, yet lonely, woman, looking for someone who loves life and loves women. Well hello, I don't know how Kirk could even resist this.
I'd have to watch this one again to see if I can detect some subtle humor in it such as Trent describes, but offhand I don't recollect anything like that.
Sun, Mar 24, 2019, 10:14pm (UTC -5)
Thu, May 9, 2019, 4:31pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jun 6, 2019, 11:24pm (UTC -5)
The concept was great, but again, the execution was an utter failure.
So much stupid it's impossible to list it all, though the worst part was the "romance."
Ugh. Well below average.
Wed, Jul 3, 2019, 10:00pm (UTC -5)
The fascinating concept of a super-long-lived genius plagued by loneliness and needing to manipulate Kirk and company into staying a bit longer to spur the emotions of his android creation was so inventive—yet Kirk’s character was so off that it marred the episode. Sure, he’s always been one to fawn over any new young woman with an elaborate hairdo and shimmering outfit, but he also is always first and foremost cognizant of his duty to his ship and crew. How many times have we seen him deliberately lead a woman on to save his ship? In one notable episode, he completely played on the emotions of a Romulan captain to steal her cloaking device technology. Kirk is a ladies man, yes, but he also always puts duty first. In this episode, we have Spock continually reminding him that there is a plague raging and the entire crew will die, and at best this distracts him only momentarily? I don’t buy it. It’s poor writing.
Equally poor writing was seen in McCoy’s cruel digs at Spock near the end. Usually, the banter is good natured and only highlights the respective strengths of these two. This time, however, McCoy’s pity that Spock can never love, nor even understand the term, when even an android can, was unnecessary and completely unwarranted. I was expecting Spock to point out that at least not being foolishly blinded by such an emotion meant saving the crew from death, but he made no response. It’s especially odd given the obvious refined sensibilities and appreciation for art that Spock had just shown. Here is a person who knows the work of Brahms intimately (even down is to the composer’s handwriting) and who knows the brush stroke style of DaVinci, but is still emotionally stunted according to McCoy? Where did the doctor get that idea?
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 10:53am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 22, 2021, 2:54am (UTC -5)
@Jammer really dropped the ball on this review. As lots of folks (@SteveRage, @Rahul, @Paul, @SPOCKED, @Joseph B, @Sean) have pointed out, our heroes were acting ridiculously out of character in this episode. Not sure why @Jammer didn’t catch that - very, um, out of character ;)
@Peter G. has a good point, this episode could have been a good take on Pygmalion. But sadly the execution fell apart, not the least because of Spock's ridiculous explanatory exposition (she died of love) and Spock's decision to mind-rape Kirk (wtf!).
I hate to say this, but ENT actually did a much better job in “Exile,”
Since, there were many copies of Rayna, maybe they could have just given each person their own copy?
Unless, that is, Flint had something like this in mind,
@Paul, I couldn’t agree with you more: "this is one of the most disappointing -- though not among the worst -- episodes of TOS. It's an amazing premise.”
2 stars. Barely.
Fri, Jan 22, 2021, 11:34am (UTC -5)
I think this was actually a superior *premise* to that of Pygmalion, insofar as we get a sci-fi setting with the potential for life-forms to become superior in a technical sense. In the Shaw play (and My Fair Lady) what we're really dealing with is bourgeois or upper class values and gloating about having them while the masses are 'uneducated', valuing fine diction as some sort of moral virtue, and parading it around like a fancy cloak. To the extent that Pygmalion succeeds, I'm not even certain what to say about it being a material improvement in a timeless sense; certainly within that society she has been moved upwards. But in Requiem we are given the idea that an actually superior person with heightened intelligence and artistic sense tries to create an equal. And this is not even pygheaded like in the Shaw play and the musical, because I can completely understand someone with an IQ of 300 feeling like he has nothing in common with normal people. As an analogy, I remember some depictions of Quicksilver in Marvel material (cartoons/comics, not the films) where he describes how SLOW everyone else is and how aggravating it is to interact with them in any way. When put in a situation like that I could imagine Quicksilver wanting to meet someone as quick as him so they could play tennis at real speed, and likewise for Flint wanting someone he could actually spend time with and not keep thinking about what a moron they are.
So this premise is quite nice, even sad. How could such a man, immortal and brilliant, ever find a way out of feeling totally alone? As you say, the execution is not great, but I don't think it's as bad as you say, either. The ending is really clunky and this harms our feeling of the episode coming out of it. It's like in music - mess up the beginning and the end and people will have a tough time remembering that the middle was good. And I think the middle of this one was good. I especially like the quiet tone and simple conversational scenes where they meet Flint and are being shown around. Sure, there is some 'action' just for the sake of action, with a deadline just for the sake of a deadline. It would have probably worked better if there was no ulterior motive for being here and we got to spend all the time meeting Flint and Rayna. So I'd say I like half of the episode quite a bit, and the other half is Frankenstein's monstered onto it which drags it down.
Fri, Jan 22, 2021, 12:14pm (UTC -5)
There, Pygmalion is a sculptor, and it is the sculpture he creates that comes to life, and he falls in love with that sculpture. For obvious reasons, this ancient greek myth fits the robot Rayna a little better than Shaw’s play.
By the way, Shaw’s twisted (and equally famous) version is also a very old arch-type, which you see in other classics, like The Tale of Genji (only a thousand years older than Shaw’s play ;)
In any case, yes, to the extent that I love Ovid’s version of the story as depicted in the painting, I agree, “Requiem” is an even better set up than the Shaw play. Shaw’s play (and Genji, for that matter) strike me as very creepy (just my personal opinion). Whereas “Requiem” and Ovid’s version is a little like Pinocchio; the sculpture turns into a real woman. With the twist that then the creator falls for his own creation. Not at all “pygheaded”. And of course the theme of a robot turning into a real person with feelings takes us straight to Data.
I am harsh on this episode not at all because of the set up. And I agree with you 100% that the measured tone is a pleasure to watch.
I love your analogy to Quicksilver. It reminds me of one of my favorite DS9 episodes, Statistical Probabilities. There, Julian is so excited the first time he gets to interact with people who are his intellectual equals,
BASHIR: They really are quite brilliant, though. I mean, once we actually started working, it was incredible. We were all on the same wavelength, talking in shorthand, finishing each other's sentences. I've never had that with anyone else.
O'BRIEN: After being with them, I can see how the rest of us must seem a little uncomplicated.
BASHIR: I wouldn't say that, exactly. More like slow.
O'BRIEN: Ha, ha. Must very be frustrating for you.
BASHIR: I don't mind. Makes me feel superior.
O'BRIEN: Glad to be of service.
BASHIR: I appreciate it. It's not always easy walking amongst the common people.
I can appreciate how Julian and Flint felt, which is why "Statistical Probabilities” is so dear to me. Perhaps that is yet another reason why I’m so harsh on “Requiem”. Instead of actually exploring what Kirk, Bones and Spock would be like around someone as incredible as Flint, they each act so out of character, that it defeats the entire purpose of the episode.
Depicting Kirk and Spock the way they did would be as if Data were plonked in front of his own intellectual peers, only to get drunk and babble on about his ex-girlfriend from In Theory. It would have been a ridiculous waste.
Sun, Feb 7, 2021, 11:01pm (UTC -5)
Kirk always negotiates from a position of strength. Gun boat diplomacy. He going to take Methuselah’s hydroxyl chloroquine no matter what. So human.
Watching TOS and wondering what kind of weapons and technology will exist on the Starships of the nations in the future after all of us here are gone, is very worrisome. Obviously this exact scenario in a deadly future pandemic is going to happen. I don’t think our germ fears and future super-dooper weapons are going to mix well...
Did Rayna own a flat screen TV? And man is she hot. And of course, Kirk totally violates her bubble. And snoop dawgs her house. Manners Kirk. Manners.
Should have guessed that Spock is an art and classical music snob...Fascinating.
A Highlander, Androids, shrink rays, sentient A.I., a love triangle, Spock showing tenderness and best of all, old guy whoops Kirk’s ass. This episode was awesome.
Fri, Feb 19, 2021, 8:33pm (UTC -5)
Iknow Kirk is a hound dog but his behavior here was just wrong. He says tha Flint used him but he was a willing patsy.
And then Spock just mind wipes him while he's sleeping. Lol
I guess you can make this stuff up.
Tue, May 18, 2021, 3:16am (UTC -5)
I agree with all the comments that said this was an episode with great potential but sadly wasted. I half remembered that Rayna was an android (long time no see!) and I thought she acted the part very well- non-comprehending reactions to Kirk’s first kiss, for example. The idea that she would self-destruct when faced with an impossible choice was more convincing than Data’s absurd artificial consciousness and “needs” in TNG.
But the notion that a few-thousand-year-old genius who had created many of humanity’s greatest achievements would stoop to a fist fight over a woman (who wasn’t) is plainly ridiculous.
And McCoy’s cruelty to Spock at the end was too much. The biggest laugh out loud moment? When Kirk stared through the view screen of the miniaturised Enterprise and saw the crew in suspension.. it’s not a window for heaven’s sake!
Jammer was way too generous. 2 stars at best.
Wed, May 19, 2021, 11:09am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 29, 2021, 9:51am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 4, 2021, 11:11pm (UTC -5)
So many good ideas in this episode. Such a poor execution. If this had been done in the first or second season, with more production time, budget, and better story editors, I can only imagine what it might have been.
Sat, Oct 9, 2021, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Oct 15, 2021, 10:56pm (UTC -5)
Captain Kirk’s closing line the next week in Methuselah: “A lonely old man, and a lonely young man. We put on a pretty poor show, didn’t we?”
The common theme is striking. Going where no man has gone before, and serving in a mission where “risk, gentlemen, is our business!”, despite the thrills is not adequate compensation for giving up love and the permanence of family. Our beloved crew of the Enterprise are living lonely lives.
The humility and genuineness of this admission, at this late stage of the series, is astounding and shows once again why TOS is distinguished from all the other Trek series.
Sat, Oct 16, 2021, 2:00am (UTC -5)
"The common theme is striking. Going where no man has gone before, and serving in a mission where “risk, gentlemen, is our business!”, despite the thrills is not adequate compensation for giving up love and the permanence of family. Our beloved crew of the Enterprise are living lonely lives."
Sure but would they be happier with family and a desk job? For those guys it would probably be a very boring life. Furthermore, only because you choose "permanent family" doesn't mean that it will be a happy family. So what is better, an exiting but lonely life or a permanent but also boring family life?
Sat, Oct 16, 2021, 9:29am (UTC -5)
I do not disagree with you. All of life choices involve trade offs. I was just noting that these two successive episodes of TOS reveals that one of the trade offs for our main characters is loneliness. Or at least yearning for romantic attachment.
That revelation might explain why Captain Kirk was acting so ridiculously in Methuselah. He was clearly embarrassed by his own behavior at the end of the episode. I wondered if what he wanted to forget was not Rayna, but the memory of his own desperation in the way he had behaved. It was touching that his suffering was ultimately relieved by his close friend Spock, who truly cares for him. In fact, Spock tried several times throughout the story to spare Kirk the emotional pain he saw developing.
Tue, Oct 19, 2021, 10:48pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 15, 2022, 10:11pm (UTC -5)
Sun, May 8, 2022, 8:11pm (UTC -5)
I will never forget this splendid episode. God Bless Gene Roddenberry, and He did.
Mon, May 9, 2022, 7:55pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 12:49am (UTC -5)
Tue, Aug 9, 2022, 7:42pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 24, 2022, 12:12pm (UTC -5)
The episode really raises the question of just how far Kirk would have gone had Flint not given him ryetalyn from the planet.
Sat, Oct 1, 2022, 8:42pm (UTC -5)
But this was ridiculous.
Only McCoy is bothering to try to get the urgently needed antidote while Spock spends the whole episode looking at Flint's artworks and Kirk just tries to get in bed with robo girl.
At least Kirk was in character-- until he later suffers crippling sadness over the girl he knew for two hours.
Sun, Oct 2, 2022, 7:33am (UTC -5)
Don't forget Ethan Phillips!
I had no idea the writer was the same as this episode, neat.
Funny enough I never even connected the two until just now even though I of course knew the subject matter of Requiem for Methusalah.
Somehow the TOS episode just to convey its central concept (of an immortal human existing through the ages). I think the issue is:
1) The immortal is living on some alien world and not Earth; and
2) The focus on the android woman.
The problem is you just forget who and what Flint is because he comes across as another weird alien like Apollo or something. There is scarcely anything human about him. Apart from the initial setup the implications of his existence scarcely matter. I think part of the problem is that Star Trek is just a terrible vehicle to convey the awe and wonder inherent in such an idea.
Meanwhile the central concept (an immortal human living through the ages of man) is sidelined by the android plot.
Anyway I loved The Man from Earth and am glad Bixby was able to explore this very cool scifi concept in a far more appropriate venue.
Sun, Nov 27, 2022, 1:54pm (UTC -5)
a- a self exiled historic human leaves earth , disappears from history, and ends up on an isolated planet with an inhuman female with whom he has an ambiguous relationship
("I am Johannes Brahms. . . and da VInci . . . and Zefrem Cochrane...." "NIce try, we just met him a few planets ago"))
b-- a disease's progress is pressuring their time
c -- the first guy's immortality comes after leaving earth; hte second guy's comes from being on Earth
d-- The female dies to become fully human
Fri, Dec 9, 2022, 6:18pm (UTC -5)
I like the idea that Spock's action is an 'act of love' which repudiates McCoy's lecturing him just beforehand, although it does come across also as dodgy and non consensual. I always thought though that it wasn't a total mindwipe as it would cause practical problems if Kirk has amnesia about the whole time period. It's just the 'love' and I assume his guilt for her death that Spock is able to alleviate. But the three characters are quite out of character in this episode and it is also a bit odd that Spock suddenly turns out to be an accomplished pianist and also able to recognise the brush strokes of famous painters. So I find too many flaws in this to be able to really enjoy it.
One odd thing near the end is when Kirk refers to Rayna being human down to her red blood cells... so is she really what was called in Blade Runner a replicant? Because of course Philip K Dick's novel, on which that film was based, is called 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' - for the film they were changed to artificially created humans with enhancements but radically reduced lifespans. If Rayna were like this (only immortal of course) some of the story would make a bit more sense because she would be physically human, albeit very improved, but because she has been created as an adult (as seen from the failed earlier versions) hasn't had the experience of growing up and maturing and has inadequate emotional and social development. In which case the conflict of getting those emotions perhaps gave her a brain aneuryism. Just a thought!
Fri, Dec 23, 2022, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 30, 2022, 10:54am (UTC -5)
However, there’s one saving grace, and that’s the writing style of the dialogue which in some moments has an almost lyrical quality. It starts with a description of the plague that sounds more like poetry than facts: “Constantinople, summer 1334. It marched through the streets, the sewers. It left the city by ox cart, by sea, to kill half of Europe. The rats, rustling and squealing in the night as they, too, died. The rats.” I can’t remember having heard anything like it in any other episode, so this kind of sets this one apart.
To be fair, it even backs Flint’s motives to have Rayna’s emotions stirred up by Kirk. When she asks Flint what loneliness is, he says: “It is thirst. It is a flower dying in the desert.” – and it clearly shows that her android mind can’t understand the metaphor. The world of poetry which means so much to Flint will never be accessible to her; while intellectually she clearly is his equal, spiritually they are living in different worlds, and this is the one thing Flint desperately wants to change.
And speaking of poetry, I also like McCoy’s description of “the things that love can drive a man to. The ecstasies, the miseries, the broken rules, the desperate chances, the glorious failures, the glorious victories.” Sounds like he knows what he’s talking about…
Thu, Jan 26, 2023, 12:15am (UTC -5)
For instance we could complain that Kirk falls in love too easily and without any explanation. But we are meant to understand that Flint has created a delay precisely in order to give Kirk time to develop feelings for Rayna, and vice versa, so this complaint is actually asserted as a premise: they *do* have enough time. If this had been a feature-length film it could have been drawn out into weeks instead of hours, so I think this complaint is really just a result of them not having any other way to do it in a TV episode. Another complain is how little interest Kirk and McCoy seem to have that they are literally talking to Da Vinci, Brahms, Alexander the Great, etc. Only Spock is afforded the chance to marvel at it, but again, if this was given its proper treatment we'd have scene after scene of them grilling him, explaining how it's hard to believe, and if they believed him, asking to know about his life. All of that is realistic, but wouldn't fit into a TV episode, especially since the episode is really about Rayna rather than Flint. That fact is itself a marvel: can you imagine writing in a character like this and *not* having it be about how amazing it is that this guy exists? But no, it's about how even someone like that can no more control someone else's feelings than we can. For a story that really is about the immortal man, there's a film called The Man from Earth, which is basically this story but feature-length and all about the immortality of the man. Incidentally, that film somewhat lacks imagination. We might also connect Methuselah with Pygmalion, which I have to expect they were deliberately channeling: great man wants to create a woman equal to himself, but she surpasses him and leaves him behind. In this case, Rayna does surpass Flint in 'humanity', but since it focuses on her weakness rather than her strength it doesn't go the route that Pygmalion does in its final moral. Also, I don't think that Spock's remark about how the pains of love were too much for her connects with any theme Pygmalion is about, so if there's a similarity between these stories it's mostly to be found in the megalomaia of Flint.
More than those stories, though, I was reminded of TNG's the Offspring when watching this. They are both about immortal beings creating an android, yes, but the crux of each is the same: the sheer brilliance of the new being is overshadowed by her lack of feeling the fulness of being alive, and at the critical juncture the overwhelming flood of emotion was too much for their neural nets. In Methuselah they frame as the pains of love being too great, and in Lal's case it's the tech side, but in both cases we are primarily see that situation through the eyes of those who love them: Kirk and Data, each in their own way. The grief of Kirk is highlighted through his pain, and Data's through his lack of pain.
I'll mention one observation I have about the final scene, that has been cast so often as Spock violating Kirk's mind without his permission. Right before that Kirk says he wishes he could forget. McCoy then berates Spock for not knowing love and not understanding its positive and negative aspects. McCoy leaves, satisfied that Spock is left out of the matter, unable to understand what love is and what the Captain is going through. He then also remarks that he wishes Kirk could forget. Spock's next action is to go help Kirk forget. That this immediately follows having been told that he knows nothing of love cannot be an accident: it's a mercy, and one born of the same kindness that caused him to risk his career to offer Captain Pike a respite from his suffering. One can argue that it's not actually a kindness to forget something painful, but that's really a separate argument. Assuming that Kirk truly did wish he could forget, Spock was granting that wish. Doing so without asking permission is one way to frame it; doing so without being asked to do the good deed is another. I think the writing expects us to understand it in the latter way, that a good deed done without solicitation or recognition is the purist kind. That you may disagree that this is a good deed at all is understandable, but essentially rejects a premise the episode is asserting as a given. I will also note that the grief Kirk is being relieved of is the same as that which killed Rayna just beforehand, so the episode is likewise inviting us to this as not only being a kindness, but perhaps something that could save the Captain from destroying himself mentally.
Sat, Jan 28, 2023, 9:25am (UTC -5)
Despite what Flint wants, even what Kirk wants out of this android, the fact remains. She will always be an android to both of them, and eventually both men will come to the conclusion that she cannot be their equal.
Fri, Feb 3, 2023, 10:48am (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 9, 2023, 7:56pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 18, 2023, 4:58pm (UTC -5)
And I think this episode has a interesting theme in his intro: can a man claim property of an entire planet, and refuses others to access ressources to save their lives? There is a really interesting debate in there — and I liked a lot the way Kirk just bypassed that with mutual destruction terms haha
Sat, Feb 18, 2023, 5:32pm (UTC -5)
""And I think this episode has a interesting theme in his intro: can a man claim property of an entire planet, and refuses others to access ressources to save their lives? """
There is also another interesting theme in this episode. Can a man make a claim on property that is clearly owned by another?
This is not the Next Generation, where an android is legally declared an entity with rights. This is an android constructed by Methuselah, and clearly she belongs to Methusaleh. Kirk's feelings are no matter in this episode.
Sat, Feb 18, 2023, 6:59pm (UTC -5)
"There is also another interesting theme in this episode. Can a man make a claim on property that is clearly owned by another?"
In context of it being an android like Data or Lore I think you'd need a strong case for their sentience to tell Dr. Soong he isn't allowed to keep them at his compound but has to let them do as they please. Then again another case could be made that a 'new' android is like a child and is under the guardianship of the creator/parent until they're passed a certain maturity level.
In context of this episode I don't believe Rayna is an android in the sense of being filled nothing but processors and microchips. From the details given she is artificial but human, with human parts. Flint essentially constructed a human from scratch:
MCCOY: Physically human but not human. These are earlier versions of Rayna, Jim. She's an android.
KIRK: She's human. Down to the last blood cell, she's human. Down to the last thought, hope, aspiration, emotion, she's human. The human spirit is free. You have no power of ownership. She's free to do as she wishes.
Maybe Kirk is just speaking poetically, but it seems to me Kirk wouldn't have kept on fighting for her if she was literally just a robot. The situation seems to be that she may have been built by Flint but she's for all purposes a human now and therefore cannot be his property.
Sat, Feb 18, 2023, 9:32pm (UTC -5)
""In context of this episode I don't believe Rayna is an android in the sense of being filled nothing but processors and microchips. From the details given she is artificial but human, with human parts. Flint essentially constructed a human from scratch:
MCCOY: Physically human but not human. These are earlier versions of Rayna, Jim. She's an android.
KIRK: She's human. Down to the last blood cell, she's human. Down to the last thought, hope, aspiration, emotion, she's human. The human spirit is free. You have no power of ownership. She's free to do as she wishes.
Maybe Kirk is just speaking poetically, but it seems to me Kirk wouldn't have kept on fighting for her if she was literally just a robot. The situation seems to be that she may have been built by Flint but she's for all purposes a human now and therefore cannot be his property.""
Flint could not have created a human from scratch because any human parts would have decayed on the models that didn't make the cut. As we saw, they were in the room on gurneys, much like mannequins. I see Rayna as an android with a human like exterior.
Even Star Fleet in TNG took the view that Data was property and not a sentient being. In reality, if Star Fleet was going to take Data on as a crew member, that should have been well documented before he ever stepped aboard a starship.
Kirk was speaking poetically, and one has to wonder: Just what would he have done if Rayna had agreed to come with him? First and foremost, she belonged to Flint. It's his planet and his android. Would Kirk have murdered Flint if he refused to let Rayna go? I do believe he would have murdered Flint to get the ryetalin.
Sat, Feb 18, 2023, 10:44pm (UTC -5)
"Flint could not have created a human from scratch because any human parts would have decayed on the models that didn't make the cut. As we saw, they were in the room on gurneys, much like mannequins. I see Rayna as an android with a human like exterior."
I can see that interpretation. What I was saying is that there's a decent reason to believe it's not a given but has been left open. In other words I'm not so much arguing that Rayna is definitely a flesh and blood human as there is some evidence to suggest it. I would argue that the existence of the other prototypes on the table (a) doesn't necessarily imply that the current Rayne is just like them, and (b) should maybe not be taken that literally. I doubt the writers were interested in inspecting what would happen to biotech that sits on a table for a while, would it rot, etc. That's just not the point the episode is trying to make. Since I take this to be a Pygmalion-inspired story, I think the main thrust of the plot is that that which is created may reject the creator, and that just because you 'made' someone doesn't mean you own them. That fact that he literally made Rayna in this case is a sci-fi element, but thematically I think it's less relevant than the fact that she's the way Flint wanted her and therefore she is made for him. Flint seems certain she should be with him not because he was the owner of the parts used to assemble her, but because they are both immortal and she has been designed to be a match for him. In other words he sees her as the ideal wife according to his desire, and that is why she should rightfully be with him. Any force he's willing to exert to defend that desire could be justified as 'ownership' but really I think it's about him believing his desires are the ultimate artiber of what should happen. It's a power thing. He wasn't Alexander the Great for no reason, after all.
Sun, Feb 19, 2023, 11:12am (UTC -5)
""I would argue that the existence of the other prototypes on the table (a) doesn't necessarily imply that the current Rayne is just like them, and (b) should maybe not be taken that literally. I doubt the writers were interested in inspecting what would happen to biotech that sits on a table for a while, would it rot, etc. That's just not the point the episode is trying to make.""
I don't think the creators were trying to show the merits of a plastic Rayna versus one made of organic materials either. In my opinion, the scene of the various Raynas in the mysterious room was a shock value scene: Rayna's an android who's come from a rather long line of androids.
""Since I take this to be a Pygmalion-inspired story, I think the main thrust of the plot is that that which is created may reject the creator, and that just because you 'made' someone doesn't mean you own them. That fact that he literally made Rayna in this case is a sci-fi element, but thematically I think it's less relevant than the fact that she's the way Flint wanted her and therefore she is made for him."""
You know, I truly wish this had been a Pygmalion based story, without the Flint-Kirk hormones thrown in for good measure. That would have raised it as among the best of the Star Trek episodes in my opinion.
""Flint seems certain she should be with him not because he was the owner of the parts used to assemble her, but because they are both immortal and she has been designed to be a match for him. In other words he sees her as the ideal wife according to his desire, and that is why she should rightfully be with him."""
Very well put.
TOS has dealt with the android issue, and in my opinion, handled it rather poorly. Androids, if they're female, are put in TOS realm as mechanisms of servitude. They're also beautiful and sexy, and they're on some dark and dreary planet that no one else cares to populate. They're also easy to replace, which makes them dispensable.
While we don't know if the previous "Raynas" were organic or not, there is something else we don't know about them. Any one of them may have been strolling around Flint's mansion, just like the current model.
Sun, Feb 26, 2023, 2:29pm (UTC -5)
Now, she being organic or not, we indeed have a interesting debate, because Flint, either way, made (or "produced") her. Is that enough to claim property? I don't think so, and to think about that would take us on what makes beings have rights, self ownership and all of that.
And that's why I like Star Trek: even if the episode doesn't go deep into these questions, they are always there as food for thought.
Sun, Feb 26, 2023, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
Interesting thoughts which raise a question in my mind. Did Rayna "die" or did she "malfunction"?
Wed, Mar 29, 2023, 10:54pm (UTC -5)
I agree entirely with the first comment above, by Paul, from ten years ago. This wasn't so much a bad episode so much as a disappointing one. Downright frustrating and tiresome in the final act.
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