Captain James Kirk and Lieutenant Kevin Riley have something in common besides good looks, gold shirts, and the middle initial 'T'. In 2245, they both wrote school reports entitled "How The Famine & Mass Slaughter on Tarsus IV Ruined My Summer Vacation".
Twenty years later, and Kirk's buddy Dr. Thomas Leighton (William Sargent) is still sore about that. In fact, half his face is still bandaged. Tom lied to divert the Enterprise to his location on Planet Q (no relation), then he forces Kirk to spend an evening at the theatre.
Leighton is convinced Anton Karidian of the Karidian Company of Players is really Kodos The Executioner, the governor who personally selected 4000 people out of 8000 on Tarsus Colony to be slain so the rest might last longer. The burned corpse of Kodos convinced most people that he's toast, but there were 9 eyewitnesses who actually SAW Kodos' face. Tom & Jim among them. So Tom is killed, which makes his theory seem a little more plausible.
"I think we're due for a pick-up," says Kirk. He means the acting troupe... or does he? While transporting the thespians to planet Benecia for their next gig, Kirk puts the moves on Karidian's 19-year-old daughter, Lenore.
Say... is it creepy at all that she plays Lady Macbeth to her dad's Macbeth?
Or that describing the ship, she comes up with a line like: "All this power, surging, throbbing, yet under control... are you like that, Captain?"
Kirk precedes the inevitable smooch with: "Worlds may change, galaxies disintegrate, but a woman always remains a woman." Eat your heart out, Shakespeare!
Kevin Riley is poisoned with tetralubisol in his milk, and Kirk nearly goes kablooey from a phaser on overload in his quarters.
It was such a near thing that Kirk called out the only "double red alert" in series history.
Someone IS acting kind of Executioner-y...
Kirk confronts Karidian, who happens to know Kodos' "You're Going To Like This Idea, Tarsus IV" speech off by heart.
Karidian is disdainful of the merciless ways of the modern technological society.
Kirk replies "We've armed men with tools. Striving for greatness continues."
Kirk demonstrates some of that greatness by talking Riley down from a backstage murder attempt of his own when McCoy accidentally spills the beans about Kodos/Karidian and all the Mom & Pop Riley killing. Slightly undercut by the Captain's teenager kissing ways... oh, and the fact that Lenore's a full bore whack-a-doo, having killed seven witnesses to safeguard her daddykins. Then daddykins bites it, too, during what she had intended as a phaser rampage to turn the ship into "a floating tomb". Lenore flips completely out, presumably never to flip back again. Uh, shudder if ya gotta.
Mercilessly, this technologically advanced society plans to give her the best of care.
'The Conscience of the King' just doesn't work that well for me. There's no mystery to the murders, McCoy's blabbermouth nearly gets Kevin killed (or started on a vigilante life as Irish Batman!), Spock's a bit too fretful, and the whole eyewitness angle is screwy from the get-go since the computer's got Kodos pictures and voiceprints and all. On what kind of colony does no one know what the governor looks like? Was he behind a curtain, in a cave, wearing a mask BEFORE the famine?
Tune in tomorrow for something SUCCESSFULLY dramatic...