Director: Gerd Oswald
Writer: Barry Trivers
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Arnold Moss, Barbara Anderson, DeForest Kelley, Grace Lee Whitney, Nichelle Nichols, William Sargent, Natalie Norwick, David-Troy, Karl Bruck, Marc Adams, and Bruce Hyde
Air Date: 12/8/1966
Production #: 6149-13
When Captain Kirk arrives at Planet Q, Dr. Thomas Leighton (William Sargent) reveals that Kodos the Executioner—responsible for a massacre on Tarsus IV—might be assuming the identity of a stage actor named Anton Karidian (Arnold Moss). Despite his initial skepticism, Kirk decides to invite Karidian’s daughter Lenore (Barbara Anderson) aboard the Enterprise in the hope of gaining information. Meanwhile, a mysterious killer begins hunting down the last surviving witnesses to Kodos’ crimes: Dr. Leighton, Lt. Kevin Riley (Bruce Hyde), and Kirk himself.
“The Conscience of the King” benefits from a compelling murder mystery and a clever twist ending. Star Trek enthusiasts may, however, wish to avoid this episode for its languid pacing and lack of science fiction themes.
A character actor with experience in Shakespearean theatre, Arnold Moss deserves praise for his tormented portrayal of Karidian. Specifically, Karidian turns every interaction, whether real or scripted, into a performance opportunity, revealing his inability to cope with the monstrosity lurking beneath his gentle veneer. (On a side note, astute fans may draw certain parallels between Moss’ character and the Klingon General Chang from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, who, like Karidian, relies on Shakespeare quotes and dramatic flair in order to express his thoughts and motivations.)
“The Conscience of the King” may evoke criticism for its slow-moving narrative, which prevents a layer of tension, suspense, or atmosphere from surrounding the mysterious connection between Karidian and Kodos. (That being said, this episode does contain two riveting sequences, one involving an overloaded phaser and the other an attempt on Karidian’s life.)
In contrast to Khan Noonien Singh (“Space Seed” and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), Kodos comes across as a dictator with a conscience—likely a statement on how even the most vile, reprehensible of men can show love, kindness, and compassion toward others.
Featuring drama/mystery elements in a Star Trek setting, “The Conscience of the King” offers a unique and original story. Viewers may nevertheless take issue with this episode, which suffers from a plodding execution.
Overall Quality: 7/10
If you enjoyed this post, please enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.