by Jeff Bond
Third season Star Trek has always been regarded as the weakest year of the series, and most of the show’s legendary worst episodes played out between September 1968 and the show’s cancellation in the spring of 1969. But there were signs late in the season that the show might have been getting back its space legs. Episodes like “Requiem for Methuselah,” “The Cloud Minders” and “All Our Yesterdays” were more thoughtful and better-executed than adjacent stinkers like “The Lights of Zetar,” “That Which Survives” and “Mark of Gideon.”
“Requiem for Methuselah” ranks as one of the year’s better efforts. Writer Jerome Bixby not only wrote what’s regarded as one of the best episodes of the series (“Mirror, Mirror,” which for a time was chosen for use by the Smithsonian Institute to represent the series as a whole), but his work ranged from the classic Twilight Zone episode “It’s A Good Life” to sci fi films from Fantastic Voyage to It! The Terror from Beyond Space. Bixby clearly understood how to construct a good science fiction yarn and “Requiem” has a startling concept at its core. When Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to a small planet to find the Ryetalin necessary to cure a plague aboard the Enterprise, they encounter a powerful man named Flint (James Daly), who seems to live alone in a palatial estate on the planet. After initially threatening the Enterprise officers, Flint invites them to stay while he has his efficient but dangerous robot M-4 collect the ryetalin.
It turns out Flint does not live alone—he has a beautiful “ward” named Rayna who Kirk finds himself immediately attracted to. Flint’s relationship with Rayna also seems strangely emotionally charged, but the real mystery, as Spock begins to discover, is Flint himself—a man whose priceless collection of art, music and literature includes undiscovered works by Leonardo Da Vinci and Johannes Brahms that seem to have been recently completed.
To make a long story short, Rayna is found to be an android, and as Flint admits, “I am Brahms.” To me this is one of classic Trek’s great moments. Some have criticized Bixby’s concept as selling the human race short by implying that every great man in history was really just one genetic mutant, but as Flint says, he also knew the greatest minds in history—from Socrates to Moses. Daly brings a nice, arrogant world-weariness to his role, and his hairdo and Bill Theiss’ costume suggests a continuity from the ancient to the futuristic. The subplot involving Rayna plays out very much like the storyline to the sci fi classic Forbidden Planet (itself inspired by Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”) with Flint allowing his “daughter” just enough contact with men from Earth to arouse her emotions, and finally engaging Kirk in an Oedipal conflict for Rayna’s love.
It’s the touchy-feely aspects of the story’s romance that provides “Requiem” with both its weakest moments and, ironically, one of Trek’s greatest. This is another example of Kirk falling altogether too quickly for a woman, no matter how appealing Louise Sorel’s Rayna may be. You can put it down to Kirk’s stress over the plague on the Enterprise I suppose but to have him so utterly distracted by this woman during a few hours in which he and his landing party are desperately trying to save the lives of the Enterprise crew seems not only out of character but downright weak. The episode is by necessity talky, and the romance and conflict with Flint pays off with one of the more ridiculous and poorly staged fight scenes in the show’s history.
Shatner’s over-the-top “She’s human!” speech as Rayna stops the combat to announce her discovery of free choice is actually cut out of the episode, but in any case the dramatic wrap-up of this part of the conflict is indifferently staged. The real gem is the show’s denouement with an exhausted Kirk ruminating bitterly on what’s happened—and here we see what might just be the worst syndication cut in this entire package. As McCoy enters to find Spock standing over the sleeping Kirk he makes one of Trek’s greatest speeches, telling Spock he feels more sorry for the Vulcan than for Kirk because Spock will never know the agonies and delights of love—and when he leaves Spock proves the doctor utterly wrong by erasing Kirk’s memory in an obvious and deeply moving expression of affection for his Captain.
However, in this syndicated cut, McCoy never even enters the scene. Thanks, syndication! You’ll have to wait for the third season DVD to see the entire remastered episode whole, but “Requiem” still stands up for the most part as one of the gems of the third season, particularly as Spock pieces together the puzzle of Flint’s identity.
“Requiem for Methuselah” like many of the recent third season episodes finished by CBS-D gets some impressive added touches. The most striking is a new house for Flint, another expansive matte painting by the CBS-D team that replaces the old reuse of the Albert Whitlock painting from “The Cage.” Flint’s new house is a sprawling mix of architectural styles that includes Roman arches and what looks like an observatory, and the effects team adds the sight of Flint and the Enterprise landing party walking along a bridge toward the mansion, which adds not only life but dramatic momentum to the previously static shot. There’s a touch of Vegas to Flint’s surroundings in its new guise and it’s tough to reconcile the sprawling compound with the modest interiors, but it’s still a nice addition. Flint’s planet is rendered with magenta skies to match the matte painting and live action exterior sets, but the only other new effect occurs when Flint demonstrates his fantastic abilities by snatching the Enterprise from orbit and reducing it to a 33” table top miniature (coincidentally the same size as the early study model for the starship, which gets a rare cameo appearance here). Instead of the abrupt disappearance of the ship from orbit as seen in the original episode, CBS-D adds a shimmering effect that ties in to the optical effect that wipes over the miniature when it appears and disappears on the table in Flint’s laboratory. Flint’s planet also gets two moons—just like the Eden planet in “Way to Eden,” although this time we get to see the Enterprise pulling away from the planet and its two satellites in perspective.
Remastered vs. Original
butler, housekeeper, gardener, and guardian…and yours for no money down
Spock, check out the detail of the nacelle caps on this model!
Spock mixes up Kirk a ‘mind eraser’…so how many times has he done this?
Seasons One and Two discounted at Amazon
The Season Two box set is now available at Amazon for pre-order, discounted to $63.99 (Amazon has a low price guarantee that if they drop the price before ship date of August 5th you will get that lower price). The Season One DVD / HD DVD combo disk is available now for $114.95 (retail is $194.99).
Seasons One and Two of TOS-R ($114.95 and $63.99 respectively)
That matte painting was superb, too bad the shot didn’t last longer…but we have it here at least :D
I hear McCoy’s speech at the end is clipped. But at least the planet isnt earthlike…
Who knew you could use Nomad as a wok.
can you see the wires on flint’s robot?
Thanks for the recap… stupid frelling Verizon FiOS picked Saturday afternoon to conk out on me and I missed this eppy.
Great review. I always had a soft spot for this show myself. One of the last “Big Three” moments from the origonal run.
That is the worst syndication cut of the series. Who makes these cuts, part-time janitors at CBS?
(No offense to any part-time janitors out there – it’s good honest work)
little known fact- Flint wuz also Darryl and hung oot wit’ his brothers Larry and Darryl…
Guess he didn’t keep any mementos o’ dat life…
If you look closely at the right side of the matte, you can see figures walking into Flint’s castle. Of course they look like ants, but still very cool!
I always thought the “Remember” line from TWOK seemed out of charcter for Spock, back when I first saw that film in ’82. However I later watched this eps. and came to realize that it totally fits w/ the “Forget” line at the end of Requiem. – Very cool that Nimoy realized this, when Harve Bennett asked him to Improvise. Gotta love that Vulcan brain power!
Quite a nice review. I liked this episode, myself. Like the reviewer, I thought that the Kirk acted foolishly, possibly out of stress, but also possibly because regard for his “hero” status was intentionally weakened by the writer to serve the purposes of the story.
I do not believe that Kirk was very proud of his actions, and his regret is clear from his own statements at the very end of the episode.
As I stated elsewhere, I think that the syndication cut of McCoy’s speech, by which we found out that Flint was dying, was butchery.
One of my favorite episodes.
This review states a problem that I too always had with this episode. Making Flint be every great man in history sort of throws a wrench into Star Trek cannon. Captain Janeway hanging out with Leonardo da Vinci in the holodeck, well in fact she is kicking it with Flint. There are numerous other examples I am sure.
But it is a very cool idea indeed having a man who is immortal, witnessing history, accumulating wealth and knowledge through the centuries. This may have sprung the idea for Highlander.
The new matte painting is one of the best additions from the CBS-D team. Makes me even more excited to see what they’ve done with Stratos in “The Cloudminders”.
I’ve always been intrigued by the notion of ‘the immortal man’ living among us yet guarding himself from too many questions. It makes sense that he would become increasingly solitary given the curiosity of humans — we love a mystery. However this episode has always fallen a bit flat for me. Like many of the last half of season three’s episodes I’ve rarely seen this one in its entirety — I usually get bored and find myself doing something else whenever it’s on.
And I’ve never cared for Kirk’s presumption that Rayna was fair game for him — even though she’s lived with Flint alone and in seclusion for who know’s how long. Reminds be of another so-so episode, TNG’s third season “A Matter of Perspective” in this regard. I forgot who it was on the thread accompaying the sneak-preview image from this episode last week (Spockanella or Denise) who said Rayna’s apparent virginity was what drew Kirk to her like a heat-seeking missle (er, so to speak). That probably makes more sense than any other explanation for why he fell for her so hard!
I could not reconcile Kirk’s bizarre behaviour in this episode. I hadn’t seen this one before, and I was sure it would be revealed that Kirk had been injected with something that made him act like a love-struck adolescent. Instead we’re to believe he fell madly in love with a woman he barely had a conversation with, seeming to forget about a crisis that could kill his entire crew. The fight scene seemed to come out of the blue, with no real motivation, and was so poorly executed, it was laughable. Took me completely out of the story. I felt this was one of the worst episodes I’ve seen – again a case where they botched the handling of a potential gem.
7. Danpaine – (No offense to any part-time janitors out there – it’s good honest work)
Ha! None taken!
arrrr… in one life, Flint wuz a flustery Canadian actor who had his hands in everything… books, tv, music…
OMG — they cut out McCoy from the final scene?
You B- ards!
Im still bummed that HD DVD is already a thing of the past and we’re stuck with Blu Ray. (Not that there is anything wrong with Blu Ray)
I planned on buying all 3 TOS seasons in HD DVD until they announced their plans to shut down HD DVD. Even at $64.00 thats a nice chunk of change to pay for DVD’s with no way of knowing how much longer we will even be able to buy HD DVD players in case of problems.
I think they did a great job remastering these just sad that ST took another hit like this over the HD DVD/Blu Ray issue.
My 2 cents…..
#12—“This review states a problem that I too always had with this episode. Making Flint be every great man in history sort of throws a wrench into Star Trek cannon. Captain Janeway hanging out with Leonardo da Vinci in the holodeck, well in fact she is kicking it with Flint.”
That’s not entirely true. In fact, Janeway even mentions that Kirk claimed to have met him. The holodeck image of da Vinci is just that–a holodeck image. Janeway is “kicking it” with the holoprogrammer’s vision of Leonardo. It is not a canon violation, and if it were, the VOY writers would be to blame, not this episode.
And what if this Flynt guy is just full of sh*t? Obviously, Kirk’s story is somewhat unconfirmed, since Janeway states that Captain Kirk “claimed” to have met him.
I have a problem with Kirk all too easily falling for the femme bot, to the point of negligent distraction, while his crew is in apparent mortal danger, as Jeff Bond pointed out. There is no way. His ship and those in his charge mean everything to him. It was way out of character for Jim Kirk. I mean, he likes the ladies and we all know it, but come on…
I find the funniest thing about this episode is that Flynt has already been building androids with human emotions at least a century before Data boards the Enterprise-D.
“finally engaging Kirk in an Oedipal conflict for Rayna’s love”
More Electra than Oedipus, surely.
6000 years and Flint drew the wrong conclusions about mankind, that just does not work, As much as I Rip this episode, and it deserves to be ripped for alot of good reason, it had huge posibilities which were squandered with silly love triangle with Flint , Kirk and plugg me in Rayna the android paramour.
Plenty of Season 3 story holes in this one.
Hi, I’m Jimmy Kirk. I have plague. Can me and my friends play at your big house that we didn’t notice with our very powerful sensors… along with the girlbot and the Nomad knock-off?
As for Flint being so many great men, it would have been far more daring of Bixby (or whoever had the final say) to choose far more obscure notables from history — was Flint, say, ever anywhere outside of Europe? But, the needs of the script outweighed the needs of the thoughtful few. As with so many of Trek’s conciepts, it can be written off as a fact of 60’s television. These episodes were being watched twice in the same year, then … oblivion. Or so the networks thought when they drew up the budgets.
Love the Spockarace caption. “This one’s for my brother, Sybok.”
I love the captions on these screen shots… Ilia! Nacelle caps! Spockerace! Brilliant! Epic Win!
“I find the funniest thing about this episode is that Flynt has already been building androids with human emotions at least a century before Data boards the Enterprise-D.” Closettrekker – June 23, 2008
I always found it interesting how that android died much like, if not exactly like Data’s daughter Lal did.
A little trivia for all, this episode was the last rerun in NBC on September 2, 1969 and they didn’t broadcast the teaser (the bit before the titles). “The Mark of Gideon” was slated to be the last rerun on September 9, but NBC pre-empted it.
The cgi on this one surely helps out the episode, but it looks like they are reusing the ‘standard’ new orbiting cgi shots. Hopefully, the last few episodes will bring some truly new views of the Enterprise developed for the specific episodes coming up.
Although I doubt this will be the case, as I’d bet they were down to it, with regards to time and money toward the end of the project.
The Irony is that Jerome Bixby is one hell of good writerin addtion to trek he wrote the story and script for It Tellor from the unknown which was one of the movies that was the inspiration for Alien. How could he write a story this bad?
Was M4 visible crossing the bridge with Flint and the landing party. It’s hard to make out…
19. “I have a problem with Kirk all too easily falling for the femme bot, to the point of negligent distraction, while his crew is in apparent mortal danger, as Jeff Bond pointed out. There is no way. His ship and those in his charge mean everything to him. It was way out of character for Jim Kirk. I mean, he likes the ladies and we all know it, but come on…”
He’s done it before. In “Gamesters of Triskelion” while Uhura is in real danger of being raped ol’ Jimmy is trying to put moves of his own on a green-haired playboy model. Well, okay, maybe that’s not *exactly* how it went down — but close!
What a waste of potential. When I was younger I liked this episode. I still like the concept, but Kirk falling hopelessly in love in 2 hours just does not work. It is by far the weakest link of the story, and could have been handled so much better.
He didn’t need Spock to get him over Keeler.
And how about the way Flint threw a big old haymaker at Kirk at the beginning of the fight! I though Flint was also a trained warrior. “No man beats me” If you throw punches like that they do Flint.
The only “goof” is the ritalin they need….. The entire crew has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.
I was angry that they didn’t air this where I was. I looked at what I filmed and all I got was an infomercial.
the remaster looks great, but I never understood why Spock does not say anything when kirk says he is going to go back to the lab to see if he find a way to reverse the spoiled ryetalin. What does kirk know about trying to make the substance useable.
Also, we get to see the first flat panel monitor 40″? Too bad GR didn’t use those panels in the enterprise. Oh well its not a bad episode and as mentioned above, probably one of the worse syndication cuts, this episode was mutilated, but still one of the better of season 3.
3 more episodes left to air? Have all but 3 been shown?
I can’t help it, I don’t care if the CGI is better…IMHO Requiem and Cloud Minders were two of the worst episodes of Star Trek I’ve ever seen. And if the CGI is the best thing you can say about it…eech.
Both of those eps had good, interesting ideas that were hideously executed. It’s like the writers/producers/actors had never seen Star Trek before and had no idea how the characters were supposed to act.
I’m sure they each had things to recommend them, but the stuff that was horrible was SO horrible that it distracted from anything good.
Poor Kirk is suffering from cumulative stress in this one guys, especially at the end. Imagine if you loved three women and all of them died! Spock knew this, and good Vulcan friend that he was, helped him with a little memory erasure. And I do think Kirk fell head-over-heels for any virgin that happened across his path…
The whole problem with this episode and adding new effects is that its like taking an automobile that wrecked and rusting an applying a coat of paint. Its still wreck, but it does at least have a shiny new paint job.
Hey, maybe the plague messes with your mind in the early stages and this caused Kirk to get all loopy…I mean Spock jamming the ivories is just as strange when they all have 4 hours to live…McCoy was even a little over the top in histrionics….so let’s blame it on the disease….In fact, when you would hear Scotty on the communicator, he even sounds different…
The best thing of the this episode was spoke saying “forget”…great forshadowing to ST2:TWOK as far as continuity of the character….
The new CGI stuff and painting are fantastic if not a little “Hogwarts” influenced…hey, maybe “he who must not be named” was using legilmancy against our FAB 3 boys….lol
spoke=Spock darn computer messing with my typing…hey maybe I need some Ryetalin….hehe
Mauve planet! Sweet.
Jerome BIxby and Otto Klement wrote the short story upon which Fantastic Voyage is based. Isaac Asimov did the novelization. Oddly enough the story used steampunk technology, not hi tech. 20th Centrury Fox made it all “plastic and steel”. I don’t know if the original story was called Fantastic Voyage; haven’t found that story/ yet.
You know, I think what Flint needed most was to go to a few singles bars maybe do some computer dating rather then dating a computer. Get out a little bit smell the rose, and definitely get a new set of clothes , The renaissance look is out .
Flint doesn’t mess with cannon…crappy spin-offs mess with cannon:)
I think I noticed the water glimmering when they showed the castle with flint, Spock, kirk and McCoy crossing, nice touch. Looks like real water when I viewed it from my recording via my hd antenna.
This story is fairly reminiscent of the first season “Twilight Zone” episode “Long Live Walter Jameson” by Charles Beaumont. In that story, Kevin McCarthy plays a 2,000 year old immortal that has seen many wives age to dust and now wants to marry a colleague’s young daughter. Unfortunately for Jameson, one of his previous wives is not quite dead yet and she shows up and shoots him, turning him to dust.
In the even earlier “TZ” episode, “The Lonely,” by Rod Serling, Jack Warden plays a man who falls in love with an android while isolated on a deserted planet.
Jeff Bond points out that this episode is also similar to “Forbidden Planet” in that each is similar to Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” However, the original series in general is so similar to “Forbidden Planet” that the latter could well be considered the “lost pilot” for “Star Trek.”
Disc-shaped, FTL, military/exploratory space-craft (C-57D) arrives at Altair IV to check on an earlier expedition. The three principals of the crew – the captain, first officer and doctor – equipped with their ray pistols and communicators, contact the sole survivors, a genius with a dark secret and his lovely daughter. The captain quickly falls for the brilliant but naïve girl provoking a conflict.
Although Star Trek in general owes many familiar elements to “Forbidden Planet,” with “Requiem for Methuselah’s” story it comes about as close as it can to being a remake.
Did I mention that in both “Methuselah” and “Forbidden Planet,” the genius living in isolation has created a powerful, potentially dangerous robotic servant? (Robby/M-4)
There is nothing “bad” about the episode; as i’ve said in the other related thread, Krik is a very lonely man: not only does he state this in the episode, but long before it, in TOS history, he really only had one serious love–the rest were minor old flames (see: “The Deadly Years”) or flings, with the exception of Edith Keeler. That’s it. ONE true love in all that time, so by the stardate of this episode, Kirk is clearly longing for the real deal to complete his life.
Rayna–with her kind heart, beauty and brilliance (like Edith to certain degrees) fits the order to the letter, so its logical for a lonely man to fall for someone so “perfect” in every way a man could desire (that, of course is the episode’s thoughtful, ironic point about seeking perfection).
Coming in toward the end of TOS’ network run, the characterizations of the big three show great evolution–this is no longer the raw getting-to-understand-you period of “Where No Man Has Gone Before” or “The Corbomite Manuver.” By now, the big three are locked into each other’s lives and feelings, hence McCoy’s great, final speech to Spock about love, and Spock–truly caring for his best friend–easing his pain with his “forget” suggestion.
To me, this is one of the best TOS episodes in the sense that it allowed the big three to fully illustrate their feelings for each other (along with season three’s “The Empath” and “For the World is Hollow, and I Have Touched the Sky”) with no regrets or questions. They are so comfortable, that they can say or help the other, and feel completely free to do so (by comparison, you could not imagine Spock doing that for Chekov, or McCoy making that great observation about Sulu or Kevin Riley).
Flint? I do not agree that his being a few great men throughout history robs humanity–as another member pointed out, he also knew other great men, so humankind actually produced legends not associated with Flint.
One can only feel sorrow for the man, as his admitting he knows death, the taste of dust–regarding outliving loved ones is a very strong bit of character development. All viewers need to do is imagine themselves in Flint’s shoes, having to watch them grow old and die, yet you are–in a sense–cursed with starting and losing relationships…and cannot run away from remembering dozens or hundreds of loves you will never see again in life.
This is why “Requiem for Methuselah” is not only one of season three’s best, but one of the series’ best stories.
The new matte shot of Stratos from “The Cloud Minders” was on display at the Star Trek exhibition yesterday. It’s quite impressive, fleshing out details only hinted at in the original shot (while still taking the original as its inspiration), though it’s nowhere near as gorgeous as the design for Flint’s residence in this episode.
And speaking of “The Cloud Minders,” now there’s a third-season stinker that ranks with the very worst. “Methuselah,” OTOH, while suffering from the indifferent direction and production values that plagued most of that year’s shows, at least had a solid SF premise, a fine performance by James Daly, and an ending more moving than most. As John Campbell noted to Roddenberry in their correspondence, as he expressed his consternation at Trek’s declining quality, at least this show was a return to legitimate science fiction storytelling, if a little slow-moving.
(And try to dig up the behind-the-scenes story of Shatner’s ballroom dance with Louise Sorel and its embarrasing aftermath, which is hilarious.)
And another nit pick, I think it not matter how old Flint is, I find it very unlikely that a) he would have accumulated enough money to purchase a planet, and b) he would posses the technology to miniaturize the Enterprise.
I’ve always enjoyed this episode primarily on the strength of James Daly’s performance of Mr. Flint. The New Castle CGI really helps set the drama to come.
Kirk’s behavior is odd and fans years ago suggested that he was under some outside influence causing him to ‘fall’ so quickly. This would suit Flint’s purpose given the limited timeframe (both broadcast and story).
–Terrible fight scene —
Flint fails to create a Fully Functional Positronic Android Brain and Rayna suffers the same fate as Mr. Data’s daughter in TNG.
To go back to something stated earlier, I don’t think “Gamesters of Triskelion” falls into this category of Kirk being out of character–in that and other episodes like “Wink of an Eye” Kirk is insinuating himself with the women in question because he’s been captured and he’s working to get information and a tactical advantage–and “Triskelion” theoretically takes place over a number of weeks, giving Kirk ample time to develop some feelings for Shanna.
I think “All Our Yesterdays,” Requiem” and “Cloud Minders” stand out because they all offer memorable characters–all have their flaws, but for this point in the series they stand well above the other episodes in the season.
This episode should be the last chapter of the Casca stories. And I find parts of Dune–awake the ghola?