The Conscience of the King - Recap
<-- Previous EpisodeNext Episode -->
Dr. Leighton diverts the Enterprise to Planet Q with a false announcement of a new food synthetic. He’s more concerned with having Kirk watch a performance of Hamlet by the Karidian Company… and it’s leader, Anton Karidian. The disfigured Leighton is obsessed with Karidian, and claims that he is Kodos the Execution, engineer of the massacre at Tarsus 4.
Kirk is skeptical, but neither he nor Leighton’s wife Martha can convince the man he is deluded. Leighton has invited the actors to a party at his home but Kirk defers… until he gets back to the ship and notices the similarities between Karidian and Kodos. He goes to the party but Karidian has declined. The captain does meet with Lenore Karidian and the two flirt. However, when they go outside for a stroll they find Leighton--dead.
Now willing to believe Leighton’s story, Kirk has their ship’s captain leave them stranded, then agrees to Lenore’s request for transport in return for a performance of MacBeth. Spock is concerned about the fact that taking the actors to their next planet will divert Enterprise off course but Kirk overrides him.
Going over the list of eyewitnesses to Kodos’ actions, Kirk realizes that another survivor is aboard the ship: Lt. Kevin Riley. Kirk demotes him back to Engineering, again over Spock’s objections. Spock goes to McCoy and discusses the matter, but the doctor isn’t overly concerned. While Kirk gives Lenore a tour of the ship’s observation deck and they kiss, Spock checks the records and finds that Leighton, Riley, and Kirk were all on Tarsus 4 at the time of the massacre. Governor Kodos sacrificed 4,000 people during a famine on the colony to save the other 4,000. Only nine men saw Kodos… and seven of them dead, with the Karidian Players nearby each time.
Riley is working in Engineering and calls up to the rec room for company. While Uhura sings to him, an unseen figure poisons his milk. Riley drinks it and manages to gasp out a request for help before collapsing. He’s taken to Sickbay where McCoy determines he’ll survive. The doctor and Spock then go to confront Kirk, and wonder if he is obsessed. Kirk isn’t sure, and doesn’t want to rush to accuse Karidian based on twenty-year-old memories. Kirk and Spock discuss the matter further in the captain’s quarters when they hear the sound of a phaser on overload. Spock blocks off the section while Kirk finds the phaser and manages to eject it into space just in time.
Kirk goes to confront Karidian who neither confirms nor denies the captain’s suspicions. Kirk has him recite one of Kodos’ speech so they can match the voiceprint and the actor speaks it as if by memory. Karidian questions Kirk’s cold unemotional futuristic self and Lenore arrives to note how the captain has used her to get to his father. He notes it was only that way at first but Lenore is furious.
The performance of Hamlet begins and Riley inadvertently hears Dr. McCoy making a log entry about Kodos. Riley steals a phaser and goes backstage, where Kirk tracks him down and convinces him not to kill Karidian, who they have all but confirmed is Kodos fro the voiceprint. Karidian/Kodos overhears them talking backstage and is haunted by the voices from his past. He walks off stage only for Lenore to announce that she is the one who has disposed of the eyewitnesses. Bemoaning the blood on his hands, Karidian turns fro his daughter while Kirk tells them it’s over. A clearly crazed Lenore draws a phaser but Karidian sacrifices himself to save the captain, taking the phaser blast and dying. Lenore collapses in grief over her father’s body. Later, as they return to their normal route, McCoy confirms that she’ll be well treated but believes that her father is still alive and performing before multitudes. As they leave orbit, McCoy wonders if Kirk truly felt for Lenore… and the captain simply smiles, giving him his answer.