(airdate: February 14, 1969)
Writer: Jerome Bixby
Director: Murray Golden
Flint: James Daly
Rayna: Louise Sorel
Captain's Log: Suffering from potentially fatal Rigelian fever, the Enterprise travels to the planet Holberg 917G, which is rich in ryetalin, a mineral that can cure the disease. However, the planet is not uninhabited; a human named Flint lives on the planet. He agrees to help gather and refine the ryetalin and insists that the landing party remain as guests in the meantime. While Spock becomes interested in certain anomalies regarding previously unknown works of art by great painters and composers, Kirk becomes entranced by Flint's ward, Rayna Kapec. It becomes clear that Flint is conspiring to keep the landing party around; Rayna is in fact an android, built by Flint to keep him company, and he's been using Kirk to awaken emotions in Rayna. Flint is in fact 6000 years old and previously had identities like Leonardo da Vinci and Johannes Brahms, but he wants a partner to spend eternity with. However, Flint's plan works too well, and when Kirk and Flint begin to fight over Rayna, she shuts down, unable to handle the conflicting feelings of love for both Kirk and Flint.
Whoops!: As is fairly well documented, the Black Death didn't reach Constantinople until 1347. [China reportedly had an early outbreak in 1334, while Constantinople was the first European city to experience the plague; perhaps these two facts were inadvertently conflated.]
Should we take a moment to question the morality of Spock mind-melding with Kirk at the end of the episode to remove his unhappiness? "If only I could forget", spoken right before Kirk falls asleep, doesn't seem like a great case for consent for Spock to remove Kirk's memories. And what did Spock's mind-meld actually entail? Did he remove Kirk's entire memory of Rayna, or just his feelings of affection? Either way, this seems like a much more sinister action than the touching, bittersweet ending they're shooting for.
In the original version, Flint's castle is clearly the fortress from "The Cage"/"The Menagerie", which maybe wouldn't be a problem if it hadn't shown up in the end credits of several episodes as a fairly iconic shot. [The remastered version changes this to a newly created palace.] The end credits on the DVD misspell Rayna's name as "Reena". [No one quite seems to know why this is the case. Best guess is that it was originally misspelled on broadcast but then corrected for the VHS/Laserdisc release, but the DVD went back to an unaltered print and the error slipped through. It's corrected (again) on subsequent releases.]
Classic Lines: Kirk, responding to Flint's claims of human violence: "Yes, well, those pressures are everywhere in everyone, urging him to what you call savagery. The private hells, the inner needs and mysteries, the beast of instinct. As human beings, that is the way it is. To be human is to be complex. You can't avoid a little ugliness from within and from without." Flint: "...To be human is also to seek pleasure, to laugh, to dance."
Flint on loneliness: "It is thirst. It is a flower dying in the desert."
Don't Wear a Red Shirt: At the beginning of the episode, three crewmembers have died from Rigelian fever, while another 23 have been struck down by it.
Alien Love: Kirk falls deeply in love with Rayna (much more strongly than usual, in fact), while Flint is also in love with her. Rayna loves them both and dies from being unable to process her conflicted feelings regarding the two of them.
Library Computer: Holberg 917G is a small planet in the Omega system. From orbit it's a pink-and-purple planet with at least one moon. [There are two in the remastered version, and in the original the shot of Flint's castle (a reuse of the Rigel VII fortress from "The Cage") shows a giant moon in the foreground with what looks like a smaller moon with rings further away - which is probably why the remastered version chose to add a second moon to the shot in orbit.] The surface is rocky, with some vegetation and a very pink sky. Holberg 917G has large quantities of ryetalyn, a substance which is the only known antidote for Rigelian fever. Although Holberg 917G appeared uninhabited, this was due to screens set up by the planet's inhabitant, a human named Flint, in order to be left alone. According to Federation records, Holberg 917G was purchased thirty years ago by a reclusive financier named Brack [almost certainly one of Flint's aliases, although it's not technically confirmed as such].
Flint was a white man, seemingly in his 50s, with short white hair and brown eyes, wearing a shiny brown paisley shirt, red-brown pants, and a dark blue cape. Although he appeared to be middle-aged, Flint was in fact around 6000 years old; he was born in 3834 BC in Mesopotamia as a soldier named Akharin, a man who was by his own description "a bully and a fool". He was stabbed through the heart in battle; however, due to a form of instant tissue regeneration, combined with a perfect form of biological renewal [so that he doesn't appear to be aging], he didn't die. Flint learned to conceal his immortality, faking aging and then moving on before he was discovered. During his long life he fraternized with some of humanity's greatest figures, including Moses, Socrates, and Galileo; this allowed him to acquire both great knowledge and wealth, and after a time he began to make his own impact upon the world, taking on aliases such as (among a hundred other names) Methuselah, Solomon, Alexander, Lazarus, Merlin, Leonardo da Vinci, Johannes Brahms, and Abramson, as well as possibly Richard Pollack and Taranullus of Centauri VII. [Flint owns pieces by Pollack and Taranullus, but he never claims to be them. It's likely he was Pollack, as he owns several of his pieces, but less likely that he was Taranullus, given that he began aging again once he left Earth; one would think he would need more time to establish himself as Taranullus before heading to Holberg 917G than he has available.] He was present in Constantinople in 1334 when a bout of bubonic plague swept through the city. Flint was married a hundred times, and each time he had to watch his spouse die while he continued on. Flint eventually became disillusioned with humanity and its propensity for violence and chose to retreat from society by moving to Holberg 917G; consequently, he highly valued his privacy and was willing to kill to protect it. In order to provide some companionship, he decided to build an android woman, Rayna Kapec; he taught her everything he knew, but he couldn't quite activate emotions in her. Thus when the Enterprise landing party arrived, Flint took advantage of their presence to activate Rayna's feelings, although he was unprepared for Rayna and Kirk to fall in love with each other. Flint boasted that he had twice the physical strength of Kirk [although Kirk seems to hold his own when they fight]. Once Flint left Earth and its "complex fields", he was no longer immortal, meaning he would live out the remainder of a natural life and then die. Upon learning this, Flint chose to devote his talents to the betterment of humanity.
Flint had a number of impressive abilities; in addition to being a genius at painting and composing, he was a talented engineer, capable of making not just a simple robot butler, but also a device that could instantly transport a starship from orbit to the planet below while reducing the ship to 1/315th its size and holding the crew in a sort of suspended animation, without damaging the ship or the crew. His greatest technological achievement, however, was the creation of Rayna Kapec, a female android who appeared virtually indistinguishable from a genuine human. Flint went through several different versions of Rayna [we see signs (and different versions, in two of the cases) for Raynas 14, 15, and 16] before arriving at this version. This Rayna looked like a young woman with blonde hair and brown eyes, wearing a floor-length silvery gown. She had been taught by Flint and had learned the equivalent of 17 university degrees in sciences and arts. Rayna did not know she wasn't human; Flint told her that her parents had died in an accident while employed by Flint, and so he had taken the infant Rayna into his care. Flint was in love with Rayna but unable to activate emotions in her; when Kirk was able to, Flint was initially pleased but soon flew into a jealous rage when Kirk attempted to convince Rayna to go with him and leave Flint behind. Rayna, seeing the two men she loved fighting over her, was unable to process her newly-awakened emotions, and the internal conflict thus killed her.
Flint lived in a large fortress, filled with rare and expensive things. These things included a Shakespeare first folio, a Gutenberg bible, the Creation lithographs by Taranallus of Centauri VII, a number of works by da Vinci (which Flint painted himself), and even a sten from Marcus II. [The subtitles (and the Memory Alpha wiki) suggest that Sten might be the name of an artist, rather than an object.] He also had a supply of fine, hundred-year-old Saurian brandy. Flint also had a grand piano and a billiards table, as well as a highly advanced laboratory.
Flint created a robot named M-4 - a hovering cylindrical robot with a large spherical center section containing three equally-spaced orange lights - to act as Flint's butler, housekeeper, gardener, and guardian. M-4 was capable of collecting and refining ryetalyn, and it was programmed to defend Rayna from attack. It could also render phasers inoperable when it detected them, and could attack with a blue beam. The first one we see was destroyed Spock with a phaser, but Flint was able to quickly construct another one.
Ryetalyn was a substance that was the only known antidote for Rigelian fever, a disease that was fatal if left untreated. Rigelian fever struck quickly: the victim would die in one way, with the effects of the disease like that of bubonic plague. In its natural state ryetalyn was a purple crystal; once processed into the antidote it was a dark blue liquid. However, the presence of a substance known as irillium, even one part per thousand, was enough to render the antitoxin inert.
Spock is interested in field density and its relationship to gravity phenomena. He can sight-read sheet music and can play the piano. He also recognizes both the work of Leonardo da Vinci and the handwriting of Johannes Brahms.
This is the only episode of the original series to feature a stardate in the hundredths (stardate 5843.75).
Final Analysis: "A very old and lonely man. And a young and lonely man. We put on a pretty poor show, didn't we?" This episode boasts some interesting ideas (Flint as immortal, an android woman) and a great guest cast in James Daly and Louise Sorel, but the primary problem is that we never really believe that Kirk's fallen hopelessly in love with a woman he's only known for two hours: the initial reactions from Rayna to being kissed (a sort of deer-in-the-headlights look) means this comes across as creepier than they intended, while the story itself simply doesn't dwell on this idea long enough to be plausible, and so the ultimate resolution feels too abrupt. It's not without merit, but "Requiem for Methuselah" is ultimately a flawed story.
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Page originally created: December 12, 2016
Page last updated: January 18, 2018