Charlie X

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"Charlie X" is a first-season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. The episode first aired on September 15, 1966 on the NBC Network. Teleplay by D.C. Fontana, Story by Gene Roddenberry. Directed by Lawrence Dobkin.

Plot summary

While investigating the planet Thasus, the Antares, a small cargo ship discovered an adolescent boy named Charles Evans, the sole survivor of a ship crash and who had been stranded on the planet Thasus living on his own since age three. The USS Enterprise makes a rendezvous with the Antares, the crew of the Antares transfer a young man, Charles Evans, who goes by the name Charlie. Charlie, who had been stranded on the planet Thasus for fourteen years and possessed psychokinetic powers, is officially transferred to the USS Enterprise, so he could be transported to Colony Alpha 5 to be reunited with his closest living relatives.

After a routine check-up by Dr. McCoy, he tells McCoy, "I want people to like me". Charlie attempts to learn and integrate, demonstrating the effect of his years away from all Humanoid contact. At the same time, unusual and unexpected incidents occur in Charlie's vicinity. Charlie is also struggling with adolescence and with his first crush, the Captain's beautiful Yeoman Janice Rand. After observing Crewman Wilson and a sciences division crewman slapping each other casually, Charlie does the same to Yeoman Rand's behind in a corridor, shocking her. Immediately, Rand advises Charlie to tell Captain Kirk or Dr. McCoy what he did by smacking her behind and ask them for advice. Afterwards, in the Enterprise's recreation room on deck three, Uhura is singing "Oh, On the Starship Enterprise" to a Rand and other crew members. Charlie's performing minor card tricks to woo Rand; Rand ignores Charlie so he secretly uses his power to silence Uhura's voice, as well as the sounds coming from Spock's Vulcan lute instrument, so that he can have Rand's fully undivided attention. Charlie then proceeds with a few card tricks that amuse Rand and others in the crew lounge, who applaud appreciatively.

Kirk takes pity on the young man Charlie and attempts to befriend him, taking him to the physical training room for some light sparring. Initially refusing to participate, Charlie falls awkwardly and prompts laughter from Sam, Kirk's sparring partner. Humiliated and angry, Charlie makes Sam disappear, revealing his powers in front of Kirk. The captain's attention is now more than concerned as he quickly turns his trust and mood towards Charlies. Kirk is informed by Uhura that all phasers on board the Enterprise have disappeared.

Passing Yeoman Lawton in the corridor, he turns her into an iguana. He enters Rand's quarters with a pink rose (because he found out that pink was the Yeoman's favorite color). Rand is shocked and angry that Charlie walked into her room without knocking. When Rand asks Charlie what he wants, he says he only wants her. Rand is able to activate a communication device in her room. On the bridge, Kirk and Spock hear the conversation and leave the bridge to rescue Yeoman Rand. Upon their arrival to Rand's quarters, Charlie paralysis Kirk and Spock breaking their legs.

Charlie then goes on a deck by deck ship wide rampage. Charlie turns a young crewmember into an old lady; he orders a group of crew people to stop laughing by removing their faces-one comes out into the corridor, leaving her groping in a corridor and still able to make vocal sounds; a third crewwoman he freezes as he walks past her.

Determined to stop Charlie before he can reach Colony 5, Kirk speculates that in taking over the ship, Charlie may have reached his limit.

A Non-Corporeal life form materializes with no solidity on the bridge. The colorful see-through large head is a Thasian, one of Charlie's race.

The Thasian explains to the bridge crew that they granted Charlie immense powers so that he could survive. The Thasian proceeds to tell Kirk it would be impossible for Charlie to live a normal life with his own people, and despite Charlie's desperate plea to stay with the crew, the Thasians take Charlie back to Thasus, despite Charlie's protestations thereby departing from the Enterprise.

The lesson of the story

Charlie is a boy in a man's body, trying to be an adult with the adolescence in him getting in the way. Having a very evident set of emotions with an air of estrangement from the Enterprise crew, Charlie clearly personifies the dangers of drifting away with not having similar likes, interests, and emotions from the rest of humanity. This shows that not being like others as a teen or just emotionally estranged can indeed project vulnerability, innocence leading to naivety, while making a person a horrifying menace all the same time.

Charlie having God-like powers has often been a dream for humans, however the lesson is absolute power corrupts absolutely.