Star Trek : Charlie X, 1.02

You remember this one, right? Charlie is a young boy, the only survivor of a terrible wreck. He grew up all alone and is very weird. Once on the Enterprise, he demonstrates bizarre powers and a tendency to inappropriately approach women.

The crew really just puts up with him until a mysterious alien race appears. The Thasians claim to have given Charlie his powers and regret doing so, as he is now quite human. Of course, Charlie prefers to stay among his own kind. But he’s just too powerful, so he’s dragged away screaming to live among the Thasians, and he “…can’t even touch them!!”

At the end he’s shown to be a stranger among humans and among Thasians. He has the desires and appearance of a human, but the powers of a Thasian. And he isn’t at home with either.

The power of a god. In the form of a man.

I see a great similarity to Jesus Christ here.

Obviously, Charlie is an ill-tempered, immature, reckless, and selfish god-in-a-man. And Christ is, well, perfect. I guess Charlie resembles the old pagan gods more than anything. He’s capricious. He pursues his own interests and passions. And he can’t be reasoned with. Maybe if the crew had offered obeisance and walked on eggshells, they could have lived somewhat comfortably with him as their own shipboard god.

Kirk corrects Charlie, “There’s no right way to hit a woman,” after he slapped Yeoman Rand’s behind. Charlie is truly a boy in a man’s body, as Kirk suggests. But he’s also got the power of a god. The body of a man with the mind of a pubescent boy and the ability of a god.

Charlie may be the most terrifying villain ever invented.

Comparing Charlie with Christ might seem pointless at best, and sacrilegious at worst. But what it does for is remind me of the importance of Christ’s sinless life. With a figure like Charlie, who shares quite a bit with the gods of Ancient Rome that Christianity had to contend with, we see how obvious it would be to misuse power. Jesus was a teenager once (at least by number). And we know he wasn’t slapping girls’ butts or mocking his elders as Charlie did with Spock. Yet it would have been easy to do whatever he wanted.

“He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.” 1 Peter 2:22

At some point, Jesus was the same size as Charlie. He was the same age. He probably felt the same disconnection with his community that Charlie felt. Maybe he was even tempted in the same ways.

And looking at what a boy like Charlie did with his abilities, and then looking back at Jesus, I probably won’t take the sinless life of Christ for granted again anytime soon.


4 thoughts on “Star Trek : Charlie X, 1.02

  1. Yeah, there are some non-canonical stories (and for good reason) about the boy Jesus “acting out” in Charlie-esque ways. Good connection.

    All in all, though, I view Charlie as a really tragic figure, and very sympathetically – not really a “villain” at all, just a wonderfully written and -acted metaphor for that awfully confusing time called adolescence. The Greek gods should’ve known better; Charlie really is just a boy. This is one of my all-time favorite TOS episodes.

    I also think it’s probably Grace Lee Whitney’s best performance in the series. Granted, there aren’t that many Yeoman Rand appearances to choose from… but here, at least, she is not openly weeping because the captain hasn’t looked at her legs (one of the many weird things about “Miri,” but I guess you’ll get there soon!). Whitney proves herself to be a very talented actor in this episode, and it’s a shame she was so underutilized on the show.

    • Totally agree with you about Whitney’s performance. I was looking at the back of the first of the James Blish novelizations, and she’s listed only after Kirk and Spock! And I think the little blurb might even say something like, “Easily the most interesting character…”

      She was good in this. Word is the Star Trek stage wasn’t a very safe place for her. Sad.

      About Charlie. Yeah, I can see him as a tragic figure. Given his youth and lack of community, he should get a free pass. And Kirk was starting to get through to him, I think. But he was still just too powerful to control. As a creature of two worlds, he could live in either. Since his power can’t be managed by humans, he’s stuck with the unfeeling aliens who can manage his powers. Classic tragedy of fate…hmm…maybe I should have written about that.
      Well, I think I’ll get my chance to write about tragedy of fate if I stick with Star Trek and Doctor Who long enough!

      • Yeah, sadly, I’ve heard that, too. I think Whitney is (was? – is she still with us?) a born-again Christian, and may have even written a book about her experiences.

        Don’t take my post as too much of a criticism! I enjoyed what you wrote, just had a different take on the episode. “Infinite diversity,” and all that! I’m thrilled someone is blogging through Trek from an explicitly Christian p.o.v. And, for sure, there will be plenty of tragic fate for you to write about in weeks, months, years to come! Keep up the good work.

      • Oh interesting. I don’t know much about her personal life beyond what I mentioned. I guess she did come back to Trek a few times, so maybe she picked up the pieces…or maybe Someone else picked up the pieces!

        And, heh, you always seem to find a perspective on the episode I don’t consider. Don’t worry about me taking your comments as some kind of criticism – I’m just excited by your ideas about Trek!

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