Hello and as always, welcome to ‘Final Frontier Friday’! It’s an original series week this time around, so join me as we take a look at the second season installment ‘Friday’s Child’.
As described by writer D.C. Fontana, the episode is fundamentally about a strong woman in a society that views women as little more than broodmares. This conceptualization of the character (Eleen, played by guest star Julie Newmar) as someone who wants to break away from her society’s expectations to such an extent that she is even willing to use a newborn child to do so, was informed by Fontana’s belief that “not all women are mommies.” This attitude was so core to Fontana’s approach to the episode that to this day she remains unhappy with the finished version. This is largely owed to the ending, which was rewritten by Gene Roddenberry. In the original version, Eleen ultimately surrendered the child to her pursuers, sacrificing him to save herself. Whether or not that would have been a better ending, it’s certainly easy to see how it might not have gone over well in the late sixties.
Owing to its status as an early second season episode (it was the third episode produced that year, though it ultimately aired eleventh), ‘Friday’s Child’ is home to a couple notable firsts, relating to the newly introduced character of Chekov. For one, we have the first instance of one of the series’ running jokes, namely Chekov’s dubious claim that “it vas a Russian inwention” from Chekov, this time in reference to the saying “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Though in a notable contrast to many later iterations of this trope, he says it with a smirk, implying that he’s less than serious. Also, as an early Chekov appearance (so early that Walter Koenig is still being forced to wear his hated Monkees wig), this marks the first occasion on which the entirety of the series’ iconic cast – Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov – is seen in a scene together, though Sulu only appears via a video monitor
And now on to the episode!
The Enterprise is en route to Capella IV, on a mission to secure mining rights to the planet’s supply of topaline, a rare mineral vital to certain Federation life support systems. McCoy, who was previously station on Capella, briefs the senior staff on the local culture. Capellan culture is laden with taboos, so Kirk keeps the landing party small to minimize the chance of inadvertently offending them. Upon arrival, Kirk beams down with Spock, McCoy, and Grant, a security officer. Upon arrival, they are greeted by a Capellan party led by Maab. Upon noticing that the party includes a Klingon – Kras – Grant instincively draws his phaser and just as quickly is killed by one of the Capellans.
In the tension that follows, Maab explains that Kras is also there to negotiate for the topaline and that he has surrendered his weapons in a show of good faith. Seeing no alternative, Kirk and the others do the same. On the Enterprise, an unidentified vessel is detected at the edge of sensor range. Scotty, who was left in command, speculates that it’s a Klingon ship (“Who else would play cat and mouse with a starship?”), but sees no cause to leave orbit or alert the captain just yet. On Capella, Kirk meets with Akaar, the High Teer of the Ten Tribes. He and Kras make their cases to Akaar. While Maab delights in the obvious rivalry, which he feels can only benefit the Capellans, Akaar notes that in all their dealings, the Federation has never lied to them. The same cannot be said of the Klingon Empire. Maab retorts that not everyone will be eager to bargain with Earthmen, which Akaar takes as a challenge.
As Akaar adjourns to consider what he has heard, the Enterprise picks up a faint distress call, apparently from an Earth vessel. Fighting breaks out among the Capellans, and it quickly becomes apparent that Maab is staging a coup. In the confusion, Kirk and the others go in search of their weapons and communicators, only to find Kras doing the same. Kras lets slip that he was accompanied by a small scout ship. Before Kirk can learn more, the fighting dies down and Maab declares himself Teer, having killed Akaar. This regime change gives Kras the upper hand, or it would have had Maab not seen fear in Kras’s eyes. Maab next moves to kill Eleen, Akaar’s pregnant widow, in order to solidify his claim to the throne. Kirk intervenes, however, pulling Eleen away from the blade. In touching the wife of a Teer, he has violated a taboo. As such, Eleen demands to see him die before her own execution. Meanwhile, Uhura is able to identify the distress signal has having been sent by the Dierdre, a small freighter under Klingon attack. Unable to reach the landing party, Scotty takes the Enterprise out of orbit to assist. (Continued on next page)