The landing party is imprisoned alongside Eleen. As she is in pain, McCoy moves to help her, conveniently creating a distraction that the four are able to use to escape. In the course of their escape, Kirk and company are able to retrieve their communicators, but not their phasers. They flee to the hills with a reluctant Eleen. Meanwhile, the Enterprise is unable to locate the Dierdre, puzzling given that the freighter’s top speed is only Warp 2 and there is no debris to speak of. On Capella, the party has taken refuge in a canyon with a defensible entrance and a narrow exit. As Kirk and Spock assess their position, McCoy tries to examine Eleen, only to get slapped repeatedly for his trouble. She finally relents when he slaps her in turn. The ensuing exam confirms that the child could be born any time. Kirk and Spock, meanwhile, devise a way to use their communicators to cause a rock slide, sealing the entrance to the canyon in order to buy some time. Conveniently, they also manage to injure several of the pursuing Capellans, reducing the search party’s numbers in the process.
In the confusion, Kras is able to grab a Starfleet phaser from one of the Capellans, who he subsequently kills. Meanwhile, the landing party continues on, taking refuge in a cave. The journey is complicated, however, by the fact that Eleen has only somewhat mellowed. She’ll let McCoy touch her, but only McCoy. Back on the Enterprise, the crew remains puzzled by the Dierdre’s disappearance. Scotty reviews the distress call and realizes something’s up. The distress call asks for the Enterprise by name, causing him to wonder how a freighter would know they’d been posted to that sector. But just to be safe, he completes the search pattern before returning to orbit. In the cave, Eleen has gone into labor.She is less than pleased, as in Capellan society the child will belong to her now dead husband. Misunderstanding McCoy’s words of encouragement, Eleen declares that the child is his. Eventually, Kirk and Spock – having left to fashion weapons – return to find that Eleen has given birth. En route back to Capella, the Enterprise receives another distress call, this time from the USS Carolina, which Uhura points out is registered in this sector. But Scotty won’t be fooled again and gives the order to ignore it. While Kirk and Spock step out to reconnoiter, Eleen knocks McCoy out and flees, leaving the child behind. Kirk and Spock then prepare to meet the Capellan search party, leaving McCoy to care for the child. The Enterprise’s return is delayed when they are intercepted by a Klingon warship.
The Klingon vessel just sits there, ignoring hails. As Scotty observes, she is essentially drawing a line in the sand and daring the Starfleet crew to step over it. As Kirk and Spock brace for a fight, Eleen emerges from the rocks and approaches Maab, telling him that both her son and the Earthmen are dead by her own hand. With the Capellan code of honor being what it is, Maab is satisfied and prepares to return to the village so that Eleen – as the wife of a Teer – may die in her own tent. Kras, however, is far less trusting. He draws his stolen phaser, sparking a fight which Kirk and Spock soon join. A standoff follow once the Capellans see just what a phaser can do. Eleen offers to sacrifice her life to distract Kras, but Maab instead elects to return her life to her, rendering his own forfeit. Maab steps forward calling Kras out. Kras wastes no time vaporizing Maab, but in doing so gives Maab’s lieutenant enough of an opening to kill him. Before matters can escalate between Kirk, Spock, and the Capellan party, Scotty arrives with a security team. Back on the Enterprise, Kirk informs Starfleet that the Eleen, acting as her child’s regent, has signed the mining agreement. McCoy then reveals that she named the child Leonard James Akaar, leading a stunned Spock to remark that McCoy and Kirk are going to be “insufferably pleased with [themselves] for at least a month.”
This is a really fun episode. It’s not one that I’d expect to make a lot of top ten lists, but I quite like it nonetheless. Fontana described the episode as couching its deeper meditations on motherhood (which, frankly, don’t come across as strongly in the finished episode as I imagine she might’ve liked) in a fun adventure story with the Klingons. And that’s pretty much what this is. And that’s fine. Sometimes that’s all you need.
On the character front, we have Scotty doing what he does pretty much every time he’s left in command, which is to say he’s awesome. On the planetbound side of the story, we get plenty of great Kirk/Spock/McCoy moments, and Julie Newmar is an absolute delight as Eleen. There’s a sly twinkle in her eye throughout her character’s flight with the Starfleet crew, whether she’s just been slapped in the face or refusing to let Spock help her up a rock face. This combines with the steely resolve she conveys any time she shares a scene with another Capellan paints a picture of a woman who, suffice to say, is not to be trifled with. And on top of all that, the Capellan culture is fascinating and about as well fleshed out as you could expect from fifty minutes of television.
The episode is also a goldmine for small comedic moments, which are sprinkled throughout without overwhelming the gravity of the situation. Personal highlights include Kirk nudging both Spock and McCoy on with his “If you don’t think you can handle it…” asides, the entire “The child is mine!” exchange with Eleen, and of course the reveal of the child’s name at the end.
But no discussion of the episode’s comic touches would be complete without acknowledging the comedic highlight. That being that ‘Friday’s Child’ is home to my favorite McCoy-ism in the entirety of the original series: “Look, I’m a doctor not an escalator! Spock, give me a hand!” As much as I like the line itself, it’s Kelley’s delightfully exasperated delivery that really puts it over the top. Moreso than at perhaps any other point in the show’s run (and I’m including the movies in that), this is a McCoy who has had precisely enough of this shit.
All that said, it’s more than a little frustrating that the showdown between the Enterprise and the Klingon ship is resolved off camera. I mean, it was only the act three cliffhanger guys! I get that budget and runtime concerns are a thing, but come on!
What do you make of ‘Friday’s Child’? Let me know in the comments and be sure to check back in two weeks for the next installment of ‘Final Frontier Friday’!