In his review of this episode, SF Debris said that one thing that you should never mix with Star Trek is children. Now in a way, I have some disagreement. One of my favorite supporting characters on TNG was Alexander, Worf’s half-Klingon son. And on Deep Space 9, Jake Sisco was one of the most-developed characters. But you also have Wesley Crusher on TNG, who only had a few good episodes, and this episode, “And the Children Shall Lead”.
Fred Frieberger wanted this episode to be his attempt to do a better story than “Miri”, Star Trek‘s 2nd season episode that had children in it. “Miri” wasn’t a bad story at all, in fact, I’d rate it middle of the road.
The story does have some promise. It starts when the Enterprise comes upon an abandoned colony. All that are left are children. The children say that all the adults killed each other. We later learn that the children are unwitting pawns to an evil entity named Gorgan, played by Melvin Belli. The entity uses the children in order to draw energy and causes the adults on the Enterprise to hallucinate, in the hopes of coaxing them into killing each other like the adults on the colony did.
It should be noted that Belli is not an actor, but a lawyer and friend of Frieberger’s. (his son is even one of the kids in the episode) And that’s the main problem I have with this episode: no one can act. The regulars can’t even act convincingly scared. Even Shatner is overacting by his own standards!
This is yet another example of just how bad the third season was for Star Trek. Yes, there were gems like “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”, but this is also the same season that gave us “Spock’s Brain”.
Next time, back to the good episodes, as I look at one of the two episodes starring Mark Leonard, one of the best guest stars Star Trek ever had.