Stardate: 3497.2 (2267)
Original Air Date: December 1, 1967
Writer: D.C. Fontana
Director: Joseph Pevney
“There’s an old, old saying on Earth, Mister Sulu.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.“
The Enterprise has arrived at Capella IV, a rich source of topaline, a mineral which is vital for the life support systems on several Federation planetoid colonies. The current diplomatic mission is to obtain the mining rights of topaline, however a Klingon named Kras (Tige Andrews) has already arrived on Capella IV and is trying to do the same thing. Before beaming down to the planet, Dr. McCoy briefs the senior Enterprise officers about the Capellans. Bones once participated in a medical mission to Capella IV but the inhabitants were uninterested. The Capellans are a tall humanoid species (7 feet tall is not unusual), they are also extremely strong and fast, and they carry dangerous weaponry known as kleegats. Notably, the Capellans believe that “only the strong survive.” They wear large furs and brandish ponytails.
Who will win over the trust of the Capellans? The Federation or the Klingons? Both sides make their case. The customs of this quasi-primitive tribe are unique –they respect honor, sacrifice, and war. Portrayed as an antiquated patriarchal society ruled by warlords, we quickly learn that women are only as good as the babies they produce. A woman is then offered to Kirk as an invitation for battle but he politely declines. We then meet the leader or “Teer of the ten tribes” named Akaar (Ben Gage) and his wife Eleen (played by Broadway star Julie Newmar) who is pregnant with a son, though she secretly despises this child. Kirk, Bones, and Spock hand over their communicators and phasers to the Capellans as a sign of peace but they are soon forbidden from using the devices. Shortly thereafter, a fight ensues among the Capellans over whether to ally with the Federation or the Klingons. Akaar is killed and a young warrior assumes leadership as “Teer” named Maab (played by former minor league baseball player Michael Dante).
Meanwhile, the Enterprise picks up a vague distress signal from a Federation ship regarding a Klingon attack. At the helm, Scotty decides to respond to the attack, leaving the landing party stranded behind on Capella IV without communication. However, the distress signal is quickly revealed to be little more than a Klingon trap (a faux message from the USS Carolina). Here, there are some terrific scenes of Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekhov as they discuss strategy. In the end, the Klingon vessel “has no stomach for fighting” and the Enterprise returns to Capella to rescue its stranded crewmen where Kirk, Spock, Bones, and Eleen had escaped into the and where Eleen delivers her baby. According to Capella customs, babies are the exclusive property of men, and as such she struggles to claim ownership over her child.
A last stand-off occurs in the hills where the Klingon Kras turns on the Capellans, Eleen tries to flee, but Maab decides to sacrifice himself while Kirk and Spock fire makeshift arrows from a group of craggy rocks (filmed again at Vasquez Rocks). Kras is killed, then Scotty and the Enterprise crew arrive to the rescue, and Dr. McCoy marches down the hillside carrying the newly born “Teer” aptly named Leonard James Akaar. Eleen signs over the mining rights as regent and the Enterprise happily sails away.
Replete with campy actions sequences, poor editing, and shaky vocal dubbing, “Friday’s Child” is a fun little quest for the Enterprise but not close to the best of Star Trek-verse. Again, we encounter the ruthless Klingons and again the Prime Directive seems to be wholly violated by the Enterprise. Against the backdrop of the ongoing cold war between the Federation and the Klingons we also witness the small-scale internal politics of the tribe on Capella IV. Still, the secondary scenes with Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov really shine for me in this episode. Scotty at the helm of the Enterprise is a surprisingly fitting role!
On first glance, it would seem that the Capellans and the Klingons would make good bedfellows –both are vicious and warlike– however, Kirk’s valiant efforts to essentially save the Capellans from signing a deal with the devil are not without merit. And all of this comes amidst the backdrop of an internal conflict within the Capellans as well as the birth of a new baby, the future leader of their tribe. On this note of optimism, despite its presence as arguably imperial on Capela IV, the Federation offers hope and new life to an archaic band of people.
Writer Dorothea Catherine “D.C.” Fontana (1939-2019) worked as a writer for a few different television programs prior to Star Trek, before she briefly worked as Gene Roddenberry’s secretary before becoming a writer on the show. At the age of 27, Fontana became the youngest story editor in Hollywood at the time, and she was also one of the few female staff writers. She remained a Star Trek writer until the end of the second season. Fontana had the notable distinction of being one of the few people to have worked on Star Trek: The Original Series, as well as Star Trek: The Animated Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Of them all, Deep Space Nine was her favorite Star Trek series. She wanted to write a story about a strong woman who did not necessarily want children. The only major change to the story was the addition of the Klingons. In an original draft, the story was much darker as Eleen apparently sacrificed her child.
Director Joseph Pevney (1911-2008) is tied with Marc Daniels for most TOS episodes directed.
Star Trek Trivia:
- The title of this episode is a nod to a traditional English poem entitled “Monday’s Child” a version of which was featured in an 1887 Harper’s Weekly issue which included the line “Friday’s child is full of woe.”
- Dr. McCoy gives another one of his amusing and classic lines in this episode: “Look, I’m a doctor not an escalator!”
- Julie Newmar played “Catwoman” in the 1960s Batman television show.
- Production of this episode returned once again to the frequent filming location at Vasquez Rocks where it was 110 degrees.
- This is the first episode in which Chekov coyly remarks that something was actually invented in Russia, in this case the phrase “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.“
- According to Star Trek lore, Leonard James Akaar later becomes an influential Starfleet admiral in Deep Space Nine novels.
- Gene L. Coon first introduced the Klingons in “Errand of Mercy” and they were made to look like space Mongols.