Star Trek – The Conscience Of The King

★★★1/2 December 8, 1966 Season 1 Episode 13

If you want to see where we are…and you missed a few…HERE is a list of the episodes in my index located at the top of my blog.

This show was written by Barry Trivers and Gene Roddenberry

This episode starts off with Captain Kirk and his friend Dr. Thomas Leighton watching a performance of Macbeth by a Shakespearean acting troupe. The Doctor is sure that the actor that played Macbeth, who goes by Anton Karidian, is really “Kodos the Executioner” who was responsible for 4,000 deaths.

The episode involves the hunt for Kodos, a governor who apparently ordered the execution of half his settlement in order to assure that the rest could survive famine. And, the worst of it is after the executions, help unexpectedly arrived. After all of this is explained…you are not in love with Kodos but you see that his execution orders had a reason. It wasn’t just madness but against what Kirk believed in…exhausting every means of knowledge and know-how and never giving up.

Star Trek - Lenore Karidian

Anton Karidian (Kodos?) has a daughter. The beautiful Barbara Anderson who plays Lenore Karidian goes right after the Captain’s attention and yes she gets it. Yes, Kirk is falling for her but he is also collecting information and digging for information. He makes this very personal after his friend Dr. Thomas Leighton was killed. He keeps it from his crew but Spock wants to know what is going on. Kirk makes it clear that he wants Spock to mind his own business.

Kirk is a double agent in this episode. Yes, he is entranced by Anton Karidian but he is using her for information also. While this is going on, the people who were witnesses to Kodo’s deed, are dying…or more truthfully getting killed. Kirk is one of those witnesses.

This is a solid episode and features some eye-catching set design. Injecting some Shakespeare into a science-fiction setting turns out to be a pretty interesting touch, showing that classics will never go out of style, even centuries later.

Lenore Karidian

A quote from Karidian is interesting…and relevant now when Kirk was examining him to see if he was Kodos. I find your use of the word mercy strangely inappropriate, Captain. Here you stand, the perfect symbol of our technical society. Mechanized, electronicized, and not very human. You’ve done away with humanity, the striving of man to achieve greatness through his own resources.”

I think we as a society can relate to that quote in the era of technology we live in.

From IMDB:

Barbara Anderson developed a fever blister/cold sore on her lip during filming. Besides using makeup to partially disguise it, she was often filmed with part of her lower face in shadow.

When Kirk goes to the Leighton dinner party and comes out to meet Lenore, you can hear a very slow jazz version of the series’ theme song. This is the first time it has been played as “source music”. The other times this occurs in the original series is later in the episode when Kirk is speaking to Lenore in Karidian’s cabin, when Areel Shaw enters the bar in Star Trek: Court Martial (1967), and when Kirk, McCoy, and Tonia Barrows run to Sulu’s position in Star Trek: Shore Leave (1966).

This episode contains Star Trek’s first direct reference to eugenics, although there is an oblique reference in Star Trek: What Are Little Girls Made Of? (1966). Spock tells McCoy that Kodos applied his own theories of eugenics when sentencing certain colonists to death, causing McCoy to note that Kodos unfortunately wasn’t the first. Two seasons later, the concept of eugenics resurfaced prominently in Star Trek: Plato’s Stepchildren (1968) when Philana informs Spock that the Platonians are the result of a successful mass eugenics program.

Barbara Anderson (Lenore Karidian) shares the record (with Ricardo Montalban and Joan Collins) for the most costumes worn in a single Trek episode by a guest star (six). She wears a maroon-colored dress for her Lady Macbeth costume, a blue dress with a veil at the party thrown by the Leightons, a fur mini-skirt dress when arriving on the Enterprise, a greenish multicolored mantle on the observation deck, a black and red evening dress when Kirk visits the Karidians in their quarters, and, finally, her yellow and lavender Ophelia costume. It could even be argued that the veil she wears while walking with Kirk just before discovering Tom Leighton’s body could be considered a seventh costume.

In the scene where security guards are searching for Kevin Riley in the corridors, rectangular seams are visible in the floor. This is where the grates visible in Star Trek: Charlie X (1966) and other early episodes were eliminated and filled in with the corridor floor material.

One of the few Original Star Trek episodes in which no-one from the USS Enterprise (even the red-shirts) is killed, although there is an almost successful poisoning.

This is the first of a long line of Star Trek productions which feature scenes, quotes, or references to William Shakespeare. In this case, the title comes from “Hamlet” (Act II, Scene 2). Scenes from Hamlet and Macbeth are acted out, and there is a paraphrase of “Julius Caesar” (Act 1, Scene 2): “Caesar, beware the Ides of March”.


Captain Kirk is informed by his old friend, Dr. Thomas Leighton, that the head of a Shakespearean acting troupe (known as Anton Karidian) was once known as “Kodos the Executioner”. Having seized power as Governor of Tarsus IV, Kodos had 50% of his colony (4000+ people) killed when the food supply was destroyed by an infestation, rather than have so many starve, not knowing that help was en route. Of the nine witnesses who could potentially identify Karidian as Kodos, only Kirk, Leighton, and a young crewman on the USS Enterprise, Kevin Riley (whose family was killed on Tarsus IV), survive. Kirk dismisses Leighton’s accusations until the latter turns up murdered, and Riley almost dies of poisoning while alone in an engineering sector where no one else is present, which Riley and others view as some sort of punishment although it was really Kirk’s misguided attempt to protect Riley. The other eyewitnesses have all died. Spock tells Bones that on each occasion the acting troupe was in close proximity. When finally challenged directly by Kirk, Karidian dramatically declines to confirm or deny anything but never asks who Kodos was and seems aware, although there is no reason he should be, of the details of what happened on Tarsus IV. Complicating things are Karidian’s beautiful daughter, Lenore, an actress in the troupe. And who’s really behind the murders


William Shatner … Captain James Tiberius ‘Jim’ Kirk
Leonard Nimoy … Mister Spock
Arnold Moss … Anton Karidian
Barbara Anderson … Lenore Karidian
DeForest Kelley … Doctor Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy
Grace Lee Whitney … Yeoman Janice Rand
Nichelle Nichols … Lieutenant Nyota Uhura
William Sargent … Dr. Thomas Leighton
Natalie Norwick … Martha Leighton
David Somerville … Larry Matson (as David-Troy)
Karl Bruck … King Duncan
Marc Grady Adams … Hamlet (as Marc Adams)
Bruce Hyde … Kevin Riley
Tom Anfinsen … Crewman (uncredited)
John Astin … Capt. John Daley (voice) (uncredited)
Majel Barrett … Enterprise Computer (voice) (uncredited)
Bill Blackburn … Lieutenant Hadley (uncredited)
Frank da Vinci … Crewman (uncredited)
Robert H. Justman … Security Guard (voice) (uncredited)
Jeannie Malone … Yeoman (uncredited)
Eddie Paskey … Lieutenant Leslie (uncredited)
Ron Veto … Security Guard (uncredited)


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

16 thoughts on “Star Trek – The Conscience Of The King”

  1. I really liked this episode and appreciate all of the trivia you’ve included on it. I liked the guest cast and the guy who plays Riley. Sorry they didn’t keep him on as a regular. This was one of the few episodes I actually shed a tear while watching.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply to randydafoe Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: