Star Trek (1966–1969)
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The Conscience of the King 

While Captain Kirk investigates whether an actor is actually a presumed dead mass murderer, a mysterious assailant is killing the people who could identify the fugitive.



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Episode complete credited cast:
William Sargent ...
Dr. Thomas Leighton
Natalie Norwick ...
Martha Leighton
David Somerville ...
Larry Matson (as David-Troy)
Karl Bruck ...
Marc Grady Adams ...
Hamlet (as Marc Adams)
Bruce Hyde ...


Captain Kirk is informed by his old friend, Dr. Thomas Leighton, that the head of a Shakespearean acting troupe on his world was once known as Kodos the Executioner. As Governor of Tarsus IV, Kodos had most of his colony killed when food supplies ran short rather than have so many starve. The only surviving witnesses to his actual appearance are Kirk, Leighton, and a young crewman on the Enterprise. Kirk dismisses Leighton's accusations until he turns up murdered, and his young crewman nearly so. The head of the Shakespearean acting troupe, Anton Karidian denies that he's Kodos. Is he telling the truth? If so, who's behind the murders? Written by Tony-B4

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

8 December 1966 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The capacity in which Kirk was living as a colonist on Tarsus IV is not addressed. He does not mention losing any family. In fact, his mother is still alive at the time of this episode (according to the series bible) and his father, George Kirk Sr. lives long enough to see his son take command of the Enterprise. James' brother, George Kirk Jr., is seen to die in _"Star Trek" (1966) {Operation--Annihilate! (#1.29)}_ . Apparently, a 13 year old James Kirk was living on Tarsus IV without the rest of his immediate family. If they had been there and like him, survived the massacre, it is unlikely that a young James Kirk would be the sole witness out of his entire family. See more »


Spock discovers the Tarsus IV connection by asking to computer to correlate the historical data on Kirk, Leighton, Riley and Karidian and identify any common episode or experience. The computer reports in the affirmative. But it's previously clear that Kirk isn't certain about Karidian being Kodos at least in part because there is no record placing Karidian at Tarsus IV. See more »


Captain James T. Kirk: The play is over. It's been over for twenty years
Anton Karidian: I was a soldier in a cause. There were things to be done, terrible things.
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Beyond Antares
Music by Wilbur Hatch
Lyrics by Gene L. Coon
Performed by Nichelle Nichols
Harpsichord by Marl Young
Guitar played by Laurindo Almeida
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User Reviews

Hamlet and Nazi war crimes
2 June 2009 | by (The San Francisco Bay Area) – See all my reviews

I really wasn't sure what to call this review, so I figured I'd just call it what I thought the whole thing was about.

What we have here is a classic criminal investigation using a theatrical technique to recreate the theme of whatever crime it was that was committed. The idea is to get the suspect/perpetrator to emotionally connect with their alleged criminal act. The concept is an old one. The astute viewer, particularly one familiar with Shakespeare (Edward de Vere's works) will note Hamlet's "the play's the thing..." concept, and how said notion is cleverly injected into this episode.

Most of the episode is a murder mystery a-la a PBS episode with Diana Rigg. But, unlike WGBH's production, we're not given hints nor clues as to who is doing what. It's part of the ingenuity of this episode as the audience is shown apparent evidence for inferred correlation. As such the audience isn't really challenged to figure out who is doing what, but presented a twist without realizing it.

The theme is lifted from the criminal investigations that continue to this very day as of this writing, concerning the heinous acts of mass murder by the Nazi regime prior to the ending of the second world war. What is stronger? Peronsal ties or societal obligation? And what are the personal ramifications on a personal basis when two sets of right and wrong collide? Can anyone, so divided, exist and retain their sanity? This episode explores those themes, and offers a possible outcome. It is an interesting exploration, and an interesting writing exercise.

A respectable episode. Enjoy.

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