#31: And the Children Shall Lead
In case you forgot: The Enterprise answers a distress call only to find the chilling leftovers of a mass suicide: dead bodies and cheerful kids totally unaffected by their parents' deaths. The landing party takes the kids back with them to get them to a star base and it turns out that the kids are in possession of some godlike powers. Apparently their power stems from some ancient green ghost who's fueled by the children's belief in/allegiance to him. Kirk convinces the kids the ghost is a bad guy and saves the day (and the children finally grieve).
Note to Adrian Spies (of "Miri" fame): this is how you write kiddie antagonists. I don't mean so much that "oh, they're possessed by a ghost, they're not so evil after all." I mean that the kids scheme and plan like reasonably intelligent kids would do, and also that they conduct themselves using proper English. The eleventh-hour ghost cop-out is kind of unfortunate, but then I suppose it would be too dark for TOS to have truly evil children as an antagonist.
What I like about this episode in particular is that to do the right thing and to save the day, Kirk has to ruin these children's lives. YOUR MOMMY AND DADDY ARE DEAD BECAUSE THEY COULDN'T LIVE WITH THEMSELVES ANYMORE, THEY ABANDONED YOU. THEY WEREN'T BORING, THEY LOVED YOU. YOU DIDN'T APPRECIATE THEM ENOUGH.
Yeah, those kids are going to need a lot of therapy.
A solid episode but not without its flaws. The mechanics of how exactly the green omnipotent ghost works in the world are hazy and unsatisfying and it smacks a bit of backassery. ("How can we get kids to act evil without actually being evil?") Also, the jerk-off motion the kids make to use their powers isn't scary or threatening; it just detracts from the creepiness of it all.