#25: The Squire of Gothos
In case you forgot: An alien fascinated with 19th century Europe holds the Enterprise crew captive for his amusement. Things get a little "The Most Dangerous Game" in the last act, but the alien's parents show up and put an end to all this nonsense.
"The Squire of Gothos" has one of the more credible explanations as to why the alien culture of the week is so remarkably similar to some point in the Earth's past. That explanation isn't just throwaway "how do we explain the sets this week?" rationalizing, either, as it is actually entirely relevant to the plot. It also has some messed-up fridge horror moments: Trelane's parents allude to him being naughty before, so just how many live specimens has he "played with," even killed, before meeting the Enterprise? How many more will have to suffer until he learns his lesson?
William Campbell is great fun as "General" Trelane, the titular Squire of Gothos. It's too bad this and Captain Koloth in "The Trouble With Tribbles" are the only roles he got in TOS.
Check out the salt vampire in his collection! Maybe Trelane was the cause of their extinction...?
And finally, not sure if it was intentional or not, but it's a fun little history joke when Trelane presents a pair of dueling pistols "like the ones that shot Alexander Hamilton." Like Trelane, Hamilton was the one challenged to the duel and, also like Trelane, when he shot first he intentionally missed his target.
An episode not entirely without flaws, mostly with the titular character. Campbell plays an excellent pompous, grandiose General Trelane (retired). but is much more grating as Trelane the admonished child. Kirk manages to escape with his life (and his ship) because Mr. and Mrs. Trelane caught on to their son's antics in time, not because of any act of tactical genius or sudden insight. It's a cop-out deus ex machina sort of ending.
The whole hunt with Kirk and Campbell is just incredibly silly. Arguably this could be a good point, depending on your tastes.