The Child

Star Trek: Phase II

This is an episode of a fan-made series whose storyline may be invalidated by later official studio productions.

Stardate not given: The Enterprise passes through an energy cloud judged to be harmless, but during the journey through the cloud a floating light penetrates the ship’s hull and studies various sleeping crew members before settling on Deltan navigator Lt. Acel. When she awakens, she goes to sick bay, where she informs Dr. McCoy – without undergoing any tests – that she is pregnant. Within hours, Acel gives birth to a seemingly normal daughter, though the child’s rate of growth is beyond anything in human or Deltan experience. The Enterprise is intercepted by a large, cylindrical object containing the same kind of energy found in the cloud, but at a much higher concentration. The cylinder’s presence marks the beginning of a string of one deadly crisis after another, with Acel’s daughter, Irska, instrumental in solving each emergency. Kirk and Spock grow increasingly suspicious of Irska’s connection to the energy in the cylindrical ship, but any direct attack on that ship causes Irska to shriek in pain. The cylinder begins to destabilize the atomic structure of the Enterprise’s hull, leaving the crew with an agonizing decision: what, or who, will be sacrificed to save everyone else on the ship?

Watch Itwritten by Jaron Summers and Jon Povill
directed by Jon Povill
music by Fred Steiner except
“Deltan Lullabye” composed by Deniz Cordell
“Deltan Dance” composed by William Lloyd Jones

Cast: James Cawley (Captain Kirk), Brandon Stacy (Mr. Spock), John Kelly (Dr. McCoy), Anna Schnaitter (Isel), Ayla Cordell (Irska), Charles Root (Scott), Jonathan Zungre (Chekov), J.T. Tepnapa (Sulu), Bobby Quinn Rice (Peter Kirk), Jay Storey (Kyle), Ron Boyd (DeSalle), Meghan King Johnson (Rand), Patrick Bell (Xon), Jeff Mailhotte (Sentell), Riva Gijanto (Zarha), Deniz Cordell (Bernstein), Brian Holloway (Jansen), Ronald M. Gates (Hemmings), Matt Bucy (Crewman), Natalia Tudela (Nurse), Paul R. Sieber (Commander), Zoe Staubitz (baby Irska)

Star Trek Phase IINotes: Originally written by Jon Povill and Jaron Summers for the never-made 1977 TV relaunch of the original Star Trek (from which this fan series, Star Trek Phase II, borrows its name), The Child was intended to chronicle Deltan navigator Lt. Ilia giving birth to a mysterious daughter, since Ilia, Decker and Xon were intended to be series regulars. Structurally, this version of The Child is much more faithful to the original ’70s script than the hastily-adapted version of The Child which opened the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation (which bestowed a mystery child upon Counselor Troi instead). The original script as written for the ’70s series, minus alterations for either this fan series or TNG, appears in full in the book “Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series” by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens. Writer Jon Povill was the story editor for the aborted ’70s series and worked closely with Gene Roddenberry through the series development cycle, and here he directs his own script.

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green

Review: What an interesting choice (and what a can of worms) this script is. Again, the fan-made Phase II brings to life a script intended for Paramount’s Phase II, and arguably it’s closer to the source material than the producers of Star Trek: TNG managed when, after a months-long Writers’ Guild strike in 1988, they suddenly had to get TNG back into production. Dusting off The Child and hurriedly substituting Riker for Decker, Troi for Ilia, and Data for Xon, the makers of TNG also inserted a bizarre scene paying lip service to the abortion debate, a few scenes introducing new characters (Guinan and Dr. Pulaski), and rushed the results into production.

Star Trek Phase IIBut the Phase II version still isn’t the original script – even the fan film had to make significant changes, eliminating Decker from the equation and inventing a new Deltan crew member out of whole cloth. If the idea was to show up the 1988 TNG version of The Child, or to showcase the original intent of the episode, this edition of the same story still ends up compromising the original material. And when the direction and effects work on the entity’s first foray into the Enterprise so strongly resembles the nearly-identical scenes in the TNG episode, the makers of Phase II are virtually begging for the audience to ask “Haven’t I seen this somewhere before?”

To its credit, the original script as it stands is stronger than the TNG “reimagining” of it. Without the baggage that the TNG version of The Child had (i.e. introducing Guinan and Dr. Pulaski), this version of the story has more room to breathe and set up the “series of challenges” from the alien cylinder. The casting is solid enough, with Anna Schnaitter carrying much of the show as Isel, and young actress Ayla Cordell proving to be a pleasantly innocent face that the story’s cruel twists naturally sacrifice by the end of the show. At least in this case, Irska (the name of the child in the original ’70s script) has befriended members of the crew other than her mother – her departure is a tragedy for more than just her mother. A weakness inherent in nearly every version of The Child is the somewhat arbitrary nature of the challenges that the crew must solve with Irska’s help – one wonders if these various incidents would’ve been made more integral to the plot at the story editing stage if Star Trek Phase II had gone ahead as a Paramount production in the ’70s.

For some reason, though, The Child struck me as a decent episode at the wrong place in the running order. If Phase II was cranking out more episodes on a more frequent basis, The Child would seem like a worthwhile experiment. But as it is, Phase II is doing good, of late, to get a single episode out per year. Various issues – well-known and hotly contested within the fan film community – have kept the Klingon epic Kitumba, also written for the original series 1970s extension, from hitting our screens, so there was probably no choice but to release The Child at this time. But an episode that will undoubtedly make some viewers think “wait, why are they remaking this?” seems like an odd choice for that precious yearly release.