Charlie Evans is rescued after being stranded alone on a planet for 14 years. As the Enterprise takes the young man to a nearby colony, his immaturity combined with powerful mental abilities makes him a threat to everyone on board.
The Enterprise meets with a small transport ship, the Antares, in order to pass along young Charlie Evans, who has recently been found as a castaway, the sole survivor of a crash that left him orphaned when he was only three years old. Despite this, Charlie grew up, living off the crashed ship's food supplies and finding edible food on the land, and learning how to talk using the ships memory banks. Charlie is taken aboard the Enterprise to be taken to Colony Alpha V, where his nearest living relatives live. While the Captain and Navigator of the Antares speak highly of Charlie, they seem uncomfortable in his presence and turn down Captain Kirk's offer of giving them supplies, medical equipment, and recreational tapes in their haste to return to their ship and leave Charlie behind them. Yeoman Janice Rand is assigned to show Charlie to his quarters. While Charlie is intelligent, he is socially undeveloped, interrupting Kirk, and awkwardly asking Kirk if Yeoman Rand is a girl.
Charlie is taken to sickbay, where he is examined by Dr. McCoy, where he is given a clean bill of health. When Bones is done, the young man asks if Bones likes him. He claims that the crew on the Antares didn't like him, despite his efforts to make them like him. Dr. McCoy brushes it off, saying that all 17 year old boys want people to like them. Charlie later meets again with Yeoman Rand, and gives her a gift: her favorite perfume. Rand is surprised, saying that the perfume isn't kept in the ship stores. When she asks him where he got it, Charlie says it's a secret.
On the bridge, Kirk asks Bones and Spock to work on a training program for Charlie Evans. Spock believe that there is no way that Charlie could have survived alone from such a young age and that he must have been raised by a near mythical race, called that Thasians, that used to live on the planet, but Bones is more inclined to believe his story. Kirk breaks up their debate, saying that it is pointless since the young man is alive, on board the ship, and needs their help.
Later on the reaction deck, Charlie comes in as Uhura singing with Spock accompanying her on a instrument. When he arrives, Uhura changes the song to be about Charlie. Charlie tries to get the attention of Yeomand Rand, but she is interested in the song. Mysteriously, Uhura loses her voice and the instrument no longer produces sound, allowing Charlie to get Rand's attention.
The Captain of the Antares attempt to contact Kirk. Charlie is Kirk when the call comes in, and follows him to the bridge. The captain of the Antares tries to warn Kirk about something, but the Antares is destroyed before it can finish the message.
Later on, Kirk and Spock talk over a game of chess. Kirk is concerned about the loss of the Antares, Spock is as well, believing that Charlie knew something about the loss of the ship before the sensors found the debris field. Charlie comes in as Kirk is leaving, and plays a game with Spock. Spock easily defeats the young man, and Charlie is angry. When Spock leaves, Charlie focuses on the board, and the white pieces melt.
Charlie continues to grow more obsessed with Yeoman Rand. Rand tries to introduce him to another girl closer to his own age, but he continues to focus on her. Rand becomes uncomfortable around Charlie, and she asks Captain Kirk to talk to Charlie about it. Kirk agrees, and summons Charlie to his office. When the young man arrives, Kirk has the melted chess pieces, and asks Charlie if he knows about them. Charlie denies any knowledge. Kirk tries to explain to Charlie that Janice Rand isn't interested in him, but the young man is unable or unwilling to accept it. To take his mind off things, Kirk takes the young man to learn some self-defense. Charlie grows frustrated when he is thrown down by Kirk, and another crew member laughs at his rookie mistakes. Angry, Charlie makes the man disappear. Kirk calls for security, but the security men are knocked to the ground and their phasers vanish. Kirk manages to convince Charlie to go to his quarters.
Kirk, Spock, and Bones discuss the danger to the ship posed by Charlie. With his powers, matched with his immaturity, Charlie is too dangerous to take to the colony. Charlie is brought in, and when questioned, admits that he destroyed the Antares, because they weren't nice to him, and tried to get rid of him.
They return to the bridge, to change course away from the colony, but Charlie uses his powers to short out the communications prevents the ship from making course changes, and even controls Spock, making him speak only in poems. Kirk gets him to back down, and Charlie leaves the bridge. When he leaves the bridge, he accosts Yeoman Rand in her quarters. Spock and Kirk try to come to her rescue, but Charlie uses his powers to thrown the men down, and to make Rand vanish. Charlie releases the men, but threatens them, saying that if they try to hurt him again, he will make more members of the crew "disappear". Kirk and Spock try to trap Charlie with a force field, but Charlie simply makes the wall vanish. Charlie then goes on a rampage, turning a young woman old, and removes the faces from several crew members to keep them from laughing.
Push to the edge, Kirk decides to confront Charlie. His plan is to turn on every device on the ship, making it harder for Charlie to control it. And while Charlie is struggling with that, Kirk will distract the boy, allowing Spock and Bones to tranquilize him, and to keep him in a unconscious state. Charlie comes to the bridge, and they throw their plan into motion. Kirk manages to push Charlie to the limit, breaking his control of the ship. With the ship back under control, Uhura receives a communication from a ship that claims it is from Thasus, the planet where Charlie grew up. The ship is visible, but is not made of solid matter.
A Thasian appears on the bridge, saying that they have returned the people that Charlie caused to vanished. Charlie begs Kirk to take him home, away from the Thasians. Kirk tries to convince the Thasian that Charlie can be taught not to use his powers, but the Thasian disagrees: Charlie was given the power so that he might live, in the end, he would use his power to destroy mankind, or mankind would be forced to destroy Charlie to save themselves. Kirk has no choice but to agree, and despite his protests, Charlie is taken by the Thasians to their ship. The Thasian ship departs, leaving the shaken crew of the Enterprise to go on their way.
"Charlie X" was part of Gene Roddenberry's March 1964 pitch for the series under the title "The Day Charlie Became God." In production, the episode was once titled "Charlie's Law", but was later changed. The unstated Charlie's Law is "Be nice to Charlie, or else."
Gene Roddenberry makes an uncredited voice cameo as the cook who reports that the meatloaf in the ships galley has been turned into turkeys.
|Air Date||Sept. 15, 1966|