Flint: Immortal Genius, or Completely Barking Mad?

TOS “Requiem for Methuselah” is one of those episodes that are fun, but in a guilty kind of way. There’s the sneaking feeling that youʼre laughing with the cast, not at them, but you’re laughing all the same, and not for the right reasons. The cheesey robot, the overblown “meaningful” plot, and then there’s that completely crazy bit where Flint shrinks an entire starship into a table ornament.

And then there’s the history. Some of the worst bits are called out as they come up, but Flint’s entire story just doesn’t hang together. I could just about believe in an immortal that stays in the background and doesn’t raise too many awkward questions, but Flint is right in there, hogging the limelight as a succession of famous people who bear no resemblance to each other or him, and who have families, childhoods and clearly defined, famous deaths. In the case of Alexander the Great, even his dead body was famous, its whereabouts carefully recorded for centuries after. No wonder Spock has no compunction about making Jim Kirk totally forget the whole thing.

But can there be any explanation? The episode itself is very careful to insist that there’s no possibility of trickery. Flint really is Leonardo, and Brahms. But is he? A skilled forger can fool the experts with staggering ease. The authenticity of an item depends on the supporting evidence that it really was created by the artist claimed, and the type of materials used in creating it. Any art expert would be instantly put on the alert by a completely unknown work using modern materials. Whether Spock and his tricorder are capable of authenticating works purely on stylistic grounds I leave up to the individual reader, but I’m sceptical. Bear in mind that Flint is very definitely a genius when it comes to constructing robots. Maybe the works were produced by simulacra of the historical personalities, or by earlier versions of Rayna, as he struggled to imbue her with a genuine artificial intelligence. Although Doctor McCoy notices some odd things about Flint, he’s certainly not immortal when he’s examined. I’ve included Flint’s past in the chronology, but my own theory is that he was very rich, very odd, possibly over a hundred years old and not a single one of the people he claims to be. I am intrigued as to whether he ever met Noonien Soong, though. (I think this has been speculated on in one of the “Star Trek” novels.)

As an experiment, I have placed the portraits of Flint’s “incarnations” side by side, where there’s an image that’s regarded as fairly accurate:
I suppose if you squint, it’s just possible they might be the same man. I remain unconvinced.

by StrauchiusStrauchius on 07 Dec 2010 18:39, last updated on 16 Jan 2015 14:02