There have been creepy kids before on Star Trek, but this time we get a creepy rendition of “Ring Around The Rosie” AND these kids start off creepy-with-a-creepy-plan rather than creepy-to-survive.
“Ashes, ashes” the children cry
with laughter sweet upon their lips
while elders all around them lie.
Blind to the face whose word so grips,
how can they see the harm they do?
How could they know his kind untrue?
A tender touch is not enough,
and facts alone speak far and rough.
Open eyes hear a thousand words
and hold not back a thousand tears
as they ring true throughout the years;
but, what child could rejoin the herds
full-knowing what they once forgot,
feeling the weight of what they wrought?
See? Totes creepy from the beginning. Though the rest of the poem expresses my concern for the kids. How will they live with themselves after they learn the truth?
WARNING: Spoilers are about to go down.
McCoy thinks their not reacting to their parents’ death is due to trauma, but Kirk finds out it’s because they’ve been partially blinded to the repercussions of their actions by an “ancient, superior being” who needs hapless followers in order to take over the system/galaxy/you-name-it.
The only way to free the kids from the guy’s influence — and save everyone else for that matter — is to make the kids see the truth and THAT means making them understand their parents are all dead. But the so-called superior being can’t act on his own. He acted through the children. So not only is Kirk making this group of kids see that their parents are dead, he’s also setting them up to realize that those deaths (a mass suicide, by the way) were the result of the children’s actions/wishes/normal-childish-stubborness.
They were basically brainwashed at the start of the episode and then — at the end — McCoy smiles for the first time in the whole episode because they’re finally crying over the loss of their parents not realizing that the trauma has actually just begun.