(airdate: November 1, 1968)
Writer: Jerome Bixby
Director: Marvin Chomsky
Kang: Michael Ansara
Mara: Susan Howard
Johnson: David Ross
Stardate: Unknown [Unless you want to take Kirk's statement of "Stardate: Armageddon" seriously...]
Captain's Log: The Enterprise responds to a distress call from a colony on Beta XII-A, only to discover that there's no trace of the colony. A badly-damaged Klingon ship arrives, also responding to a distress call. Kirk takes the Klingons captive aboard the Enterprise and destroys their ship. Suddenly an unknown force traps most of the Enterprise crew, changes the weapons to swords, and sends the ship at warp 9 to the edge of the galaxy. The Federation and Klingon forces are now evenly matched, and each faction takes control of parts of the Enterprise. In addition, much of the crew are behaving with greater anger than before, seized with a kind of bloodlust against the Klingons. Kirk and Spock determine that an alien entity is aboard the Enterprise: it lives off of violent emotion and has engineered the situation in order to constantly feed. Both factions refuse to continue fighting, forcing the entity to leave the ship, to seek sustenance elsewhere.
Whoops!: The sound effects during the sword fight between Kirk and Kang are too echoey and loud, given the space and swords being used. They sound more like metal trash can lids being banged together.
So, um, what happens to the 38 Klingons at the end of this, given that they don't have a ship to return to?
Despite what's been reported elsewhere though, Scotty fairly clearly says the word "Vulcan" to Spock, not a more vulgar near-rhyming word.
Classic Lines: The Klingons get the best lines, including "Four thousand throats may be cut in one night by a running man" and "Only a fool fights in a burning house."
Spock: "Those who hate and fight must stop themselves, Doctor; otherwise, it is not stopped."
"No one can guarantee the actions of another."
Alien Love: There's a disturbing moment where Chekov, under the influence of the entity, appears ready to inflict sexual violence upon Mara before Kirk stops him.
Library Computer: [Due to the nature of the alien entity and its ability to transform matter and adjust people's minds, much of what we see here can't be relied upon as being factual. We'll try to flag the more egregious falsehoods, but it's worth nothing that everything stated here should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt.]
Beta XII-A was a planetary body that appeared Earth-like from orbit, with a green sky, breathable atmosphere, normal radiation levels, pink ferns, and a number of large rocky outcroppings in the area we see. [Kirk calls it a planet, but the name is sufficiently unlike the other planet names in the original series to be slightly suspect. The "A" suggests that perhaps this is actually a moon of the twelfth planet in the Beta system.] Beta XII-A was uninhabited, despite the Enterprise receiving a purported distress signal from a hundred-strong human colony.
One thing that was on Beta XII-A was an alien entity, appearing to be a shimmering spherical collection of lights. At rest it was orange and white in color, with occasional flashes of blue and green, but when it was feeding it turned blood red and its energy levels increased. The entity fed on hostility and violence. It was composed of pure energy and was intelligent. Its life-force registered on the Enterprise's sensors, although the computer couldn't identify the entity. [Spock describes a "considerable discrepancy" between the number of life-energy units that were supposed to be on board versus what the sensors actually registered, which suggests that the entity read as particularly strong.] It could instantaneously transform matter into different configurations (phasers and chess sets into swords, for instance) or reinforce it (as with the metal in the emergency bulkheads), and it could restore power when needed, block subspace communications, and manipulate people's minds, making them believe things that weren't true and amplifying their hatred of others. The entity also had the ability to heal people quickly, thus ensuring that hostilities would last, allowing it to feed. It also could create the illusion of a ship attacking another, creating corresponding damage and casualties. [Kang is pretty insistent at the beginning that it was the Enterprise who crippled his ship.]
Commander Kang was the commander of a Klingon battlecruiser [the standard one, the one that is eventually known as a D7-class battle cruiser] with a complement of approximately 440 crewmembers. [By airdate, this is the first appearance of this ship model as a Klingon vessel, although it had earlier been seen in "The Enterprise Incident" as a Romulan vessel.] Like most male Klingons, Kang had large upswept eyebrows and a goatee, and he had a dark complexion. His uniform was a standard Klingon officer's uniform, distinguished by a large gold sash with a fringe pointing down, with what appears to be a round starburst with a series of triangles pointing in toward the starburst near the shoulder, worn over top. [This is the same sash design as worn by Lt. Worf in the first season of The Next Generation - although Worf wears his sash over the opposite shoulder.] Kang had a straightforward disposition, not particularly given to duplicitousness and justifiably angry over the death of his crew. It's implied that Kang and Kirk know each other. [They know each other's names, can identify each other by sight, and never say anything to the effect of, "I've heard all about you", which does suggest that they've encountered each other before.] Kang's ship was severely damaged in orbit above Beta XII-A after Kang responded to a (fake) distress call and was seemingly attacked by the Enterprise - an illusion created by the alien entity, designed to bring the crews of the two ships together. Although the Enterprise didn't actually attack Kang's ship, the entity still inflicted enough damage to kill 400 crewmembers and leave the ship venting radiation and essentially helpless. Kang's ship was eventually destroyed by the Enterprise, as it was a hazard to that area of space. The thirty-eight members of Kang's crew that were still alive were beamed aboard the Enterprise; when the entity began setting the two crews against each other, the Klingons took control of deck six and starboard deck seven, and eventually Engineering.
Kang's science officer was also his wife, Mara. Mara had brown hair, swept up into an elaborate hairstyle with a single plait hanging down the back, and heavy white and brown eyeshadow that went up to her upswept eyebrows. She was wearing a grey romper (blouse and shorts combined) with loose mesh brown sleeves, a thin black belt, and black thigh-high boots. She believes Klingon propaganda that the Federation commits atrocities, rounding people up in death camps and torturing them for information, which is why she is reluctant to believe Kirk's story that an alien entity is influencing their two peoples. [Mara is the only female Klingon with a speaking role during the original run of Star Trek. There's at least one other female Klingon in the background of this episode, though, and another fairly prominent Klingon woman shows up in the Animated Series ("The Time Trap").]
Mara describes the Klingon people as a race of hunters, "tracking and taking what we need". They feel a need to fight, and have maintained a duelling tradition. The worlds in the Klingon systems are poor, requiring them to continue to expand. It is notoriously difficult to get Klingons to agree to a truce once blood has been drawn. Despite this, the Federation and the Klingons have been at peace for the last three years [since the Organian Peace Treaty]. There have been raids on outposts and other incidents, but it can't be proved it was the Klingons and there hasn't been anything considered serious enough to break the truce.
The Klingons have a small handheld device which, when placed against the skin, induces feelings of pain and agony in the victim. [This is the same prop as the agonizer used by the mirror universe's Empire in "Mirror, Mirror", which might suggest that in the mirror universe the Empire somehow acquired Klingon technology. Or it's just simply a reused prop, like Nomad ("The Changeling") and the Romulan cloaking device ("The Enterprise Incident").]
Under the influence of the alien entity, Chekov believes that they killed his brother Piotr when they massacred a hundred people at the Archanis IV research outpost. In fact, Chekov is an only child. [On the one hand, the fact that Piotr is made-up might suggest that the incident at Archanis IV is also untrue; on the other hand, Kang doesn't say anything like, "We know nothing about Archanis IV", which could mean that the massacre did happen - but then the Klingons are also under the influence of the entity, so maybe they think it happened too when it really didn't. Unfortunately, this is never brought up again, so we have no way of knowing for certain.]
Intraship beaming is very dangerous, due to the pinpoint accuracy involved in not transporting someone inside a solid object. It is therefore rarely used, although it is possible.
The Enterprise's main life support couplings are on deck 6.
When the left button on a Starfleet communicator is held down, it lets the recipient on the ship know that there's a problem.
Given the choice, Scotty favors a basket-hilted claymore.
Numanol is a type of medicine, administered in capsule form.
Klingons have no devil.
The Federation doesn't mistreat or kill its prisoners. [Good to know.]
Final Analysis: "Two forces aboard this ship, each of them equally armed. Has a war been staged for us, complete with weapons and ideology and patriotic drum beating?" An interesting premise that generally holds up well, although it does rely on yet another alien with god-like powers. That said, it does sag a bit in the middle, with the scenes of Kirk and Spock tracking the alien and then discussing what to do going on a tad too long. But balancing that, Susan Howard does a good job as Mara, while Michael Ansara is mesmerizing as Kang, providing a strong, noble adversary for Kirk.
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Page originally created: June 17, 2016
Page last updated: September 8, 2018