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The Enterprise arrives in a planetary system to find missing Federation historian John Gill. They are attacked by a nuclear missile from Ekos, even though that planet didn't have the technology capable of producing such missiles the last time a report was made. Kirk and Spock beam down and discover the planet is under a Nazi movement that involves the genocide of the neighboring planet Zeon.
Special Guest StarsStarring RolesGuest StarsCo-Guest StarsUncredited
investigates a system containing two civilizations; the outer planet, Zeon, has a relatively high technology and a peaceful civilization. The inner planet, Ekos, has a warlike civilization plunged into anarchy. Federation historian John Gill is living as a native, studying Ekos from the inside. For six months the Federation has attempted to reach Gill without success. Now it has dispatched the Enterprise
to learn why Gill does not answer. The approaching Enterprise
comes under attack by Ekosian missiles sophisticated enough to detect her and armed with thermonuclear warheads. They represent technology far in advance of what the Ekosians should have. Kirk and Spock beam down with subcutaneous transponders so they may be beamed up in case of trouble. The ship will remain outside of detection range until three hours have passed; then it will return for the landing party...Read the full recap
At one point, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) tells Captain Kirk (William Shatner) that he "should make a very convincing Nazi." Ironically, both Nimoy and Shatner are Jewish in real life.
James Doohan (Scotty) and Skip Homeier (Melakon) previously appeared in The Outer Limits
episode "Expanding Human
". They played Police Lt. Branch and Dr. Roy Clinton respectively.
Kirk; You look very healthy for someone who has been "utterly destroyed" Mr. Spock.
Kirk: That helmet covers a multitude of sins.
Spock: (to Captain Kirk) You should make a very convincing Nazi.
Spock: Captain, I'm beginning to understand why you Earthmen enjoy gambling. No matter how carefully one computes the odds of success, there's still a certain exhilaration in the risk.
Kirk: Very good. We may make a human of you yet.
Spock: I hope not.
Kirk: Kirk to Enterprise. What's happening up there?
Uhura: Dr. McCoy is having difficulty with that uniform, sir
Kirk: Well send him down here naked if you have to! Kirk out.
John Gill: (his final words) Even historians fail to learn from history. They repeat the same mistakes...Let the killing end...Let...
Kirk: The problem with the Nazis wasn't simply that their leaders were evil, psychotic men. They were, but the main problem, I think, was the Leader Principle.
McCoy: What he's saying is that a man holds that much power, even with the best intentions, Just can't resist the urge to play God.
Spock: Thank you, Doctor. I was able to gather the meaning.
Adolf Hitler is seen in the news reel. However, John Gill, since this is not an exact parallel, is der Führer.
According to Captain Kirk, John Gill had been on Ekos for only a few years. However, Daras states she "grew up to admire him."
If one looks closely on the landing, one can see the S.S. Major standing there, waiting for his cue to descend and accost Kirk and Spock. He only pauses for a second or so - one must have sharp eyes to spot him.
Gill is facing the camera at waist level during his "speech." However when they get in the booth the only thing in front of him is a window with drapes, and the only camera is mounted to side at a right angle to Gill and about 8' off the ground.
They keep saying that the black uniforms are Gestapo uniforms, but in real-life historical Germany the black uniforms are S.S. and the Gestapo were plainsclothes officers.
Dr. McCoy could not possibly have replicated the Gestapo uniform and changed into it so quickly. This occurs within the space of less than 15 seconds.
They talk about how the Resistance is broken up into individual cells, with no one knowing who anyone else is so that no one can be interrogated and betray the others. That makes sense... but Isak knows who not one but two of the top undercover Resistance operatives are.
What Changed in the Remastered Version
The space shots early and late in the episode receive nice upgrades. The new graphics for Zeon depict it as a ringed planet, and very close to Ekos. The new graphics for the early missile attack depict a far more threatening projectile and a much nicer explosion. A missed opportunity, perhaps because of budget constraints, is the very unrealistic whip scars inflicted on Kirk and Spock - they looked, and still look, exactly like what they are, makeup smears. As much of the episode takes place on the surface of Ekos, there were few other opportunities for visual upgrades.
There are two abrupt cuts in the syndicated remastered version: 1) the scene where Kirk and Spock bump into a guard and take his key is not shown. After they go into the lab with a key they are never shown to have obtained, the camera cuts to the guard realizing his key is missing. 2) Kirk, Spock, Daras, and Isak are in a hallway discussing the fact they need a doctor to examine Gill and Kirk says he knows where to get one, and suddenly they're in a closet with McCoy beaming down.
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely
In 1870 Pope Pius IX issued a doctrine of papal infallibility. This basically said that a Pope was never wrong. John Dalberg-Acton, the first Baron Acton, opposed this most fervently, and in this context said "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." The real Nazi regime in Germany demonstrated this most effectively but it is far from the only example. It seems all to easy to exploit the evil of the Nazis as fodder for a story, and this has been done many times as well. By using them, and including the oblique reference to Lord Acton's famous pronouncement, this episode makes one of the series' many social comments in a way that doesn't batter the viewer. In a sense, it redeems what would otherwise have been a pedestrian episode.
That missile which attacked the Enterprise...
Early in the episode, a missile acquires and tracks the Enterprise, a feat Spock stated would require sophisticated detection equipment. The missile carried a thermonuclear warhead, a technical achievement McCoy described as generations beyond where the Ekosians should be. But John Gill, the only Federation representative, was a historian and not a physicist. While it is true that he could have told the Ekosians such things were possibly, and that knowing something is possible is a big part of achieving it. It seems quite unlikely that civilization could have constructed such a missile in the few years he was there. Did he bring scientific texts with him? If so, why? It would seem imprudent of the Federation to risk violating the Prime Directive by proving an embedded researcher with knowledge not essential to his task. These developments, coupled with Daras' assertion that she "grew up to admire" the Fuhrer and later to hate what he stood for, suggest that Kirk's "few years" may have underestimated the time Gill was actually on Ekos. Another possibility is that Zeon, a somewhat more advanced civilization, was far closer to these secrets. And that Gill's social transformation of Ekos gave them the tools and will to seek out and steal those Zeon secrets.