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The Savage Curtain - Recap

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The Enterprise is sent to investigate the planet Excalbia, a planet with a surface of molten lava and an unbreathable atmosphere. Spock detects traces of carbon-based life forms and they pick up advanced power readings but no one responds to their hails. As Kirk prepares to order the Enterprise to its next assignment, someone on the planet scans them. After a few moments, a figure appears on the view screen: 19th century U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.

Do I gather that you recognize me?
I recognize what you appear to be.
And appearances can be most deceiving, but not in this case, James Kirk.
I am Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln greets them but when they are skeptical that he is real, he asks tem to beam him aboard so they can determine his reality. He tells them to prepare to beam him aboard in 12 minutes and disappears. On the planet's surface, a 1,000-square-kilometer area of stable land appears with an Earth-like atmosphere. They'll be above it in exactly twelve minutes. As they approach the area, Kirk orders everyone to full dress and Presidential honors. When Scotty and Spock prepare to beam aboard "Lincoln," they briefly sense a rocklike form but it becomes human within seconds. They beam Lincoln aboard, and he reveals that he has a general knowledge of 23rd century technology even though he appears to have the mind of a 19th century man. McCoy confirms that he is physiologically human. They give him a tour of the ship and while apologizing to Uhura for calling her a "Negress," Lincoln displays a knowledge of Vulcan philosophy and notes that one of the greatest figures of Vulcan history is on the planet. He invites Kirk and Spock to return to the planet with him.

In our century, we've learned not to fear words.
The foolishness of my century had me apologizing where no offense was given.

While Uhura gives Lincoln a tour of the ship, the senior staff meet. Kirk concedes that their visitor can't possibly be Lincoln but the President is a personal hero of his. McCoy notes that significant since Kirk will make the decision. The captain concedes the risks but notes that despite the unusual nature of the contact, an alien life form is trying to make contact with them. while the senior staff meet to discuss the situation. Kirk overrides McCoy's objections and beams down to the planet with Lincoln and Spock.

He's potentially dangerous.
Mad! Loony as an Arcturian dog bird!

As they arrive on the planet, the power on the Enterprise is dampened to minimum levels. Kirk and Spock discover their phasers and tricorders are gone and their communicators fail to function. Kirk refuses to go along with Lincoln's pretense any more but the President insists that everything is what it should be and he is Lincoln. They're interrupted when another figure appears: Surak of Vulcan, who Spock notes is the greatest of all Vulcans. Spock initially refuses to even acknowledge it could be Surak, but "Surak" notes it would be illogical not to greet him as if he were the real thing.

In my time, we knew not of Earth men. I am pleased to see that we have differences.
May we together become greater than the sum of both of us.

Spock reluctantly acknowledges him as the image of Surak, but they're interrupted when a creature of molten lava appears before them. It welcomes them to the "drama yet to unfold" and when Kirk protests they can't communicate with the ship, it lets the Enterprise crew watch the encounter on the view screens so that they can enjoy the "play." It then summons forth four humanoids: Colonel Green of the 21st century, Genghis Khan, ruthless biochemist Zora of Tiburon, and Kahless the Unforgettable, who shaped the tyrannies of the Klingon Empire.

Captain, Mr. Spock, some of these you may know through history.
Genghis Khan, for one. Colonel Green led a genocidal war early in the 21st century on Earth. Zora, who experimented with the body chemistry of subject tribes on Tiburon. Kahless the Unforgettable, the Klingon who set the pattern for his planet's tyrannies.

The creature, Yarnek, says that the drama is a simple one: a matter of survival. Both sides, "good" and "evil," can fabricate whichever weapons they choose and demonstrate which of the two philosophies is the stronger. Kirk refuses but Yarnek informs him that he will have no choice. After Yarnek disappears, Green approaches Kirk and proposes an alliance so they can escape and return to their proper place. Green claims not to remember where he came from or how he arrived on Excalbia. philosophical concept. Kirk notes that Green was known for attacking his enemies in the middle of peace meetings. Green's fellows attack and after a brief engagement, are forced to retreat.

You were notorious, Colonel Green, for striking at your enemies in the midst of negotiating with them.
But that was centuries ago, Captain, and not altogether true. There is much I would change now if I could. Don't let prejudice and rumors way you.

Yarnek reappears to express his disappointment that Kirk and Spock don't see the honor being directed toward them. Kirk tries to attack the alien but simply burns his hand on its heated form. Yarnek then allows them to contact the Enterprise where Scotty informs them that the matter/anti-matter reactors are going critical and they only have four hours before they blow up. Yarnek cuts them off again and informs them that to save the ship, they have to win.

l am disappointed. You display no interest in the honor we do you. We offer you an opportunity to become our teachers by demonstrating whether good or evil is more powerful.

Kirk takes command seeks out a defensible position from which to launch a reconnaissance mission. Surak says that they must find a peaceful solution and that he is no fighter. Spock stands by the captain but asks that Surak be given his chance. Kirk has no authority to stop Surak and wishes him luck… then starts assembling weapons. Surak approaches Green's camp but while Green stalls him, Khan and Kahless sneak around behind him.

No one talks peace unless he's ready to back it up with war.

Kirk, Spock, and Lincoln prepare weapons when they hear Surak's scream for help. Spock insists that a Vulcan wouldn't cry out no matter what the cause but Kirk can't stand to hear the Surak's agonized crimes. Lincoln notes that Green and the others intend to goad them into rash action, so Kirk and Spock should pretend to be enraged and attack from the front, while Lincoln as a backwoodsman sneaks around from the rear and frees Surak. Kirk reluctantly agrees.

There is no honorable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war except its ending.

Kirk and Spock attack their opponents' position but Green soon realizes there's only two of them. While the two sides are stalemated, Lincoln sneaks into the enemy camp and finds Surak lying still. He moves to untie him only to discover that he's dead. Green and Kahless arrive and Kahless demonstrates how he impersonated Surak's voice to lure them in. A minute later, Lincoln staggers toward Kirk and Spock… and falls dead, a spear in his back. The enemy attacks in close quarters but Khan and Zora run away. Kirk kills Kahless and then confronts Green. The two fight and Green ends up impaled on his own knife-stick. Yarnek returns and expresses confusion that there seems to be no significant difference between the two philosophies. However, it concedes that they have won and they are permitted to leave.

What gives you the right to hand out life and death?
The same right that brought you here--the need to know new things.

Back on board the Enterprise the crew determine everything is back to normal and watch as the "stage" disappears back into the Lava. Spock concludes that Lincoln, Surak, and the others were created from the scanned images taken from their minds and the ship's records, and some of the Excalbians then acted as source matter to provide the bodies. Since Lincoln and Surak were created primarily from Kirk's and Spock's minds, they were as real as the officers expected them to be. Kirk admits it was hard to see Lincoln die again, and notes that so much of his work and Surak's remains to be done throughout the galaxy.

I feel I actually met Lincoln.
Yes, and Surak. Perhaps in a sense they were real, Captain. Since they were created out of our own thoughts,
how could they be anything but what we expected them to be?