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Star Trek - Patterns of Force

episode 2.21

USA 1968
produced by
John Meredyth Lucas, Gene Roddenberry (executive) for Desilu, Norway Corporation/NBC
directed by Vincent McEveety
starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Richard Evans, Valora Noland, Skip Homeier, David Brian, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Patrick Horgan, William Wintersole, Gilbert Green, Walter Koenig, Lev Mailer, Ed McCready, Peter Canon, Paul Baxley, Chuck Courtney, Bart La Rue
written by John Meredyth Lucas, created by Gene Roddenberry, music by George Duning

TV series
Star Trek, Classic Star Trek, Star Trek (original crew)

review by
Mike Haberfelner




Trying to find out about the whereabouts of Kirk's (William Shatner) former mentor, historian John Gill (David Brian), Kirk and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) beam down onto the planet where he has been last seen - to find it being a perfect replica of Nazi Germany on the brink of World War II, with the people of the planet being the master race, while those of neighbouring planet Zeon being a stand-in for the persecuted Jews, for which the Fuhrer promises a "final solution", and also an invasion of their home planet - and the Fuhrer is of course John Gill, who seems nothing like the man Kirk knew. Stealing two Nazi uniforms, Kirk and Spock try to infiltrate Nazi headquarters to get through to the Fuhrer, but are found out due to Spock's pointy ears and thrown to the torture dungeon as Zeon spies. However, Spock manages to create a rudimentary laser out of nothing and frees them and fellow prisoner Isak (Richard Evans), who takes them to the headquarters of the Zeon resistance somewhere deep in the sewage system. They make up a plan how to get to the Fuhrer's palace during a speech of his with the help of Daras (Valora Noland), highly decorated model female Nazi who's really a Zeon spy, and once there discover that John Gill is actually a heavily drugged puppet for his deputy (and the planet's actual leader) Melakon (Skip Homeier), the actual warmonger. Somehow, with the help of beamed down Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) they can get Gill out of his daze and undo the damage he has done in a speech, to be immediately shot dead by Melakon, who's then shot dead by his own fellow Nazis, actually.

One question remains, how has the planet turned into Nazi Germany?

Now Gill figured that the Nazis created, on an objective level and their war efforts notwithstanding, the most efficient system of  running a state and building up an industry (but he actually leaves out large chunks of how this was achieved), so it was only logical replicating the system would lead the planet to prosperity, and that this "vision" didn't translate into reality the way he wanted was only due to power-hungry individuals. This of course does by no means explain how the planet has turned into a perfect replica of Nazi Germany, with swastikas and all ...

 

Patterns of Force was the only episode of the original Star Trek that got banned in Germany upon initial release, and it's clear to see why, the way Nazis (on another planet) are portrayed is just too simplistic for a country then, not yet 25 years after the war, still trying to shake past sins.

 

Now the historical vagueness notwithstanding, this episode is nothing special: Sure, it's "fun" to see Kirk and Spock in Nazi uniforms, but other than that, it's just your standard adventure yarn - not at all bad mind you, but nothing to write home about. Basically it's neither one of the campier or sillier, nor one of the more thoughtful stories, the two poles that made the original Star Trek such a special series.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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directed by
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written by
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