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Patterns of Force

Review

Series : The Original Series Rating : 1
Disc No : 2.6 Episode : 53
First Aired : 16 Feb 1968 Stardate : Unknown
Director : Vincent McEveety Year : 2268
Writers : John Meredyth Lucas Season : 2
Guest Cast :
Bart La Rue as Newscaster
Bill Blackburn as Trooper
Chuck Courtney as Davod
David Bryan as John Gill
Ed McCready as S. S. Trooper
Gilbert Green as S.S. Major
Laskey as Trooper
Patrick Horgan as Eneg
Paul Baxley as First trooper
Peter Canon as Gestapo lieutenant
Ralph Maurer as S.S. Lieutenant
Richard Evans as Isak
Skip P. Homeier as Melakon
Valora Noland as Daras
William Wintersole as Abrom
Moral :
History : We must learn the lessons of history or we are doomed to repeat them
YATI : Kirk and co. find it incredible that a group of Nazis exist on an alien planet. Yet they found it perfectly reasonable that a Roman society could develop in "Bread and Circuses", only nine episodes ago. They claim it is a perfect example of "Hodgkin's law of parallel planetary development". So why are the Nazis any different?

Gill claims that Nazi Germany was the "most efficient state Earth ever knew." Whilst this view was believed at the time of the episode production, today historians point out that in fact the German state was rather inefficient, dominated by huge competing bureaucracies. During the war the Germans never mobilised their population and economy to the extent that the British and Americans did until it was far too late - for example, women in Germany were never called up into the military and industry the way they were by the Allies, until Germany itself was all but overrun. There was also a strong tendancy to announce grand sweeping projects which rarely lived up to the hype - consider the much touted Nazi success of the autobahn system, for instance. Designed as a public works project, the plan actually pre-dated the Nazis by many years. Whilst it was the Nazis that ended up implementing it, road construction never employed more than a quarter of the workers it was intended to. And since car ownership was rare in Germany - especially since Hitler's "people's car" never went into production under the Nazis - what they ended up with were roads that almost nobody could actually use. At the height of autobahn building, only one German in sixty owned a car. And that was a success story, as Nazi projects went. Or consider that the Nazis spent as much money and effort on the V-2 project as the US did on the Manhattan project - and for their efforts, they got a weapon that repeated the failed "terror bombing" tactic whilst doing absolutely nothing useful in the fight against the allies.
Great Moment : The scene where the Ekosian declared Spock to be physically and mentally inferior. It's always good to see a Nazi make a fool of himself.
Body Count : Gill and one of the Nazis.
Factoid : This is one of several examples of the "Exactly like the Earth" episodes TOS had and the only one with a vaguely sensible explanation, since the similarities were deliberately created.

Plotline

The Enterprise is on course for Ekos to pick up historiand and cultural observer John Gill, whos has been studying the planet. As the ship approaches a missile intercepts them - a chemical rocket with a thermonuclear warhead, technology Ekos shouldn't have. The nearby planet Zeon is known to have technology, but they are a peaceful people unlikely to be the source of the attack. Kirk orders it destroyed and procedes to Ekos, beaming down with Spock. Given the nature of the mission they have subcutaneous emergency transponders implanted, which will allow them to be located and beamed up even without their transporters. Dressed as locals, they look around a city on the surface and are shocked to find that it is an almost identical copy of Nazi Germany from Earth's 20th century. Only in place of persecution of the Jews, the Ekosians are attacking any Zeons they find. Most schoking are images of "The Führer", no other than John Gill himself.

Kirk and Spock steal some military uniforms and attempt to get in to see Gill, but are quickly captured. They are interrogated by the SS, though after a while Chairman Eneg intevenes and sends them to the cells. They are imprisoned with a Zeon called Isak, a member of the Zeon underground member who explains that the Nazi party got started just a few years ago - right about the time Gill arrived. The officers come up with an escape plan; Spock extracts Kirk's subcutaneous transponder and uses the rubindium crystals to convert the cell's lamp into a cutting laser that cuts through the cell lock. They escape with Isak, who leads them to a rebel underground base outside the city. There they meet his brother, Abrom, who tells him of the brutal death of his Isak's fiancée Uletta. Abrom angrily comments that after that there is no reason to help strangers - but Isak sadly comments that if they adopt the methods of the Nazis they will be no better than Nazis themselves. Suddenly a group of Ekosian troops burst in, led by Daras. Kirk and Spock fight back - and it is revealed that the attack was a ploy, designed to test their true allegiance. By fighting against Daras rather than helping her, they have passed the test.

Kirk reveals their true nature as aliens to the planet, and explain that one of their own is aparently behind the Nazi movement, to the amazement of the Zeons. Abrom states that the Deputy Führer, Melakon, is the real power now, with the Führer himself as a figurehead. Daras explains that the Führer is making a major speech tonight at the Chancellery, with lots of high ranking guests in attendance. She fears he will be announcing all out war against Zeon. Kirk, seeing an opportunity, decides to infiltrate the event to try and reach Gill.

They penetrate the event in the fuise of a documentary film crew making a propaganda movie featuring Daras. McCoy beams down to join them, and they listen to the speech Gill makes - but note that he seems detached, almost comatose, with his mouth hidden behind a large microphone throughout his speech. They manage to get into the broadcast booth after the speech and find that Gil has been drugged, most likely by Melakon. Spock is captured and put on display in the main room, with Melakon prounincing him obviously of an inferior race, whilst McCoy works to revive Gill.

Gill explains his intentions - he considered Nazi Germany the most efficient state ever, and sought to use that model to advance Ekosian society whilst leaving out the more violent aspects. His plan was successful at first, uniting the planet behind him. But when Melakon took over all the worst aspects of Nazism quickly surfaced. Gill makes a follow-on speech ordering the Ekosian fleet to return to Ekos and denouncing Melakon, who quickly grabs a gun and murders Gill. Isak shoots Melakon in return. Eneg prevents further bloodshed, stating that he will follow the Führer's orders and "Now we'll start to live the way the Fuhrer meant us to live."

Back on the Enterprise, Spock wonders how Gill could make made such a fundamental mistake in emulating the Nazis. Kirk notes that it may not have been the Nazis that were the problem so much as having any one individual with so much power. McCoy remarks that power corrupts, and Kirk orders the argument ended and tells Chekov to take them away from the planet as quickly as he can.

Analysis

Essentially almost everything about this episode is stupid.

First, the whole thing is obviously just an excuse to have Space Nazis. That's a tired cliche now, though admittedly it was kind of new when Star Trek did it. And there is at least a somwhat plausible excuse this time, since the planet was deliberately influenced to become a Nazi state. But it's still preposterous nonsense.

Consider what Gill is actually doing here. He considers the Nazi system the most efficient ever devised. He's wrong about that (see above), but let's go with it. His plan is to ape that system... only without the violent and repressive parts. Trouble is, the violent and repressive parts were pretty much fundamental to Nazism. Take them away and what are you really left with? It's as if he thinks that efficiency will appear simply because everyone starts wearing Nazi uniforms or something.

Then there's the ease with which he did this. According to dialogue Gil started his Nazi scheme "a few years ago". How long is that, at most... five? Ten? Depending on how you date it, it took the actual Nazis fourteen years to gain power in Germany (that's from the founding of the German Worker's Party to the time all other parties were banned). Gil conquered an entire planet , in around half that time?

Even if we assume he introduced advanced tech to make it a machine gun versus spears kind of conquest, that's hard to believe - and remember he was trying to do all this without violence, implying that he didn't conquer the rest of the planet so much as he convinced them all that Nazism was great and good. The timeline beggard belief.

Then there's Kirk's ability to slip in and out of Nazi headquarters pretty easily. Yeah, he got caught the first time, but is security really so poor? Can you imagine, oh, say, turning up at the White House with a camera and a uniform and some well known soldier and simply bluffing your way inside? Hell no. Of course, at the White House you can just jump the fence and run inside pretty easily, but that's another issue!

And then, after years of whipping up this frenzy of race hatred... one single speech, and everyone just goes "Oh, okay then," and it all ends? Can you imagine Hitler giving a speech in 1939 where he went "Oh, actually, violence is bad and the Jews and nice guys after all," and the entire Nazi movement going "Oh, okay, glad we got that settled then." It's absurd.

No, all in all it's a ridiculous episode. Did not like.
Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 5,009 Last updated : 12 Jan 2015