Let that be Your Last Battlefield
Overall Ep :
First Aired :
10 Jan 1969
Season Ep :
Kirk makes a log entry on Stardate 5730.7, then dates his next log as 5730.6. Is he going backwards in time?
When Bele first takes over the ship, Chekov reports that they are on course four-oh-three mark seven. Spock confirms this, and then states that Cheron lies "between four-oh-three mark seven, and mark nine." Isn't this a rather awkward thing to say? Surely he should have said that Cheron lies on heading four-oh-three mark eight?
Under Bele's control, the Enterprise accelerates to Warp 10. Yet there is nothing of the rising whine of the Engines that always accompanies such acceleration. So is Bele controlling the ship to make it go at Warp 10, or is he using his power to actually physically push it through space at high warp whilst the engines idle along as normal? Because if it's the former, there should be an accompanying engine noise, and if it's the latter, that's one hell of a feat for a single person to be capable of. It would make Bele and Loki so powerful that it's rather incredible, even for Star Trek.
Great Moment :
The moment when you realise that one of the aliens is black on the left and white on the right and the other is the opposite. I hadn't noticed until then!
Body Count :
This episode has two classic bits of cost cutting - Bele's ships was invisible, saving on building a model, and all the scenes of destruction on Cheron are actually World War II footage.
The self-destruct sequence used in this episode is repeated almost verbatim in "Star Trek III : The Search for Spock".
Frank Gorshin was nominated for an Emmy for his role of Bele.
The Enterprise is pursuing a shuttlecraft recently stolen from a Starbase. Recovering the craft they find an alien aboard - a male who is jet black on one side and pure white on the other. With the man recovering in sickbay the Starship is approached by an invisible vessel which explodes just as ti reaches them - moments after beaming its occupant to the bridge, another of the binary coloured aliens.
The thief, Lokai, claims that he is a member of a minority group badly opressed on his home planet. He was an agitator, fighting for freedom and equal rights. The other alien, a government Commissioner named Bele, regards Lokai as a terrorist has been chasing him for 50,000 years. Bele uses the mental powers natural to his people to sieze control of the Enterprise, insisting that the ship return to his planet Cheron so that Lokai can be jailed. He finally relents when Kirk threatens to destroy the ship.
Starfleet rules that Lokai cannot be returned since there is no extradition treaty with Cheron. Incensed, Bele again takes control of the Enterprise and locks it on course to his planet, disabling the self-destruct system this time.
On arrival at Cheron the Enterprise finds the planet devastated by civil war, the surface ruined and every inhabitant long dead. The two Cheronians are incensed, and immediately blame one another for the catastrophe. Despite Kirk's plea that they relinquish their battle Bele chases Lokai through the ship, then follows him to Cheron when he beams down. A depressed Kirk abandons the two fanatics to their endless war and proceeds to his next mission.
I know this episode comes in for a lot of stick, but I have very fond memories of it. Looked at objectively, this is one of those episodes that unfolds like it should have a big subtitle flashing at the bottom of the screen saying "MESSAGE! THIS IS AN IMPORTANT MORAL MESSAGE! BE SURE YOU GET THE POINT OF THIS MESSAGE!" Looked at objectively, it's way too overdone to be a really good episode.
But I don't look at this one objectively. You see, this is the very first episode of Star Trek that I have any memory of seeing. I watched this when I was perhaps eight or ten years old, and I absolutely loved it. I didn't spot the difference between Lokai and Bele at all - I was right there with Spock when he did his "you look identical" schtick, and was absolutely gobsmacked when Lokai pointed out the all too obvious difference. To a kid who barely knew what racism was, the idea that two people could hate one another so much over something so trivial was absolutely mind-blowing.
As a result, I became a Star Trek fan and the rest, as they say, is history. So no, I can't look at this one objectively and I make no apologies for that.