5/14/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "A Piece of the Action"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S02E17
Air Date: January 12, 1968
Written by: David P. Harmon and Gene L. Coon
Directed by: James Komack

Premise
The Enterprise checks up on an imitative race that based their entire society on a book left behind by the USS Horizon, "Chicago Gangsters of the Twenties."

Review
A long time ago, before the creation of the Prime Directive, the USS Horizon stopped by Sigma Iotia II and left behind a book entitled "Chicago Gangsters of the Twenties". They sent notification back to Earth, but because they were using old style communications, it took a hundred years to reach back. As soon as they got the transmission, however, Enterprise rushed on their way to fix the contamination. And when Kirk, Spock and Bones beam down they find a great reconstruction of 1920s Chicago. And they are greeted by gangsters with Tommy guns.

After a crazy drive-by, a hit supposedly sent by a guy named Krako, the gangsters take the landing party to the biggest boss on the planet, Bela Okmyx. Now, Bela is really a peaceful guy at heart. He just wants to bring the whole world under his control. With it divided up against all the bosses like it is now, they keep on warring and nothing ever gets done. So Bela tries to convince Kirk to hand over a bunch of phasers, which he calls "heaters" so he can take over. Obviously, Kirk refuses, but then Bela says either he does it in 8 hours or he dies. And to make matters worse, he takes over the communicators and says as much to Scotty back on the Enterprise.
What... This guy...
Bela has the landing party taken to a warehouse and put under guard. And this is where Kirk breaks out his famous gambling abilities. He makes up a game called Fizzbin to teach the guards, and while they're distracted by the nonsensical rules, the landing party knocks them out and escapes. They contact the Enterprise via an old AM radio, Bones and Spock successfully get beamed up, but, in the confusion, Kirk gets captured by the second largest boss, Jojo Krako. Well, Bela informs the Enterprise of this, and Spock and Bones are eager to come back down and help get him back, but Kirk successfully escapes all on his own.

Meanwhile Spock and Bones beam down to Bela's office and are promptly met with armed guards. It would seem they've been trapped again, but then Kirk comes in and turns the tables. Adopting a Chicago accent, he instructs a couple guards to take their clothes off and hand them over. He and Spock are now in proper disguise. So they go over to Krako's joint and employ the help of an enterprising young man to distract the guards so they can capture Krako. And then Krako puts the drop on Kirk.
This magic moment!
Krako brings Kirk and Spock back to his office and Kirk explains that the Federation is "taking over." Talking about the Federation as a bigger gang that's coming in to overpower everyone, he fakes Krako into accepting the Federation's "claim" and then arranges for Krako to be transported up to the Enterprise. They overpower Krako's men and head back to Bela's office where Kirk has Scott locate and transport the other Bosses, including Krako, employing the existing network of telephones. Krako's men then try a hit on Okmyx's territory and a gunfight ensues in the street below. That's when Kirk has the Enterprise fire phasers on stun in the surrounding area to demonstrate the power of the "Feds". The mobsters are convinced and agree to Federation control with Okmyx as the top boss and Krako as his lieutenant.

Back on the Enterprise, Spock has concerns about Kirk's solution of having the Federation take a 40% cut of the planet's annual "action". Kirk explains that the money will go back into the planetary treasury to help the Federation guide the Iotians into a more ethical society. And then Bones goes and spoils it all by remembering that he left his communicator somewhere in Bela's office. Kirk and Spock speculate that with that kind of technology in the hands of the Iotians and with their gift for imitation, the Iotians may one day want a piece of the Federation's action.
Who's got two thumbs and thinks he's clever?

Overall Thoughts
This episode is kind of ridiculous. You pretty much have to accept the fact that the Iotians are stupidly imitative and have no idea how to form a regular government. But if you can suspend your disbelief that much, then it's quit entertaining to think of a people who formed their entire society based on a book of mobs from the twenties. Like many other Star Trek episodes, it's just good fun!