7/10/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S03E15
Air Date: January 10, 1969
Written by: Oliver Crawford and Lee Cronin (Gene L. Coon)
Directed by: Jud Taylor

Premise
The Riddler tracks down American Martin Freeman to the Enterprise and teaches us all a valuable lesson about racism.

Review
In this infamous episode, we find the Enterprise on a decontamination mission to Ariannus when suddenly a stolen shuttlecraft races out of the atmosphere and straight past them. It's been severely damaged and Spock deduces that whoever's driving the thing could be suffocating from the lack of oxygen. So Kirk orders that the shuttlecraft be taken in. After another beautiful display of the shuttle bay, Lokai walks out and collapses on the floor. He displays an unusual appearance: black on left side of his face, white on the right.

They take Lokai to sickbay and spend about fifteen minutes deliberating on how he could possibly have evolved such an unusual skin tone. Lokai gives off an air of righteous indignity when he's questioned about the shuttle, so Kirk plans to drop him off at Starbase 4 to face a trial after they're done with their mission. Meanwhile, an invisible ship shows up on the sensors. That is, sensors indicate there's something out there, but there's nothing to be seen. And it's on a collision course with the Enterprise. RED ALERT DANCE PARTY!!!!
CUE THE DANCING BIKINI GIRLS!
Well, the ship turns out to be real when it drops off Commissioner Bele (better known as The Riddler) and flies away. Commissioner Bele has black on the right side of his face and white on the left. He says that Lokai is a traitor and he's been hunting him down for 50,000 years. Fifty. Thousand. Years. If I were Bele I would have given up around year 1,000. He claims that Lokai lead a revolt on their home world against people with black on the right side of their faces. Lokai counters that his people, the ones with white on the right side of their faces, were enslaved by Bele's people and treated like animals. And Bele's like "Please! That was thousands of years ago!" But Lokai's like "IT DOESN'T FEEL LIKE IT, MAN!"

Meanwhile Kirk is caught in the crossfire. He has to take care of the stolen shuttlecraft situation, so he says he's going to drop them both off at a starbase. But Bele's not really into that idea, so he takes control of the Enterprise with telekinetic powers and directs it toward his homeland, Cheron. And then Kirk's all like "What! No! You can't do that! This is MY ship!" So he does the only thing he knows how. He bluffs. With the help of Spock and Scotty, he activates the self destruct sequence as slowly and as close-up as humanly possible and sweats it out with Bele.
Meanwhile, Scotty's mustache begs to be let out of captivity.
With six seconds to spare, Bele releases control and Kirk shuts down the self destruct. Later, Lokai tries to bring the crew over to his side and Bele tries to convince the senior officers of how superior he is to have black on the left side of his face. But this time Starfleet orders them to bring Lokai in for trial, and Bele's still not having it. While the crew's not looking, he sabotages the self destruct sequence and takes over the ship again! When they get to Cheron, however, they find that the planet has been utterly destroyed by the war that plagued them.  So, they let Bele and Lokai transport down and let that be their last battlefield.

And thus ends the greatest racism allegory in Star Trek canon.


Overall Thoughts
Ok, congratulations on being forward thinking with your progressive ideals about racism and everything, but the execution of this episode was just terrible. And maybe that's just because the direction and editing was extremely dated and indicative of the most popular 60's productions, but you don't make a show about the future stressing progressive themes by relying on popular production tactics of the day. Seriously. The Red Alert Dance Party? What's that all about?