Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, October 20, 2014

Season 2, Episode 52 "Patterns of Force"

"Patterns of Force"
Production Number: 52
Air Order: 50
Stardate: Unknown
Original Air Date: February 16, 1968

Roomie came home the other day, all excited because her friend gave her a bunch of Trek stuff, including a poster that reads "All I need to know in life I learned from Star Trek", and it lists a bunch of lessons picked up from TOS. My favorite from this list is "never put all of your officers in the same shuttlecraft." The poster is smarter than Kirk. Imagine that.
She also presented me with something more unusual: a plastic-wrapped copy of the script from Wrath of Khan. It was suggested that I read it.
"Spoilers, sweetie," I replied. "I've never seen Wrath of Khan." I received her best WTF face. "I'm a Next Gen girl. You know that. I've seen most of the Next Gen films, but none of the TOS ones, with the exception of the first reboot film."
Full disclosure: I haven't seen any of season two beyond what I've already reviewed, nor have I seen what I've been assured is the shitstorm known as season three. I'm catching everything in order as I go along, thanks.
In the meantime, check it out: Wrath of Khan script.



*******


We start this episode with the E moving into a solar system that contains two planets, Zeon and Ekos. This is the last known location of John Gill, an Earth historian who came here six months earlier, and promptly vanished. (Gill is the dude pictured on the wall behind the trio.)
The Ship Goddess breaks into the conversation to say that there is no response to hailing from anyone on any Starfleet channel. They put a new hairstyle on her that I like. It's simple, and flattering, which is not something you get very often on this show.


Chekov, who doesn't get very many lines, alerts Kirk to the fact that a rocket is headed their way. It's coming from Ekos, but has a Zeon design, which is weird because Zeon has primitive interplanetary travel capabilities, but Ekos doesn't. Oops, it's an unmanned explosive. The E phasers that shit out of the sky, and the bridge crew wonders if John Gill has been giving these people tech tips. Dramatic music and credits break!

When we come back, there's more discussion about the warhead. The Ekosians are too primitive to have such a thing, and the Zeons, who have the technical capabilities, are pacifists.
Kirk decides that he and Spock should beam down to the surface to see what's up, but they take the precaution of having Bones inject them with the kind of microchip that you put in your dog in case he gets lost. This way, if they can't use their communicators on the surface, Scotty can still beam them up from the animal shelter. 
Kirk and Spock are wearing their undercover clothes, button-down shirts and jeans, with the ubiquitous beanie on Spock, and this time they've added the most horrible, shapeless, ratty old sweater as well.

My God, who has the number for Stacy and Clinton?


The beam down onto Ekos, and Spock remarks that these people are similar to humans, which is why the architecture looks like the backlot of Desilou studios. That also makes for a nice excuse when they see another person a moment later who is wearing human clothes and looks exactly like a human in every way possible. But he's actually an alien. the alien tells them to run, and Kirk and Spock duck behind some architecture which is definitely not human while the new guy gets the crap kicked out of him by... Nazis. Yaaaay, Space Nazis. Please cue the facepalm.


Kirk acts like he wants to help the guy, but Spock reminds him of the Prime Directive, so they stay put. The Nazis call the guy a Zeon and haul him off.
"Holy crap!" says Kirk. "Space Nazis!"
A tv nearby in the square begins broadcasting propaganda, showing historical footage of Nazi Germany, and proclaiming that Ekos will soon be rid of Zeons. The reporter then states that Zeons tried to attack Ekos a bit ago, but the Ekosians launched a missile and blew the Zeons out of the sky. He uses terms like "sieg heil" and "Fuhrer" and the salute is the same. There is footage of some chick named Daras receiving some honor from an upper-echelon named Malekon.


The reporter ends by saluting a portrait of the Fuhrer, and it turns out to be John Gill. This would be an ideal place for some dramatic music, but it's not as dramatic as you'd want to to be for an a-ha! moment like that.
They're spotted by a Nazi guard, and Kirk karate-chops at his neck, which is the most effective thing ever, because the guard drops like a fly. Spock puts on the uniform and they move along. They encounter a Gestapo officer and Spock tells him that he's captured a Zeon, right before he pinches the guy. Now Kirk has a cosplay as well.


"I believe you'll make a fine Nazi," says the tall Jewish guy to the shorter Jewish guy, and Kirk gives Spock a funny look in response. Unfortunately, they don't get very far, because just outside of the building that supposedly houses the Fuhrer's office, they run into another gestapo officer who orders Spock to remove his helmet for no reason at all, revealing those magnificent ears. OMG, an alien! Dramatic music plays as I wonder how Kirk and Spock figured out that this building was where they could find John Gill.


We cut to the jail, where Shirtless Kirk and Spock are being whipped. Someone was paying attention and remembered that Spock has green blood and a higher pain tolerance. Kirk, in comparison, is red and sweaty. When they refuse to give up the goods, the Gestapo officer decides to kill them. He is deterred by Chairman Eneg, who tries to question them further. Kirk says he'll tell his story to the Fuhrer.
"Not gonna happen," says Eneg. 
He asks about the phasers and comms that they took from our boys, but they remain silent. Eneg admits that the SS tried to take these items apart and couldn't figure out how they worked. He orders Kirk and Spock to be tossed in a cell for an hour. The Gestapo officer attempts to argue, but Eneg tells him to STFU before he leaves, and the officer, bitch-slapped by a higher-up, acquiesces.

Meanwhile, Spock is thinking that he should buy a boat.

Our boys get tossed into a cell and Kirk wonders aloud how Gill could have ever become a Nazi. He pronounces it "Nhat-zee" rather than "Nawt-zee" like everyone else, and I have to wonder about that. Did the Shat suddenly remember during this episode that Kirk is supposed to be from middle America? Or does he actually pronounce that word that way? I thought that actors were encouraged to speak without accents and pronounce everything uniformly unless the character has a discernible accent, like Scotty? Dude is the only one saying it like that.
The guy in the next cell is the guy they encountered when they first beamed down. He states that Kirk and Spock are not Zeons, and wants to know why the Nazis hate them. Okay, hold the comm badge: how does he know they aren't Zeons? The Zeons and Ekosians all look like humans, with nothing to distinguish them from one another. Spock counters by asking why the Ekosians hate the Zeons.
The prisoner says that the Zeons gave up on violence generations earlier, and some had moved to Ekos to help them out. In the last few years, the Nazi party had risen up and made the Zeons their enemies because it gave the party something to unite over. Now he's afraid that his pacifistic people will just give up without a fight, and be destroyed by the technology that the Zeons gave to the Ekosians.


"Do you have a copy of the layout of this building?" Kirk asks him.
It's a stupid question. Dude has been here 20 minutes longer than you have, why the fuck would he have blueprints on him? Kirk might as well have asked, "Do you have one of those high-powered blenders like they use at Jamba Juice? I want a smoothie."
This is leading to Kirk's plan to get the weapons and comms from the SS lab.
"We're locked in," says Spock.
"Oh, I know!" says Kirk, because he always has to be the one to come up with the plan. "We can melt the lock by digging the crystals in those dog microchips out of our arms and holding them up to the lightbulb in the cell! Yay!"
So I guess Kirk has gotten really strong by winning every fistfight ever, because he manages to take apart a piece of the bed frame, which he then uses to perform flawless, blood-free surgery on himself and Spock. I take a tiny amount of pleasure in the fact that, during this scene, you can see that the handcuffs that are binding him are actually open. Anyway, he removes the crystals from the microchip things, and Spock bends the metal so that the crystals attached to each end are about 27 millimeters apart, then he hops on Kirk's back, and the Spirk shippers rejoice, because half-naked-Spock-on-Kirk is now canon. On Kirk's back, Spock is tall enough to hold the crystals up to the lightbulb, creating a frickin' laser that melts the cell lock. I'm not even going to try to explain that shit, and why it's dumb. I'm just going to file it away under "Nazi Planet."


The lock is broken, and Kirk makes this face while Spock is on top of him. Accompanying dialogue on Kirk's part? "Oh, my goodness."


Spock seems mildly surprised that this plan worked, mostly because it's BS. He leaves the cell and hides while Kirk screams to the guard that he's ready to talk. When the guard comes back, Spock pinches him, and then lets the Zeon out while Kirk strips the guard down. For those of you keeping track at home, this is the third time that Spirk has knocked a man unconscious and stripped him naked.
The Zeon takes them to the lab, and when they encounter another SS officer, Kirk pretends to be leading them at gunpoint. He bumps into the officer, and yells at the Zeon for knocking him back.
"Don't worry," he tells the other officer. "I'm taking these Zeon pigs to the lab for experimentation."

Kirk, have you never run espionage before? You fucking talk too much. Now, if that officer is questioned later, he can say for certain that you were going to the lab. Shut your damn mouth for once. You don't have to volunteer false information to fake coworkers. It's like if you walked around an office, telling everyone you encountered that you're taking these files to the boss' secretary for filing. No one cares.

Turns out that Kirk bumping into the officer was to get the key to the lab, so I guess Kirk is an expert at sleight-of-hand as well as fisticuffs. Inside the lab, they find a box with the disassembled comms, and Kirk finds paperwork saying that the phasers have been sent elsewhere. The officer, realizing that his keys are missing, returns to the lab with his gun drawn. Kirk, Spock and the Zeon all turn around with guilty expressions on their faces, but the Zeon manages to knock out the officer and, being heavily influenced by Spirk, proceeds to undress the officer, while talking about stealing a car. That's four naked Nazis so far, you guys.


Kirk and Spock, now dressed as Gestapo again, carry the "unconscious" Zeon out the front door past the guards. Nobody cares, but Kirk decides to open his big fat mouth again, and jokingly tell the guards that they're having "good hunting today" and that they've "caught so many Zeon pigs that we have to dispose of them outside." Why the hell would an officer be joking with some guards? Just for your pains, Kirk, the guards look suspiciously at you as you walk away... dumbass.
The Zeon, Isak, leads them through the sewers to his friends, Davod and Abrom. Sooo, they're aliens with Jewish names, on the Nazi planet. Oookay.
Isak's friends are suspicious of Kirk and Spock, but Isak explains that they helped him escape, and Kirk says that if he can speak to the Fuhrer, he can fix everything. Abrom then tells Isak that his fiance was killed. Isak decides that the best way to prevent more tragedies is to help Kirk and Spock.


Spock uses parts from both comms to reassemble one, but isn't certain that it will work. Suddenly, Davod, Isak and Abrom are paraded into the area at gunpoint, followed by that chick from the tv, Daras, and some Nazis.
"You're the guys who broke out of jail," says Daras.
"I need to talk to the Fuhrer," Kirk tells her.
Daras shoots Abrom. Dramatic music and commercial break!


Kirk and Spock wrestle the gun away from Daras, and hold her at gunpoint, but Abrom gets off the floor, unharmed.
"Lols, j/k," says Isak. "Sorry, all these guys are with us. We were just messing with you to see if you were Nazi spies or not."
"This chick is a decorated Nazi," says Spock, still holding the gun on Daras.
"No way," says Daras. "I'm a double agent Ekosian. My dad pissed off the party, and to get me into their ranks, he had me turn him in. Now I look like some dumb Nazi, but I'm one of the good guys. We don't know who everyone in the resistance is, so if we get caught, we only know who a handful are."
"The Fuhrer is one of our people," says Kirk. "We were sent here to get him after we lost contact. He came here as a cultural observer."
"He's under maximum security, and no one ever talks to him, except for his BFF, Malekon," says Isak.
"But he's making a speech tonight," says Daras. "Everyone who is anyone in the party will be there."

So they show up with lights and a camera and tell everyone that they're making a documentary on Daras. This is... not a dumb plan. Propaganda is big in a police state, so this actually makes sense. Who came up with this plan? Couldn't be Kirk.


They check out the set up, with Daras explaining that the Fuhrer doesn't give the speeches in person, he gives them from behind a curtain in a recording booth, then the speech is broadcast onto a screen. They take their equipment over to the guarded door of the recording booth, and Spock glances through a window. He sees that it is John Gill, but the man appears to be drugged or catatonic.

Kirk and Spock hole up in a cloak room to... contact the ship... right. They manage to raise Uhura, who is confused as to why they are on a funky frequency, and they tell her to send Bones to their coordinates, in a Nazi doctor uniform. Isak overhears two guards talking about how they discovered a weird transmission coming from inside the building, and are going to search the place for it. He and Daras bust into the cloak room to tell Kirk and Spock, and Bones appears in full uniform. After another moment, Chairman Eneg comes in with two armed guards. 
There's an uncomfortable pause, and then Kirk says, "The doctor has had too much to drink tonight. We are hiding him here so the Fuhrer won't see."
"Good thinking," says Eneg, and he leaves.
"The fuck?" asks Spock. "He didn't recognize us?"


Everybody crowds into the hall to watch the speech. 
"Yeah, something wrong with that guy," whispers Bones.
"This speech is just sentences strung together," whispers Spock.
"We have to get into the broadcast booth," whispers Kirk.


They go back to their documentary ruse, and tell the guards at the booth door that they want a shot of them with Daras, watching the speech. Of course Spock and Isak knock the guards out. In the hall, Malekon gets up to give the real speech, calling for the extermination of Zeon. Once they get into the booth, Bones examines John Gill and declares him to be drugged almost to the point of being catatonic. He gives Gill a stimulant, but it doesn't really do anything. Spock attempts a mind meld while the others discuss the possibility of using the E's weapons to wipe out the Ekosian fleet that is being sent to destroy Zeon. Spock finishes his meld and tells Kirk that Gill can answer questions. He notes that Gill is just the figurehead now, and that Malekon has been secretly in charge for years.


Gill tells Kirk that the planet was heavily divided, and he chose Nazi Germany as an example because they were the most organized, efficient state in Earth's history. He figured he could only use the good parts, and leave out the bad, and Ekos would flourish. It worked at first, but then Melakon took over and began drugging him. Gill passes out again, and Kirk begs Bones to give him another shot of stimulant, but Bones refuses. Isak sees that Eneg is coming with guards, and Kirk tells Spock to take his helmet off.
"Daras is a hero again," Isak tells Eneg. "She caught this Zeon spy trying to kill the Fuhrer! We should make an example of him, take him to Malekon."
Eneg pauses before agreeing, then leaves with the guards and Spock.
Isak practically does a happy dance. "Dude, Eneg is one of us!"
Isak, Bones and Daras follow Eneg and Spock back into the hall, while Kirk locks himself in the booth with Gill, giving him another shot of stimulant.
"Look at this cool spy we caught you!" Daras tells Malekon.
"Hey, sweet!" says Malekon. "We should dissect him, and then display his body in the museum. He appears to be really inferior to us."


But then the screen comes on again, and it's a tired Gill.
"People of Ekos, we were betrayed by this dickhole, Malekon. I've recalled the fleet, and demanded that the killing stop now. The Zeons are not our enemies. That douchebag Malekon is, and he deserves to be fucked sideways with a katana."
But before anyone can draw a katana to do the honors, Malekon grabs a semi-automatic and sprays the curtained booth with bullets. Isak then pumps a round or two into Malekon.
In the booth, Kirk cradles a dying Gill.
"That was so dumb," says Gill. "The PD is the way to go."
He dies, and Kirk unlocks the door for Spock, Bones, Isak, Daras, and Eneg.



"So that sucks," says Isak.
"Yep," agrees Kirk.
"Eneg and I are going on the air to declare this dumb war over," says Daras. "We appreciate your help clearing this up, but it would be awesome now if you could GTFO so we can get this sorted."
The trio beams back up again.

On the bridge, they discuss the idea that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Spock is surprised that such a level-headed guy like Gill could have based his plans on such a crappy model. He and Bones begin arguing over humans and power.
"OMG, Chekov," says Kirk. "Please just get us the hell out of here."



Okay, so let me get an annoyance out of the way: when Star Trek does "historical" stuff, they either have the choice of actually going back in time somehow, or they encounter an alien planet where the exact same thing is happening there as it did on Earth. They typically go with the latter, as they did in "Bread and Circuses" and "A Piece of the Action". There was a slightly different take on it in "Who Mourns For Adonais?", where it is suggested that ancient Roman gods actually existed, but were, in fact, aliens from another planet (this is also touched upon briefly at the end of the Doctor Who episode "The God Complex"). In truth, I kind of just wish they would bullshit their way through time travel rather than going with the Bread and Circuses model, because seriously, what are the odds that that planet developed in exactly the same way as Earth? Haymitch Abernathy wouldn't put money on that shit.

"That's a lousy wager, sweetheart."

I was immediately irked with this episode when I thought that it was just a re-hash of the "Bread and Circuses" plot of "Federation rock star goes missing and turns up as the unscrupulous ruler of a Prime Directive culture." But "Patterns of Force" goes in it's own direction, making it more legit in my eyes. The fact that Gill broke the PD in order to make things better not only leads to the conclusion that absolute power corrupts absolutely, but also that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. An historian felt that if he could extract the productive, beneficial side of the Nazi party and shed their plans for genocide and war, he could make the Ekosian culture function harmoniously. His heart was in the right place, but it seems that he put his trust in the wrong dude. The thing is, you take your chances with every leader. Sometimes they actually start out with good intentions and the power goes to their head, as was the case with a young Albus Dumbledore. Under certain leaders, things can either go very, very wrong or very, very right. But the situation remains a crapshoot either way. The irony is not lost on me that this episode is being reviewed right around mid-term elections in the States. It's a complete coincidence, but an interesting one nonetheless.

Red deaths this episode: 0
Red deaths this season: 18
Gold deaths this episode: 0
Gold deaths this season: 6
Blue deaths this episode: 0
Blue deaths this season: 1
Total crew deaths this season: 25
Total crew deaths thus far: 42

No crew deaths this week, just a sad old man and one fucking Nazi, but who gives a shit about him?

*******

Buying a new box of tea each week gets expensive, and fills our tea cupboard quickly, so I look for mixed boxes whenever possible. This week, the only sampler box I could find was Celestial Seasonings Fruit Sampler box, which features five herbal-based fruit-flavored teas. I decided to start with the Black Cherry Berry. 
Black Cherry is one of those flavors that people either get really right or really wrong, like pomegranate flavor, or gardenia scent (badly done gardenia scent is the worst). I'm a little hesitant here because of that last word "berry". Basically, I don't like to mix berry flavors into one generic flavor. Each one is fabulous on it's own, why the holy hell do we need monstrosities like cran-raspberry? You just ruined two good berries!
Okay, maybe you like mixed berries. I'm sorry. I have very strong opinions on berry-mixing, which is only okay in my world when cobbler is involved.
Tangent Train: we were talking about Black Cherry tea. The smell is good, a bit fake-y, but that doesn't faze me because there are quite a few foods whose actual scent/flavor is kind of fake. For instance, have you ever had amarena cherries? They're preserved in sugar syrup, and they taste - I shit you not - like Slurpees. They're imported and hard to find, but if you ever go to Italy, eat these. They're awesome.
So, after my 20-minute hiatus in which I waited for the damn tea to cool off, I gave it a sip. It's good. Like cherry juice, only lighter, because it's tea rather than cherry-flavored high fructose corn syrup. There's a tiny bit of mixed berry in there, but it isn't terribly noticeable. In truth, the black cherry flavor that it reminds me of is Fruit Roll-Up. Not the new, rubbery kind on the white cellophane, but the ones that you buy individually in the produce section, the kind that's made with actual pulverized fruit, and comes spread in a thin circle on the clear cellophane? That kind. Like fruit leather, but this was the original fruit roll-up. They had peach, too. 
Oh, nostalgia. You will be the reason why I drink this tea again. Mmm, fruit roll-up. I bet it's fantastic iced. OMG, BLACK CHERRY TEA DAQUIRI. YESSSSS.







Maya and Balam


1 comment:

  1. I thought it was (unintentionally) hilarious at the end when Kirk was gently cradling his dying hero in his arms and then Spock shows up, finds the door locked, and keeps knocking on it until Kirk lets them in. Way to ruin a dramatic moment.

    ReplyDelete