The Great Star Trek Rewatch: Patterns of Force

When the Enterprise heads for planet Ekos in search of the missing historian and cultural observer John Gill, they are shocked to discover that the planet’s culture resembles that of Nazi Germany. With Gill as their Fuhrer, the Ekosians are plotting a ‘final solution’ against neighbouring planet Zeon – can Kirk and Spock get to Gill in time to put a stop to the killing?

Well, we knew it was coming, and that we would have to get through it, but here we are, at the Nazi episode. Once again, flagrant disregard for the Prime Directive has completely ruined a planet’s society, and the result isn’t great. Aside from the fact that I’m not watching this show to see stories about Nazi Germany, there’s just too much going on in this episode for it to have anything like a smooth narrative. At convenient points, enemies are revealed to be allies, every single Nazi is stupid enough to be taken down by a surreptitious Vulcan nerve pinch, and pretty much every plot device in the book is trotted out to make sure Kirk and crew save the day.

Plot contrivances and the like

  • Kirk and Spock are sent down to the planet with subcutaneous transponders that will enable them to be beamed up no matter what should the Enterprise not hear from them. If they have this technology, why aren’t they using it all the time?
  • The transponders are made from rubindium crystals (not to be confused with common or garden rubidium), which apparently can be used to make a laser just by placing them in front of a lightbulb. Whilst it might seem a bit farfetched, I guess we don’t actually know what rubindium is, or what its properties are.
  • Last episode, Kirk initially told Spock that it would be unwise for both the captain and first officer to beam down into an unknown and potentially dangerous situation. Which is fair enough, except that in this episode and many others, this is completely disregarded.
  • John Gill comes from a future Earth which is united and peaceful. Yet when he decides to break the Prime Directive to turn Ekos into a unified society, the best example he can think of is Nazi Germany? Also, he was pretty lucky to be able to gain enough power and influence to put his ideas into effect.
  • After McCoy’s stimulants fail to awaken Gill (why didn’t he bring a medical tricorder so he could find out more details about what had poisoned him?), Spock uses his Vulcan telepathic powers to put Gill into a state where he can’t initiate conversation, but can answer direct questions. How convenient for the plot, eh? How does Spock even achieve this?

Summary – Patterns of Force: Two of Hollywood’s most famous Jews spend various scenes sporting Nazi uniforms.

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