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the Enterprise is on a mission to help decontaminate the polluted atmosphere of the planet Ariannus, when sensors track a Federation shuttlecraft reported stolen from Starbase 4. The craft is disabled and brought aboard along with its strange alien pilot, who is found injured and taken to sick bay. The man later awakens and identifies himself as Lokai, a political refugee from the planet Cheron, who requests asylum. Lokai's most striking feature is that his skin is half black and half white, the two halves split perfectly down the center of his body. Science Officer Spock remarks that his physiology may be "one of a kind".

Shortly thereafter, sensors detect another spacecraft in fast pursuit of the Enterprise. Curiously, the craft remains invisible to all but sensors and sets itself on a direct collision course with the ship. Moments later, Spock reports that the invisible craft has disintegrated and deposited an "alien presence" aboard the ship. Captain Kirk turns to see the alien pilot who has beamed himself directly to the bridge. The second alien identifies himself as Bele. Like Lokai, Bele is half black and half white, with the color divided by a line through the exact center of his face. However, the sides of Bele's black and white skin are reversed from those of Lokai, a difference which seems inconsequential to the Enterprise crew, but of great importance to Bele, Lokai, and, apparently, their civilization.

Bele explains he is a police commissioner from Cheron and is on a mission to retrieve political traitors. His current quarry is Lokai, whom he has been chasing for what Bele claims to be 50,000 Earth years. Bele then instructs Captain Kirk to take him to see his "prisoner". Bele is taken to Lokai, but Lokai reacts fearfully to Bele's presence and strongly demands he be taken away. The two aliens begin arguing about slavery and racial segregation, and almost attack each other.

Kirk decides to ignore their heated arguments and returns to the bridge. Bele soon follows and demands that Kirk change course to Cheron. Kirk refuses, informing him that Bele's mission is no concern of his, and that he has more urgent matters to attend to. He allows Bele and Lokai to remain aboard and tells them he will drop them off at Starbase 4 once the mission is complete "and let them sort it out".

Lokai comes to the bridge and demands that Kirk kill Bele and grant him asylum. Kirk refuses and calls security to escort the two off to the brig. However, both aliens generate a personal powerful force field that resists both phaser blasts and the guards' physical attempts to subdue them.

Tired of Kirk's commands, Bele invokes a strange power that takes control of the ship and steers it toward Cheron. With no way to return control, Kirk threatens to destroy the Enterprise. Bele believes Kirk is bluffing until Kirk activates the ship's auto-destruct sequence with the voice code approval of First Officer Spock and Chief Engineer Scott. Bele nervously watches as the countdown nears zero, then the alien finally relents control in the last seconds. Kirk cancels the auto-destruct and changes course back to Ariannus.[N 2] Kirk informs Lokai and Bele that they are to be treated as guests, provided they do not further interfere with the operation of the ship.

Once the Ariannus mission is completed, Bele takes control of the Enterprise again, but this time he deactivates the auto-destruct in the process and sends the ship to Cheron. Once there, the two aliens find the planet's population completely wiped out by a global war fueled by insane racial hatred. Both Lokai and Bele stare silently at the destruction on the monitor and realize they are the only ones left of their race (or, as they see it, their “races”).

Instead of calling a truce, the two beings begin to blame each other for the destruction of the planet and a brawl ensues. As the two aliens fight, their innate powers radiate, cloaking them with an energy aura that threatens to damage the ship. With no other choice, Kirk sadly allows the two aliens to chase each other down to their obliterated world (using the transporter) to decide their own fates, consumed by their now self-perpetuating mutual hate. Forlorn, Lt. Uhura asks if their hate is all they ever had. Kirk ruefully says, "No — but that's all they have left." [2]

Errors and ExplanationsEdit

The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic TrekkersEdit

Plot OversightsEdit

  1. Hearing that Lokai comes from Cheron, Kirk comments that the planet is in an uncharted region in the southern portion of the galaxy. If it's in an uncharted portion of the galaxy, how does Kirk know where it is? Spock later identifies Cheron’s exact position by saying that the ship is heading directly for it. How do they know this stuff’? Educated guesswork, based on the location of Enterprise when Lokai and Bele came aboard, combined with knowledge of which aeras had been charted.
  2. Sensing the imminent impact of Bele's ship, Kirk jumps to his feet and orders the crew to sound the warning for collision. (Let me say that again.) Kirk jumps to his feet and orders the crew to sound the warning tor collision. Does this make sense? If your vessel is about to get slammed, wouldn't it be wiser to be seated? (Of course, the best body position would be seated with your seat belt fastened, but the Enterprise designers didn't believe in seat belts.) He probably believes he can remain on his feet,
  3. Kirk says Cheron lies in the southern part of the galaxy. Does that put the planet somewhere under the center of the galaxy? lf it does, the Enterprise is much faster than it's successors. In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Nth Degree, Barclay arranges to plunge the Enterprise 30,000 light-years to the center of the galaxy. According to figures given in Q Who, it would take Picard's Enterprise at least eight years at maximum warp to return home from this distance. Southern in this instance probably refers to the area between the Federation and the Galactic barrier, directly opposite the core. (Imagine the galaxy as a clock face - the southern section would be the quarter either side of the six o'clock position),
  4. Finding their planet destroyed, Lokai and Bele commence a chase. Spock closely follows the progress of the chase, yet fails to mention that Lokai has entered the transporter room. Uhura has to tell Kirk that the transporter has engaged.He may be detecting evidence that the location information he is receiving may have been falsified.

Changed PremnisesEdit

  1. In By Any Other Name, a group of invaders seizes control of the Enterprise. They intend to take it to the Andromeda Galaxy to inform their superiors that the Milky Way is ripe for conquest. Spock and Scott rig the ship to explode, but Kirk chickens out because everyone would die. Yet here, Bele just wants to borrow the Enterprise to return Lokai to Cheron, and Kirk tries to blow it up using the auto destruct system. 1) Kirk was outnumbered in By Any Other Name. 2) Enterprise is on an urgent mission this time. 3) Kirk could be bluffing, in order to force Bele's hand.

Equipment OdditiesEdit

  1. ' Surprise! Bele's ship is . . . invisible! Well, that certainly saved a little on the budget for this episode. The creators have used many tactics to stay within the difficult restraints of time and money in producing Star Trek. However this one's a bit cheesy.It makes sense for Bele's ship to be capable of invisibility, as this would allow him to follow suspects without them realising.
  2. At one point, Lokai tries to rally crew members to his cause by speaking with them in a lounge. Spock walks by, stops, and listens through a crack in the door. Since when do the doors of the Enterprise stay open just a little bit? This door could be faulty.
  3. In this episode, the Enterprise travels to Ariannus and makes like a crop duster. It flies over the planet, spraying an antibacterial agent. Yet the entire time it appears that the Enterprise is well above the planet’s atmosphere. Will this work? Would the particles float off into space, or would there be enough gravity to pull them downward eventually? Enterprise is probably in the upper atmosphere, and only appears to be well above it.

Continuity and Production ProblemsEdit

  1. During the final chase through the ship, watch the first close-up of Lokai carefully. As he turns the corner, you'll see a rope in his left hand. [N 3]He must have intended to tie Bele up with it, as part of an escape plan.

Nit CentralEdit

  1. D.K. Henderson on Saturday, December 12, 1998 - 5:36 am: Bele has been chasing Lokai for 50,000 years. Fifty THOUSAND years! (And just where have they been in all that time, that the Feds have never come across them before?) Yet, after 50,000 years, Bele can't wait a few days, or hours to get Lokai back to Cheron. He doesn't want to risk Lokai escaping again.

Internet Movie DatabaseEdit


  1. Captain Kirk calls a red alert, and the klaxon is heard and the red light is shown going on and off. When Bele appears, the alert is no longer heard, though the red light is still shown. After the commercial break, the red alert can be heard again, even though the "emergency" is over. The klaxon may have been temporarily muted for some reason.


  1. The script evolved from an outline by Barry Trivers[1] for a possible first season episode called "A Portrait in Black and White".
  2. This exact same auto destruct sequence is later used in the film Star Trek III The Search for Spock with Kirk, then Scott and Chekov giving the three codes.
  3. Some have speculated that this rope is attached to the camera dolly to help the actor know how fast to run. This error is listed under Crew or equipment visible in the IMDB entry.


  1. Dorothy Fontana to Gene Roddenberry, September 28, 1966, Gene Roddenberry Star Trek Television Series Collection, 1966-1969, Box 19, Folder 11, University of California at Los Angeles Library. Dorothy Fontana's assessment of the script "Portrait in Black and White" September 28, 1966
  2. Let That Be Your Last Battlefield at Wikipedia

The Original Series Season 3
Spectre of the Gun I Elaan of Troyius I The Paradise Syndrome I The Enterprise Incident I And the Children Shall Lead I Spock's Brain I Is There in Truth No Beauty? I The Empath I The Tholian Web I For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky I Day of the Dove I Plato's Stepchildren I Wink of an Eye I That Which Survives I Let That Be Your Last Battlefield I Whom Gods Destroy I The Mark of Gideon I The Lights of Zetar I The Cloud Minders I The Way to Eden I Requiem for Methuselah I The Savage Curtain I All Our Yesterdays I Turnabout Intruder