The Enterprise arrives at the planet Ekos in the M43 Alpha system, to investigate the disappearance of a Federation cultural observer named John Gill, who was one of Captain Kirk's history professors at Starfleet Academy. As soon as the Enterprise enters orbit around Ekos, it is attacked by a rocket armed with a thermonuclear warhead, technology that is no match for the starship but too advanced to be from either primitive, warlike Ekos or their neighboring planet, peaceful, more progressive Zeon. However, the latter has achieved intrasystem spaceflight and developed an interest in assisting their neighbor, resulting in a significant Zeonian population on Ekos.
Kirk suspects Gill may be responsible for the introduction of more advanced technology somewhere in the system--which would mean that he has contaminated Ekosian culture and hence violated the Prime Directive. Kirk and Executive Officer/Science Officer Spock decide to beam down to the planet to investigate. Before they transport to the surface, Kirk has Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy insert subcutaneous emergency transponders, a type of homing device, into the forearms of each in the event they cannot use their communicators.
Upon their arrival, Kirk and Spock watch in horror as a Zeon is arrested by Ekosian soldiers dressed as brown-shirted Nazi Stormtroopers. An outdoor video newsreel shows an Ekosian rally featuring huge crowds shouting Nazi-style slogans and waving swastika-emblazoned flags. A female Nazi officer, Daras, is shown receiving a medal of honor; the Iron Cross, Second Class. The "Final Solution" is mentioned, meaning apparently the extinction of all Zeons on Ekos, as a prelude to the entire destruction of Zeon. The broadcast ends with the reporter making a Nazi salute to a picture of the Führer — whom the shocked Kirk recognizes as John Gill.
Startled, horrified and determined to contact Gill, Kirk and Spock steal uniforms and attempt to infiltrate the main headquarters, but are caught when Spock's ears are exposed. He and Kirk are tortured until Party Chairman Eneg orders them thrown in a cell for further interrogation. There they meet Isak, the Zeon prisoner they had seen arrested earlier.
The trio quickly engineer an escape using the rubindium crystals from Kirk's and Spock's transponders as cutting-torch lasers and retrieve their communicators. Isak takes them to meet the underground resistance led by his brother Abrom. Suddenly, their hideout is raided, led by Daras, in what is quickly revealed as a ruse to test the strangers' loyalty. Daras is actually a resistance member who has infiltrated the government. Abrom explains that Deputy Führer Melakon is actually the de facto Ekosian leader; in turn, Kirk and Spock explain the situation from their perspective, and ask for help in locating Gill. They learn that the "Führer" is in fact due to make a speech that evening that will officially launch the "Final Solution".
To gain entrance to the broadcast center, the whole group pretends to be a film crew. They find Gill in a broadcasting booth surrounded by guards, seemingly dazed but beginning his speech. Kirk has Dr. McCoy beam down; he arrives in a cloakroom, where the party is discovered by a security team led by Chairman Eneg -- who surprisingly does not seem to recognize them. After he leaves, Isak explains that Eneg is also a resistance member.
Sneaking into the broadcast booth, McCoy confirms Gill is heavily drugged. He administers a counteractive stimulant while Spock uses a Vulcan mind meld on Gill, which confirms that Melakon was responsible for Gill's condition. Barely coherent, Gill explains that he initially imposed a form of Nazism/Fascism upon the lawless Ekosians because he believed it to be the most efficient system of government ever devised. Spock concurs, stating National Socialism enabled a defeated and bankrupt Germany almost immediate governmental recovery to the level of near global domination. The system worked on Ekos until Melakon gained control and twisted it into a tool to wipe out Zeon.
Kirk makes Gill aware of the extent to which Ekos has progressed toward resembling Nazi Germany. A horrified Gill, now lucid enough to speak his own mind, renounces the "Final Solution", cancels the invasion of Zeon, and declares Melakon a traitor. Melakon grabs a submachine gun and opens fire on the broadcast booth, fatally wounding Gill. In retaliation, Isak shoots Melakon twice, killing him instantly. Eneg and Daras, still officially respected party leaders, go on the air instead to announce the end of the Nazi regime. Isak thanks Kirk for Starfleet's help but asks them to leave, saying it is up to the two planets to rebuild themselves.
After returning to the Enterprise, Spock expresses confusion as to how Gill could make such a mistake emulating the Nazis. Kirk explains that the problem was not the Nazis themselves but giving any one individual so much power. Kirk reminds Spock and McCoy, who are bickering, that they have been through "one civil war" and bids them, "Let's not start another."
Errors and ExplanationsEdit
The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic TrekkersEdit
- There are several lines of dialogue in this episode that attempt to explain why a historian would reenact Germany under the Nazis, but Gill is supposed to be well versed in human history and should know that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.“ He most likely believed that he would be able to retain control.
- To check on Gill, Kirk and the others walk out in the middle of the Fuhrer‘s speech. Wouldn't the other Nazis find this disrespectful? They might be unwilling to voice their concerns.
- One would think that sooner or later, Kirk and company would figure out that their communicators and phasers are going to get taken away during hostile missions. Yet they keep taking these sophisticated devices down to technologically primitive cultures. It is probably standard procedure to carry phasers and communicators during landing party missions.
- In this episode Kirk and Spock actually leave their phasers behind on Ekos! They could have been retrieved when we weren't looking.
- The camera that supposedly captures Gill's speech for broadcast to Ekos is mounted on the wrong wall. All the pictures come from a camera that should be mounted directly in front of Gill, but the lens on the camera sticks straight out from a sidewall. From that position it would take a lovely picture of the opposite wall. Does it use some sort of right-angle lens? Either that, or it moves to face Gill when needed.
Continuity And Production ProblemsEdit
- The footage of the nuclear missile approaching the Enterprise comes from Journey to Babel. The two weapons probably look identical.
- Hans Thielman on Wednesday, March 10, 1999 - 12:37 pm: Kirk and Spock are roughly the same age, Spock being perhaps a few years older. Presumably, both attended Starfleet Academy in the same decade. Therefore, why would Kirk have had John Gill as a professor at the Academy, but not Spock? In my view, history, which Gill taught, would be a required course at the Academy for all cadets. Mike Konczewski on Wednesday, March 10, 1999 - 1:02 pm: I always thought Spock was older than Kirk. By how many years, I can't say, cos it's hard to tell with Vulcans. As to the course, Gill was probably not the only history professor teaching at the Academy. Or Gill could have been teaching an elective history course that Spock didn't take. Spockania on Wednesday, March 10, 1999 - 3:34 pm: It's also possible Gill taught a 100 level (or future equivalent) course that Spock, coming from Vulcan, had already completed the requirements for.
- MattS on Thursday, May 13, 1999 - 1:47 pm: After they pull the neat trick with the transponders to open the cell door, Spock discards them. Shouldn't they keep them so that Scotty can beam them up at the proper time? The cell door trick may have rendered the transponders invisible to the sensors, making them useless.
- Andreas Schindel on Friday, May 04, 2001 - 4:45 am: Why does Spock's Laser make so much noise? kerriem. on Friday, May 04, 2001 - 9:16 pm: Well, the crystals he uses were originally part of a communications device. Maybe they have a really high resonance or something?
Internet Movie DatabaseEdit
- Upon encountering a Nazi officer whom Spock renders unconscious, Kirk misidentifies the man's uniform: "Gestapo, I believe." In fact, the officer was wearing a Totenkopf or "Death's-head" SS uniform (the Death's Head emblem can clearly be seen on the man's cap), a branch of the SS. Gestapo officers, when in the field, wore civilian clothes. Kirk is not a professional historian, and would not be expected to know the difference.
- The character "SS Major" is wearing the Oak Leaf of an SS Standartenfuhrer. This is the SS equivalent of the rank of Colonel.He may have been newly promoted, and may not have received the appropriate rank insignia.
- While in the jail cell and attempting to remove the transponders from their arms with bed spring, the handcuffs that Kirk is wearing are clearly unlocked and open. They could have been picked with the bed spring, to improve ease of movement for removing the transponders.
- The corridor leading to the SS laboratory and the corridor leading to the Fuhrer's broadcast booth are the same, with only minor modifications. Most likely prefabricated with standard components.
- ↑ According to the startrek.com episode list, the provisional stardate for this episode is 2534.0.