I The Fanbeing's Guide to Star Trek: Episode 27 - "Errand of Mercy"

27 "Errand of Mercy"

(airdate: March 23, 1967)

Writer: Gene L. Coon
Director: John Newland

Ayelborne: Jon Abbott
Trefayne: David Hillary Hughes

Kor: John Colicos
Claymare: Peter Brocco

Stardate: 3198.4

Captain's Log: The Enterprise receives a message from Starfleet: the Federation is at war with the Klingon Empire. The ship heads to Organia, the only strategically useful planet in the disputed area. Organia is a primitive society, much like Earth during its medieval period. Kirk and Spock beam down to warn the Organians of the impending arrival of the Klingons. The Organians, however, are dedicated to peace and refuse to do anything to prepare. The Klingons arrive and their leader, Kor, announces that Organia is now under Klingon rule - an announcement that the Organians easily accept. Kirk and Spock blow up a Klingon weapon stockpile, hoping to incite the Organians into action, but they refuse to act, insisting only that Kirk and Spock refrain from further acts of violence. Kirk and Spock ignore them and attack Kor. Before things develop, both sides find that their weapons have turned red-hot: the Organians are preventing them from fighting. It turns out that the Organians are an incredibly advanced society dedicated to nonviolence, and they will not let the Federation or the Klingon Empire fight. The war is over, and the respective fleets go their separate ways.

Whoops!: The Enterprise's phasers reveal a Romulan Bird-of-Prey, not a Klingon vessel (the footage is reused from "Balance of Terror"). The Klingons' proclamation to the Organians is written in English.
     There's a rather obvious crash mattress for Shatner to land on when he's thrown into the dungeon. And for that matter, why do the Organians have a dungeon at all?

Classic Lines: Kor to Kirk: "Well...have we a ram among the sheep?"
     Kirk is restrained by Spock: "You didn't really think I'd beat his head in?" Spock: "I thought you might." Kirk: "You're right."
     Spock, calculating the odds: "Difficult to be precise, Captain. I should say approximately 7824.7 to 1."

Library Computer: Klingons are a humanoid species, closely resembling humans, with somewhat dark skin and black hair. They have upswept eyebrows and distinctive facial hair, and their military dresses in gold and black uniforms. The Klingon Empire is a military dictatorship, dedicated to warfare - they view peace as a weakness. They are aggressive, with a reputation for ruthlessness, reportedly organizing the populations of entire planets into vast slave labor camps. Klingons operate as a unit, with each a part of a greater whole, under constant surveillance. They've boasted that they will take over half the galaxy.
     The Klingons felt hemmed in by the Federation and consequently invaded Federation territory, killing Federation citizens. They presented an ultimatum to the Federation, telling them to withdraw from the disputed area. The breakdown of negotiations led to war.
     The Klingons have a device called a truth-finder, which reaches directly into the mind. It can sift through the mind of a person or record their every thought. However, such a process is permanent and leaves the subject a vegetable; consequently the device is also sometimes known as a mind-ripper. Force 4 is said to be able to break down any pretense in the mind, but Spock proves this to be untrue.
     Commander Kor knows of Kirk and the Enterprise, but not of Spock.
     Organia is the only Class-M planet in the disputed area, and thus strategically valuable to both the Federation and the Klingon Empire. It appears to be a primitive planet - Class D-minus on Richter's scale of cultures - with a very peaceful, friendly population. Organia is a stagnant culture: there has been no advancement or change to the environment for tens of thousands of years. They have no ruling authority; the closest equivalent is a Council of Elders, led by a Chairman.
     In actuality, the Organians are an incredibly advanced race of beings, as far above humans as humans are above the amoeba. They are totally incorporeal, consisting of pure thought and energy. They only take on humanoid form for the benefit of outsiders; their true form resembles an intense red-white light. The appearance of their planet is likewise for the sake of visitors. The Organians can project extreme heat without causing damage. They can also project themselves to stand on both the homeworld of the Federation [Earth] and that of the Klingon Empire [Qo'nos]. None of them have died in uncounted thousands of years, and they are dedicated to nonviolence. They find corporeal beings to be intensely painful, their emotions discordant. They have the ability to end the fighting between the Federation and the Klingons everywhere.
     Vulcans have certain mental disciplines that allow them to retain a shield against a mind probe. Vulcan merchants are not uncommon, and they can be found dealing in kevoss and trillium.
     The automatic deflector screen on the Enterprise comes on when danger is near.
     The Captain's Log is recorded on a tricorder.
     Starfleet's Code One is the code for war.

Final Analysis: "To wage war, Captain? To kill millions of innocent people? To destroy life on a planetary scale? Is that what you're defending?" An interesting, well-written tale; for most of the episode it's an examination of how a culture dedicated to non-violence would react to a violent invasion, but the end offers a twist on the situation, with the roles of aggressors and victims now reversed. The Vietnam parallels are obvious (two superpowers descending on a less-developed society to fight their own personal war), and Coon uses the resolution to point out the ridiculousness of it all: Kirk and Kor arguing with Ayelborne in favor of fighting a pointless war underlines the absurdity of such a position. The Klingons make a strong debut as the antithesis of the Federation: a society dedicated to war and conquest. John Colicos does an outstanding job, giving a quiet, civilized menace to Kor.

"Star Trek" and its related properties are ™ and © CBS. All rights reserved. No copyright infringement is intended by this fan site.

Guide Home

Page originally created: January 18, 2005
Page last updated: March 17, 2018

Contact us via Twitter or Facebook