52 "Patterns of Force"

(airdate: February 16, 1968)

Writer: John Meredyth Lucas
Director: Vincent McEveety

Isak: Richard Evans
Melakon: Skip Homeier

Daras: Valora Noland
John Gill: David Brian

Eneg: Patrick Horgan

Stardate: Unknown [The VHS gives a stardate of 2534.0; as with "A Piece of the Action", this appears to come from the Star Trek Concordance.]

Captain's Log: The Enterprise travels to the planet Ekos in search of missing historian John Gill, but when they arrive they find that the Ekosians have a culture exactly like that of Nazi Germany, with John Gill as their Führer. The Ekosians are persecuting the inhabitants of their neighboring planet, Zeon, and Kirk and Spock are caught up in the Ekosians' actions. Kirk and Spock make contact with the Zeon resistance and, with their aid, infiltrate the Nazi Party headquarters so that they can find John Gill. Gill has been drugged by his deputy, Melakon; he had set the Ekosians on the path of Nazism under the belief that the Nazis were the most efficient society ever created, and that the Ekosians would benefit from such efficiency. However, Melakon took over and turned the Ekosians towards persecution of Zeons. Gill comes out of his stupor long enough to end Melakon's "final solution" of the extermination of all Zeons, but Melakon kills him in response. Melakon is killed, and Chairman Eneg, who'd been secretly working with the resistance, announces that the persecution is over and that the Ekosians and the Zeons will unite their cultures and work together.

Whoops!: How can the Ekosians tell who the Zeons are? There don't appear to be any physical differences, and they're not wearing any badges or symbols marking them as Zeons, such as might be expected from a society modeled on Nazism.
     If the standing order is to interrogate prisoners and then execute them, why is Isak still alive and locked up in a cell?
     The idea that Nazi Germany was an incredibly efficient society is a myth: Nazi bureaucracy was terribly inefficient, and the policies that purportedly led to Nazi Germany's efficiency were either already in place before Hitler's rise to power or deliberately misrepresented to feed into the Nazi narrative. It's also odd how John Gill wants to use all the structure and trappings of Nazism (right down to the names and swastikas) while removing the racial superiority that was at the heart of the philosophy. In other words, as an historian, Gill really should have known better.

Classic Lines: "If we adopt the ways of the Nazis, we're as bad as the Nazis."
     "Even historians fail to learn from history."

Cringe Lines: Spock, losing a sense of the danger of the situation: "Captain, I'm beginning to understand why you Earthmen enjoy gambling. No matter how carefully one computes the odds of success, there is still a certain exhilaration in the risk."

Technobabble: Rubindium crystals can be aligned to produce a crude laser when exposed to sufficient power.

Library Computer: Ekos and Zeon are neighboring planets, both containing humanoid life. [Given how close they seem to be to each other, it's possible they orbit each other as a binary system.] Zeon is a dull orange in color [at least in the original; the remastered version is Earth-like, but with a small ring], while Ekos is bright blue [the remastered version is also Earth-like]. Zeon's people have a fairly high level of technology, with crude interplanetary capability, and they're a peaceful race: according to Isak, Zeon's warlike period ended "dozens of generations ago", and they find the idea of violence repugnant. Ekos, by contrast, was (according to Federation records) populated by a "primitive, warlike people in a state of anarchy". However, the Zeons made contact with the Ekosians, providing them with help and technology in the belief they were helping civilize the Ekosians. [This sounds like it happened relatively recently, albeit before John Gill's arrival. John Gill's "speech" states that there's been a Zeon colony for 50 years, which seems about right.]
     Professor John Gill was a Federation historian who had taught Earth history at [Starfleet] Academy; Kirk had had him as an instructor, while Spock had read one of his textbooks. A few years ago, Gill was assigned as a Federation cultural observer to Ekos, where he saw a fragmented society. Believing he could improve and unify the Ekosians, he ignored the Noninterference [aka Prime] Directive and set about creating a new society for them, modeled on Nazi Germany, as Gill believed that the Nazis were one of the most efficient societies in Earth history and that, run benignly, such efficiency could be achieved without the brutal methods employed by the Nazis. Gill installed himself as Führer and, for a time, things went OK (although Isak notes that the Ekosians became vicious once Nazism took hold, so it wasn't perfect); however, Gill's deputy, Melakon, began to take over, drugging Gill and setting the Ekosians on a path of overt racial hatred against the Zeons. [This was likely about six months ago, around the time Starfleet lost contact with Gill - although Spock suggests Melakon's been in charge for a few years.] The Ekosians thus began a program of systematic persecution against the Zeons, with the ultimate goal being the elimination of all Zeons and their home planet - although Gill, brought out of his stupor by the Enterprise landing party, was able to bring a halt to Melakon's "final decision".
     There were some Zeon sympathisers in the Nazi party, however; Party Secretary Daras, despite being decorated with the Iron Cross, was helping the Zeon resistance after her father was killed by the Party when he opposed their shift in ideology, while Chairman Eneg also aided the resistance covertly. Thus the end of Melakon's plan was achieved with greater ease than might have been expected.
     The Zeon resistance near the Nazi Party headquarters was located in underground caverns that connected to the city's sewers. The resistance included Daras, a Zeon named Isak, his brother Abrom, and a few other members. Isak's would-be wife Uletta was shot and killed by the Ekosians. Members of the Zeon Underground didn't know who their leaders were; that way they couldn't betray more than a handful of people if caught. The Zeons don't recognize the name "John Gill" [thus suggesting that Gill was either using an alias or simply calling himself the Führer].
     Kirk and Spock are injected with subcutaneous transponders in their left forearms in case they can't use their communicators. These transponders each contain a rubindium crystal; when two crystals are held 27.2 millimeters apart and placed near an appropriate power source (such as an incandescent light bulb), they can create a laser beam with enough power to cut through a metal bar.
     Melakon claimed to be an expert on the genetics of racial purity, although his evaluation of Spock suggests he's not a very good one. [But then that's the point.]
     The standing order at the Nazi prison is to interrogate prisoners and then execute them.
     Ekos has the ability to send rockets equipped with thermonuclear warheads at the Enterprise, using a detection system of a higher level of sophistication than either Ekos or Zeon was believed to possess. [Either the interaction of Ekos and Zeon has led to technological advances for both cultures, or Gill supplied the Ekosians with technological knowledge as well as a system of government.]
     Spock mentions Ramses, Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, and Lee Kuan as men who sought absolute power. [Lee Kuan will be mentioned again in a similar context in "Whom Gods Destroy".]

Final Analysis: "John Gill was the kindest, gentlest man I ever knew. For him to be a Nazi is impossible." In some ways this is an odd one, as it seems to be a refutation of an idea (the Nazis would have been alright if they hadn't had Hitler and company leading them) that's since fallen out of favor. It's competently written, acted, and directed, but it does look on some level like they just wanted to do Planet of the Nazis, making it occasionally difficult, especially now, to work out what the point of it all is.

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Page last updated: January 8, 2017

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