70 "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"

(airdate: January 10, 1969)

Story: Lee Cronin [pseudonym for Gene L. Coon]      Teleplay: Oliver Crawford
Director: Jud Taylor

Bele: Frank Gorshin

Lokai: Lou Antonio

Stardate: 5730.2

Captain's Log: The Enterprise is en route to Ariannus to assist the planet's Ministry of Health in combating a "bacterial invasion" when they encounter a fugitive named Lokai, with skin half white and half black, who has stolen a Starfleet shuttlecraft. The Enterprise takes Lokai on board, but soon they are visited by another of Lokai's species: Bele, who has pursuing Lokai for 50,000 years. Lokai had committed many crimes on their home planet of Cheron, and Bele is determined to bring him to justice, commandeering the Enterprise to do so. After Kirk threatens to destroy the ship, Bele backs down but insists that Lokai be turned over to him. Lokai maintains that he is in fact a revolutionary, fighting for his people, while Bele is convinced that Lokai is a common criminal. The difference between Lokai's people and Bele's people has to do with which side of their face is black: Bele's right side is black, while Lokai's is white, and this has led to the conflict, with Bele's people treating Lokai's as inferior, little more than slaves. When Starfleet refuses to turn Lokai over (owing to there being no extradition treaties between the Federation and Cheron), Bele takes over the ship and heads to Cheron, which is revealed to be a dead world: the inhabitants have annihilated each other. Lokai runs through the ship and beams down to the ruined Cheron with Bele in pursuit, continuing their centuries-long battle away from the Enterprise.

Whoops!: The shuttlecraft stolen from Starbase 4 is rather obviously the Galileo from previous episodes, with the words "U.S.S. ENTERPRISE" legible on its nose and the registry number (NCC-1701/7) even more apparent. Cheron's color changes from purple-black to orange, depending on the shot. There's also the bizarre directorial decision to quickly zoom in and out of the red alert lights as they're going off, as if this were an episode of Laugh-In or something. Spock eavesdrops on Lokai as he describes his persecution to a handful of crewmen - except how is he doing this? The implication is that the door is partially open, but the Enterprise's doors don't seem to work that way: they're either opening to let someone in, or they're completely closed - there hasn't been an "eavesdrop" setting before, so why now?

Classic Lines: Bele: "I once heard that on some of your planets people believe they are descended from... apes..." Spock: "The actual theory is that all lifeforms evolved from the lower levels to the more advanced stages."

Cringe Lines: Spock, after McCoy says he can't give a prognosis on Lokai: "Yet you are pumping him full of your noxious potions as if he were a human."

Library Computer: Ariannus is a blue planet with a population of one billion people. It's an important transfer point on regular space commercial lanes, but had recently been attacked by a "bacterial invasion". [Although the language seems to suggest a deliberate biological attack, there's no real independent evidence for that; the use of the word "invasion" might just mean that the bacteria isn't indigenous to Ariannus.] The Enterprise, coordinating with Ariannus's Ministry of Health, decontaminated the planet with a substance deployed from spray tanks on the Enterprise that covered the surface of the planet as the Enterprise orbitted, temporarily turning it yellow as the substance did its work.
     Cheron is a planet in the southern part of the Milky Way Galaxy [we assume they mean galactic south], in the direction of the Coalsack Nebula in a sector uncharted by the Federation. [The Next Generation episode "The Defector" mentions a "Battle of Cheron", but with no context. There's a graphic in the Enterprise episode "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II" that states this battle ended the Earth-Romulan War (see "Balance of Terror"); if this is true then it's unlikely to be the same Cheron seen here.] The inhabitants of Cheron were capable of warp flight. Their skin pigmentation was unusual, being half white and half black, divided vertically along the center of their face. Spock states that he has no knowledge of a planet that could produce such a race of beings, and that there is no theory that could currently explain their appearance. The two examples we see, Lokai and Bele [rhymes with "peel"], are both dressed in simple grey shirts with gloves and grey pants that incorporate footwear of some kind. Their outfits differ with regards to the silvery bands adorning them: they both have bands around the wrists of their gloves, but Bele also has a band around his waist. Bele is also wearing some sort of geometric necklace. Both Bele and Lokai had the ability to create personal forcefields around their bodies that prevented others from touching them, and when the two of them grappled the shield became red and shimmering, with a great deal of sparking and haziness surrounding the air around them. In addition, Bele was seen to have the ability to control the Enterprise purely by force of will, able to redirect its course and to short out certain circuits. [Lokai may have had this ability as well, but we never see him use it.] Their blood was still recognizably blood, and according to McCoy all the necessary organs were present and correct (albeit in different locations), along with a few he'd never seen before. [These organs are possibly related to the generation of their forcefields.] They had extreme recuperative powers.
     Bele was the chief officer of the Commission on Political Traitors on Cheron. He had been pursuing Lokai across the galaxy for 50,000 years, using a small ship that was invisible to the naked eye (due to its being sheathed in a special material) and which was built for speed rather than combat. Bele was pursuing Lokai for crimes against the ruling class. The Cherons practiced persecution based on the coloring of their skin: the ruling class were black on their right side, and subjugated those who were white on the right side, considering them to be an inferior race. The ruling class of half-blacks [this is the term used by Lokai, while Bele calls Lokai a half-white; these may be racial epithets, but we'll use them for now] initially treated the half-whites as slaves: according to Lokai, the half-blacks "raided our homes, tore us from our families, herded us together like cattle and then sold us as slaves!" (He also later states that they were ripped from their families to fight in wars on different planets, suggesting the half-blacks were using the half-whites as cannon fodder.) Bele claims that the half-whites were freed "thousands of years ago", but Lokai felt that his race was still being oppressed, and so he attempted to "break the chains of a hundred million people" through some unspecified violent act(s); this appears to be the crime of treason that Bele has been pursuing Lokai over. Bele felt that the half-whites were inferior, and that the efforts of the half-blacks to educate the half-whites "out of love" had been met with contempt and hatred; thus, they still were not ready for equality and that justified placing the half-whites in small districts, [segregated from the half-blacks.] However, during Lokai and Bele's absence, the inhabitants of the planet Cheron had completely annihilated each other, leaving their cities empty and their dead unburied. Enough time had passed for animals and vegetation to begin encroaching on their cities, but it was still recent enough for Spock to register corpses on the sensors. Despite this, Lokai and Bele both beamed down to Cheron's surface, determined to continue their now pointless feud.
     Starbase 4 was a Federation starbase, [presumably near Ariannus,] from which a shuttlecraft was stolen two weeks prior to the events of stardate 5730.2 by Bele. [The remastered version of this episode indicates that the shuttlecraft is the da Vinci, registry number SB4-0314/2; as noted above, the original footage is of the Enterprise's Galileo shuttlecraft.]
     Starfleet states that according to intergalactic treaty, no being can be extradited without due process.
     According to Kirk, the members of the Federation "live in peace, with full exercise of individual rights. The need to resort to violence and force has long since passed".
     Back in the 20th century there was persecution on Earth, but no such "primitive thinking" exists today. Long ago on Vulcan, there were similar feelings of racial hatred that threatened to destroy the planet, but the discipline of logic allowed Vulcan to overcome such irrational feelings.
     The destruct sequence for the Enterprise requires three officers, who state their name and rank, followed by a verbal code. Once the computer verifies the identity and accuracy of each code, a final sequence is uttered by the commanding officer, which initiates a 30-second countdown to destruction. This destruction can be aborted before the countdown reaches five seconds; after that, it's too late. In this episode, the first code was spoken by Kirk: the code was "Destruct sequence one. Code 1, 1-A." The second code was spoken by Spock, and was "Destruct sequence two. Code 1, 1-A, 2-B." The third sequence was spoken by Scott, and went "Destruct sequence three. Code 1-B, 2-B, 3." The final destruct sequence, spoken by Kirk, was "Code zero zero zero. Destruct. Zero." The abort code was "Code one, two, three continuity. Abort destruct order." [This code will be used again, albeit with different officers, in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.]
     There are guest quarters on deck 6 of the Enterprise.

Final Analysis: "It is obvious to the most simple-minded that Lokai is of an inferior breed." A bit slow and talky, and the metaphor is perhaps too obvious upon subsequent viewings, but nevertheless rather better than its somewhat poor reputation would suggest. Giving Bele the language of racial supremacists is a smart move, and pleasingly the script goes out of its way to ensure that neither side is morally superior: Bele is overtly racist, but Lokai's methods don't necessarily endear him to the viewer. There's also some imaginative direction that helps keep things interesting, and while it does sometimes get bogged down (the destruct sequence in particular goes on for an awfully long time), the overall message and the finished product are both still worthy of your attention.

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