The Omega Glory

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"The Omega Glory"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 23
Directed by Vincent McEveety
Written by Gene Roddenberry
Cinematography by Jerry Finnerman
Production code 054
Original air date March 1, 1968 (1968-03-01)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"The Omega Glory" is a second-season episode of the original science fiction television series Star Trek, first broadcast March 1, 1968, and repeated July 26, 1968. It is episode #52, production #54, written by Gene Roddenberry, and directed by Vincent McEveety. The story was one of three outlines submitted for selection as the second pilot of Star Trek, the others being "Mudd's Women" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before".[1]

In this episode, Captain Kirk must find the cure to a deadly disease and put an end to another Starfleet captain's cultural interference.

Plot[edit]

The episode begins with the Federation starship Enterprise finding her sister ship, the USS Exeter, in orbit around the planet Omega IV. Concerned over the Exeter's being where it was reported six months earlier and over a lack of communication, Captain Kirk forms a boarding party with First Officer Spock, Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy and Lt. Galloway, and beams over to find the other ship deserted, save for scattered crew uniforms with a crystalline substance scattered in and around them — the total chemicals in the human body when all water is removed. The team learns from the ship's logs that the Exeter's landing party contracted a strange disease on the planet and spread it back to the ship. The latest log, from the ship's surgeon, warn that they have now been exposed and will die unless they go down to the planet; returning to their own ship would only expose their own ship's crew to the disease.

Kirk's party beams to the last coordinates of the Exeter's landing party and find themselves in what resembles a Tibetan village, where two fur-clad prisoners, a man and woman, are being prepared for a beheading by warriors of Asian appearance. Leading the warriors is Exeter Captain Ron Tracey (played by Morgan Woodward) who stands down the execution and greets Kirk. Tracey explains he was stranded when his crew succumbed to a disease, and only remaining on the planet confers immunity. He assures the landing party they will be safe, but only if they stay on the planet. Tracey then explains the prisoners are from a group of savage barbarians called the "Yangs" who wage war with the villagers called the "Kohms".

Soon, the Yangs attack the village and Galloway is injured. McCoy takes him into a hut for treatment while Spock investigates a pile of Yang bodies. He finds drained phaser power packs, clear evidence that Tracey helped in a previous battle in a blatant violation of the Prime Directive. Kirk tries to contact the Enterprise, but Tracey suddenly interrupts him and forcibly takes his communicator. When wounded Galloway reaches for his phaser, Tracey disintegrates him. He defends his actions, saying the planet offers valuable medical benefits — not only are the people immune to the disease, but they also have incredibly long life spans. He presents a villager who claims to be 462 years old with a father who is over a thousand.

Tracey orders McCoy to get to work on solving the secrets of their longevity and has Kirk and Spock taken away. The two are placed in a crude jail, with Spock in one cell and Kirk thrown in another with the two Yang prisoners. The Yangs savagely attack him until Spock manages to nerve pinch the female unconscious, and the male stops in concern. When Kirk plots an escape, he mentions the word "freedom" to Spock, and the Yang male suddenly objects to an "enemy" uttering a "Yang worship word." Kirk convinces the Yang to help loosen the bars of the cell window. Once an opening is created, the Yang knocks Kirk out and takes the woman with him out the window. When Kirk recovers, he and Spock make their own escape.

Reuniting with McCoy, Spock works at modifying some medical equipment into a makeshift communicator. McCoy believes the natives' immunity to disease and longevity was simply the result of evolution through natural selection; the inhabitants developed disease-resistant, hardy physiologies as a result of a cataclysmic war. As such, there is no isolated agent to find and any infected visitor naturally acquires an immunity in a short period of time on the planet.

Suddenly, a maddened Tracey bursts in and destroys the new communications device with his phaser. He demands that Kirk order down a supply of phasers from the Enterprise to help fight off another wave of Yang forces. McCoy and Kirk try to explain that there is no Fountain of Youth, adding that the natives live such long lives because it's natural for them to. Kirk declares that Tracey's interference with the war between the natives has been for nothing. Tracey's mind snaps at this invalidation of all his efforts. He forces Kirk outside and demands that he order down the weapons. Kirk calls Lt. Sulu; however, Sulu insists on finding out the captain's situation before complying with the unusual order, asking Kirk if he should have a security team beam down. Kirk refuses to explain why the arms are needed and tells Sulu the security team is not needed. Once again, Kirk tries to wrestle Tracey's phaser away, but fails. He escapes Tracey, momentarily, but is captured. Tracey is about to disintegrate Kirk, but he discovers his phaser is out of power.

The two fight over a nearby axe when Yang warriors suddenly arrive and take everyone back to their village, which appears as ruins of an ancient building. Their leader, Cloud William, turns out to be the prisoner who was in the cell with Kirk. From a box, Cloud surprisingly produces a very old American Flag and ancient manuscripts from which he begins to recite words — a poorly pronounced version of the Pledge of Allegiance. When Kirk completes the pledge, the Yangs are shocked. McCoy questions how they know the pledge, and Spock surmises that the cultures may have developed along very similar lines to Earth. Kirk speculates that the Kohms were originally "Communists" and Yangs originally "Yankees". Apparently, the Omegans had a Cold War much like the one between the United States and the Soviet Union, but unlike Earth, their war heated up and a conflict was fought many centuries ago. Even Spock found the parallel between the two worlds to be "almost too close".

The Yangs decide that Kirk and his companions will be executed, but Tracey tries to save himself by claiming that Kirk and the others are evil. Tracey tries to convince Cloud that Kirk and his party were cast out of Heaven, by building upon Kirk's Prime Directive-influenced vague description of his place of origin as "up there," and by drawing attention to the similarity between Spock's appearance and an image of Satan contained in one of the Yang's documents. To further bolster his claim against the Enterprise crew, Tracey informs Cloud that Spock "has no heart," knowing that the Yang chief is unaware of Vulcan physiology and doesn't realize the Vulcan's heart is not located in the same position as it is in humans and Omegans. Despite McCoy's and Kirk's attempts to convince Cloud that the Vulcan is no devil, but just physiologically different, Cloud is not fully convinced and asks Kirk to complete the "sacred words" starting with 'E Plebneesta' from an ancient document he produced. Unfortunately, Kirk cannot quite decipher the words, despite their familiarity, and suggests instead that he and Tracey duel to the death — stating good always triumphs over evil. As Kirk and Tracey begin to fight, Spock notices a communicator near Cloud's female companion, and makes a mental suggestion which causes her to pick it up and activate it. (Neither she nor Spock speak into the communicator, but the implication is that she activated its emergency-alert signal.) Soon, just as Kirk subdues Tracey, Sulu and a security detail beam down to investigate the situation. Kirk spares Tracey's life and has him taken into custody to face Federation charges.

The Yangs now bow to Kirk as a deity, but he orders them to stand and face him. He looks over the ancient, crumbling document, which appears to be a distorted version of the American Constitution. Kirk finishes the sacred speech (the Preamble to the United States Constitution) and rebukes the Yangs for allowing the document to degrade to mere shibboleth. He declares that the words were not just for the Yangs, but for Kohms, as well, declaring that they "must apply to everyone or they mean nothing." Cloud doesn't fully understand, but swears to Kirk that the "holy words" will be obeyed. Kirk smiles at Cloud, convinced that the Yangs, along with the Kohms, will now rebuild their ruined world. Before departing, Kirk stops to take one last proud look at Old Glory.

Apocrypha[edit]

  • In the scene in which the away team is on the bridge of the Exeter, Dr. McCoy mentions that the human body is made up of 96 percent water, when in fact the water content is only about two thirds.

Analysis[edit]

According to author, professor, and director of the cinema department at San Francisco State University Daniel Leonard Bernardi in his book, Star Trek and History: Race-ing Toward a White Future: "Like the Federation, the Comms have full command of the English language (although they speak with a homogenized 'Asian' accent). The beginning of the episode thus shows that those with white skin can be uncivilized savages and those with yellow skin can be civilized and rational[...]This would be counter to the hegemonic representation of Asians in the United States media; that diverse collective of peoples are consistently constructed in film and television as a menacing 'yellow horde.'"

Bernardi goes on to say:

"'The Omega Glory' is not, however, a counter-hegemonic episode. In fact, the episode not only reveals an unwillingness to be critical of the hegemony of racist representations, but also systematically participates in the stereotyping of Asians. As the story progresses, the Yangs are constructed as noble savages; their cause to annihilate the Comms is established as justified. The Comms, on the other hand, are constructed as brutal and oppressive; their drive to suppress the Yangs is established as totalitarian. This more hegemonic articulation of race is made evident when Kirk and Spock realize the extent to which the Yangs and Comms parallel Earth's civilizations. In this light, the Yangs are no longer savages, but noble warriors fighting for a just and honorable cause. They want to regain the land they lost in a war with the Asiatics."[2]

Allan W. Austin, Professor of History at Misericordia University, writes that this episode

"consciously and unconsciously reflected a number of deep American anxieties that grew out of more than two decades of the Cold War. By the mid–1960s, some Americans began to critique what they saw as mindless nationalism. This unthinking patriotism had coalesced as part of a liberal consensus grounded in confidence in the essential soundness of American society as well as the assumption of a pervasive communist threat to the U.S. and its allies. Many supporters of the liberal consensus believed that economic growth and development would solve any remaining social inequalities while damping class conflict."[3]

Like Bernardi, Austin discusses racial stereotypes in the episode; citing Bernardi, he argues that, instead of considering "the Yangs as noble savages, the Yangs can now be seen as an example of the result of mindless nationalism run amok, albeit still salvageable in Roddenberry's ever-optimistic view of the future."[4] He adds, "Many of the qualities ascribed to the Yangs mirrored terms used to describe the 'yellow peril' at an earlier time in U.S. history. For example, Tracy, after noting directly that the Yangs are white, describes them as vicious and deceptive enemies who cannot communicate intelligently."[4]

In "The Omega Glory", a 2006 essay reminiscing on stories about the future, Michael Chabon says, "Eed plebnista, intoned the devolved Yankees, in the Star Trek episode 'The Omega Glory', who had somehow managed to hold on to and venerate as sacred gobbledygook the Preamble to the Constitution, norkon forden perfectunun. All they needed was a Captain Kirk to come and add a little interpretive water to the freeze-dried document, and the American way of life would flourish again."[5]

Production[edit]

This story was originally offered by Roddenberry as an option for the second pilot titled "The Omega Story".[6] The original script, while not significantly different in tone and message, did have some significant differences in characterization and background information. As the character of Dr. Leonard McCoy had not been created yet, the ship's surgeon is named Milton Perry, and in one version of the script it is Perry who attempts to use a "Medi-Scanner" to signal the Enterprise for rescue, only to be killed when Captain Tracey destroys the scanner with his phaser. Dr. Carter of the Exeter was also to be shown dissolving onscreen.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitfield, Stephen E and Roddenberry, Gene (1968). The Making of Star Trek. Ballatine Books. 
  2. ^ Bernardi, Daniel Leonard. Star Trek and History: Race-ing Toward a White Future. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1998, pp. 57-58.
  3. ^ Austin, Allan W. "The Limits of Star Trek's Final Frontier: "The Omega Glory" and 1960s American Liberalism," in Space and Time: Essays on Visions of History in Science Fiction and Fantasy Television. David C. Wright, Jr., and Allan W. Austin, editors. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2010, pp. 68-69.
  4. ^ a b Austin, Allan W. "The Limits of Star Trek's Final Frontier: "The Omega Glory" and 1960s American Liberalism," in Space and Time: Essays on Visions of History in Science Fiction and Fantasy Television. David C. Wright, Jr., and Allan W. Austin, editors. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2010, p. 74.
  5. ^ Chabon, Michael (January 2006). "The Omega Glory" (.pdf). Details. Retrieved July 31, 2012. 
  6. ^ Herbert Solow, Robert Justman (1997). Inside Star Trek The Real Story. June: Simon & Schuster. p. 66. ISBN 0-671-00974-5. 

External links[edit]