Patterns of Force (Star Trek: The Original Series)
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|"Patterns of Force"|
|Star Trek: The Original Series episode|
Kirk in a Nazi uniform with Daras, an Ekosian resistance member
|Directed by||Vincent McEveety|
|Written by||John Meredyth Lucas|
|Featured music||George Duning|
|Cinematography by||Jerry Finnerman|
|Original air date||February 16, 1968|
"Patterns of Force" is a second season episode of the American science-fiction television series Star Trek, first broadcast on February 16, 1968. It is episode No. 50, production No. 52, written by John Meredyth Lucas, and directed by Vincent McEveety. This episode was banned on German television from 1968 until 1995 due to the depiction of Nazi uniforms and presence of several different Nazi insignia.
The starship 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, agree to "stop the bloodshed," and plan to announce the end of the Nazi regime. Eneg 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," as Chekov takes the Enterprise out of Ekos' orbit and on toward their next mission.
German broadcast history
Because the episode contains Nazi uniforms and insignia, and features a character who makes the statement that Nazi Germany was the "most efficient society" ever created, it was considered unfit for entertainment in Germany. Consequently, this episode is the only one which was not aired during either of the two original runs in Germany (on the public ZDF network in the mid-1970s and on the private Sat.1 network in the late 1980s/early 1990s). It was only dubbed into German in 1995, and was presented in the original English with subtitles in all earlier German releases. It was finally shown on German pay TV in 1996 and included on all DVD/Blu-ray season sets. On November 4, 2011 it was finally shown on the public network channel ZDFneo as well.
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