The Omega Glory
|"The Omega Glory"|
|Star Trek: The Original Series episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||Vincent McEveety|
|Written by||Gene Roddenberry|
|Cinematography by||Jerry Finnerman|
|Original air date||March 1, 1968|
"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".
The episode begins with the starship Enterprise finding the USS Exeter still orbiting Omega IV, six months after it stopped communicating with Starfleet. Captain Kirk forms a boarding party with Spock, Dr. McCoy and Lt. Galloway, and beams over to find the ship deserted, save for a few uniforms covered with a crystalline substance — found to be the chemicals of the human body when all water is removed. The ship's logs show that the Exeter's landing party contracted a strange disease on the planet and brought it back to the ship. The medical officer's last log, warns anyone watching it that they have been exposed to the disease and will die unless they go down to the planet; returning to their own ship would only spread the disease.
Kirk's party beams to the last coordinates in the Exeter's computer and they find themselves in what resembles a Tibetan village. They see two prisoners, a man and woman, are being prepared for execution by native warriors who appear Asian. Leading the warriors is Exeter Captain Ron Tracey (Morgan Woodward) who pauses the execution and greets Kirk. Tracey explains he was stranded when the disease ravaged his ship. He discovered that remaining on the planet confers immunity. He tells the party they will be safe as long as they stay on the planet. Tracey then explains the prisoners are savages called "Yangs" who are waging a war with the villagers, the "Kohms."
The village is attacked by the Yangs and Galloway is injured. McCoy takes him into a hut for treatment while Spock investigates a pile of Yang bodies. He finds exhausted phaser power packs, evidence that Tracey is helping the Kohms, a violation of the Prime Directive. Kirk tries to contact the Enterprise, but Tracey confiscates his communicator. When Galloway reaches for his phaser, Tracey disintegrates him. He defends his actions, because the planet offers valuable medical benefits — the people are immune to the disease and 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 investigate the secrets of their longevity and has Kirk and Spock locked up in a crude jail. Kirk is thrown in with the two Yang prisoners. They attack him, but Spock manages to nerve pinch the female and the male stops, concerned. When Kirk plots an escape, he uses the word "freedom." The Yang male objects to an "enemy" using a "Yang worship word." Kirk gets the Yang to loosen the bars of the cell window. Once opened, the Yang knocks Kirk out and takes the woman. When Kirk recovers, he and Spock make their own escape.
Reunited with McCoy, Spock modifies some medical equipment into a makeshift communicator. McCoy believes the natives' immunity and longevity are the result of evolution; the inhabitants developed hardy physiologies as a result of a cataclysmic war. So any infected visitor naturally acquires an immunity (but not longevity) after being on the planet.
An angry Tracey destroys the communicator. He demands that Kirk order a supply of phasers from the Enterprise. McCoy and Kirk try to explain that there is no Fountain of Youth, the natives just live long lives. Kirk tells Tracey that his interference has been for nothing. Tracey's mind snaps and he demands that Kirk order the weapons. Kirk calls Lt. Sulu who insists on clarifying the situation before complying. He asks Kirk if he should send a security team, but Kirk refuses to explain, saying the security team is not needed. Kirk then tries to wrestle Tracey's phaser away, but fails. He escapes, but is quickly recaptured. Tracey tries to shoot Kirk, but his phaser is out of power.
The two fight over an axe when Yang warriors arrive and take everyone back to their village. Their leader, Cloud William, turns out to be the prisoner from earlier. Cloud produces a very old American Flag and ancient manuscripts from which he poorly recites the Pledge of Allegiance. When Kirk completes the pledge, the Yangs are shocked. Spock surmises that the cultures may have developed along very similar lines to Earth. Kirk speculates that the Kohms were "Communists" and Yangs were "Yankees." Apparently, the Omegans had a war, similar to the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. The conflict resulted in a war that destroyed both cultures many centuries earlier. Even Spock found the parallel between the two worlds to be "almost too close".
The Yangs decide to execute Kirk and his companions, but Tracey claims that Kirk and the others are evil. Tracey tells Cloud that Kirk was cast out of Heaven and claims that Spock looks like an image of Satan in a Yang document. Despite their explanations that the Vulcan is not a devil, Cloud is not convinced and asks Kirk to complete the "sacred words" starting with 'E Plebneesta' from another document. Kirk doesn't understand the words and suggests that he and Tracey duel to the death — since 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 activate it. 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 believe Kirk is a deity and Cloud kneels before him, but Kirk refutes this and tells him to stand up. He looks over the ancient, crumbling document, which appears to be a 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. 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. Before departing, Kirk takes one last proud look at Old Glory.
According to author 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."
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."
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." 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."
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."
This story was originally offered by Roddenberry as an option for the second pilot titled "The Omega Story". 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.
- Whitfield, Stephen E & Roddenberry, Gene (1968). The Making of Star Trek. Ballatine Books.
- Bernardi, Daniel Leonard. Star Trek and History: Race-ing Toward a White Future. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1998, pp. 57-58.
- 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.
- 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.
- Chabon, Michael (January 2006). "The Omega Glory" (.pdf). Details. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
- Herbert Franklin Solow; Robert Justman (1997). Inside Star Trek The Real Story. June: Simon & Schuster. p. 66. ISBN 0-671-00974-5.
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