Saturday, June 20, 2009

Star Trek-"Patterns of Force"

Because of the manner in which Nazi paraphernalia was utilized, the airing of "Patterns of Force” was banned under the German Constitution and not aired in the country until 1999. Even then, it was aired on pay television lateat night. The episode had been available on VHS, but obviously there was not much encouragement for germans to view the episode. Count them as fortunate ones. I do not consider “Patterns of Force” offensive because of its content, but mercy, is it one dumb bit of schlock.

The episode begins with Kirk, Spock, and McCoy expressing how impressed they are that John Gill, the Federation historian they aresent to retrieve from the planet ekos, and his method of teaching history. Gill teaches cause and effect, rather than dates and places. In other words, Gill is an actual historian, not a junior high history teacher. Do marvel at Gill’s extraordinary gift of teaching history in the same manner it is taught in universities across the planet. What is worse, we are going to learn Gill is not all that skilled at measuring causeandeffec in the first place.

Our heroes discover ekos has been turned into an implausibly accurate copy of Nazi Germany. Aliens in Trek have unnatural skill at adapting to Earth conditions. How long do you think it would take Earth to become a carbon copy of some other planet after alien contact? It would not matter, I guess. Just insert Kirk and itwill all revert back to normal in 45 minutes.

Kirk and Spock go off in search of Gill. They naturally steal Nazi uniforms, because it just would not be cool if they did not flirt with the dirtiness of impersonating Nazis. Spock even remarks Kirk will make a very convincing Nazi. He is probably tweaking him for all the civilization he has destroyed along the way only to inject his personal values on them instead. McCoy joins them later, also in unform, and all three of them appear to be enjoying themselves a little too much. I chalk it up to the episode’s more buffoonish elements spoofing Nazism probably amused the jewish Shatner and Nimoy. Or maybe it was all so absurd, they were using a defense mechanism. I do not know.

In the interim, Kirk and Spock are captured and tortured. They pair are whipped, but the impact of thescene is diminished by the scars, which appear to be streaks of lipstick. Where they got green lipstick for Spock, I can only speculate. I assume the unconvincing wounds were made to appease censors. If so, it is one of countless instances in which censors prove they desperately need to find another line of work.

They escape and hook up with the Zeons. The Zeons are the most heavy handed allusion to Jews I have ever witnessed. I am an avowed Zionist and nearly philosemitic when it comes to Jews, but even I had a tough time accepting this part of the story. When our heroes finally encounter the drugged Gill, they learn he forcibly changed ekos from a society of anarchy to a Nazi styled society thinking it would hold the people together. Evidently, he thought the same as former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schoot that Hitler was good in the beginning, but went too far. So much for gill’s skill with cause and effect. Did he not know that not only would society get away from him, but with a planet of “Jews” nearby, he was just asking for it?

The attack on the Zeons s averted when Gill is revived from his drugged state and brings Ekos back to its senses. The dictatorship is overthrown. Luckily, the new leader promises to fulfill the Fuhrer’s original visioon. I assume that goes back to the whole ’Hitler was good in the beginning” deal. Before Gill dies, he tells Kirk the Prime Directive is the only way to go. He is a little late to be lecturing kirk over that, considering the path of destruction he has left behind over two seasons. Better late than never, though, right?

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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