Thursday, July 16, 2009

Star Trek--"The Savage Curtain"

“The Savage Curtain” is the finest example of Gene Roddenberry’s showcasing his limited knowledge of pet issues and writing skill. Yet again, we have some Earth elements creating out in deep space, advanced aliens wanting to test humanity, and it is all wrapped up in pseudo-intellectual cotton candy moralizing. At least we got one more of those episodes before the plug was finally pulled.

The Enterprise is on its way to conduct a geological survey of Excalba when it runs into Abraham Lincoln floating in space. After running into Adonais’ hand, a cornucopia shaped doomsday machine, and a giant amoeba, sure, why not? The crew prepares to receive on ship Lincoln with full military honors in spite of the act this is, you know, loony.

I was waiting for him to apologize to Uhura for opportunistically only freeing the slaves in the Confederacy while letting the border states still theirs, but no such luck. She is such a downtrodden character. She even has to put up with being called a niggress.

Let us just skip ahead planet side where an alien named Yarnek--he is never named in the episode or the script, but somewhere down the line, he became Yarnek--.decides to test the concept of good and evil. Yarnek creates copies of four evil historical figures; Col. Green (presumably a World War II figure0, Kahless 9the founder of the Klingon Empire), Zora (Irony alert; she conducted brutal experiments on primitives), and Genghis Khan. To balnce out the good guys, Surak, a Vulcan pacifist philosopher joins Kirk, Spock, and Lincoln. Yes. A pacifist. Even spock knew not to cast his lot in with Surak, thought he was a personal hero.

Yarnek threatens to destroy the Enterprise if the good guys will not fight. By refusing to fight for the sport of it, then opting to fight to save lives, they have already demonstrated the concept of good, but this is lost on Yarnek and we need at least two more commercial breaks, so mucvh spear throwing and rock tossing ensues.

While replenishing their weapons supply, Lincoln muses about Ulysses S. Grant’s battle tactics. Too bad there is no whisky on hand. Say, Lincoln’s military experience was in slaughtering Native Americans, not in fighting the Civil War. Before anyone can dwell on that, Surak decides the wisest course of action is to try peace negotiations with a group of evil historical villains created for the sole purpose of fighting. Kirk, Spock, and Lincoln note his bravery, but you know deep down they have a, ‘yeah, you go do that” attitude.

I am sure you did not see it coming, but Surak dies horribly. Lincoln gets a spear in the back while trying to rescue him, but survives long enough to reveal it isa trap. Kirk and Spock defeat thereto them and they flee in terror.

So what did Yarnek conclude? He says evil ran away when confronted by people willing to fight to save numerous lives. Surak sought peace anyway and was killed for it. Lincoln sacrificed himself to save his compatriots. But when it is all said and done, Yarnek decides there is no difference between god and evil. Apparently, Kirk is just Genghis Khan with less facial hair.

I am tempted to make a “dumb as a rock” joke here about Yarnek, but I do not want to think about “The Savage Curtain” any further.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

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