The Enterprise and a Klingon ship come to the brink of all-out battle as they accuse each other of wrongdoing, neither realising that a powerful alien force is playing both sides off against each other. One of the third season's much better instalments...
This is more like it. In a season that is widely regarded as being the weakest of the original three, carrying a number of weak episodes, it is with welcome that this much stronger story comes along.
It is much sharper and more focused than many third season offerings, to the extent that it could easily have come from the far superior first or second seasons.
Mara is the first Klingon woman that we have seen in the franchise. As with male Klingons in the Original Series (in face, even more so), she is rather different from the Klingons of the big-screen movies, and incorporated into 'The Next Generation' onwards.
I like how the story unfolds, and a nice touch is that when we first see the alien entity moving around the ship, it appears almost casually, with no big music cue or anything to emphasise it.
This episode would be knocked out of my Top 10 favourites, but it certainly stands as one of the third season's strong stories. It's just a shame that more of the season wasn't of this quality.
This is one of the best conceived and executed Star Trek plots by Jerome Bixby, the only science fiction writer to remain with the series from season 2 to season 3 of TOS. 38 Federation vs 38 Kilngon crew are driven to fight each other under the control of an alien being. The viewer sees many bizarre scenes: Chekov believes that the Klingons killed his older brother Piotr and wants to avenge Piotr's death. But, in reality, Chekov was an only child, as Sulu tells Kirk. Scotty and McCoy are both filled with feelings of hate and racism towards the Klingons and Scotty criticisesSpock's Vulcan heritage. The real Scotty and McCoy would be trying to reason with Kang and reach a truce with their unwanted Klingon guests. Bixby cleverly shows how the alien entity was influencing and controlling people's thoughts and emotions early in the episode.
This is one of the top 6 episodes of season 3 and I rate it highly for its excellent execution and believability. Both Kirk and Spock recognise the true enemy is the alien which feeds on feelings of mutual hate and conflict, rather than the Klingons who have seized control of parts of his ship. The part about intraship beaming was a novel method for Kirk to quickly reach Kang and arrange a mutual truce to weaken and expel the entity before the Enterprise's dilitium crystals are fully depleted. Michael Ansara is superbly cast in his role as the Klingon commander Kang who has no reservations about torturing Chekov or turning off the life systems in those sections of the Enterprise which the Federation crew still control. Bixby also assigns a meaningfulrole to Mara, Kang's wife, a scientist in her own right, and one of the only Klingon women ever depicted in TOS. Shefinally convinces Kang to reach a truce with Kirk and expel the alien. Bixby's script is excellent; its just a pity most season 3 TOS episodes weren't this well written or made.
Sorry to bring the average of this episode down a bit, but I just thought it took too long for Kang to realize what was going on. They did use a lot of my favorite type music in this episode though. When Chekov is slinking through the corridors is what I'm talking about. I thought Star Trek had some really fantastic music themes. I read of some complaint or "mistake" in the "trivia" section of this show where the entity leaves the wrong part of the ship in the exterior shot. I actually thought that was the neatest part even though it apparently exited from the wrong ship level that evidently was not engineering.
By bringing back the Klingons and redefining them as the noble warriors they would continue to be in the films and spinoff shows, this bottle show is one of the more popular third season offerings. Unfortunately, the somewhat thin story tips its hand early and forces us to watch the characters solve a mystery we know the answer to rather than letting us share in it.
Gene Coon's original idea here was to do a sequel to his "Errand of Mercy", with John Colicos reprising Star Trek's first Klingon, Kor. It would provide a nice symmetry: the planet-based "Errand of Mercy" features an alien forcing Kor and Kirk to make peace; why not a ship-based "Day of the Dove" having an alien force them to fight? Unfortunately, Colicos was unavailable, so Michael Ansara fills in as "Kang". Ansara is quite different than Colicos, lacking the smirk and sly wit, but he has a commanding voice and presence that turns his character into quite a memorable Klingon nonetheless. (Eventually, the two actors, joined by William Campbell -- Captain Koloth from "The Trouble With Tribbles" -- would reprise their characters together in DS9's second season episode, "Blood Oath"). Yet surprisingly, it's Kang's wife, TOS's only female Klingon of note (played by the Susan Howard) who nearly steals the show. With Coon's script having the savvy to show people affected one at a time rather than altogether, her reaction to it all grounds the episode with a focal point leading to the climax. (Rather shockingly for Star Trek and 1960s television alike, the show takes things especially far in her encounter with Chekov; but the actress plays this and the aftermath well, and it fits with the story).
Still, with the audience let in on the secret early and the plot running in circles, it all gets a little tedious after the first couple of acts, with the alien sabotaging the episode by having no character of its own.
Interestingly, TNG borrows some of the plot of this episode for their first season episode "The Last Outpost", swapping out the Klingons and introduce the Ferengi. (The switch works about as well as can be expected).
As a ship-based episode with an alien effect that would be too time consuming to paint out and replace, there's not much for CBS Digital to do here. Dispatching with the original stock planet (a reuse of the "Operation: Annihilate!" sphere), the team replaces it with an Earth-like world, though they are sure to add some green sky in one area to match the background color of the planet stage set. (Unfortunately, the budget doesn't allow them to add clouds to this background, leaving it looking quite fake. "Spectre" has the same issue, but it gets away with it because of the nature of its story). Meanwhile, the new shots of the Enterprise are par for the course.
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