Star Trek

Season 2 Episode 21

Patterns of Force

Aired Unknown Feb 16, 1968 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (7)

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out of 10
161 votes
  • Kirk discovers a planet controlled by a Nazi movement.

    It's the infamous "Nazi episode" where Kirk and Spock beam down to another copy cat planet to sneak around a Nazi base and outmaneuver the bad guys. Essentially a spy story, the two use all the cliche espionage techniques they learned in "A Piece of the Action" and toss in a MacGyver trick and the Wookie prisoner gag for good measure.

    Written by Star Trek producer John Meredyth Lucas because of his fascination with what in the 1960s was recent history, the episode tries to sell the idea that an Earth historian might well see Hitler's way as an efficient way to turn around a struggling culture. It was an easier sell in the 1960s than today, because back then there were a lot of exaggerations about the effectiveness of the Nazi government as a government that have since been debunked (like its 100% employment rate that was only 100% if you discount all those who weren't allowed to work or were killed because they couldn't). But the real problem with the episode is that it takes an hour to say "yes, the Nazis were evil people, but the structure of their government was fundamentally flawed (In other news, the sky is blue).

    Still, it was quite bold of the show to tackle the Nazis only about twenty five years since they were in power, and with some outdoor location shooting at the Paramount office building mixed in with quite a few stage sets, the director puts together an exciting little story that has just enough bits to keep it engaging, even if it plays it safe. It's just too bad Lucas writes such a literal version of a Nazi takeover because a more abstract version would be easier to explain and accept. (It would mean the show couldn't use the Nazi costumes raided from Paramount's storage closet or Nazi propaganda footage, but it would take some of the stigma away from what's become perceived as a darker episode than it really

    Remastered: This story allows CBS Digital gets to tackle two planets in the same shot, something the original series saved for special occasions (as in, only this episode). Originally, the show reused the planets from "Deadly Years" and "Friday's Child", and they look so close, one could be the other's moon. The upgraded version, with more realistic planets, uses a more three dimensional Enterprise flyby to give them a little more space. Beyond that, they also replace a nuclear missile (which in the original was a shot stolen from "Journey to Babel"), replace a phaser shot and Spock's laser beam, and, of course, redo the ship itself.

  • Nazis in space? Puhlease!

    After the low point of "A Piece of the Action", in which Kirk and Spock got to dress up as gangsters and pretend to be Damian Runyon characters, which resulted in an episode that was just plain terrible, the STAR TREK producers offered us this chunk of crip. This time, Kirk and Spock get to dress up in WW2 Nazi uniforms and make some trite observations about how making the trains run on time doesn't justify genocide.

    This results in an episode that isn't just terrible, it's also offensive in the way it trivialises the holocaust while thinking it's making some kind of worthwhile social comment.

    This is the absolute nadir of the STAR TREK series, no question ...
  • Kirk, Spock and McCoy dress up as Nazis..... in a cloak room!

    The lesson in the end that John Gill learned is fascinating. I was reading that Shatner and Nimoy had some difficulty in shooting this one because they were both Jewish. That is quite interesting and I felt like I had learned something about putting myself in someone's shoes. The emotional scenes where they are drugging Gill to come out of it worked very well backed with the dramatic music we have all learned to love and enjoy. The episode was not quite as well as "Bread and Circuses" where we visit the Romans, but I still thought it held up pretty well.
  • An episode which leaves you more thoughtful than others of the series

    This episode is the last of the series I was able to watch, due to the fact that it was never shown on TV here in Germany, and it left me rather thoughtful because I had the distinct feeling of "Was this really necessary?" I always thought it very unlikely that any society in the universe should come up with a similar insane idea of ruling a country like the Nazis did, and the (too obvious)similarities shown in this episode with uniforms and stuff marred my enjoying of it, so that I came to thinking that it wasn´t an altogether bad idea not to show this episode on TV here in Germany. From all the other episodes showing similarities to earth-based societies, this is clearly the weakest, but the important lesson that we have to learn from history in order to prevent similar dreadful things from happening which is pointed out in this episode leaves a strong impression behind and makes it absolutely worth watching.
  • Kirk and Spock search for a missing historian, and find he has 'contaminated' a planet, making it a near duplicate of Germany ruled by a Nazi regime. Once again, many didn't like it, but I thought it was a good episode...

    A few episodes ago we had "A Piece of the Action", which was an excuse for the show to play gangsters. Here, we get one set in Nazi Germany; it seems to be another cliché of the series of "which genre can we use this week?". There are also other examples, with Roman society, etc. However, while not a complete series classic, I did enjoy this episode.

    The story seems more thoughtful, in the vein of the first season, compared to some of the offerings seen in the second season. I felt that more depth could have been given as to just how the planet became so similar to Nazi culture, but there was still more depth to it than some of the more recent stories to play before this one.

    Personally I find the story to be a good one. I like the escape from the prison cell (even if it is slightly far fetched), and like how the story unfolds, explaining just why this alien culture has become to Nazi-like.

    I've heard some people comment that this episode exploits the source material; I'm not sure I agree. Couldn't the same be said for 75% of war films and whatnot? Yes, it is entertainment, but so are many of those old war movies, and I'm not sure that many of them have any more a serious point to make than this episode.

    Maybe this episode suffers from being shown close to "A Piece of the Action", as they are both excuses for the series to play with different time period genres. But I do find "Patterns of Force" a very interesting and exciting episode, and would rank it as one of the better of the second season.
  • Kirk's Heroes

    Captain Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise comes upon a plant that is ruled by Nazis. Seens like a good idea and I like this epiosde, but it could've been better. A planet in the middle of nowhere which follows the patterns of Nazi Germany? A good ideal for a episode which may taught us about not repeating the past. a few weeks ago, the crew come upon a planet which is run by the 1920's mob and now a plant wich is run by 1930's Nazis. One of the reason why i like "Star Trek." I comes up with some new every eposode.
  • A Nazi episode? Why??

    This is basically a story that validates the prime directive, by showing what can happen when it is disobeyed. On that level, it succeeds; the basic theme is solid, the plot holds together well, and the story flows. The characters are sufficiently well-drawn to evoke sympathy.

    Nevertheless, I marked the episode down because I felt the use of the Nazi symbology was odious. Certainly it would be harder to find a more evil setting for the story, but it seems that anyone smart enough to become a history instructor at Starfleet Academy, and later to be permitted to study an alien culture from the inside, would not make the mistake of attempting to recreate such a savage civilization. Certainly anyone can make a mistake, but experts shouldn't make mistakes of this caliber, and John Gill was presented as an expert.