Star Trek

Season 3 Episode 22

The Savage Curtain

Aired Unknown Mar 07, 1969 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (9)

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  • Kirk plays patsy to Abraham Lincoln

    This was the last one in the series I saw. In other words, I had seen 78 of them a few times, and I kept missing this one. My friends kept telling me about the one with Abraham Lincoln and I was like “What are you guys talking about!?” Finally I saw it. That is what I remember every time I see this one. I thought this “test” or “experiment” by aliens was better than the “Spectre of the Gun” one, but not as delightful as “The Corbomite Maneuver”. Good vs. Evil has always fascinated me as well as Yarnek. And again, it heavily featured my favorite Star Trek music in this episode. Where they are fighting in the last scene and that coward, Colonel Green runs off.
  • Clear foul

    Ok its very late in thrid and final season, however, that is not an excuse for this turkey. First of all kirk pays up to a creature (Abe Lincon)known by all to have been dead for over 300 years, and in any event out of office due to his not receiving the majority of electoral votes, or any electoral votes since 1864. Secondly, much of scrip is recycled from pior shows. Thrid just image you get to fight to the death and to aid you you get a middle age lawyer, and a paficist. Oh Goody. How about asking for young Robert E. Lee, Audie Murphy, or Alivn York. Plus you have tend to agree with evil col. green- let us fight the rock think firstT. After all this plan for World War II and seems to work asd

    Some have said it not turkey due to the lack of red shirt or skirt deaths. I disagree.
  • "The Super Best Friends" (Kirk, Spock, Lincoln and Surak) get in a fist fight with "The Super Worst Friends" (Assorted mostly past earth villians) in yet another alien-controlled gladiatorial arena

    This episode is really not as bad as it should be considering that it says nothing of particular value, and uses the "fight to the death in an alien arena" motif again. Rather than making things worse as you'd expect, Lincoln helps the episode slightly, though it feels somewhat cheap to trot him out simply to commune with Kirk and then fight to the death.

    As to the the reviewer claiming that Lincoln says "the N-word," he says "Negress" which is probably not the "N word" most people would ever think of. It's still not something you would ever call a black woman today, but is more of an antique term than the common, intentional, ugly racial slur that "the N word" usually refers to.

    Since Lincoln is so iconic, you'd expect him to do or say something useful or profound. Instead he simply lends his icon to the Enterprise for a while, he says some things about fighting if a fight is forced upon you, and crawls around on the rocks and bushes for a while.

    Could've been a better episode. I call foul for calling up historical characters and then putting them in a World Wrestling Federation match. Is that the best they could do?
  • Okay, good vs evil. They\'ve done this 100 times. Even the most absurd parallel Earth idea isn\'t nearly as trite.

    Okay, it\'s an alien who wants to observe good vs evil and already seems to be evil, which makes little sense. We see Lincoln (which actually starts as a nice idea and kudos to all for playing it straight) and Surak of Vulcan... they, with Kirk and Spock, are forced to battle 4 evil figures. 3 from Earth\'s past, and Kahless the Unforgettable (it\'s a riot how TNG and later spinoffs turn the guy from being an evil sleaze to a heartwarming guy with a melted candy bar glued to his forehead...)

    But it\'s good versus evil with all the stereotypes within. Trek TOS always discussed human nature. But this story doesn\'t bother with any overlapping ideas. As a result it\'s trite and fairly obvious too.

    But it\'s the straight-faced approach to Lincoln that makes it interesting... but it\'s also obvious the scene where \"Lincoln\" calls Uhura the N-word was hard to watch, even though it is plausible - that if Lincoln were alive and teleported 400 years into the future, he would likely say the n-word. Uhura\'s answer is a bold attempt to give hope for the future, and that context is one most people won\'t see today and, as with many elements of TOS, get overlooked because the context of the 1960s is long gone.
  • The crew of the Enterprise are confronted by what appears to be Abraham Lincoln, which leads to Kirk and Spock being forced into battle against illusionary villains by a race trying understand 'good' and 'evil'. One of the far better late episodes...

    At first, I expected very little from this episode. I expected the appearance of Abraham Lincoln to be gimmicky, and combined with the whole "forced to fight to the death while the ship's crew watch on the viewscreen", which had been done before in a number of other stories, I really wasn't expecting much.
    But to my pleasant surprise, "The Savage Curtain" turned out to be one of the much better episodes from the tail end of the series, and I am surprised that it isn't held in higher regard amongst most fans.

    Unlike many late Original Series episodes, where the plot is pretty much laid out in the first five minutes, I liked how the story of this one gradually unfolded. Was this really Abraham Lincoln? What is he doing in deep space? The explanations, and the leading on to the forced battle on the planet below, are well paced, and I didn't feel that the story really dipped at any point.

    As well as Lincoln, we also meet Surak, the "father of Vulcan civilization", adding some more background to Vulcan's history.
    Out of the villains, Colonel Green and Klingon Kahless aren't bad (well they ARE bad, but you get what I mean!), but the other two barely get a look in.

    Back on the ship (which, of course, is endangered, to add some more urgency to the situation), there are some nice moments between Mr. Scott and Dr. McCoy; I would have liked to have seen more of those through the series.

    As I say, I personally found this to be one of the far better third season instalments, to the extent that it could just as easily been from the first or second season. It might not look much on paper, but the final episode is a good one.
  • Surprisingly good, for a third season last-half episode.

    You don't hear this episode mentioned much, but it's a curiously good episode, given the show was basically shutting down and the third season is generally considered as a downhill slide. What could be a schlocky jump-the-shark concept - "Enterprise Meets Lincoln!" turns out to be a curiously thoughtful exploration of good and evil.

    It's also clear the episode struck a chord since later writers would use Kahless, Green, and Surak first seen here. In a way this episode forms a trilogy with "Amok Time" and "Journey to Babel," showing us Vulcan society and mores. Barry Atwater, a talented second-string actor, portrays the Father of All Vulcans with suitable aplomb.

    Lee Bergere, another veteran actor, gives a deep thoughtful performance as a Lincoln who isn't heroic, but clearly a man who has been torn by leading a country through a bloody civil war.

    On top of these two performances there's the deeper significance that the two characters arent' real, but are manifestations of Spock's and Kirk's imaginations of what these characters would be like. Look deep enough and you can see what it says about those two characters. So it's much more then simply "Lincoln beams on board the ship."

    Philip Pine gives a suitably slimy performance as Colonel Green, although the other three "evil-doers" get short shrift.

    The other interesting aspect is the Excalbians, who comes across as a totally alien race, not in appearance but in concept and intellect. The idea of pitting good vs. evil doesn't seem to make much sense, but then again probably a few of our concepts of resolving disputes and settling intellectual issues wouldn't make sense to an alien, either. The concept is graspable - "if good is stronger, it should win in a fight" without seeming totally stupid, and seems like something an alien race might come up with.

    We also get a McCoy and Scotty who are still feisty and anything but yes-men, and a few comments on race and advancement in the future. And lots of quotable lines (see Quotes).

    Overall, a surprisingly pleasing episode, and one that caught on enough to act as a springboard for several future episodes in other Trek series.
  • "Your existence is Ended"

    Well, at least for the first series I suppose!

    Actually I like this (as I like most) episode because of the base message and it's inherent pessimism. I mean, only Star Trek, at least in those days - would come out and say something like "good and evil use the same tactics, get the same results" - sort of taboo even today in the light of things like beheadings and abu ghraib in Iraq just a few years ago.

    Maybe I'm taking it too deep but the series fully intended it to be read so in those days. They were trying to find a way out of the Viet Nam war and.... this was a micro chasm of that angst. I wasn't alive then, but it was just short of a national civil war at times: this country was mentally ill. Colin Powell was recently asked if the times we're in right now (2012) are the worst he's seen and he said "No way! The cultural revolutuion of the 1960s and 70's was much MUCH worse!"

    Anyway, the acting is pretty darn good considering that this episode is clearly one of the most implausible upon implausible upon implausible scripts and storylines in the whole ST universe really. And you have to enjoy Spock and Kirk getting their rocks off and their hopes fulfilled meeting their life-long all time idols!

    And...the message is true; war is bad no matter what side you think you're on.
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  • Kirk and Spock are forced to take part in the ultimate battle between good and evil.

    With more historical figures than a junior high school history pageant and the most comically obvious trap ever laid for our heroes ("Help me, Spock!"), this planet-based Gene Roddenberry "good versus evil" story is one of the more memorable TOS episodes, despite not being very good.

    Like a precursor to Super Friends, Kirk and Spock get to fight alongside their heroes, Abraham Lincoln and Surak, against four of history's most evil villains, though sadly the latter doesn't include Khan. (Hitler is excluded as well, but that's probably for the best).

    If the episode has a strength, it lies in the talents of the character actors, with Lee Bergere particularly believable as Lincoln. (Phillip Pine is also somewhat interesting as the fictional Colonel Green). But the story takes a meandering path to get to its point, and it's not a very interesting point at that. (As a morality play wannabe, the episode really needs evil to lose due its own internal destructive nature, but the writers choose a different climax). And as an action-base episode, it doesn't help that the fighting is confined to the small planet stage set, reducing what should be an epic battle to minor skirmishes.

    It's likely Roddenberry new this one wasn't working out very well when he was writing it, which is why he ultimately gave up on it. Unfortunately, producer Fred Freiberger pulled it out of the trash and gave it to Arthur "Way to Eden" Heinemann to finish.

    The Klingon guru Kahless, played by a different actor, returns in TNG's sixth season episode "Rightful Heir". The Vulcan guru Surak, also played by a different actor, returns in ENT's fourth season episode "Awakening".

    Remastered Edition:

    There's not much of note here, other than new shots of the Enterprise and the planet (replacing the original's reuse of Vulcan). The new planet sphere, however, is one of the best this project has accomplished, a vivid globe of hot magma that ties nicely into the surface environment. The digital team also touches up Lincoln's first appearance (in space), redoing the surrounding stars.