Star Trek: The Book-- Chapter 6

Thesis: Primitivism vs. Civilization (Romanticism vs. Technology);

Theme: The confrontation with the Alien WITHOUT;

Theory of Drama as plot/conflicts: violence and progression:

Creative tension v. destructive tension (opposites/contraries breed progression for modern man)--Wm. Blake;

The Necessity of Trail by Combat; WAR is PLAY--the AGON principle

 


 The Coliseum in Rome:  the Games  (©R.W. Dillon)

 

VI-001

Not all of STAR TREK lends itself to metaphysics per se. The most basic ingredient in literature, according to Thomas Hardy, is a good story. In this sense, the function of literature is to entertain an audience. Its essential ingredient is action, defined by E.M. Forster as a sequence of events in their chronological order. The most effective STAR TREK episodes balance action with premise(theme). When these two combine, plot evolves. All plot is action. But not all action is plot which requires causality. Plot investigates why a certain action or interwoven actions occur. It is at this point that STAR TREK must be viewed as literature, i.e., as drama. The original tv series consists of four act plays preceded by a teaser. Each episode is a play. The four acts are required by the one hour time format of the series. The episodes are based on established Renaissance drama. The form of each episode is dictated by pragmatic time limitations as well as by established form. STAR TREK is drama. It is theatre in its best tradition. There are writers, a teleplay, actor, audience and a creator-visionary. STAR TREK is a continuous series of morality plays of good and evil. Its essence is not just a premise, but a plot that is based on causal conflict. Conflict is caused by, and is embodied in, character. Ergo character <> of conflict, i.e., action <> character>conflict <>plot <> premise>change, growth.

VI-002

Drama is the study of men in action or in conflict. As Shakespeare notes, all life is a stage where the hero struts and frets his hour of life between opposites. Human character requires progression: "Without Contraries is no progression: Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate are Necessary for human Existence" (Blake). All life is a stage where the human adventure reveals itself. As perceived in the early 1960's, Gene Roddenberry defines his "wagon train to the stars" as a series of morality plays whose major purpose is to provide intellectual and emotional insight into man's everyday life.

 

VI--003

STAR TREK's world is one of intense beings who think and act intensely. The characters have three dimensional depth, a sense of destiny, a moral sensitivity, a sense of willful direction, and a compulsion to "drink life to the lees."  Kirk, like Tennyson's Ulysses, is determined  "to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." As with Homer's epic view, Ulysses and his band of wily Greeks have fought men and gods, and have won and have persevered. Character and conflict become almost indistinguishable. As St. Thomas Aquinas says, "Agere sequitur esse." Action follows essence. A person's actions are external manifestations and symbols of his/her inner being. Action dramatizes the immerlebensgeist. As a corollary, action is defined by essence.
 

VI--004

Thus the subject of STAR TREK is human nature in all its dramatic manifestations. It is IDIC, life in its infinite diversity, in its infinite combinations. Thus, although treks must have premise, they must have actional conflict that is relevant to this premise. There are treks where action supersedes premise to the extent that action is not relevant to a premise. These are treks whose basic appeal relies on action, sometimes for its own sake, sometimes almost thoughtless let her rip action. In great treks action must be significant and characteristic action. Action qua action is not human, Greek drama, but it makes for a good quarrel! The devil with the thinking! The ME interacts with the NOT-ME, between self and other men, between man and nature, between man and metaphysical, cosmic intelligence, between man and what the Greeks called fate or destiny, hurling rocks, water and Lesbians at the crew. The essentials of drama are visible. In Greek tragedy, a main character (protagonist) comes into propinquity with a counterpart called the antagonist. Surrounding these two counterparts is the Grecian chorus. The chorus heightens and comments upon the human struggle. The episode brings resolution in plays, in fiction, even in poetry; however, resolution is not always a solution. There are treks whose conclusions are not fully adjudicated. The majority of treks have some resolution. Some stories have a sock-em-all now atmosphere, almost riotous. Thought content is minimal.

 

VI--005

Conflict in STAR TREK has a strongly Hebraic character. It is very physical, very visceral. Its essence is a display of human primitivism and barbarism. The TREK ethic requires man to overcome obstacles to peace amd civilization. He must confront his primitivism, struggle with it, absorb it, and then transcend it. It is an allegory of continuous problem solving using all of man's finest, but limited, intelligence to do battle with the alien without. The is the ontological struggle. There is an enemy within, but the conflict is complemented by the enemy without. If not a battle of wits, life is a war against the external entity perceived to be "the enemy." In the long road of evolution, modern civilization is still only in its juvenile stage. There is much to be learned, and men are still but children crying in the wilderness. What is indigenous to man is an inborn sense of adversarialism as a primitive creature. The guts of civilization substitutes collegiality for adversarialism.  Explicit in many STAR TREK episodes is man's inability or unwillingness to see and to pursue alternatives to violence.

VI-006

Although Kirk tells Amanda that Starfleet Command is an 'instrument of civilization," that the Enterprise's mission is essentially peaceful, Lenore Karidian sees a ship bristling with destructive weaponry, leaving Kirk " not very human" in the final analysis. The price of this weaponry is continuous violence. The episodes "Arena" and "A Taste of Armageddon" state that man has an "instinct for violence." But man can say, "No...I won't kill today," even though mankind has endless
 years of blood on his hands. Anan 7 reproaches Kirk: "You are a barbarian."  Kirk responds, "I am...and I'm about to prove it." Only more war, real war, can stop the sophisticated death by computer in "disintegration" machines. The people die, but the civilization goes on. It is insanity until the prospect of real war with Vendikar forces the perception of an alternative to violence--compromise. Conflict also includes the search for alternative courses of actions as a sign of incipient human evolution of humanoids who are, as the Metron says, "still half savage."

VI-007

Gene Roddenberry abhors violence, but might he watch hockey playoffs or wrestling? Nascar is dull until there is an accident. Yes it is violent, but rednecks love the accidents.  And Seven of Nine fights The Rock. It is sport. As a study of human conflict, STAR TREK cannot avoid bloodshed. The treks  that emphasize combat love a good brawl. The solution is often a right hook to the jaw (cf., Finnegan and Kirk) and a bloody nose.  When Spock uses his fist to immobilize one of Landru's lawgivers, Kirk asks, "Isn't that a bit old-fashioned?" When Spock and McCoy are trapped in the 5,000 year old ice age in "All Our Yesterdays," Spock begins to eat animal flesh and resorts to his race's primitivism. He lusts for Zarabbeth (in a feud with McCoy) and loses his reason. As T.S. Eliot notes in "What the Thunder Said" in The Wasteland, human progress means discipline and control: "Datta, Dayadhvam, Damyata" (give, sympathize, control). Asceticism and purity grant Sir Percival access to the Holy Grail; he has transcended primitive lust. It is the way of the Buddha to enlightenment:

     If there were only water amongst the rock
     Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit
     Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit.
     There is not even silence in the mountains
     But day sterile thunder without rain.
     There is not even solitude in the mountains
     But red sullen faces sneer and snarl
     From doors of mudcracked houses.
            --T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland.

VI-008

Certain aliens put mankind to the test (ex., the Gorn) if the human race had learned from its past and is willing to be more than he was then or is now. Thus human kind is tested by conflicts where he is forced to be a gladiator. Often the trekkers have "no choice" but to fight. In most cases the landing crew is trapped into pugilism . Inother cases, a sense of vision permits mankind to seek alternatives to fighting. Gene Roddenberry in a 1992 interview objects to the "excessive" violence of The Wrath of Khan where Khan hangs the bodies of the Regulus I science station and cuts their throats, letting them bleed to death. The violence is intense (cf., the ear creatures) in that movie, but the way in which it is portrayed so flagrantly is at odds with Roddenberry's less bloody portrayal of violence by implication  or by arena sport, leaving the reader the option of using one's imagination. The original STAR TREK series is quietly critical of thoughtless, destructive behavior. Understanding an adversary like Nomad, observing him within the confines of the Enterprise, permits kirk to neutralize the ticking monster with limited loss of life. Understanding the development of logical alternatives permits the development of logical steps to bloody violence.

VI-009

Governor Kodos (Karidian) of Tarsus IV murdered four thousand people in order to save four thousand others. This is an unacceptable solution. Also, the Malthusian nightmare of severe human overpopulation in "The Mark of Gideon," (somewhat akin to the billions in India or in China today) requires a right to life solution or to birth control in keeping with Gideon's physically suicidal lifestyle sacred to their moral code. All technological forms of contraception and sterilization are seen as murder on Gideon. The alternative is the introduction of a virus into the ecosystem. People will die, but of natural causes. The trekkers must understand the alien life philosophy of Gideon. Death becomes a sacrificial heroic gesture. Violence should be the last gesture in a Malthusian nightmare where people have no room to move, no privacy. As Anan 7 and Kirk agree, man has millions of years of blood on its hands. Man is still too intolerant, too aggressive, too arrogant.

VI-010

The martial imperative means that war is necessary, that primitive barbarism is ever-present.  Kirk is humorous when he tells McCoy to stop thinking with his glands. War exists because contraries do not always breed progression. As Eliot notes in "Prufrock," man has "time to murder and create." The martial imperative sees action, negative or not, as preferable to donothingness. Man has an instinct for violence. Their energy must be channeled and focused into order to avoid the philosophy of Baudelaire in Fleurs du Mal, that it is "better to commit evil than to do nothing at all." The martial imperative sees physical force as the only posture in problem solving. It is a myopic view, but it is often realistic. Differences of opinion require a willingness to compromise. The martial imperative is the paranoid response to seeking out new life. Grabbing a phaser and burning the unknown is barbaric.  Man's instinctive reaction is "shields up," "red alert," "arm phaser banks" first and last. The unknown is assumed to be destructive, to be hostile, to thinking man. Conflict is inherent to the prime directive because seeking out new life forms means a fear of understanding and a love of war games. The martial imperative says kill the unknown because of the assumption of universal hostility. There are countless times when the Enterprise is not an instrument of civilization. Man must slug it out. Mankind likes nothing better than a good brawl. Our culture advocates violence. The publicity given to boxing or to wrestling, to watching two people scramble each other's brains into senselessness, has millions of people betting on the gladiatorial contest. A movie is not fun unless it is rated X or R.  The quantity of horror movies is many times that of comedies. The screams of Jack the Ripper in "Wolf in the Fold" to "kill, kill, kill" is a physical manifestation  of man's instinct for violence. Vampire flicks are more popular that the original Bram Stoker would dare to have imagined. Street gangs abound in New York City, in Los Angeles, etc. Police often stand and watch people fighting.  Violence is often good entertainment, whether real or experienced vicariously. Mankind loves a good fight.  It is part of the martial imperative. One must fight, scratch, crawl, bleed his way to be king of the mountain or to go beyond his ghetto world. As Blake says " Love and Hate are Necessary to Human Existence." Evil is always more interesting  than good;  it is always more kinetic and stimulating than wimpy, static goodness.

VI-011

Each STAR TREK episode or movie presents a world of endless testing. Every day, every alien, every voyage, is part of the merciless scenario of man on trial. WIthout being tested, man would not grow and evolve.  He must be forced into new and unknown environments to create thesis and antithesis. Polarity, tension creates a bond between character and plot. Without conflict, life is mere empty motion. The blood must burn, the heart must beat, the emotions must come into full play, as the environment exerts pressure, nudging mankind to act. This is the morality play, the massive allegorical of Christian in The Pilgrim's Progress, a journey beset by the "Hill of Difficulty," by "Vanity Fair" to make Everyman tough and tested. If not tested, there is not Jerusalem, no America, no final reward. STAR TREK is a relentless series where Kirk and crew meet a new trial in every episode.  Each adventure presents one chapter in the universal rite of passage by which mankind must prove its humanity. On the "certificate of live birth" given to parents of a new born infant, there is nothing that certifies what species this infant is, no line saying live what. What is that child? Nowhere does the certificate denote human being. The fact of birth does not denote a human being per force of the physical act of birthing; it must be earned by trial after trial in the universe. A man is the sum total  of his physical and moral activity, his working accomplishments in time here between heaven and hell. Conflict develops character as character develops conflict and plot. There is always that obstacle to overcome. As Carlyle notes, truth "immer wird, nie ist." Truth is not; it is becoming. Truth is not a given, it is not static; it is the lifelong process of becoming a self made entity that earms a person the title of "human being." The title is earned, developed, not bestowed. Daily, man goes in and out of purgatories and hells here on earth to earn the right to be more fully human to be his or herself.  The world is replete with ambulatory bipeds, but when did one meet a human being last? On TV reality shows? Oscar Wilde notes in Soul of Man Under Socialism that:

     The only thing that one really knows about human nature is that it changes. Change is the one  
     quality we can predicate of it. The systems that fail are those that rely on the permanency
     of human nature, and not its growth and development.


VI-012

STAR TREK seeks Plato's "just man," like the philosopher Diogenes who spent a lifetime with a light and a tub seeking an "honest" man. Carlyle seeks the "good man" who is "one who works continually as his natural existence." He is judged in his humanization by his own conduct. STAR TREK is man in moral crisis. It is a conflict-based literature. We cannot know finality, but we can know change.  STAR TREK  is a martial philosophy, a way of thinking in and for itself. Amid vortices there is hope, but not without sweat. The trek world is a glandularity, a palpably felt experience based on realities of all mankind. But man must change. In "Characteristics," Thomas Carlyle sees the life and death struggle to become human.  The certificate of live birth is not enough:

     Man begins in darkness, ends in darkness; mystery is everywhere around us and in us, under our feet, among our hands...this wondrous Mankind is advancing somewhither (1831).

VI-013

The great evolving morality play is a dialectical relationship between inertia and motion, between primitivism and civilization. Rarely does a viewer see Kirk resting or sleeping. Even his rest is kinetic.
The martial imperative is a war against stasis and stupidity. It appeals to reading  and to thinking and to acting humankind. It is a timeless war against troglytis and troglytes. Troglytis is a terminal disease, always fatal, that kills troglytes because they never know there is a problem. It is arrogant ignorance whose symptoms are excessive pugilism, intoxication, bigotry, and ignorance of every word and work written. They, like the pig-faced ambassador in "Journey to Babel," never argue  for a purpose, they simply argue. Troglytes do not understand STAR TREK because, for a troglyte, thinking is an unnatural act. Troglytes are a subculture of Philistines who live in what Faulkner called their 'fetid caves" hurling rocks at change. Troglytes love to brawl. The best way to anger a troglyte is to play Bach, to employ logic and to desist from double and triple negatives in speech. They are death-in-life. Literature is an anodyne to troglytis. Becoming human through conflict is unavoidable if the conflict fosters change and thought:
     Man's task here below, the destiny of every individual man, is to be in turns Apprentice and
     Workman; or say rather, Scholar, Teacher, Discoverer; by nature he has a strength for learning,
     for imitating; but also a strength for acting, for knowing on his own account (Thomas Carlyle,
     "Characteristics" --1831).

VI-014

STAR TREK's physical conflicts can demonstrate the simultaneity of the deeds of destruction and the deeds of construction, "time to murder and create." But the destruction can never be total. Conflict meaans change. Carlyle notes that," In change...there is nothing terrible, nothing supernatural; on the contrary, it lies in the very essence of our lot and life in this world." In realistic literature, people learn that they are not alone in experiencing trials by reading and by watching a great play. Conflict means that man learns by mistakes. Without destruction there could be no construction (T. Carlyle, The History of the French Revolution"). What makes a Kirk, a McCoy, a Khan, real is that they are kinetic human beings, and they fight for what they want and believe. Characters create action. Just give them an arena and the human spectacle will unfold. According to Erich Fromm, the destructive act is indicative of civilization, that primitivism has its positive characteristics:

.....the most primitive men from the hunter-gatherers up to the early agriculturists, were not characters of destructiveness or sadism. In fact, the negative qualities that are commonly attributed to human nature became more powerful and widespread as civilization developed (E. Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness  New York:  Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1973: 257).

VI-015

Alfred, Lord Tennyson at age eighty believed that mankind had become more beastly, had reverted to the beast more than he had progressed in the years of the nineteenth century. In Fromm's words, civilization had only given man more sophisticated tools to destroy mankind and nature:

.....Chaos, Cosmos! Cosmos, Chaos! once
                again the sickening game;
     Freedom, free to slay herself, and dying
                while they shout her name....

     Evolution ever climbing after some ideal
                good.
     And Reversion ever dragging Evolution in
                the mud.

     (A. L. Tennyson, "Locksley Hall Sixty Years Later," 1886).

VI-016

The poet is unable to picture "warless men" and man has "risen from out the beast, then/back into the beast again." Barbarism and violence are easy because they are thoughtless.  Violence is necessary to human development; it is one factor in the dialectical duality. Man must fight, brawl his way in a civilization that respects violence and whoever is the stronger. Machoism requires that the individual conforms to animan prowess by beating an "enemy into senselessness, to kill the unknown because the survivalist instinct adores raw physical courage to achieve conventional social acceptance in order to fit in while an illusion gives the sense of standing out from the wolfpack.The thematic motif of combat has its aesthetic counterpart in a plot's basic element of conflict. Whatever premise is present is rarely different from the conflict of contraries and is often subordinate to conflict. The element of contrast makes conflict irresolvable by alternate means.

VI-017 

   "ARENA"

Thirteen TREK episodes are  conflict dominant to an extreme. The action moves very quickly and events create Gene Coon's symbol for this behavioral morality play--the arena.  "Arena" stresses an allegorical scenario of human existence as a life and death struggle based on a gambling adversarialism. Beacuse the metrons scan the Enterprise, they are given an authentic history of the human race whose past and recent present are fraught with violence. The value judgment that the Metrons make is that  man is not "civilized" to the point of avoiding bloodshed. Life is an arena of death. It is a triangular plot format  that is basis to STAR TREK. Roddenberry's world insists on the necessity  of struggle, but these episodes are stressing the medieval joust, the tournament, the timeless allegory of trial by combat whose rules of chivalry are decadent. One contrary must be killed; the opponent must be spared only because of its physical prowess. The Gorn and Kirk are two sides of the triangle:

                                                                                                                                                                                    ^Metrons         v.            ^Kirk

                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ^Gorn

The aliens are the third party whose intent is to provide the umpire and the setting for the destructive combat. the two captains are combatants in the arena of life and death. The primitive element of killer and killed will settle the dispute. the loser's ship and crew are to be destroyed. The winner's ship and crew will be permitted to continue their voyage. Kirk declares war on the cold-blooded enemy that destroyed the Cestus III outpost. Both parties are bent on destruction. Neither party sees or chooses to see any alternative to a win/lose scenario. Alan C. Filley, in a work dealing with the nature and types of conflict, sees the win/lose game as one where right prevails because right has might:
-----Differences are to be expected among people for they reflect the nature of the species:  some have skills and others have none, and some are right and some are wrong. Ultimately, right prevails, and this is the central
       issue in conflict...persuasion, power, and force are all acceptable tools for achieving conflict resolution...
                     --(Alan C. Filley, Interpersonal Conflict Resolution (Glenview, Ill: Scott, Foresman, 1975: 50).

VI-018

What the Metrons provide the opponents is orchestration for the survival of the more fit in the contest.  "Orchestration demands well-defined and uncompromising characters in opposition, moving from one pole to another through conflict" (Lajos Egri, The Art of Dramatic Writing. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960: 115). Uncompromising means thick-headed, single minded, myopic primitives who wish to be viewed as civilized. In STAR TREK, this arena orchestration requires the absence of the sophisticated weapons of a technological culture. No phasers or percussion grenades are permitted. The conflict is not spiritual or ideological or metaphysical; it is brutally physical. The trial by combat is mano à mano--hand to hand in sometimes clumsy force against brute force. Wits and raw instinct eclipse "civilized" tools of death. Man is stripped of the accoutrements of modern science and mass destruction and is required to use primitive weaponry. Death is to be a personal conflict where it is a tactile experience, not an impersonal killing of an unseen, theoretical adversary. Stones and fists are personal. Ancient warfare tended to involve a seen enemy, not a gorilla war or a computer pattern of the unseen enemy. Know thine enemy. The Gorn and Kirk see no compromise and are contraries in a hate necessary to permit one party to survive.  They are destructive contraries in backgrounds that lose their veneer of modernism. Civilization, in Erich Fromm's view, has increased the presence of violence. Primitive weaponry actually minimizes the scope and effects of the martial imperative. The nature of both species forces the third party to the conflict to orchestrate the violence. Only the death of one party restores the possibility of progression. The real culprit is the controlling third party who goes unpunished. Unity is possible when "one of the adversaries or both are exhausted, beaten, or annihilated completely at the end" (Egri, 122).

VI-019

"Arena" employs the triangular plot given above. The conflict between the trekkers and the Gorn is based on the trekkers' ignorance of a probable historical fact, i.e., that Cestus Three is in Gorn space and that the Federation, not the Gorns, are the intruders. The conflict lies in an assumption of false correctness. In making the conflict personal, the Metrons force both antagonists to wear a communicator to record the conflict (and possibly to promote understanding?). Three Outposts were destroyed, and there is an unwillingness to accept alternative explanations to war. They make physical conflict the only alternative to Kirk and to the Gorn. Even Spock (ever the pacifist) is shocked by Kirk''s single-mindedness:

     Kirk: I have all the proof I need on Cestus Three
     Spock:  Not necessarily, sir. Several possible explanations could...
     Kirk: How could you explain a massacre like that? No, Mr. Spock. The threat is clear and immediate. Invasion!

Spock, like an enlightened Socrates, keeps seeking furthur explanations and fears unnecessary death:

     Spock: You mean to destroy the alien ship, captain?...I thought perhaps the hot pursuit alone might be sufficient. Destruction might be unnecessary...the destruction of the alien vessel will not help that colony...I merely  
                 suggest that a regard for sentient life...

     Kirk: This is a matter of policy. Out here, we're the only policemen around and a crime has been committed. Do I make myself clear?

VI-020

Kirk wants a fight. The martial imperative requires that the Gorn vessel not reach home or more invasions will occur. Conflicts often have rationalizations where reason has no sanctuary. As in "Errand of Mercy," Kirk resents any third party that stops the conflict, as though war were a right to be pursued without enlightened interference. The Metrons provide the arena and the rules of gladiatorial combat where "the contest will be one of ingenuity against ingenuity, brute strength against brute strength. The results will be final."  Trial by combat precludes free will. In a world of sulphur, potassium nitrate, coal, diamonds and rocks, the arena narrows to end the senseless bloodlust by a final bloodlust. Man is viewed as an unevolved species hell-bent on destruction. The Metrons are also intruders who "raid the game" and insist on being umpires and voyeurs. The episode features a theme uttered by McCoy, "in the name of civilization." This is the cause and the effect of the conflict. The plot requires a change in point of view from primitivism to civilization where mercy abounds. To see victory, even while in physical conflict, is to seek the opposite--peace:

     Metron: You surprised me, captain..by sparing your helpless enemy who surely would have destroyed you. You demonstrated the advanced trait of mercy...something we hardly expected. We feel that there may be hope
                   for your kind. Therefore, you will not be destroyed.  It would not be civilized.

Kirk sees the possibility that he was uninformed about the Gorns and refuses to slay the Gorn. Gene Coon's "Arena" is a prototype statement for all of STAR TREK, then and now, because mankind's struggle to be decent, to make compromise, to "reach an agreement" as a solution and a resolution to conflict means "there is hope for you...you are still half-savage...but there is hope." First, Kirk still had to defeat the Gorn to be civilized, the irony of being civilized. "Arena" is the symbol of the need for conflict as the essence of plot, and that the presence of character conflict is essential to define STAR TREK as literature in the classic sense.

VI-021

 

           "Bread and Circuses"     

In the sister episode written by Gene Coon and Gene Roddenberry, "Bread and Circuses," the aesthetic of conflicting contraries presents the feasible picture of a contemporary Rome that never fell. It did not rot from the inside as depicted in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, nor was it conquered by Goths, by Visigoths or by Huns. Gene Roddenberry has expressed some personal "disappointment" in not doing more with the immense subject of the Roman Empire. The idea of slavery as an institution with welfare, medical benefits, and civil rights is fascinating. It is also logical for "Empire Television" with cars called "Jupiter Eight," and "Neptune" bath salts. The historical possibilities of a present Rome with current civilized symbols, arms, and accoutrements are endless, but the plot's focus emanates from the timeless symbol of the Roman sword and the gladiatorial games lasting for over two thousand years. Roman rule by force now includes Fascist methods. Police are everywhere, as Septimus warns. There are several levels of conflict within Rome when the Trekkers arrive, and their arrival adds to the conflict:

                                                                                                                                              ^Barbarians (Starfleet): Merik v Kirk: the Prime Directive

                                                                                                                                                                                         v

 

                                                                                                                                         ^ Rome (war): Claudius          v             ^The Sun (peace and love)

The episode lacks subtlety in its presentation of physical and metaphysical dimensions. The first act becomes a sermon on the prime directive. The search for the missing S.S. Beagle (poor Darwin, alas!) and its crew must be by the book. Hence the prime directive is the philosophical element in the triangular plot:

     Kirk: 'No identification of self or mission; no interference with social development of said planet.'
     McCoy: 'No references to space or the fact there are other worlds or more advanced civilizations.'

McCoy's humor about the Archangel Gabriel falls on ears as irrelevant or extrinsically obvious. The lost from Spock about twentiety  century colloquial English is present in the 3rd Revised Final Draft of September 12, 1967 and in the early televised treks. It is a Roddenberry trait to see humor's role amid conflict:

     Flavius: What do you call those?
     Spock: I call them ears.
     Flavius: Are you trying to be funny?
     Spock: Never. Colloquial twentieth century English. An amazing parallel.

The humorous conflict between McCoy and Spock in jail is omnipresent in TREK and it helps give the viewer a proper historical perspective lest the viewer forget that the planet is not earth, but an alien society.

VI-022

A conflict exists within the brothers of the Sun. Flavius, the escaped gladiator, is belligerent and mistrustful of strangers: "Septimus...I know killing is evil. but sometimes it's necessary." Ironically, Flavius'  viewpoint is confirmed later when the Roman guards arrest Flavius and the trekkers. Rome tolerates no dissent or dissidents. Septimus holds a totally pacifist stand and permits no violence. The question of what to do with the newcomers is decided  by a democratic vote, sharing the sense of value placed on the individual and on the sense of group consensus. They rule themselves, and faith is a guiding principle. Flavius the Christian conflicts with Flavius the gladiator of Rome, but he gives his life to save others and dies with a sword in his hands. The conflict between the children of the Sun and pagan Rome will be resolved almost two thousand years after a Christ or a Julius Caesar. Rome will fall. Adversarialism is a self-destructive conflict.

VI-023

The prime directive requires that a conflict between Merik the First Citizen (Captain Merik) and Captain Kirk merges into a crisis. Merik, who has broken the non-interference directive by giving Claudius Marcus full information about Starfleet and of other worlds, is a coward and is insulted by Claudius Marcusas being less than manly as Kirk is given a last night "as a man" before the scheduled execution. Drusilla is one benefit that Kirk approves of in Roman society. Bravery is equated with physical prowess. Merik cannot make a decision over a gladiatorial contest. Kirk notes that Merik "failed a psycho-simulator test. All it takes is a split second of indecision...hardly the type to become a political strongman." The original 3rd Revised Final Draft of September 12, 1967 reads more thematically, "hardly the type to become a strongman butcher." Flavius also  calls Merik a "butcher." Rome has institutionalized violence and kept its circus-arena to perpetuate the macho-nobility of aggression and to palliate and to feed the mob that Rome has become. The martial imperative is a Roman original, although many civilized cultures have always admired physical prowess. Even arm-wrestling is within the martial imperative concept. For an undefeated Rome, the arena is living past-history and is maintaining strong physical skills. They use the sword in hand-to-hand combat. The Fascist machine guns are used, but not in the arena combat per se. Facing the defeating the adversary means shedding blood or facing disgrace. Merik was dropped from the Space Academy for whimpiness and indecisiveness. Claudius keeps Merik alive as long as he is useful as a source of information. Merik's indecision  is his own personal purgatory. But he redeems himself by giving his life to save Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. His breaking of the prime directive is equalized and offset by returning loyalty and lives to Starfleet. Merik too is an alien, a barbarian, while trapped in  Roman society. His bravery is of a gentler mode. He is not a pugilist and cannot survive without the Proconsul's protection. Merik too is guilty of the deaths of his entire crew in the arena. It is a martial imperative where survival means adaptation to a new or changing environment. This is Darwinism. The Beagle crew members who adapted lived; the others, ending with William Harrison, were killed in the Roman arena, or in the circus maximus for the amusement of the mob, whether on television or in the circus of stone. Merik made a decision and acted based on his conscience when he sacrificed his odious self-existence, throwing the communicator into the prison cell as Claudius Marcus sinks a daggar into the mild-mannered former captain of the S.S. Beagle.  A distinct character change is evident in Merik, and that tension of the plot is resolved, reconciling both captains within the limits of the prime directive. Merik has merit.

VI-024

The secondary conflict conflict between Spock and McCoy is well interlaced with the primary conflicts. A twentieth century Rome requires conflict among old verbalizers, so much so that Flavius asks, "Are they enemies, Captain?" That is a perceptive question  by the ancient gladiator, Flavius. Also, Spock has a sneaking admiration for Roman culture and its historical anomalies:

     McCoy: Quite logical, I'd say, Mister Spock. Just as it's logical that a twentieth century Rome would use television to show
                    its gladiator  contests, or name a new car the Jupiter Eight...
     Spock: Doctor, if I were able to show emotion, your new fascination with that term would begin to annoy me.
     McCoy: What term? 'Logic'? Medical men are trained in logic....
     Spock: Really, doctor, I had no idea they were trained. Watching you, I assumed it was trial and error.

McCoy can be cruel while in the cell towards Spock. For one, Kirk's talk with Flavius about the brotherhood of man is interfaced with the Spock-McCoy subplot to show that brothers can disagree without being enemies. However, they can be irritating:

     Kirk: When the slaves began to worship the sun, they became discontent again. When did all this happen?
     Flavius: Long ago. Perhaps as long ago  as the beginning of the Empire. The message of the sun that all men are brothers was kept from
                   us. Perhaps I am a fool to believe it. It does seem that a man must fight to live.
     Kirk: You go on believing it, Flavius. All men are brothers.

VI-025

This dialogue is important as an exchange of ideas between two aliens who share a common history--Rome. It also predicts the inevitable fall  of Rome because of an idea. Flavius adds to the plot because his cultural cache will toss him into the arena where the brother of the sun element (later the Son of God) and the Roman element in Flavius merge into survival: "Put a sword in your hand and you'll fight. I know you, Flavius. You're as peaceful  as a bull." Having to fight McCoy in the arena is farcical and situationally ironic because they are opponents who question adversarialism. The cultural struggle within Roman society is evident as its best (and most famous) gladiator turns non-violent. There is a conflict between violence and order, between war and peace ("There has been no war here for over four hundred years"), between two value systems. The Spock-McCoy entrechat continues as present history reenacts old values of war and peace in earth's history.  McCoy has to defend earth's history of butchery--an impossible, illogical task:

     Spock: I said I understand it...I find the checks and balances of this civilization quite illuminating.
     McCoy: Next, he'll be telling us he prefers it over Earth history.
     Spock: They do seem to have escaped the carnage of your first three World Wars, doctor.
     McCoy: They have slavery, gladiatorial games...despotism.
     Spock: Situations quite familiar to the six million who died in your first World War, the eleven million who died in your Second, the
                 thirty seven million who died in your Third....Shall I go on?

Spock's figures for World War Two are not quite accurate, but Spock cannot pass up a chance to annoy the visceral McCoy. As McCoy and Spock tone down (momentarially) from vitriol, Kirk refuses Claudius Marcus' command to order the Enterprise officers and crew to beam to the planet. Claudius makes one severe error in judgment--he thinks that all starship captains are like Merik, and that all ship crews are like those of the S.S. Beagle. Wrong! Claudius Marcus underestimates his opponent who commands a starship, not a merchant ship. Merik failed to attain the command/rank of Kirk and other starship captains.

VI-026

STAR TREK is an integrative or problem-solving plot scenario. Merik was a "lose-leave" coward, a character who "sees conflict as a hopeless, useless, and punishing experience (Filley 52). Claudius is a win-lose opponent where "winning or losing is not really an event; instead, he views losing status, weakness, and the loss of his self image' (Filley 51). He is a quasi-civilized barbarian. The gun has replaced the brain. Order means slavery and the circus. "Bread and Circuses" is a phrase from Nero's time that denotes the necessity  of brutal amusement to keep the citizens' minds off their starvation. Give them circuses! It will hide their growling stomachs. This is the character of Claudius Marcus. Kirk, on the other hand, is a problem solver in keeping with literature's need for a plot that involves a problem, a struggle, multiple conflicts, and resolutions in keeping with an implied or stated premise. Filley says of the problem solver: "[he] actively seeks to satisfy his own goals as well as the goals of others. The person does not see the two sets of objectives as mutually exclusive...sees conflict as natural and helpful, even leading to a more creative solution if handled properly" (52). What must also be considered is that Flavius' philosophy that one must fight before an enlightened creativity can evolve is a precondition for Darwinian survival as adaptation, at first in order to solve the problem within the logic of the prime directive. When in Rome, do as the Romans do is the first step. Stop, watch, and ascertain the conflict; then use the nature of the conflict to defeat or to resolve or to neutralize the system by outwitting it in a civilized, but cunning, manner with a  minimum of violence. Creative solutions require staying alive in trek plots where violence is a civilization's life force. Claudius Marcus counts on an inherent fear of death in his adversaries. Problem solving characters in problem-oriented plays require working through the barbarism, using primitivism to furthur civilization's  growth toward peace. The prime directive forbids alteration of an inherently violent society. Kirk dances closely around the prime directive in solving wars by interference, ex., ending a computer war by providing arms to one side in a war. The violence in this Roman society is already in decadence as the love ethic of the children of the sun (Sun) erodes the fabric of martial Roman society by peaceful conversion from within.

VI-027

The Enterprise's role in the plot is Scotty who disrupts planetary power sources, permitting the landing party to avoid "death by combat in the arena." Secondary conflicts near resolution. As McCoy, fighting Flavius, threatens the network's ratings, the captain wins the life-death struggle with Claudius Marcus. Death is no persuader, as the ancient rules clash:

     Kirk: The rules? If Spock should finish this man off first, will he be able to help...
     Claudius: We believe men should fight their own battle. Only the weak will die; my word as a  Roman. Ready to order your man down, captain?
     Merik: Maybe now you understand why I gave in. The Romans have always been the strongest...
     Claudius: The games have always strengthened us. Death becomes a familiar pattern; we don't fear it as you do...Admit it...you find these games frightening, revolting...Those are your men dying, not strangers.
     Kirk: I've had to select  men to die before so that others could be saved.
     Claudius: You're a clever liar...your species has no such strength.

Kirk ridicules the spectacle and the decadence of Rome's games and circuses in favor of bread--in a symbolic sense: "In some parts of the galaxy, I have seen forms of entertainment that make this look like a folk dance." Moral superiority lies in self-control and the value of past battles that Kirk has fought. The ineptitude of McCoy as a barbarian is comical in the arena. Flavius refuses to kill, and Spock neck-pinches his opponent--a clear foul.

VI-028

A conflict (fight ) can have an enlightened resolution when cooperation replaces competition or where a mutual interest of an altruistic order supersedes the differences into a common concern. One of the most cruel entrechats between Spock and McCoy is distracting because of McCoy's  vindictiveness. Spock and McCoy are behind bars in Act Five of the play. It is a classical scene as to how different prople create conflict per force of their characters. Spock keeps trying to twist  the metal of the cage door in a useless gesture that occupies his time and frustration. It is the play within the play, a secondary plot conflict that parallels the primary Roman conflict, thereby setting each character against the other. Differences arise:

     Spock: Doctor, I'm seeking a means of escape. Please be brief.
     McCoy: What I'm trying to say is that you saved my life in the arena.
     Spock: Yes, that's quite true.
     McCoy: I'm trying to thank you...you pointy-eared hobglobin!
     Spock: Oh, yes...humans do have that emotional need to show gratitude. 'You're welcome,' I believe is the correct response. However, doctor, you must remember that I am entirely motivated by logic.
                 The loss of our ship's surgeon, whatever I may think of his relative skill, would mean the reduction in the efficiency of the Enterprise...
     McCoy: Do you know why you're not afraid of dying, Spock? You're more afraid of living. Every day you may stay alive is one more day you might slip and let your human  half peek out!
                   That's it, isn't it? Insecurity! Why, you wouldn't know what to do with a genuine, warm, decent feeling.
     Spock: Really, doctor?

This intense vitriol by McCoy between two comrades in a cage epitomizes intense personal conflict. The tension is getting on everyone's nerves. Roddenberry and Coon know that subplots must show causal relationships on different levels of the characters. It is a little like upstairs, downstairs of old. The secondary conflicts affect the main plot. They are level manifestations of an interrelated series of secondary plot lines. McCoy and Spock, besides the usual banter, are taking out their hostilities as friends, who, under distorted duress, become adversaries, if only momentarily and unintentionally. Their minds are on Kirk: "I know. I'm worried about Jim too." The verbal spat makes an interesting contrast with the Kirk-Drusilla scene that ensues in Act IV. The conflict is replete with tension and with a sense of impotency to change Kirk's fate (he is to be beheaded). Their concern for Kirk unifies inner tensions into a common ground and into a larger concern for life and death. Neither man deals with the crisis well individually, but solace is found in duty and in a real concern for the life of the captain. Both men are embroiled in the martial imperative. And suffering Kirk? Well, he does not say no to Drusilla.

VI-029

Kirk's execution is to be shown in full color in a preemptive fifteen minutes on the early show. The ratings sag when Scotty disrupts the planet's power grid. The trio is saved by Merik's selfless act. The third force in the plot has already been the prime directive: what it says, what it means, and how some behavior can be rationalized as non-inteference in a culture.  The final scene on the ship's bridge should never have been screened. Against Roddenberry's protestations that god is never to be discussed in any orthodox way, this episode, co-written by Roddenberry, protests too much about Christ. It does not present an organic resolution to the empire vs. sun worshipper conflict:

     Unura: ...the empire  spokesman kept trying to ridicule their religion, but he couldn't. Don't you understand? It's not the sun up in the sky; it's the Son of God...
     Kirk: Caesar and Christ...they had them both. And the word is spreading only now...it would be something to watch, to be a part of, to see it all over again.

There are a lot of folks who would not wish a second crucifixion or a second Caesar, or a second Nero with his bread and circuses. The 3rd Revised Final of September 12, 1967 capitalizes Sun once, and low cases all other sun references until the final scene. It is a thematic and a plot incongruity, and there is no "build" toward a Christian interpretation. It might have been best left unexplained. The children of the sun are enough to contravene Rome's paganism. It is not an epode or a resolution, more circus than bread, a rock rolled against an empty sepulchre. However, the episode embodies STAR TREK's multi-level, criss-cross plot format which is in the best dramatic, literary traditions. "No violent act was ever carried out without mental preparation...your characters have a destiny and they fight every inch of the way to reach it" (Egri 146-7). The essence of plot is the arena, the circus, the amphitheatre where the human struggle is eternal:

                                 ...see banks and break
     Now, leav
èd how thick! laced they are again
     With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes

     Them; birds build-but not I build, no but strain,
     Time's eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.
     Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.
                      --Gerald Manley Hopkins, "Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord" (1889).
 

VI-030


           "Savage Curtain"

 

An important episode written by Gene Roddenberry (teleplay by Gene Roddenberry and Arthur Heinenmann) is another Medieval morality play of good v. evil, of clearly defined lines of contraries whose players are all allegorical. They are not "real" characters, but metaphorical representations of good and evil philosophies. Each player in the morality play is not a human being, but an image of what a so-called historical personage represents in the minds of Kirk and Spock. Personal concepts of good and evil are personifications of ethical and possible historical concepts. The only psycho-reality projected is the image of Abraham Lincoln and the image of Surak as role models, as heroes to Kirk and to Spock.  Esse est percipi --existence exists only as it is perceived in the mind of the beholder, according to Bishop George Berkeley. The plot is again triangular with two antagonistic sides and one alien Volcanic creature called Yarnek who casts the characters and who  provides the arena, the circus for the physical confrontation of allegorical concepts, apparently for its amusement. It wants to learn the nature of human dualism. It becomes the alien WITHOUT because Yarnek is the puppet master, all powerful, with control over life and death. However, Kirk and Spock will not fight until the men are given a character motivation, the existence of the Enterprise. The fallacious premise lies in the allegory itself, i.e., that good and evil are the antagonists of the drama. The false premise also belongs in the assumption of destructive hostility between the two, i.e., that they are not inherently adversarial and separate, but are two segments of a unified, tensional whole. The two separated camps, using volcanic rock-people/entities as formative matter made to resemble the players, are hardly credible, and Yarnek gains little knowledge about the nature of what humanoid aliens call good and evil. There is an incorrect premise in separating the two concepts; it is also ethically unsound to pull Spock and Kirk from the sky to perform for a bored alien who is too hot to handle. The concepts are replete with Milton and Bunyan and the Puritan school during the Lord Protector Cromwell's rule over England.

VI-031

It is to be trial by combat against the alien WITHOUT. The motivation is physical survival with no redeeming features for Kirk and Spock, except a vague and inaccurate romantic look at historical inaccuracies. Not the struggle, but the stances and postures of the arena are important. The episode has no redeeming premise, and the so-called violence of rock throwing is staged and unconvincing. For the morality to be convincing, the sides must be morally credible and convincing as concrete reality in order to appeal to conscience. Every character-image (more like stilted metaphors) seems unwilling to be present and is uncertain as to what the play is all about. The antagonism does not come from within, but is imposed on unwilling participants from without. It is an episode that exemplifies action without plot or premise. It is a play on the rocks. If the action between the antagonists were vigorous, violent, intense, and deliberate, the action might cause positive forces in a play. But there is no story. Good and evil exist, Yarnek stipluates, so let us see it. One thought is that evil and good have become bland and so archetypal that the concepts are blurred and not longer have ethical distinction. Another problem is that one has to entice and to anger figures before they become contentious. There is no anger except to see Lincoln and Surak die again. The moral perspective is not dramatized by character interaction. In terms of focus, the figure of Lincoln walks off with the viewer's attention, but Lincoln too is ignorant of his own nature and historicity. The "Savage Curtain" is a moralist's iron curtain with abstracted bipeds who seek to bridge the distance between contraries, between "us" and "them." The metaphor in the title is not dramatized realistically, but it builds the antipodes, the poles, of the thesis-antithesis dialectic that is the spiritual matrix of STAR TREK.

VI-032

Charles Hampden-Turner in his book, Radical Man (Cambridge, Mass: 1970), sees such a curtain in terms of the need to symbolically link good and evil, thus trying to eliminate the curtain or barrier between opposing points of view that are really two aspects of the same field of energy. Lincoln and Surak present an "honor" (Yarnek's term) to Kirk and Spock because the two historical metaphors show man "SUSPENDING his cognitive structures and RISKING himself" in an effort to bridge the distance. Hampden-Turner notes:

     When a man invests his personal synthesis, or competence in others, he must be prepared to modify his competence in the light of their reactions. But because it consists of an ordered and purposeful structure of
     meanings this modification cannot take place without a temporary suspension of his synthesis so that the new meanings can enter the "open" mind and the totality can be reintegrated (45-47).

The trek goal is one such reintegration between members of the "good" camp and members of the 'evil" camp. The deception and the moral myopia lie in the dualism itself. Lincoln and Surak risk their lives by risking a new competence. "The existential preoccupation with death--the final suspension--is not a morbid hankering after the inevitable but a call to man to invest and risk himself for something of value to humanity while there is still life in him" (Hampden-Turner, 47). This is the risk  in confronting the ALIEN WITHOUT. McCoy explores the curtain between image and reality: "You're the science officer, why aren't you...well...doing what science officers do at a time like this?" Spock notes dryly, "I am, doctor. I am observing the alien." Part of the curtain is understanding one's own cultural history with the alien embodying that history to foster understanding of a culture alien to itself. Kirk faces the life and the death of Abraham Lincoln:

     Kirk: An alien who has changed himself into this form? An illusion? I cannot conceive it possible that Abraham Lincoln could actually have been reincarnated. And yet...his kindness, his gentle wisdom, his humor, everything about him is so right. Lincoln is part of both sides of the savage curtain. For Spock, Lincoln was a logical choice for Kirk because "you're the one who's going to make the decision to beam down or not." As a note, Roddenberry had originally chosen Socrates, not Lincoln, but noone could tell Gene exactly what Socrates wore and how he appeared in his original Grecian time frame.

VI-033

The contrast with other life is part of IDIC and it must  be sought out. For Spock, the alien WITHOUT is history as past. Surak is "the greatest Vulcan who ever lived on our planet...the father of all we became."  The episode is an arena with another confrontation with others, "all figures out of history...notoriously evil." Yarnek, like the Metrons, forces the arena upon the trekkers. There is no choice:

     Yarnek: We ask you to observe with us the confrontation of the two opposing philosophies you term "good" and "evil." Since this is our first experiment with Earthlings, our theme is a simple one. Survival, Life
                   and Death. Your philosophies are alien to us, and we wish to understand them and discover which is the stronger....If you and Spock survive, you may return to your vessel. If you do not, your existence
                   is ended.

Whether it is belief in war (Lincoln) or belief in peace (Surak), both are being tested. Lincoln assesses the Civil War all over again. It is the martial imperative: "The war is forced upon us, James. History repeats itself." Colonel Green, Ghengis Khan, Lora, and Kahless are silent (except for Green) and do not seem to relish the spectacle, except for Yarnek's promise of power as their reward if they win. For the action, little need be said. Neither party seems ominous enough to build any suspense into the plot. Kirk and Spock see "evil," scampering away, and they save the Enterprise crew. Evil does not live and engage without motive. Evil does not reward itself outside the original time context wherein it originally functioned. Good also does not work without motive and does not act outside the time context wherein it originally worked. As a result:

     Yarnek: You are all the survivors. The others have run off. It would seem that evil retreats when forcibly confronted...however, you have failed to demonstrate to me any other difference between your
                   philosophies. Your good and your evil use the same methods, achieve the same result. Do you have an explanation?
     Kirk: You established the methods and the goals.
     Yarnek: For you to use as  you chose...
     Kirk: What gives you the right to hand out life and death?
     Yarnek: The same right that brought you here. The need to know new things.

This quote echoes "to boldly go where no man has gone before," ironically What are the limits of the need to know? Scientists say one cannot travel into the past in time. True? Would a reincarnated General Grant have changed the Civil War? Was it a "forced" or a willed confrontation?  Was Lincoln all wise and gentle, one might ask? The winners write the history, not necessarily the righteous. The "sound and the fury" signifying what? Empty walkers and babblers on the  stage.

VI-034

The crew is confronted by its own philosophy, to seek out new life. But that other life has the same directive, with an emphasis on the honor and nobility of death in the arena. The trekkers do not share the nobility-in-death ethic of bushido. There is dignity in surviving to learn even more. Curiosity is a classic TREK motivation in all plots. The "Savage Curtain" sees the world as drama between abstract principles of good and evil. The conflict is abstract, not real. It is tension as stasis, non-progression. Even retrogression is a ludicrous para-historical fantasy. It is the fallacy of black/white logic. Conflict requires change, movement with character motivation and real action. The episode is a faint whisper of the inertia of self-conscious doubt that dwarfs the martial imperative. Civilization creates a stunted nihilism. It is the idea without action and possible movement without progression. One cries for the real games and their arena:

     Is it peace or war? Better, war! Loud war
              by land and by sea,
     War with a thousand battles and shaking
              a hundred thrones!

             --Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "Maud," xii (1856).

VI-035

 


   
                                                                                                                                                    "The Gamesters of Triskelion"  
                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                
Conflict in Gene Roddenberry's vision requires clear plot lines based on three dimensional characters who have a sense of destiny and who are willing  to scratch every inch of life in seeking a goal or a resolution. The "pivotal character is relentless...[it] cannot and will not compromise" (Egri, 152). STAR TREK is an incessant series of crises, episode after episode. The code of conduct is relentless and rigorous. The notion of the rite of passage requires conflict on both physical and metaphysical levels.  "He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence" (Wm. Blake, "Proverbs of Hell") is STAR TREK's life force. Basic action may include survival, but it also requires confronting obstacles by thought and its actional application. Man must "clime  every mountain, ford every stream" (Lerner and Lowe, The Sound of Music), whether it be to find one's dream or to find life along the real path to Golgotha. If necessary, one must paint hell with his own fury, to remake a world: "The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God" (Wm. Blake, "Proverbs of Hell"). The essence of order is the confrontation with disorder in an ever-vigilant posture. No one may sleep in Roddenberry's great morality play. He who nods off is doomed. The pivotal character, the protagonist, the antagonist, the peripetia (crises), the uncompromising nature of the hero, the incessant testing of human metal lends a certain Byronism to the best plots in TREK. This episode fails to meet these high criteria; there is no progression and no enlightenment.  There is always something to lose, something to gain. Conflict is mankind's existential bread. He is as stubborn as Job, as relentless as Faust, as misanthropic as Childe Harold, in a Blakean vice of sustained conflict of contraries and opposites in search of newness, of the primitive and the civilized, of harmony and discord.  He is the just man of vigilant aggression: After "the perilous path was planted," the just man plants roses amid the thorns:

     Then the perilous path was planted,
     And a river, and a spring,
     On every cliff and tomb.
     And in the bleached bones
     Red clay brought forth;

     Till the villian left the path of ease,
     To walk in perilous paths, and drive
     The just man into barren climbs.

     Now the sneaking serpent walks
     In mild humility,
     And the just man rages in the wilds
     Where lions roam.
             --(William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell).

Literature, with mankind as its beginning and end, is a dramatization of what the critic Cleanth Brooks calls the "rage for order." Man is hungry, restless, wandering between two worlds, "one dead, the other waiting to be born" (Matthew Arnold, "Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse" 1852: 85-86). The confrontation with the alien WITHOUT creates the plots whose conflicts show rage for order. Whether it is primitive or civilized, mankind's nature is essentially consistent but restless and often bored of its own technology. It needs bread and circuses!

VI-036

The tripartite conflicts exist to show the dramatis personae and a third alternative to the unprogressive dialectical struggle. Sometimes the choice can be very restrictive. In "The Gamesters of Triskelion," it is trial by combat again in the arena of STAR TREK drama. Everyone likes a good fight, but drama prefers a sense of causality or the fight is action qua action. The martial imperative is a tripartite system (solar and ethical) of three "providers" whose retrogression and lack of corporeality see the games as relief from boredom. The games are then their kicks and betting quatloos is the reason for trial by combat. The providers are actually users, slavers, who see humanoid life as property. They have lost the sense of growth through interaction of mind and body. They rule and enslave humanoids because it is their only reason for existence. Existentially, they are bored and cannot act in and through themselves. They are bodiless, soulless brains that have forgotten constructive thought and that they are incapable of constructive action. They enslave for amusement. The relationship between the providers and the "thralls" is not symbiotic; it is parasitic. The thralls do not grow, do not think or utter a word, do not act as free men and women. The providers engage in puppetteering creatures, depriving them of equilibrium and purpose for being. They are mind without constructive action. Until the trekkers arrive, there is static verbal conflict:

                                                                                                                                                 ^providers> v >^providers (betting)

                                                                                                                                                                     @{Triskelion}

                                                                                                                                                  ^trekkers >  > > > > > v < < < < <^thralls

To the trekkers, the providers are the aliens WITHOUT. Only trial by combat can break the chains of fortuitous gambling by breathing primitivism into the providers, by beating them at their Vegas games, by betting, by risking the crew of the Enterprise (again), to "up the stakes" of the combat by involving the game of life or death. Again the trekkers are kidnapped (ala the "Savage Curtain") and are forced to fight or to lose life and purpose. The providers, like the Vians, have become deadened intellects. True life stems from physicality, from real energy, from corporeality. One must feel the sensation in the blood, not think it in abstracted intellect. In order to change the defensive aggression between the trekkers and the providers, the pivotal character, Kirk, must be in the face of the enemy. He will lead Uhura and Chekov toward a solution to the dominant group (the providers) and toward a solution for the thralls' defensive conflicts with the cerebral providers. All this will be done by heightening primitivism into a dominant relationship with civilization. The arena is physically tripartite, like the conflict. Contraries breed no progression without the tertium quid, the third alternative (which Kirk insists on frequently) so that the trekkers (as new thralls) can teach and effect escape from the menagerie. Conflict should restore choice:

     Man will have to cease to live under "zoo" conditions--i.e., his full freedom will have to be restored and all forms of exploitative control will have to disappear" (Erich Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.
    
New York: Norton, 216).

VI-037

Defensive aggression means "that neither individuals nor groups are threatened by others," and there must be "the existence of material bases that can provide a dignified life for all men and make the domination of one group by another neither possible nor attractive" (Fromm 216). The thralls cannot exist for the providers exclusively, but must be freed and educated by the providers to begin a growing society that is symbiotic, mutually beneficial with the providers now as guides and tutors, with the freed thralls providing for themselves and giving constructive purpose to the providers. Both groups are to honor Kirk's "wager" and respect the other party. The monotony of senseless populations must lose its ennui, or as Fromm states: "form a control-property-power orientation to a life orientation; from having and hoarding to being and sharing." Conflict in "The Gamesters of Triskelion" is resolved in a way that is beneficial to both have's and have-nots'. The trekkers will have experienced action as existential absurdity and will turn it into creative interaction. Contraries breed progression as the Enterprise leaves Triskelion. The exploitation of thralls by other thralls must also cease. The used always have users among them, thralls to other thralls. Competition, destructive in intent, can, by conflict and  by application of primitive instinct, be converted into a constructive act:

     Kirk: My people pride themselves on being the greatest, most successful gamblers in the universe. We compete for everything--power, fame, women--everything we desire and it is our nature to win!....If we win,
              the Enterprise and its crew leave here in safety...all the thralls will be freed...you will educate them to establish a normal, self-governing culture...if we lose, we remain here--the entire crew of the Enterprise
              the most stubborn, determined competitors in the universe...you will be assured of generations of the most exciting wagering you've ever had.

Kirk against three thralls is the high odds, but (Voice#3) "not for true gamesters." Of the continuing world of bread and circuses, of barbarism without spiritual growth, of users and used, Scotty says it best: "Heaven's got very little to do with this." Trinary conflict creates binary harmony and unilateral progression. At the  very least, the trekkers are a catalyst for unity on Triskelion.
 

VI-038

 

 "Spectre of the Gun"

In "Spectre of the Gun," the arena, the confrontation with the alien WITHOUT, the martial imperative, rests in a traditional American setting, the wild west, and the American western.  Spock holds to the basic premise that history cannot be changed.  True?

     But in the end one must give the prophets of violence their due: violence is pervasive in human experience, and has been pervasive in American history, and...we must see it as an instrument of common use.
     The creed that its proponents held before is simple but forceful: Violence has been all but universal in the past. Violence changes things and nothing else does. Violence is therefore necessary." (Richard Hofstadter an
     Michael Wallace, eds. American Violence: A Documentary History. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970: 35).

Gene Roddenberry envisioned his creation as a "WAGGON TRAIN to the stars." Much in STAR TREK's plots is a face-off, a fast draw, trial by the gun's adversarialism. Few things are more romanticized and eulogized than the myths surrounding the American frontier. STAR TREK takes the next logical leap from the frontier of the American west to outer space as the next and the final frontier. To explore our own solar system is just as historically imperative as settling the old west. Man seeks out the new and the unknown. Most of the plots in STAR TREK are images of the American frontier. Every new experience is a mystery and a potential adversary until known and understood. Although Kirk would have Starfleet and the Enterprise as instruments of civilization, exploration is also a military and violent rupture of the past and the future into the present. Vigilance can be vigilantism. Acquisition of knowledge as treated in mythology involves a Cerberus and a Medusa. The martial imperative is endemic to the human historical experience from primitivism to civilization in the hopes that the violence of the past can be viewed as a National Geographic special.  When in doubt, do not figure it out. Shoot it! The fast draw of "Spectre of the Gun" is of dubious historical validity, but defensive aggression is, as Lincoln noted in the "Savage Curtain." once again forced upon us. It's either "them" or "us" as Hollywood projects its romantic visions of the infamous, but popular, Earp-Clanton face-off in Tombstone, Arizona. It is not the historical correctness of the event that is of importance in this episode, but the mythical and symbolic implications of a tripartite plot based on conflict more than one clear premise. One has the Earps, the Clantons (including the trekkers), and the Melkots:

                                                                                                                                                                 ^Melkots

                                                                                                                                               [<trekkers       vs.          trekkers>]
 

                                                                                                                           vs.  ^Earps -----------------<vs.>-----------------^Clantons vs. TIME

 

VI-039

The Melkots, as with the Volcanic creatures in "Savage Curtain," present an arena based on Kirk's own family history as settlers of the west. The arena is surrealistically projected as fragments of a frontier town, primitive and unstructured wholistically, where violence is the modus operandi. It is the rule, not the exception. The gamesters here are the alien Melkots who, like the Metrons, present the bread and circuses for the trekkers who must confront their own personalities and cultures as well as the martial imperative. The scenario of good and evil is deliberately blurred because the boundaries are the inchoate town limits and the fear of mortality as the reenactment of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral unfolds. The impending gunfight is a scenario of doom for the pistol packing landing party who have been guilty of violating Melkotian space and who are to be punished according to a predetermined historical sequence of events. The trekkers face that "high noon" crisis, that battle alone against mortality and the almost certain outcome. To remain explorers, Kirk, Spock, Scotty, and Chekov, must re-examine the martial imperative. Can the past be reenacted but with alterations in history and in science? The Melkots, like the Metrons, abhor violence; therefore, , like the Metrons, man's own history becomes the arena for his preordained and insistent instinct for violence. For Kirk, the nineteenth century frontier pattern for violence does not parallel the twentieth-first century's sabre rattling and limp verbal predilection for peaceful solutions and resolvable confrontations. Tombstone is an opportunity to redo the arena of death by changing the frontier mentality of Euclidean thinking into a space as final frontier, a possibility to redeem mankind from its bloody history. The anagnorisis is the realization that the laws that applied in the 19th century do not have to apply now. Great drama is essentially and ideally subjective. It is a dramatization of a mentality. It is WIlliam Blake who says that mental things are alone real; i.e., the O.K. Corral play stresses the mentalism of its characters. It is Kirk whose character and family history form the "pattern" of the Melkotian-induced conflict. The play forces the characters to reevaluate the mentality of history  and the martial imperative.

VI-040

The very definition of reality, of what is actually real, is the key thesis of the play. Hence the surrealistic setting gives the existential drama the major quality of the nightmare. Little exists physically except the states of mind of the trekkers as interpreted by the Melkots, the aliens WITHOUT. Their intent is to make the landing party believe in the continuing validity of an immutable past and in the permanency of the laws of physics. Can the unchangeable be changed by the evolving states of mind of the landing party members? They must face the conflict from without, forcing them to become the Clanton gang of O.K. Corral history vs. the Earps and Doc Halliday. The historical imperative says the conclusion is preordained and the Clantons will die in the gunfight. But must history repeat itself in such a naturalistic pattern with a foretold conclusion? This would destroy freely-willed choice and man's power to change his character and his species' behavior:

     When a dramatist creates one perfect human being, he reproduces not only the man but the society to which he belongs, and that society is only an atom of the universe. So the art which created the man
     reflects the universe" (Egri 261).

What is at stake is both the reordering of their perceptions of the historical imperative and the reordering of their personal and mythic perceptions. "It is October 26, 1881. Tombstone, Arizona," Kirk notes as the trekkers re-holster their guns. They are the Clantons and they have a gunfight with the Earps (Wyatt, Morgan, Virgil) and Doc Halliday at 5 p.m. These two factions are fighting for control of the town of Tombstone. Is it a replay of history? The key premise, noted by Spock, is "History cannot be changed"--the historical imperative. What ensues is the classical fast-draw, an American frontier archetype fostered by Hollywood and by Louis L'Amour. A bullet by Morgan Earp shakes whatever illusions the crew possesses. As Kirk says, "Death is real." Spock assures Kirk that "death is the one reality in this situation."  Primitivism is the only setting, and a primitive solution is required. So it seems.

VI-041

But two violations of the laws of history and of physics ("You cannot change the laws of physics," Scotty once noted in ST-TNG) indicate that the conditions of the conflict, though they remain primitive, have changed: the death of Billy Claiborne (Chekov) and the failure of the gas grenade to tranquilize Scotty. In killing Billy, Earp violates the historical imperative:

     Kirk: History has been changed in the fact that Billy Claiborne didn't die, but Chekov is lying there dead...there must be a way to change this time in history.

Kirk notes astutely that "up to now, everything has gone wrong" and so he insists that the gas device be tested (Act III). It fails, as Scotty inhales deeply:

     Kirk: Spock, you've got something?
     Spock: A fact, captain. Physical laws simply cannot be ignored. Existence cannot be without them. This is a staggering contradiction.

The gunfight at the O.K. Corral will require altering the historical imperative and the laws of physics, while still maintaining the martial imperative from physical arena brutality into pure mentality. Alter the minds of the landing party (the percipients):

     Spock: Doctor, in your opinion, what killed Mr. Chekov?
     McCoy: A piece of lead in his body.
     Spock: Wrong. His mind killed him.
     Kirk: Chekov is dead because he believed the bullets would kill him.

This is the play's anagnorisis. As Blake notes, "A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees" ("Proverbs of Hell"). Therefore, doubt must be removed from the mind or the mind will kill.  As Carlyle notes, "Doubt is the inexhaustible material whereon action works" ("Characteristics, 1831).The Melkots, as the aliens WITHOUT, created the conflict. The crew must believe that the bullets cannot kill them.

VI-042

In Act III, it is Spock (the Hellenist) who sees scientific fact, but who stresses a "radical alteration of our thought patterns must be in order."  In Act IV, Spock stresses "I know the bullets are unreal. Therefore they cannot harm me."  At the O.K. Corral, the surrealistic setting of incomplete pieces reinforces the unreality of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral as Wyatt and Virgil Earp are joined by Morgan Earp and Doc Halliday, with six-shooters and shotguns bristling under their sinister black coats. The director's footnote reads:

     Four of them, shoulder to shoulder, tall, gaunt, black-clad men. Funereal in look and aspect, grim and unsmiling, rhythmic like a burial procession. It all becomes rather unreal, the quintessence
     of the Gunfight Act...sunlight and shadow, a ROLLING OF DRUMS, a shuffling of feet in quiet dust (Final Draft: May 9, 1968).

The climax of the plot is grim. Spock mind-melds with his human companions to remove any Hellenic doubt from their minds about the unreality of the Earps' bullets:

     Spock: The bullets are unreal, without body. They are illusions, only shadows without substance. They will not pass through your body, for they do not exist...nothing but ghosts of reality.

The Earp foursome draw. Six shooters blast holes in the fence behind the trekkers. The martial imperative is fulfilled, but the trekkers do not draw and do not fire as a seeming blitzkrieg of rounds are fired by Halliday and the Earps. A few karate techniques are applied by Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, plus the famous Vulcan neck pinch. Kirk has long felt a need for some revenge against the Earps, part of his ancestral pattern. The fight is brief and bloodless. The conflict, with its martial imperative, has altered the outcome of the historical imperative through a change in their concept of what is real and what is unreal--mind over matter. Every thing possible to be believ'd is an image of truth" (Wm.Blake, "Proverbs of Hell).

VI-043

The Melkots relent because, as in "Arena," the trekkers do not approve of killing, especially not on the terms of an alien. Kirk notes, "We fight only when there is not choice. We prefer the ways of peaceful contact."

     Spock: This afternoon, you wanted to kill. Didn't you?
     McCoy: But he [Kirk] didn't kill, Mr. Spock.
     Spock: but he wanted to, Doctor.
     Kirk: is that the way it seemed to you, Mr. Spock?
     Spock: Yes, Captain.
     Kirk: Mr. Spock, you're completely right. That's the way it was.
     Spock: Mankind ready to kill.
     Kirk: That's the way it was in 1881.
     Spock: I wonder how humanity managed to survive.
     Kirk: We overcame our instinct for violence.

This ends Gene Coon's (aka Lee Cronin) play stressing the reality of history in 1881, and the disparity between the reality of instinct and the unreality of destructive action. In the "Spectre of the Gun," mankind engages in defensive aggression only. As Erich Fromm notes, "The aim of defensive aggression is not lust for destruction, but the preservation of life" (Fromm, 195). The aim is to remove the danger and to protect vital interests. However, Gene Coon's play stresses the mentalism of aggression and the need to control the instinct for violence. But the necessity for the arena of violence remains as a continuous pattern for human conflict. The O.K. Corral is one more arena (like the Coliseum) for violence as a cultural form of  physical necessity and or cultural entertainment. Violent contraries tend to entertain, in spite of ingenuine protests against violence in the media. Just watch the daily news on local television. The instinct remains, but defensive aggression is a beginning of the end of mankind's lust for wanton destruction. As such, the O.K. Corral is an American archetype of its own cultural necessity and being.

VI-044

 

                                                                                                                                                                      "The Omega Glory"
                                                                                                                               

This episode is written by Gene Roddenberry, and it is centered on extreme chauvinism as a theme--the writer's obsession with flag-waving, obsession with the prime directive, insistence with the indigenous lives and cultures of Omega IV, and with an insistence on war (physical conflict) as a natural state of eternal change.  Omega IV is another arena episode. The plague that destroyed the Exeter crew(dissolved them into crystals inside uniforms) is the major cause of Captain Tracy's obsession with the concept of a garden of extended life. Tracy has lost his sanity, his crew, his command, in insisting on maintaining a war between the Kohms (Communists) and the Yangs (Yankees). Tracy warps earth history by backing the Asian people (Wu and his culture) in a symbolic or fantastic picture of America's wars with Korea, Japan, China, and North Vietnam, which were not total victories for the U.S. armed forces. Stereotypes abound in this episode, making it didactic and historically distasteful with time's passage and history. The episode does cater to the current U.S. war-monger policies.
Roddenberry's xenophilia and didacticism make the episode one of chronic flag-waving, although this obsession is visible today in the religion/worship of war and of its "heroes." There is no minute any more without war:
    
     ...the mere desire for change and movement...the part of most individuals is an independent cause of a willingness to fight...are discontented with their lot in greater or less degree. They are conscious of frustration,
     disappointment, and even despair. A war is an opportunity to start again, to see new things, and to escape from old chains.
                 (--E.F.M. Durbin & John Bowlby, "Personal Aggressiveness, and War."  War: Studies from Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology. Ed. Leon Branson. Rev. ed. New York: Basic Books, 1968).

There was genetic war on Omega IV, and according to Spock, "The war created an imbalance. And nature counterbalanced." A disease was created. The "virus still exists," McCoy notes. "Then over the years nature built up these natural immunizing agents in the food, the water, and the soil" (Act III, Scene 91). Wars (genetic) developed protective antibodies in the blood. Tracy gives Starfleet's weapons of mass destruction (phasers) to the Kohms to ensure a key to longer life. This "longer life," as McCoy iterates, is hardly worth it. Or as Kirk notes, "All that bloodshed, for nothing." There is no serum, no miracle, no fountain of youth. "People live longer here" naturally.

IV-045

Roddenberry sides with Cloud William against the Kohms who, as Spock says, "fought the war your earth won, and in this case the Asiatics won and took over the planet." Kirk is called a romantic in seeing the fate of the American Indian in the tribe of Cloud William: "That which is ours is ours again! It will never be taken from us again."  Tracy sides with the Kohms, and Kirk sides with the Yangs in favor of the prime directive. Tracy becomes the most evil one in this good vs. evil episode: "They can be handled, Jim. Together it will be easy...don't fight me here. I'll win...or at worst, I'll drag you down with...."  Cloud WIlliam has the papers of the Pledge of Allegiance but has lost the sounds and the meanings: "Ay pledgli ianectu flaggen...Tupep likfor stahn," interrupted by Kirk's firm and loud "...and to the republic for which it stands. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."  Hoorah! No wonder Bob Justman had misgivings about the episode! It is a speech more than a work of literature.  The conflict between Tracy and Cloud William not extends to a physical conflict between Tracy and Kirk. Two captains engage in blows and verbal mud-slinging. Tracy vies with Kirk for political and physical priority in violation of his own oath as a Starfleet captain. He accuses Spock of being the creation of the evil one, staring at the Vulcan's ears and iterating traditional and Biblical descriptions of the devil: "And see his servant! His face, his eyes, his ears. Do the Yang legends describe the servant of the Evil one?"  Roddenberry, like Cloud William, holds the articles of the Yangs as "holy words."  Tracy wants the Yangs to kill Spock and Kirk as evil ones. The answer lies in the good vs evil thinking of all the AGON or arena episodes. Truth lies in the struggle between good and evil:

     Sirah:  Yes it is written. Good shall always destroy evil.
     Spock: Careful, Jim. I've found that Evil usually triumphs...unless Good is very, very careful.

(The two captains face one another with knives stuck in the floor)...

     Cloud William:  The fight is done when one is dead.

(Roddenberry 's notes: "Thrusting and parrying. Tracy gets in a slash that rips Kirk's sleeve and left arm to draw some blood. (The roar of the spectators crescendos higher"). Tracy, thanks to a Spock mind-suggestion to Sirah,
is arrested.

VI-046

The fourth act of "The Omega Glory" is a matter of compromise between the warring parties. "Ee'd pebnista" says Cloud William.  "We the people" is an uncertainty betweem words and meaning. It is also part of Roddenberry's fortuitous flag waving with Yangs vs. Kohms.  Kirk insists that all are fighting for "liberty and freedom...that have to be more than just words." Of Kirk and of Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim, McCoy keys a major theme: "You're a Romantic, Jim."  Kirk is also possibly in violation of the prime directive by extrapolating the Pledge of Allegiance, thus altering the Yang point of view and ending the war--or so it seems. The conflict becomes a dialectical conflict, a dilemma with real violence of killing Yangs. As Lajos Egri emphasizes: "Conflict must be inherent in character" not superimposed from without. A unity of opposites "is one in which compromise is impossible...they are opposites united to destroy each other" (The Art of Dramatic Writing. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1960: 118-119). For Tracy, the conflict is Darwinian, between un-evolved Yangs (as he perceives them) and Kohms:

     Tracy: Animals...who happen to look like us. You still believe the Prime Directive's for this planet?
     Kirk: I don't think we have the right or the wisdom to interfere with however a planet is evolving.

Much of Roddenberry's script notes are spent describing Cloud William and Kirk locked in brutal battle in the prison cell. The imagery of a white captain vs. an Indian savage enhances the racial stereotypes of the play. Even Spock looks like the Devil: "See his servant! His face, his eyes, his ears. Do the Yang legends describe the servant of the Evil one?" (Tracy).  And Spock is described as having no heart, according to the insane Tracy, as he perverts Vulcan anatomy. The best one can say of this flag-waving episode is its excess of xenophilia and its racial stereotypes. However, it does emphasize an important concept of Friedrich Schiller in the essay "Uber den Grund des Verniagens an Trag Is Chen Gegenstanden" : 
      "The highest consciousness of our moral nature can be sustained only in a violent situation, a war." (F. Schiller, Samliche Werke, vol. 5: 364).

VI-047

 

      "Friday's Child"
      

D.C. Fontana's play is about clear and distinct levels of conflict in an arena that is the encampment of the tribal warrior inhabitants of the planet Capella IV. The trekkers, for once, are not forced into the arena by a third alien party, but arrive voluntarily in quest of a legal mining agreement with the Capellans who are not a totally unknown race, but one where Dr. McCoy spent some time as a physician to a tribe that has little need of, or respect for, modern medical science. McCoy is able to provide prior knowledge of the Capellans (as does Kirk of the hill people in "A Private Little War") for Kirk and the Enterprise crew.  Again there is a tripartite plot structure to the play, realms of conflict fought on a physical level, although one that is not nearly as bloody as the struggles of "Arena: and "The Omega Glory." Fontana has written a very clean play whose sides in the conflict are clear and distinct. It is a story about customs and traditions, integrity (one's word) and actions commensurate with one's customs. The three sides of the plot consist of the Enterprise crew, the Klingons, and the Capellans. They are divided into two parallel settings: the Enterprise in space under Scotty's command, and the Capellan encampment. The unifying symbol of the conflict is the "child," in this case the to-be-born son of the high Teer Akaar (early episode) who is killed in an overthrow by Maab before the child-heir is born. A pregnant Eleen (Ely-ehn) in the episode's early acts gives the episode its very physical and visible unifying symbol. The child is the nexus of the plot in "Friday's child," an episode reflecting the strength of a feminine point of view. This arena has a woman regent whose very existence is the matrix of this unique episode. Eleen is a strong woman who embodies the conflicts of "Friday's Child."

VI-048

Dorothy Fontana, a brilliant writer of science fiction, has chosen the title of the play based on a poetic quotation found in Harper's Weekly (1887) quoted in the introduction to the Revised Final Draft of May 11, 1967:
    
     Monday's child is fair of face.
     Tuesday's child is full of grace.
     Wednesday's child is loving and giving.
     Thursday's child works hard for a living.
     Friday's child is full of woe.
     Saturday's child has far to go.
     But the child that is born on the Sabbath
            Day is brave and bonny and good and gay.

The episode is based on what Thomas Carlyle calls the "perennial principle of sorrow." Eleen's role as a mother is linked to the theme of pain reiterated and portrayed throughout the episode. This is a series of conflicts, both internal and external, stemming from her tribal position as the wife of Akaar, as the  bearer of his progeny and successor, as the mother and the leader of her Capellan tribe, as its matrix, as its strength, its pain, its birth and rebirth. The child, born in a cave and virtually wrapped in swaddling clothes, has a Biblical ring to it, a light that emerges in the darkness of a cave meagerly lighted by a chemical flame provided by Dr. McCoy who, as a surgeon, guards the path from the dark womb to the daylight of tribal life, from pain to a new political and social life for a new Teer.

VI-049

Conflicts include a basic Darwinian theme in that, as McCoy notes, the Capellans "believe only the strong should survive." The hubs of the wheel of the main plot and subplots include the traditional parallel, dialectical  typical of STAR TREK episodes. The pivitol conflicts remain:

1. Enterprise (under Scotty's command) vs. the Klingon vessel in orbit around Capella IV, including the pursuit of said unknown Klingon vessel. Scotty notes,
"We have a distress call." This includes the fake emergency calls received from the freighters Deidre and Carolina--distress calls intended on keeping the Enterprise from helping Kirk and Spock as they struggle on the planet. In the end, they have no stomach for a conflict, Scotty notes.

2. Akaar vs. Maab--a political and tribal conflict for power on Darwinian terms of survival of the strongest man to be the high Teer of the Ten Tribes of Capella. Maab kills Akaar in his tent during a violent coup.  

3. Kirk vs custom. Maanb says,"Akaar is dead. I am the Teer...I see in new ways. I begin to like you, Earthman [Kirk]."  There is conflict between Kirk's ground crew and Capellan law and custom. The crewman Grant sees the Klingon Kras, reacts militarily as security guard, and is killed by one of Maab's men for breaching hospitality. "Kras is also bargaining for the precious 'rocks' sought by Starfleet through treaty." All weapons are supposed to be surrendered as signs of friendship in negotiations. As Akaar says, "The sky does not interest me."

4. Kirk vs. Kras the Klingon.  The prime directive, so much an obsession in other AGON/arena episodes, is not a major concern in this play. Custom is the priority, along with truth and strength.  Kirl says, "Your world is yours. For Maab, the sight of death "frightens" the Klingon. McCoy insults Kras: "What the Klingon has said is unimportant and we do not hear his words." Scotty and the Enterprise, in western style, are the cavalry that "doesn't come over the hill in time any more."  Kirk and Spock are on their own in the Capellan corral.

5. Spock vs. Kirk--logic (pacifism) vs. military action. Emotion by Kirk is "inefficient and illogical." Kirk and Spock use communicator vibrations between hills to loosen rock and shale...sonic disruption. Nature is a major player is this play.  It is a primitive game, bows and arrows.

6. Eleen vs. Maab--the death of Akaar brings new conflict. Maab: "You carry a child who would be Teer."  "I must die!" Eleen asserts. Maab interjects, saving Eleen: "No man may touch the wife of a Teer," as simultaneously Eleen asserts her right to die (as Maab challenges Kras):  "As Teer of the Ten Tribes I give you [Eleen] back your life. Mine is now forfeit." Klingon!

7. McCoy vs. Eleen: "The pain is in here." Pain is her life force as childbirth approaches.  "Deep pain grips her." The child is born in a cave (in almost Biblical fashion) as McCoy the surgeon provides light and struggles to learn Eleen's Capellan physiology. The problem: "Eleen hates the child she is carrying." McCoy must alter this destructive custom.  "Let me see that arm" where Eleen was burned. "I'm a doctor and it's my tradition to care for the sick." Eleen smacks McCoy's face: "You will not touch me in that manner! "With a whiplash blow she strikes the doctor after she is touched by this "strange man." The director's notes say, "she is flabbergasted"--an understatement. In the next stage, in order to find a rationalization for wanting the child, Eleen dubs McCoy the surrogate father: "No...only McCoy" may touch her.  "I am a doctor, not an escalator" keeps good humor and keeps McCoy focused on the birth, not on the defensive postures of Spock and Kirk. "I will allow only...your touch." Spock asks if she has had a "happy pill." McCoy good-naturedly notes, "No...a right cross." To McCoy, Eleen says, "The child is yours" and gives birth in the cave to "our child." I'll explain later" and Spock smiles, "That should prove very interesting."  The baby is "Friday's child," but "my patient [Eleen] spattered me with a rock." She then lies to Maab: "The child is dead. Do as you will with me...I killed them as they slept...I will die in my own tent." She is quite the antagonist and the play's matrix.

VI-050

8. Ontological Conflict: McCoy notes, "Capellans aren't human, Jim. They're humanoid. There are certain internal differences."  This is a distinction that can apply to the Kohms, and to the hill people in "A Private Little War." A possibility exists that the distinction (or conflict) between the two sub-species is physical (anatomical), but also mental. A distinction among earth dwellers seems to exist between between what Erich Fromm calls lesser human beings (humanoids in development or not developing in conflict) and human beings developing in conflict, i.e., who change and evolve in space and time.

Finally, there is the resolution to the thesis and antithesis of the play in the words of Dr. McCoy: "Ouchy whoochy koochy koo" uttered to the newborn Leonard James Akaar in an ancient earth dialect:

     Spock: What's that again, Dr. McCoy? At any rate this should prove interesting.
     Kirk: Interesting?
     Spock: When the woman starts explaining how the new High Teer is actually Doctor McCoy's child.
     Scott:  What's that again, Mr. Spock?
     Kirk: We don't actually understand ourselves, Mr. Scott.
     Spock: Nor does Dr. McCoy.
     McCoy: Ouchy Whouchy Kouchy Koo.

Birth and rebirth. a mother and child. A new world.

VI-051

Eleen is D.C. Fontana's portrait of a strong woman who, in the original draft of the play, is willing to destroy herself to make way in the tribe for her child. Maab saves her life by edict, thus eliminating (forfeiting) his own life as Teer of the Ten Tribes in favor of Eleen and her child. Roddenberry changed the original script to prevent the death of Eleen or that of the child. The play is a distinctly feminine story about a strong matriarchal character. In conclusion, "Mining rights secured by treaty signed by the High Chief's regent." Lajos Egri, in his book which was stressed as a prototype for STAR TREK writers, producers, and directors (noted to this writer by Bob Justman in a 1989 interview), stresses the "strength of will in a character" (77):

     A weak character cannot carry the burden of protracted conflict in a play...therre is no sport if there is no competition. Without counterpoint there is no harmony. The dramatist needs not only characters who
     are willing to put up a fight for their convictions. He needs characters who have the strength to carry this fight to its logical conclusion.

{2 interviews with Dorothy Fontana and with Bob Justman (et al) are audible in real time on this website on LINK "STAR TREK INTERVIEWS"}

VI-052

 

                                                                                                                                                                             "A Private Little War"
                                                                                                                            
"A Private little War" is a story of environment as conflict. It is a story of medical victimology as theme, with the Enterprise and Spock in conflict with the primitives (Nona and Kirk). Physiology is the external physical conflict. The internal conflict lies within Spock. Kirk faces the Klingon interference on the planet and in the tribal evolution. One theme is that of the romantic noble Savage as seen in the natives where the setting is a Garden of Eden, where innocence is once again lost. McCoy notes (Act II), "despite their fear and our strangeness, they are compassionate and gentle." In the Teaser, innocence is a conversation:
     Spock:...you say it is a 'Garden of Eden.'
     Kirk: Or, so it seemed to a brash young lieutenant in command of his first planet survey (13 yeqars ago)...these people stayed in their Garden of Eden. Bows and arrows for food but absolutely no fighting
               between themselves. Remarkably peaceful and tranquil.  This placid philosophy is broken when Spock is seriously wounded by the villagers' flintlock. Kirk is attacked by the Mugato and is poisoned.  McCoy tries to explain to the friendly natives: "He's James Kirk; he's a friend of Tyree's. Blast it...do something! He's dying!" As with Spock, Kirk endures a medical crisis. Kirk has an "unconscious face, wet with perspiration, beginning to tremble violently." McCoy (partly to himself) utters, "You and your 'Garden of Eden.'"  Half of the medical theme occurs aboard the Enterprise where Spock remains immobile during the majority of the episode struggling to return to life. Dr. M'Benga and Nurse Chapel tend to Spock in the sickbay. Eventually Spock returns...."the pain will help me...to consciousness" as Krell arms Apella and the villagers.

VI-053

The second and parallel medical conflict lies with Nona, Tyree's wife, a "kahn-ut-tu woman." She is a gypsy and a forceful sorceress. She is a creature of nature who deals with roots and leaves; she casts spells. She is a seductress, a witch with divided loyalties; she is narcissistic mojo woman (good and evil), an opportunist with a greed for power; she wants the modern phaser and imminent change in time. Her cure for Kirk means possession of his soul:
     Nona: My remedies require I know what kind of man he is. ALL that is known of him.
     Tyree: I gave him my promise of silence. He was made my brother.
     Nona: And I am your wife...his sister. I promise silence also.
The Mahko root is a symbol of unity using medical, primitive ritualistic cure. "Take this of my soul...this of my soul...into thine...into thine...." The director notes that they exchange some "mystic quality, her breath to his, his to hers." The knife cuts her hand and "she presses it atop the ugly root...as if sharing the same agony."
     Nona: Together...your pain is mine...together...your soul in mine...together...together....Return...it is past...return....return....return...our blood has passed through the Mahko root together. Our souls have been
                together. He is mine now.
Her act is one of possession and sorcery, but Kirk is indeed cured. At the end of Act II, Kirk and Tyree are sleeping. McCoy is "very concerned." Soon Tyree belatedly greets his old friend, "Yes, James; it is good to see you." Kirk to Tyree: "Tyree, we must talk now. The villagers...we must make plans. The "price" for saving his life means phasers. The "firesticks" appeared only a year ago. The conflict (internal) within Kirk says, "I am grateful."  The other voice is the prime directive, a conflict imposed by environmental culture and the planet itself. Kirk, Nona, and Tyree differ over acculturation/growth in time.

VI-054

Nona has a love-regret relationship with her husband. She is aggressive; he is passive and slow to change. Nona mocks Tyree with the ripping line, "Some men never grow." Conflict means change.
     Kirk: We once were as you are. Spears and arrows. There came a time when our weapons grew faster than our wisdom, and we almost destroyed ourselves. We learned from this to make a rule during all our travels never
               to cause the same to happen to other worlds. Just as a man must grow in his own way and his own time....We are wise enough to know not to interfere in the way of another man or another world.
     Tyree: No! I said I will not kill!
     Nona: We must fight or die! Is dying better? ....I have the wrong husband.
McCoy, in an untypical way, fosters action against the Klingons: "If we find the Klingons have helped the villagers, there's certainly something we can do." For Kirk, who borrows the theme of "balance of power" (Vietnam, etc.) notes, "That's what bothers me...the something we may have to do."
The third act of the episode is about the philosophy/aesthetics of war. Apella refers to a "face not unlike Ho Chi Min" which makes the Vietnam war one analogy to the title, "A Private Little War" where America arms the South Vietnamese vs. the North Vietnamese Communists (similar to the Yangs vs the Kohms in "The Omega Glory"). Krell, the Klingon, is the devil in the garden as he arms the villagers, improving upon the flintlocks he has given them: a "chrome-steel drill point, carbon-free, cold-rolled barrel rods." Apella converses: I thought my people would grow tired of killing. But you were right...they see it is easier than trading. And it has pleasures." Krell  continues mechanically: "This is the pan...hammer...spark...squeeze the trigger gently." He forges the "serpent in Eden," McCoy notes. For Kirk, "We must equalize both sides again"--the balance of power philosophy.

VI-055

The war means equal fire power. There is the tertium quid--the third element actuating two warring factions--Starfleet vs. the Klingons. Kirk presumes an unusual philosophy that says war is life: "War isn't a good life, but it's a life." Kirk must make Tyree understand: "I have never had a more difficult task." McCoy, the old Southerner, notes, "I don't have a solution, but furnishing them firearms is certainly not the answer." Kirk believes that "the only solution is what happened back then [sic. twentieth century wars]...a balance of power...the trickiest, most difficult, dirtiest game of them all. But the only one that preserves both sides." Tyree refuses to give in to jealousy and throws down his rifle. He refuses to kill, at first. Then Nona is killed by the villagers. He sees his dead wife: "I will kill them...I want more of these, Kirk! Many more! Nona had "tomorrow (Kirk's phaser) in the palm of her hands, but they didn't recognize it." The medical conflict, its exploitation through war, reaches its crisis and as Spock returns from his netherland of unconsciousness--cured. McCoy: "Are you alive?" Spock retorts "An illogical question, Doctor, since you are obviously hearing my voice." McCoy jokes, "I don't know why I was worried. You can't kill a computer." The final scene returns to the words of the Teaser--Kirk had placed in his report thirteen years ago that the planet was a 'Garden of Eden.' In arming the hill people, Kirk orders Scotty to reproduce "a hundred flintlock rifles...a hundred serpents for the Garden of Eden." Deleted from the final film/take is McCoy's reaction to "Normal development," to the Klingon interference in evolution, to the balance of power, the evolution in knowledge: "Jim...that means you're condemning the whole planet to a war that may never end. You'll guarantee battle after battle, massacre after massacre. It could go on for year after year..." (2nd Revised Final Draft, Sept. 25, 1967). War is a life? This ends writer Don Ingall's tale of paradise lost. The medical victimologies never end.

VI-056

War's conflict determines its finitude; E.F.M. Durban and John Bowlby in "Personal Aggressiveness," War: Studies from Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology. Ed. Leon Branson, note:
     The overwhelming fact established by the evidence is that aggression, however deeply hidden or disguised, does not disappear.
     It appears later and in other forms. It is not destroyed. It is safe to conclude from the evidence that it cannot be destroyed.

VI-057

 

Elaan of Troyius

"Elaan of Troyius" is another female-dominated episode (of AGON and arena) with an uncompromising, ill-mannered Dohlman of Elas as the nasty, arrogant mistress of the Enterprise. She is tempestuous, foul, vicious, and disrespectful of anything and anyone who disagrees with her imperious, barbaric temper. Yet beneath the fury is the woman of Elasian tears whose dislike for good manners is superseded only by her self-hatred and fragile ego. She hates being hated by everyone. One major conflict--the Elasian Dohlman vs. the civilizing, historical inevitability of her upcoming marriage to the ruler of Troyius--posits peace imposed by her own council of rulers and by the necessity of the inner planet (Elas) and the outer planet (Troyius) seeking oneness and avoiding destruction in her stellar system.  Enterprise is the arena for her tortuous journey from obnoxious brat to civilized ruler, a journey from one opposite to another with unity and peace imposed upon her by rulers and "bureaucrats." We see in this Enterprise arena a major change in character and in actions/manners where two conflicting customs will resolve themselves into one character, into one world where both cultures can be assured of peace through marriage--a unity of opposites, of contraries, without which there can be no progression. Elaan's unwitting quest is for her feminine self over her masculine dominance. She lacks self-love, so how can she love another?

VI-058

The conflicting elements in "Elaan of Troyius" are the Klingons vs. the Enterprise, the Elasians vs. the Troyians, Elaan of Elas vs the to-be Elaan of Troyius (external and internal conflicts), Kirk vs. Elaan (courtesy/civilization vs. barbarism), all occurring and expanding on board the Enterprise as the arena for these conflicts. France Nuyen, in a brilliant casting by Gene Roddenberry and by John Meredyth Lucas, creates a Star Trek "Taming of the Shrew" play of constant tension tempered by moments of humor and irony. On the other hand, Scotty has been ordered to proceed to Troyius at slow impulse speed (.037) in order to give the blue Ambassador Petri time to teach manners to Elaan, to make her a suitable wife for the ruler of Troyius. While being tailed by the "ghost" of the Klingon ship, Scotty and Kirk confront Elaan in the engineering department where the Elasian guard (Elaan's boyfriend, Kryton) soon sabotages the Enterprise, its dilithium crystals and warp drive. The theme of impulse vs. warp speed parallels the conflict between the characters on board. The play is a matter of temperament, of movement in time:
     Elaan: We are interested in how this ship is used in combat, not in what drives  them. Engines are for mechanics and menials--(She did not say thank you to Scotty).
The conflict between Elaan and Kirk begins over the matter of courtesy:
     Kirk: Courtesy, Elaan.
     Elaan: Courtesy is not for inferiors.
     Kirk: Courtesy is for everyone around here, and you'll find you won't be able to exist on Troyius without it. Mr. Scott, our chief engineer, has shown you his engineering department--that is courtesy.
          You respond by saying "thank you."
The mission of the Enterprise lies in the Tellum Star System, a "border area...where the Klingon Empire claims jurisdiction 'as the ghost' follows the Enterprise. Scotty adds humor and a touch of realism: "From what I've seen, it's not worth fighting over. Why are we here, Captain? "Kirk acts like a dilettante when he is fascinated by Elaan and the mystical power of her Elasian tears, which he experiences as the play proceeds into the Dohlman's quarters (kindly vacated by Uhura).

VI-059

The thesis and the key conflict are iterated by Petri, setting the stage early for the play. He describes the "Dohlman" as "the thing most feared and hated by my people. Our most deadly enemy." Petri's explanation of the mission for all parties concerned in this arena must be taken literally and seriously:
     Petri: That creature Elaan is to be the wife of our ruler. To bring peace. Our two warring planets now possess the capability of mutual destruction. Some method of co-existence must be found....She must be taught       
               civilized manners. In her present condition, my people would never accept her.
     Kirk: You are to be her teacher?
     Petri: These are my orders. I must ask you and your crew to respect--or at least tolerate--their arrogance. Friction must be kept at a minimum. You have as much at stake as I have. Your superiors have made the   
                statement that failure of this mission would be as catastrophic for the Federation as it would be for our two planets. To gain peace at the price of accepting such a queen is no victory.
Petri has no love or respect for Elaan and insults her with his gifts and condescending tone. "I want nothing of this" and Petri is called a "Troyian dog." France Nuyen's beauty conflicts with her arrogance. She refuses all gifts that enhance her femininity and self-worth and self-love. The contest in the arena: Petri defaults in his mission and is later stabbed in the back by Elaan as he calls her (to her face) an "incorrigible monster." Kirk becomes the umpire in the dispute (and later Elaan's teacher). Petri chirps, "There cannot be peace between us. We have deluded ourselves. I do not want peace. I want to kill them." Kirk reminds Petri of his job, but Petri stubbornly fails: "We cannot make peace with people we detest."  Kirk notes: "Stop trying to kill each other. Then worry about being friendly...she respects strength. Go in strong." Also, The Klingon "ghost" appears intermittently. And McCoy notes humorously, "We'll, I've heard of reluctant brides, but this is ridiculous" after Elaan stabs Petri. The Federation High commissioner will attend the wedding, as we learn that Elasian women's tears are bio-chemical and enslave a man's flesh once it is touched. Again humorously, McCoy notes, "the fat'll be in the fire when he learns the bride has just tried to murder the groom's ambassador." A favorite ironic line begins the role of Kirk as teacher, replacing the absent Petri, typifying Elaan's own sense of humor-- "So Ambassador Petri is going to recover. That is too bad." [her best line].

VI-060

Kirk now must tame the shrew alone with force, logic, and charm. She likes him. He is caught between sexual fascination and military duty:
     Kirk: We are still faced with the same problem.
     Elaan: Problem?
     Kirk: Your indoctrination...to Troyian customs and manners.
     Elaan: I have eliminated the problem.
     Kirk: You have eliminated the teacher. The problem still remains.
     Elaan: And how do we solve the problem?
     Kirk: By giving you a new teacher.
     Elaan: What can you teach me?
     Kirk: Table manners for one thing. This is a plate (sarcasm). It contains food. This is a knife. It cuts the food. This is a glass.
     Elaan: Leave me.
     Kirk: Like it or not, you're going to learn what you have been ordered to learn.
Kirk's teachings become forceful. She respects strength.
     Kirk: You enjoy the privileges and prerogatives of being the Dohlman...then be worthy of them. If you don't want the obligations that go along with the title, give it up.
     Elaan: Nobody speaks to me in that way.
     Kirk: That's another of your problems. Nobody has told you that you're an uncivilized savage, a vicious child in a woman's body, an arrogant monster.
Her fist strikes Kirk's jaw (director's notes). "She tries to hit him again, but he slaps her hand across the face. The surprise and shock of the blow spins her backward onto the bed. They glare at each other.
     Kirk: That's no way to treat someone who's telling you the truth. (Director's notes: "Kirk starts for the door. She throws her dagger at him and it slams into the wall near his head."
She could have killed him, but did not. Lesson one goes to Kirk: "Tomorrow's lesson will be on courtesy."  Both parties are in a fury!

IV-061

The Klingons give no response to hails, as Kryton sabotages the Enterprise's dilithium crystals and fights with the engineering crew mate. Spock phasers the guard to the Dohlman's quarters and with another bit of Kirkian humor notes, " Mr. Spock, the women on your planet are logical. That's the only planet in the galaxy that can make that claim." Elaan and Kirk struggle physically in her quarters/arena:
     Elaan: You were warned, Captain, never to touch me again. [She does call him captain].
     Kirk: If I touch you again, your Glory, it'll be to administer an ancient earth custom called a spanking. A form of punishment administered to spoiled brats. [Elaan enjoys the scene].
     Elaan: You have my leave to go.
     Kirk: You forget, your Glory...we haven't started your lesson in courtesy.
     Elaan: I will not be soiled by any contact with you. (Her apparent character moderation is also a ruse--seduction). I don't know how to make people like me. I don't want everyone to hate me. [Here the Elasian
                tears touch Kirk].
     Kirk: Well it's not that people hate you...people don't like to be treated as though they don't exist.
The tears affect Kirk. The director notes, "And again they meld into each other."
The conflict with the Klingon ship also becomes overt and physical. Kryton had loved Elaan and had acted in jealousy regarding the upcoming marriage. He immolates himself. Kirk speaks of amorous events with Elaan, but "what happened was an accident." It has nothing to do with duty. Elaan notes, "You cannot resist my love, my love." The director notes, "Dazedly Kirk pulls free of Elaan. He moves like a man walking under water." The struggles within Kirk parallels the struggle with the Klingons--they happen simultaneously and they meld. The "anti-matter pods are rigged to blow up the moment we go to warp drive," Scotty affirms as Act III of the play ends. It is the impulse of the ship's drive that permeates the impulses of Elaan's Elasian tears. The conflict is one of coalesced power between Kirk and Elaan, between the Klingons and the Enterprise, between Kirk and his duty. Kirk, the Enterprise, and Elaan are running on impulse power.

IV-062

Elaan's character begins a clear change as Kirk combats the phaser power of the Klingon ship: "I want to be by your side," says Elaan on the bridge. Kirk has her in a vice-like grip, and now propels her toward the elevator (the next mini-arena):
     Kirk: Deck Five!
     Elaan: I love you. I have chosen you. And still I don't understand why you didn't fight the Klingon.
     Kirk:If I can accomplish my mission by turning tail and running, I'll gladly do that.
     Elaan: And that mission is to take me to Troyius.
     Kirk: Yes.
     Elaan: Would you have me wear my wedding dress for another man and never see you again?
     Kirk: Yes, Elaan.
     Elaan: Are you happy at the prospect?
     Kirk: No.
Elaan obeys and goes to sickbay: "Yes, my love." There is no antibiotic to the Elesian tears. She accepts Petri's gift of the stone necklace as she learns, "That's all you men of the world can seek of--duty and responsibility." Elaan changes character in a loving gesture, perhaps based on desperation: "I want to die with you." Kirk responds, "We are not going to die. Now get off the bridge (as the Klingons damage the Enterprise's shields). Spock perceives that Elaan is "the source" of the power readings on the bridge. The Klingons want those dilithium crystals, the common stones, around her neck. She is the power: "You may have just saved our lives," Kirk notes. The Enterprise is the cure for Elaan's tears as Kirk's conflict is resolved into duty. He has warp power to the shields and five photon torpedoes to discourage and to cripple the Klingon ship. Elaan takes the daggar from her belt and offers it to Kirk. Her change is to courtesy, responsibility, and acceptance of her predestined fate as the wife of Troyius' leader:
     Elaan: I want you to have this as a personal memento. I have learned that, on Troyius, they do not wear such things. Remember me.
     Kirk: I have no choice.
     Elaan: Nor have I. I have only responsibilities...obligations. Goodbye.
     Kirk: Goodbye.
McCoy summarizes the episode of the dialectical conflicts in this play:
     McCoy: Well, I doubt seriously if there's any kind of an antidote for the Enterprise.
     Spock: In this particular instance, Doctor, I agree with you.
     Kirk: Ahead, warp factor two.
                                                                           xx finis xx

VI-063                                                                                                                                                 "Space Seed"
                                                                                             
This extremely popular episode was finalized, according to the "Second Revised Final Draft," in script form on December 13, 1966. It was, according to the script, written by Gene Roddenberry and Gene Coon. However, Trek sites give the story credit to a Carry Wilbur. Its famous movie sequel (the best in Star Trek movie history) was produced by Harve Bennett based on the original TOS episode. It was the brilliance of the episode that begged for a sequel, but it was also prompted (Mr. Bennett notes in this site's interview) by the availability of Ricardo Monteban who was starring in "Fantasy Island" at the time. Also Mr. Spock's allusion to the question of what will come of the "seed" Kirk planted on Alpha Ceti V that day prompted a natural movie sequel to see what did indeed happen to Khan, Marta, and those 72 Napoleons (whom Kirk seems to have forgotten or to have ignored in after years). Mr. Bennett, who knew nothing about Star Trek when given the production assignment, was to create (recreate) a living legend of a man and a movie in "The Wrath of Khan." In ST II, Ricardo took the role. It is true that Chekov was not in the original episode cast and "I never forget a face" became a major writing flaw in the movie. Khan never knew Chekov, never saw him. But Chekov knew Khan by history and by reputation, ex., Milton and "Botany Bay" are enscribed in the wreckage. And what of Khan? Trekkers never forget that face!

VI-064

Kirk makes a mistake in courtesy by permitting Khan access to the ship's technical library. He underestimates "selective breeding." The theme of the episode is best demonstrated by Khan himself, a living past living 200 years again in time present--the same man in two time periods. The theme is the conflict between Khan's time past into time present, and then Kirk's time present in the 21st century:
     Spock: His age would be correct. In 1993, a group of these young supermen did seize power simultaneously in over 40 nations.
     Kirk: Hardly supermen. They were aggressive, arrogant; they began battling between themselves.
     Spock: Because the scientists overlooked one fact. Superior ability breeds superior ambition. Would you reveal to war weary populations that some eighty Napoleons might still be alive?
Khan, in his first introduction to Marla McGivers notes the episode's theme: "I am told that you participated in my rebirth." Khan is reborn in time and space, but is fundamentally just as Spock described him. His interest in Lt. McGivers is not scientific (nor is hers) but romantic and sexual. One major dialectic (in the past vs. present conflict) is between Khan and Marla: "My interest is scientific...men of the world of the past." Her attraction to him causes a conflict between her historical duties and her romanticism, which was always her main relation to strong men of the past--almost a noble savage passion. In a line cut from the final draft, Marla begs of Kirk, "Don't let him die, please." He is "a man of the twentieth century," coming alive... hence reborn. Kirk saves Khan's life by breaking the sleeper unit's glass. Marla notes, "Magnificent." Kirk cannot even remember Marla's last name...calls her McGivers. Khan has been asleep for two centuries, since the 1990's. Realistic history is in conflict with a dreamy 19th century romanticism--past vs. present:
     Marla:  You're no mystery to me. I know exactly who you are.
     Khan: Do you?
     Marla: Caesar, Leif Ericson, Richard the Lion-Hearted. I don't know if you're going to like living in our time.

VI-065

The conflict between Marla and Khan quickens. As Khan notes, "This grows tiresome. You must now ask to stay." Marla caves in very quickly: "I'd like to stay...please." Khan repeats his theme "Will you open your heart?" His interest is to take the ship. Marla fights Khan who cares for her, but is conflicted over his intentions to require her assistance and to have her violate her Starfleet oath in time present: "No...I promise...I'll do anything you ask" ends Act II. She is a traitor. His world is not come alive yet. His name, Kirk notes in Act III: "Khan Novien Singh"(spelling in Act III).
     Scotty: From 1992 thru 1996, absolute ruler of more than a quarter of your world from Asia through the Middle East.
     McCoy: The last of the tyrants to be overthrown.
     Scotty: I must confess, gentlemen...I've always had a sneaking admiration for this one.
     Spock: (deleted line) A trace of romanticism I had never suspected in you, engineer.
The conflict within Marla, Romanticism vs. Barbarism, exists as a human characteristic.
     Kirk: Spock, we humans have a streak of barbarism in us. Appalling, but there nevertheless...You misunderstand, Mr. Spock. We can be against him, and admire him, all at the same time.
     Spock: Illogical.
Marla saves Kirk's life from the vacuum of the decompression chamber (sickbay). Joaquin slaps Uhura, while Marla asserts, "Captain I saved your life. Now please don't kill him. She later agrees to live with Khan on Alpha Ceti V in lieu of Starfleet punishment.
                                                                                                                                 
IV-066 

It should be noted that Khan never actually kills anyone in the episode, possibly out of self-interest and the need to gain knowledge to operate the Enterprise. In a way, Marla's conflict with Khan is also her conflict with Kirk (her duty). Kirk does not kill Khan; he frees him and Marla, all the 72 Napoleons, and exiles them to Alpha Ceti V.  The second conflict within the past vs. present dialectic is that between Khan and Kirk as the rebirth theme becomes an inevitable struggle between Khan (the past)) and Kirk (the present). The arena is again on board the Enterprise with Kirk and Khan as archetypal gladiators. The unity of hatred and admiration ("against him and admire him") is part of the rebirth theme. Khan becomes a clear danger to the Enterprise and Kirk must attack. Khan escapes from his quarters, attacking the guard. He takes over the ship. Now Kirk, with his ship in peril, finally begins the O2 conflict...it is all about the air in this arena. The officers are locked on the bridge:
     Khan: I have shut off the life support systems to your bridge....jammed. I 'm willing to negotiate....your air should be getting quite thin by now. Surrender the bridge?
     Kirk: Negative!
     Khan: Academic, captain. Refuse and every person on the bridge will suffocate.
Khan's thesis about modern man posits a species with little inherent character change.
     Khan:...you are quite honestly inferior. Mentally, physically. In fact, I am surprised how little improvement there has been in human evolution. There has been technical advance, but how little man himself has changed. 
Kirk seems slow in defining Khan's danger to the Enterprise.  Too much courtesy, too little common sense, too little military alertness. Kirk underestimates Khan and the information he derived from the technical manual while in sickbay. What does Kirk think Novien Sing will do with 21st century knowledge? Revert? Is there no evolution in time? He wants to build a world, and he will destroy Kirk, his crew, and the Enterprise if necessary. Kirk takes "full responsibility" for his omission as he passes out with no O2 on the bridge. Khan needs the crew as knowledge to operate the ship, but he underestimates the crew's loyalty to their captain and to their oath. Instead, he has created a mutiny on the Bounty (the Botany Bay is the dead ship and he has no home, no country, no obedience):
     Khan: I should have realized that suffocating together on the bridge would create heroic comraderie between you. But it is quite a different thing to sit and watch it happening to someone else. I'm sure
                you recognize your medical decompression chamber here, doctor.

IV-067

It is arguable that Kirk loses his gladiatorial "combat" because Khan gets the "colony planet...to be conquered by you" (McCoy notes).
     Khan: Each of you in turn will go into there while the others watch....Your captain is dying with the loss of O2 in the chamber. If anyone of you joins me, I'll let him live.
Marla saves Kirk from certain death in the sickbay by freeing him. "Captain, I saved your life. Now please don't kill him." The conflict moves to the engineering section where Khan stops the neural anaesthesia gas flow. The O2/gas conflict between Kirk and Khan has now become a shipwide physical overload: "That's an overload in progress. Your ship flares up like an exploding sun within minutes. Khan will "possess the vessel" or "neither of us will" (deleted line in final takes). Engineering becomes the arena for the episode's final  conflict. But who is the true winner? Khan will not submit nor is he vested for this century any more than he was for his own. The two titans beat upon each other as the overload goes from yellow to red. The director's and writer's script notes are critical, and they describe the viscious news of this life of deathly gladiatorial struggle. Kirk pulls out a "solid state control rod" from the console and strikes Khan in an effort to compensate for Khan's superior karate blows:
     Director: It is a hard fight. Khan's enormous physical strength is almost more than a match for Kirk's weapon and agility. But Kirk is fighting for his ship, calling up an almost superhuman strength of his own and
                     with the overload sound now shrieking to maximum volume and pitch, Kirk finally beats Khan down at the last possible moment, throwing his weapon aside and leaping to the control panel to reverse the
                     the overload settings.

IV-068

The irony of this intensely brutal struggle in the arena dissolves to the briefing room where Kirk presides over a legal hearing regarding Khan and his people. Chaos of the serene scene begets an ironic military order and quiet. The climax of the struggle/conflict is even more difficult than the physical struggle. In full-dress undiforn, Kirk  notes, "I wish my next decision were no more difficult. Khan and his people...what a waste to put them in a re-orientation center, and what do I do about McGivers?" McCoy and Scotty show considerable surprise and amazement as Kirk alludes to the nearby Ceti Alpha Star System and pulls a shocker:
     Kirk: Under the authority vested in me by Star Fleet command, I declare all charges and specifications in this matter have been dropped.
Botany Bay is , like Khan, to be reborn in history.
     Spock: Quite correct, captain. Planet number five there is habitable...although a bit savage, somewhat inhospitable.
     Kirk: But no more than Australia's Botany Bay colony was at the beginning.  Those men went on to tame a continent. Mister Khan...can you tame a world?
Gene Roddenberry's deep literary background (and Gene Coon's and Bob Justman's ) sparkles as the the British past, in literature and in history, focuses and fuses into one writer and one work--Milton's Paradise Lost. The tone is visible in the early scenes of The Wrath of Khan (ST II).
     Khan: Have you ever read Milton, Captain?
     Kirk: I understand. And I agree.
Marla McGivers agrees to accompany Khan to Alpha Ceti V. She later is referred to by Khan as his deceased wife in ST II).
     Marla: I'll go with him.
     Khan: A superior woman, captain. I will take her. And I've gotten the rest I wanted...a world to win...and an empire to build.
The hearing is closed.

VI-069

Although Scotty is ironically not up on [his] Milton, Spock gives the audience the key to Khan's rebirth, made possible largely by Kirk's decision:
     Spock: The statement Lucifer made when he fell into the pit.
     Kirk: It is 'better to rule in hell that serve in heaven.'
This is where Harve Bennett stopped viewing the original series. He saw in his mind the movie he was about to create based on this episode and upon, as Mr. Bennett saw, Ricardo Monteban's availability. He was doing "Fantasy Island" at the time and was available to resume his role as the older Khan in The Wrath of Khan. Bennett heard Spock's final lines and fulfilled the rebirth "seed" that Kirk had planted.
     Spock: It would be interesting, captain, to return to that world in a hundred years and learn what crop has sprung up from the seed you have planted today.
     Kirk: Yes, Mister Spock, it would indeed.
As history and ST II show, Kirk had forgotten Khan and never checked  on his progress or doings as Captain Kirk became Admiral Kirk, and his reborn crew accidently stumbles upon Alpha Ceti V (its remains) many years  later. And Khan was alive. The relationship between Kirk and Khan is filled with ironies, especially of love and hate, as Khan keeps referring to Kirk as "my old friend" in ST II.  Khan wins the stage in the first conflict--an empire, a place for his Botany Bay rebirth. Tragically, this planet too becomes a planetary home for prisoners (a wasteland), as history and the movie point out. He dies in hell as part of his rebirt; he dies in his own "Genesis." His end is in his beginning (T. S. Eliot). Tragedy. He falls from heaven. His paradise is eventually lost; again, the wrath of Khan is largely his eternal hatred for James T. Kirk and the seed he planted in "Space Seed."

 

 

VI-070

    "The Enterprise Incident"
                                                                                                                          

                                                                                                                         

The Enterprise Incident" is written by Dorothy Fontana. It does not do justice to her talent and seems inconsistent. Spock is a Vulcan, but he lies to the commander about love; he lies; Vulcans do not lie. He is on a mission of deceit, yet Vulcans do not deceive. His Vulcan nature is in conflict with his actions and Starfleet orders.

As Captain, Kirk violates the prime directive by seeking out and stealing a Romulan cloaking device. Cloaking devices are prohibited by Starfleet prime directive.

As lovers, Spock and the Romulan female had to decide, as  actors, what nature and symbols this love takes. They both decide on finger manipulation (rather Vulcan) as signs of affections. Again, Spock deceives this ad hoc love is our of keeping with the nature of the Vulcan character.

The title is also very lackluster and non-specific; What incident? One is not sure why this mediocre incident is under the D.C. Fontana name and why Bob Justman and Gene Roddenberry approved it.

 

VI-071   

 

The Lights of Zetar

 


   
 The attack on a cultural inter-stellar library (Memory Alpha) by a collective lights of Zetar is a cultural catastrophe for the galaxy and a personal attack and personal, psychological identity for one Mora Romaine whose identity is the same as the attacking Zetarians whose identity is the same as Mira’s. The storm is a sensory attack of natural phenomenon and gravity is needed to pressure cure to change pace returning life to normal. Scotty is the teddy bear like to Mira Romaine protecting her as a lover figure. They both envision visions of future events, of ten distinct life forms with its communities of life forms, all brain events, a psychedelic screen collage looking not unlike a war or freak out of two identical forces. The link is the “Brain Circuitry Pattern” --two brain patterns whose resolution is separation in Kirk’s gravity chamber. In IV-52, the Mira/Zetar note: “We are the desires, the hopes, the mind and the will of the last hundred of the Zetar, the fire in our life could not be wiped out. All things die at the proper time. The force of our wills survived. They want Mira’s life, “But life was given to me. It is mine. I want to live it out…I will.” Unlike the Zetar who will not accept their own death.”


In the episode, “The Lights of Zetar,” the alien within  (Mira) is identified with Zetar (the enemy without). Creative and destructive terms > processes of two alien struggle—identical but different—for one existence. One ,Mira< insists on life; the other (Zetar) insists on death by not accepting its own corporeal death in the past. Mira is saved by her own will, by Scotty, by Kirk’s own pressurization theory of opposites—low, then high, to restore life; Mira and Scotty form a love branch to the plot—opposites based on empathy find their commonality through love and instant empathy, a sense of oneness. The cure will be each other and the unification of a Carlylean work ethic. Zetar wants to kill Scotty; Mira refuses and their pressure environments are altered, reversed to a natural oneness of chamber. Tragedy in the loss of the library gets lost in the story of opposites. Libraries seek and are places of oneness, of all diversities, are places of study and peace.

 

VI-072

 

         " By Any Other Name"

 

 

“It’s Green!”

The play is written by Dorothy Fontana and Jerome Bixby, brilliant drama and farce based on a Shakespearean metaphor--the rose. If some flower is a rose, changing its name makes it a rose regardless of a name. A rose remains the rose. In this case we have the Kelvins and the Trekkers, a war of the roses. Kelvins assuming human form (from serpentine) are two roses, Kelvins and Trekkers are representative names used to galvanize a galaxy, still a rose by any other name. The episode notes a study in what buffoons we all are essentially, forces of strength and of weaknesses coexist. It is the Falstaff inside both kinds of aliens Kelvins and human beings that stand out. Both aliens are at war yet is the humoresque of the Enterprise crew that is able to surmount the imprisonment of its crew.

The episode is one humorous study of the seven deadly sins. There is lust between Kirk and Kalinda, jealousy between Kalinda and Rojan, jealousy between Honan and Rojan, anger between McCoy and Honan, anger between Honan and Rojan. Human form means human distraction and the locus of it all—FOOD. It reveals the essence of what they were: pills for the Kelvins, replicated chow for the Trekkers. Chow has different colors; the Kelvin uniforms have different colors as well. Kalinda possesses certain flowers. There is a neutralization operation to reduce crewmen to desiccated cubes mostly because they are running out of food. The final gluttony FOOD scene is one between Scotty and Tomar. Tomar passes out as Scotty kisses the whiskey bottle defining the booze as: It’s Green! He “put him right under the table.” Appetites for food create the inner differences, the common food of life sustenance. Food is a destroyer of superficial differences, creator of oneness and a desire for a form of habitation for the Kelvins is suggested by Kirk: We would welcome friends—a 300 year old rose. Kolinda: turn us around; we are going home.”

end of BOOK 6