Patterns of Force - episode #52

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Patterns of Force - episode #52

Post  BoG on Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:46 pm


PATTERNS OF FORCE (2nd season; episode #52)  Like a Star @ heaven  Air Date: 02/16/68
Directed by Vincent McEveety  Like a Star @ heaven  Like a Star @ heaven  Like a Star @ heaven  writer: John Meredyth Lucas


On the heels of A Private Little War, this episode was another very serious attempt at presenting the consequences of interfering with the natural progress of a culture. The surprise here was the cause; this did not involve aggressive Klingons or even Kirk. And, I can even understand a hotshot captain such as Kirk rationalizing around the century-old Prime Directive at times of intense situational imperative. But,  in this episode, an elderly Federation historian, a supposed expert on what tampering with potential history means, decides to re-arrange a culture's status quo on what appears to be a whim - a chance to play God, as McCoy puts it at the end of the episode. To say that John Gill (David Brian), the visiting historian, miscalculated, is to put it very mildly.
In A Piece of the Action, the comedic version of such a story, Spock spoke of a contamination (a book). Here, the contamination is Nazism, a plague of thought & speech spread on a planet called Ekos by nice old man Gill of the Federation (with help from a guy named Melakon). The Ekosians, a warlike primitive people, are subverted to channel their aggression against their peaceful neighboring planet, Zeon. The Zeons were more advanced up until a few years ago; but now, Ekos has the same technology and plans are made to exterminate the Zeons.
As a cautionary tale, this episode is a more blatant, more transparent commentary on how an entire populace can be convinced into following a certain doctrine, because it's based on our actual history. More, this is just not based on history - this repeats history, a virtual duplication of Earth history. In the plot, Kirk & Spock try to infiltrate the Nazi HQ to see their Federation representative (now apparently the Fuhrer) and are captured.
One problem with episodes such as this has to do with constraints related to budget, meaning the make-up, the sets and so forth. The show is unable to capture the atmosphere of an actual alien planet or culture. Rather, it appears as if Kirk and Spock have transported themselves into Earth's past yet again, to Europe during World War II when it was dominated by Nazi Germany. So, this episode resembles another time travel tale from Trek. There is no make-up involved for the supposed two alien races here; they are, for all practical purposes, other humans. The Ekosians are duplicates of the Nazi people here, where-as the Zeons are stand-ins for the persecuted Jews. The episode does succeed in capturing some of that brutality associated with the Nazi regime, not just in the flogging received by Kirk & Spock, but in mention of cruel death and other oppression, as well as the sadistic attitudes of several key characters.

The conclusion remains unconvincing and too pat. When Kirk does gain access to Gill to hear some explanation, the historian's rationale for recreating a perverse collective is quite weak. Mostly, it has to do with the efficiency of the original Nazi state on Earth, which Gill thought would aid the disorganization on Ekos. Actual historians may point out that much of Germany's organizational ability back then was gained through plunder of neighboring nations. Perhaps Gill, being elderly, was in the early stages of senility or dementia when he was studying this planet - that might be the more rational assumption, not that he was just too far removed from the original problem. The more intriguing character, rather than the confused Gill, ends up being Melakon (Skip Homeier), the deputy Fuhrer who is, in fact, the actual incarnation of Hitler or Himmler - take your pick. He best represents, in a faintly chilling manner, the Aryan principles and that power corrupts.

With the dispatch of Melakon, all good things fall into place, this story suggests. However, in our actuality, Nazi Germany had already fallen by the time a certain dictator placed a pistol in his mouth. This differs this episode from Bread and Circuses (featuring a Roman Empire, the earlier version of such a Nazi state), where Kirk and his crew did not effect any changes to the culture but would let natural progression take care of the on-going brutality. BoG's Score: 7 out of 10

Extra Trek Trivia: actor Skip Homeier returned as an even more crazed character in the 3rd season's The Way to Eden. The word Zeon, of course, is quite similar to Zion. The name of the character Eneg (Patrick Horgan) is 'Gene' spelled backwards - as in Gene Roddenbery.  


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Patterns of Force full episode

Post  BoG on Tue Mar 30, 2010 6:27 pm

CLASSIC TREK QUOTES:
Spock (to Kirk): "You should make a very convincing Nazi."




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Politics of Patterns Trek

Post  BoG on Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:55 pm

In a Big Hollywood blog, Writer Andrew Price dissects this episode as an example of Star Trek's conservatism : http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/aprice/2012/02/11/the-politics-of-star-trek-patterns-of-force/

Here's a sample of the beginning:
The Politics of ‘Star Trek’: ‘Patterns of Force’ by Andrew Price

Conservatives often talk about what they don’t like about Hollywood. That’s okay, but it’s not productive. Maybe it’s time we talked about what we do like? More to the point, let’s point out when Hollywood has gotten it right. And that brings me to the original “Star Trek” series.


I’m not saying the creators of “Star Trek” were conservatives; they weren’t. But liberalism has shifting values, and for a brief period at the end of the 1960s, liberalism temporarily overlapped with the values of classical liberalism, which is the foundation of modern conservatism. “Star Trek” benefited from this. In fact, I think you’ll be surprised how deeply conservative these shows are. So join us as we dissect the conservative nature of “Star Trek,” the original series, and sometimes compare it to the intensely liberal “Next Generation.” Let’s start today with Episode 50: “Patterns of Force.”


Why It’s Conservative

On its surface, you might think a story about Nazis is left wing. After all, Hollywood wants you to believe the Nazis were a right-wing phenomenon equivalent to Libertarianism/ Conservatism. This is laughable, as the national socialist Nazis were everything the left claims to love. Yet, many people still ignorantly accept the idea the Nazis were rightists rather than leftists because that’s what they’ve been taught by leftist teachers. So it shouldn’t surprise us if a show about Nazis was meant as an attack on conservatives.

But “Patterns of Force” isn’t actually an anti-Nazi story. Rather, it’s a warning against the idea of the “benign” totalitarian government. To see this, we need only look at the episode’s payoff scene where Kirk questions Gill after McCoy counteracts the drugs given to Gill. Kirk angrily demands to know why Gill violated the Prime Directive (non-interference in alien worlds). Gill answers that the Ekosians were a divided people and Gill thought he could unify them using the Nazi model.
KIRK: Gill. Gill, why did you abandon your mission? Why did you interfere with this culture?
GILL: Planet fragmented. Divided. Took lesson from Earth history.
KIRK: But why Nazi Germany? You studied history. You knew what the Nazis were.
GILL: Most efficient state Earth ever knew.
SPOCK: Quite true, Captain. That tiny country, beaten, bankrupt, defeated, rose in a few years to stand only one step away from global domination.
KIRK: But it was brutal, perverted, had to be destroyed at a terrible cost. Why that example?
SPOCK: Perhaps Gill felt that such a state, run benignly, could accomplish its efficiency without sadism.
KIRK: Why, Gill? Why?
GILL: Worked. At first it worked. Then Melakon began take over. Used the. Gave me the drug.
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