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Patterns of Force (Star Trek)

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Patterns of Force (Star Trek)

"Patterns of Force"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Kirk, Spock and McCoy pose as Nazis.
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 21
Directed by Vincent McEveety
Written by John Meredyth Lucas
Featured music George Duning
Cinematography by Jerry Finnerman
Production code 052
Original air date February 16, 1968 (1968-02-16)
Guest actors
  • David Brian - Professor John Gill
  • Chuck Courtney - Davod
  • Skip Homeier - Deputy Führer Melakon
  • Richard Evans - Isak
  • Patrick Horgan - Chairman Eneg
  • Valora Noland - Daras
  • William Wintersole - Abrom
  • Paul Baxley - First Trooper
  • Peter Canon - Gestapo Lieutenant
  • Gilbert Green - S.S. Major
  • Bart LaRue - Nazi Newscaster
  • Ralph Maurer - S.S. Lieutenant
  • Ed McCready - S.S. Trooper
  • Eddie Paskey - Trooper
  • William Blackburn - Lt. Hadley / S.S. Trooper
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Return to Tomorrow"
Next →
"By Any Other Name"
List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"Patterns of Force" is a second season episode of the original science fiction television series Star Trek, and was broadcast on February 16, 1968. It is episode #50, production #52, written by John Meredyth Lucas, and directed by Vincent McEveety. This episode was banned on German television from 1968 until 1995 due to the depiction of Nazi uniforms.

In this episode, the crew of the Enterprise tracks down a Federation observer on a planet dominated by a "Naziesque" regime.


The starship Enterprise arrives at the planet Ekos in the M34 Alpha System, to investigate the disappearance of a Federation cultural observer named John Gill, who was one of Kirk's history professors at Starfleet Academy.

As soon as the Enterprise enters orbit around Ekos, it is attacked by a rocket armed with a thermonuclear warhead, technology too advanced to be from Ekos or their neighboring planet Zeon. The starship easily destroys the weapon and moves out of range of the planet's detection devices.

The crew are confused as to how the inhabitants of Ekos acquired such technology, since records indicated the Ekotians are supposed to be a primitive, warlike people in a current state of anarchy. Zeon has a more advanced technology level, but their inhabitants are peaceful. Kirk suspects Gill may be responsible for the introduction of advance technology, which means he has violated the Prime Directive.

Because no contact can be made with Gill, Captain Kirk and First Officer Spock decide to beam down to the planet to investigate. Before they transport to the surface, Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy injects Kirk and Spock with subdermal transponders, which can be used to locate and retrieve them if they are not heard from within three hours.

Upon their arrival, Kirk and Spock are approached by a Zeon man who urges them to hide. Kirk and Spock then watch the Zeon as he is arrested by Ekosian soldiers who appear dressed in uniforms that resemble Nazi brown-shirted Stormtroopers of the mid-20th century. Kirk wants to intervene, but Spock reminds him of the Prime Directive.

Kirk and Spock then watch a video broadcast that shows the Ekosians attending an event similar to the 1930s Nazi rallies at Nuremberg, with the huge crowds shouting of "Seig Heil," and waving Nazi flags with the swastika. Kirk is astonished that another planet could independently develop a culture so similar to one that once existed on Earth, Spock agreeing the odds of it happening naturally are virtually impossible. They watch the broadcast further as a female Nazi officer, Daras, receives a medal of honor. Kirk and Spock learn that the leaders of the planet are collectively obsessed with "a final solution"; the extinction of all Zeons who reside on their planet, in addition to the destruction of the neighboring planet Zeon. The broadcast ends with the reporter making a Nazi salute to a picture of the Führer — John Gill.

Kirk is determined to find Gill as soon as possible. He and Spock are approached by a Nazi SS officer who questions them, but Kirk manages to overpower him and steal his uniform. Spock, now disguised as an Ekosian soldier and Kirk acting as his Zeon prisoner, disable a Gestapo officer and Kirk obtains his uniform.

They then try to infiltrate the main headquarters, but are caught when Spock neglects to salute an SS officer and is forced to remove his helmet. They see his Vulcan ears and the two are arrested. Their weapons and communicators are confiscated and they are taken for interrogation, torture and eventual execution. Afterward, Party Chairman Eneg orders them thrown in a cell for an hour for further interrogation. They meet Isak, the Zeon man they saw being arrested earlier. Isak informs them that the Nazi movement started just a few years ago, which coincides with John Gill's arrival, and an all-out invasion of Zeon is being planned.

Spock removes the rubidium crystals from the subcutaneous transponders he and Kirk received earlier, and fashions a crude laser from them. Using the light of an incandescent bulb Spock directs the resulting beam, which cuts the lock off the cell door. After overpowering the guard, they recover their dismantled communicators, but discover that their phasers have been taken to another location. Isak takes them to meet the underground resistance led by his brother Abrom. Kirk explains to Abrom that he needs to find Gill in order to stop the war. Abrom is not keen on helping them until Kirk persuades him that it is their only chance for success. Meanwhile, Spock tries to call the Enterprise with a reassembled communicator but is unable to make contact because the ship is still out of transmission range.

Suddenly, the resistance group headquarters is raided, led by Daras. She manages to shoot Abrom before Kirk overpowers her. Now convinced that the strangers can be trusted, they are then told that the raid was only a ruse to test their loyalty. Abrom is actually unhurt, shot only with a blank. Daras is actually a fifth columnist, a member of the resistance group. The medal they had seen her receive on the newsreel was awarded for her turning in her father to the Gestapo. Her father had planned this in order to get her elevated to a position of trust within the Nazi government.

Kirk asks questions about Gill; Abrom explains that Deputy Führer Melakon is the de facto leader. In turn, Kirk and Spock explain that Gill is an extraterrestrial cultural observer in flagrant violation of his orders. Daras says that Gill is due to make a speech soon, one that will bring about a "Final Solution" to the Zeon problem, and she will help get them past security to meet him.

To gain entrance, they pretend to be a film crew that is shooting propaganda footage. Gill is eventually seen sitting in a chair in a broadcasting booth surrounded by guards and giving a speech that is a barely-coherent string of almost random statements, as if they were pieced together. Isak insists that Kirk and Spock kill Gill as soon as possible, but Kirk refuses.

Spock finally makes contact with the Enterprise and explains their situation while Kirk orders Dr. McCoy to beam down and examine Gill. McCoy materializes in a cloakroom, disguised as a Nazi military doctor, but the party is discovered by a security team who have detected Spock's communications in the building. Although the leader is Eneg, the same officer overseeing Kirk's and Spock's earlier imprisonment, he surprisingly does not seem to recognize them. He accepts their excuse that McCoy was intoxicated and ducked inside rather than embarrassing the Führer with his condition. After he leaves, Isak explains that Eneg has been on their side all this time.

Sneaking into the broadcast booth, McCoy examines Gill and confirms he is heavily drugged. He prepares a serum to counteract the effects. McCoy administers the stimulant to Gill, but it fails to fully revive him. Spock uses a Vulcan mind meld on Gill, which brings him to a state of semi-consciousness that allows him to respond to questions; Spock does confirm one fact — Melakon was responsible for Gill's condition.

Gill, barely coherent, explains that he never meant for any of this to get out of control. He instituted a theoretical form of Hitler's National Socialism upon the lawless Ekosians because he believed it was the most efficient system of government ever devised. Spock agrees that this small nation rose to near world domination in only a few years, but Kirk points out it was a horrible system that had to be destroyed at terrible cost. Gill explains he only wanted to bring order to the people of Ekos, and it worked — until Melakon gained control and took it further, twisting it into a racist policy to rid the planet of Zeons. Kirk makes Gill aware of the extent to which Ekos has progressed toward resembling Nazi Germany. Gill, now lucid enough to speak his own mind, decrees that the invasion fleet must be recalled. Melakon, however, has already started the broadcast, announcing the planet's Final Solution — a genocidal war with Zeon that Gill is to endorse in his speech. Through the help of Spock's mind meld, combined with medical stimulants, Gill renounces the invasion and declares Melakon a traitor. Melakon grabs a machine gun and opens fire on the broadcast booth, fatally wounding Gill. Isak shoots and kills Melakon in retaliation.

Before he dies Gill tells Kirk he is sorry for violating the Prime Directive and hopes the Ekosians and Zeons can work together and fix the damage he caused. Isak thanks Kirk for his aid, saying it is up to the two planets to rebuild themselves. As they leave, Kirk wonders if the two societies working together can join the Federation one day. Back on the Enterprise, Spock expresses confusion as to how a man as logical as Gill could make such a mistake emulating the Nazis. Kirk says the problem was not just the Nazi system but having one man possessing so much power. McCoy agrees that absolute power corrupts absolutely, Spock dryly pointing out all the examples from Earth history of that mentality and Kirk tells them "we just went through one civil war, let's not start another."

German Broadcast History

Because the episode contains Nazi uniforms and insignia, and features a character who makes the statement that Nazi Germany was the "most efficient society" ever created, it was considered unfit for entertainment in Germany. Consequently, this episode is the only one which was not aired during either of the two original runs in Germany (on the public ZDF network in the mid-1970s and on the private Sat.1 network in the late 1980s/early 1990s). It was only dubbed into German in 1995, and was presented in the original English with subtitles in all earlier German releases. It was finally shown on German pay TV in 1996 and included on all DVD/Blu-ray season sets. On November 4, 2011 it was finally shown on the public network channel ZDFneo as well.[1]


External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • wiki)
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