Thu
Jun 24 2010 3:43pm

Star Trek Re-Watch: “The Omega Glory”

“The Omega Glory”
Written by Gene Roddenberry
Directed by Vincent McEveety

Season 2, Episode 23
Production episode: 2x25
Original air date: March 1, 1968
Star date: Unknown

Mission Summary:

As the Enterprise approaches the planet Omega IV, they notice another vessel in orbit. It appears to be a Constitution-class starship, the USS Exeter, but it won’t respond to any hails. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Lt. Galloway (start your redshirt timer...) beam over to the ship. They discover... nothing. The ship is empty. All they see are uniforms lying around, filled with some kind of white crystals.

MCCOY: These white crystals. That’s what’s left of the human body when you take the water away, which makes up ninety-six percent of our bodies. Without water, we’re all just three or four pounds of chemicals.

Uh, no one tell his high school science teacher, OK? (We’re about 70% water.) They play the final log tape, the “Surgeon’s Log.” They see a haggard and visibly suffering ship’s surgeon on the viewscreen explain that they’ve all been infected with some kind of virus. That virus will have also infected Kirk and anyone else onboard the ship. Their only hope is to beam to the surface. He then collapses dramatically.

You didn’t run, did you? Don’t say I didn’t warn you...

They beam down and find some Asian men in fur get-ups beating a white man and his female companion, also in fur get-ups. They’re about to slice off the guy’s head (with a katana, no less) but the landing party’s arrival throws everything off. Suddenly Ron Tracey, the Exeter’s captain, enters and tells the men to stop. He appears to be their leader, which sets off a few red flags with Kirk—if you’re an Iron Age society’s leader, you probably violated the Prime Directive. Just a guess.

Tracey explains that he, too, is infected with the virus, but that Omega IV has kept him alive. The place has a natural immunizing effect that wards off all disease. The Kohms (the Asian men) are in charge, and the Yangs (the white men) are primitive animals, “impossible even to communicate with.” What a terrible place, right? But the virus means that they’ll die if they ever leave the plane, so they’re stuck with the Kohms and Yangs for good.

McCoy begins work on isolating a cure, if he can. Spock and Lt. Galloway return from some kind of excursion, but Galloway is injured. Spock explains that the Yangs attacked them with a lance—they are truly savage creatures. But while gallivanting around, Spock found, amongst hundreds of Yang bodies, an empty phaser power pack. From Tracey’s phaser. He’s been violating that Prime Directive like CRAZY. Kirk calls Tracey a “fool” but agrees with Spock: he must report this to Starfleet.

Just as Kirk is about to hail Enterprise Tracey comes in, with his throng of Kohm followers. Lt. Galloway tries to fire his phaser at them but Tracey zaps him into oblivion. The Kohns swipe the weapons and communicators from the landing party, and Tracey hails the Enterprise himself, telling Uhura that the landing party is unconscious from the disease. She seems skeptical, but what can you do?

Finally, we learn Tracey’s real plan. Mr. Wu, Kohn’s right-hand-man, is over four hundred years old. The men there live to be hundreds, even thousands of years old, thanks to some magical property on the planet. Tracey is determined to find out what it is, isolate the serum, and then market it—a fountain of youth that grants near immortality. For a reasonable fee, of course. (Does this planet have a secret cohort of Ferengis?)

Kirk of course is too good a man for this, and some man-fighting ensues. Tracey wins. He sets McCoy up with a lab to isolate the serum and locks Kirk up with the two Yangs from the beginning of the episode.

The Yangs are decidedly not friendly. The man promptly attacks Kirk, and some more man-fighting ensues. But the woman gets a little too close to Spock (who is in the next cell) and he nerve-pinches her. When she collapses, the man goes to tend to her, finally leaving Kirk alone.

Kirk and Spock talk theories of how this society came to be as if the Yangs weren’t even there. Spock thinks it has to do with a bacteriological holocaust, in which “the yellow civilization is almost destroyed” and “the white civilization is destroyed.” Um. Yeah. Tactful, this Roddenberry fellow. Kirk tries loosening the bars on his window, the key to their freedom. But the moment Kirk says the word “freedom” the male Yang looks sharply at him.

MALE YANG: That is a worship word. Yang worship. You will not speak it.

Oh ho ho! Look who can talk! Though the man is suspicious since Kirk seemed to be in cahoots with the Kohns, Kirk gets him to help him pry loose the bars. At which point the man uses it as a shank to whack Kirk on the head.

Spock looks on helplessly.

About seven hours later, Kirk finally comes to. Luckily the man pried open all the bars, so Kirk is able to get away and unlock Spock’s cell. They quickly disable the guard outside McCoy’s lab and rejoin the good doctor. McCoy explains that after whatever horrible war devastated these two races, the planet “built up natural immunizing agents.” But once those agents finish their immunization process, they work forever. The Exeter crew would have survived if they had just stayed on the planet a few hours.

KIRK: Then we can leave any time we want to. Tracey is of the opinion these immunizing agents can become a fountain of youth. There are people here over a thousand years old, Bones.
MCCOY: Survival of the fittest, because their ancestors who survived had to have a superior resistance. Then they built up these powerful protective antibodies in the blood during the wars. Now, if you want to destroy a civilisation or a whole world, your descendants might develop a longer life, but I hardly think it’s worth it.
KIRK: Then anything you develop here as a result of all this is useless.
MCCOY: Who knows? It might eventually cure the common cold, but lengthen lives? Poppycock.

Spock has rigged a crude communication device and they’re about ready to beam away from this terrible place. But, of course, Tracey steps in. He shoots Spock with his phaser and accuses Kirk of releasing the Yang to warn his tribe. The Yangs attacked the Kohms and overran them. Tracey looks like he’s been mauled by a mugato and it’s clear the Kohns lost this one.

KIRK: We can beam up at any time. Any of us.
TRACEY: You’ve isolated the serum?
KIRK: There’s no serum! There are no miracles! There’s no immortality here! All this is for nothing!

But Tracey won’t take no for an answer. He demands that Kirk hail his ship and get more phasers, to fight back against the Yangs. Kirk does, and of course Sulu, who’s in command, refuses on the grounds that it would violate the Prime Directive. This devolves into some more man-fighting (yawwwn) but their little scuffle is interrupted by a group of Yangs with spears, who take them prisoner.

The landing party (plus Tracey) are held by Yangs in furs with spears. This leads Kirk to thinking...

KIRK: If my ancestors were forced out of the cities into the deserts, the hills...
SPOCK: Yes. I see, Captain. They would’ve learned to wear skins, adopted stoic mannerisms, learned the bow and the lance.
KIRK: Living like the Indians, and finally even looking like the American Indian. American. Yangs? Yanks? Spock, Yankees! 
SPOCK: Kohms? Communists? The parallel is almost too close, Captain. It would mean they fought the war your Earth avoided, and in this case, the Asiatics won and took over this planet.
KIRK: But if it were true, all these generations of Yanks fighting to regain their land....
MCCOY: You’re a romantic, Jim.

But it gets better. A Yang brings out a tattered American flag. Then, the Yang from the cell earlier (whose name we now know is Cloud William. YES I KNOW), puts his hand on his heart and recites a mangled version of the Pledge of Allegiance. Kirk springs up and finishes the pledge. This freaks out the Yangs—how does he know their “holy words”? Tracey accuses Kirk of being “the evil one” who was “cast out of heaven.” He then accuses Spock of being the devil—and when Cloud opens up his Bible, it’s got a great picture of this skeevy-looking guy who looks a lot like Spock. Then, the nail in the coffin: Tracey tells the Yangs that Spock “doesn’t have a heart.” Cloud listens to his chest, and sure enough, he doesn’t hear one, because Vulcans have a heart somewhere else. Cloud demands one final trial: whoever can speak the “holy words” without his tongue turning to fire is the good one. He begins speaking gibberish and waits for either Tracey or Kirk to follow.

Kirk has no idea what he’s saying, but that’s OK because he has an ace up his sleeve!

KIRK: No, wait! There’s a better way. Does not your sacred book promise that good is stronger than evil?

...what’s that supposed to mean? Oh right, man-fighting. Some MORE man-fighting ensues, and during the struggle Spock begins using his magical demon powers to hypnotically suggest the Yang female. She is affected by it, taking the communicator and bringing it to Spock. Spock is able to hail the Enterprise just as Kirk wins, holding a blade against Tracey’s throat.

A landing party beams down, totally confused about what’s going on. But the Yangs have seen enough. Cloud Williams drops to his knees and calls Kirk a god, vowing to serve him. But Kirk explains that the words they wanted him to say—he did not understand, they were so jumbled. He walks to a chest containing the sacred document. He opens it...

...and it’s the Constitution.

KIRK: Hear me! Hear this! Among my people, we carry many such words as this from many lands, many worlds. Many are equally good and are as well respected, but wherever we have gone, no words have said this thing of importance in quite this way. Look at these three words written larger than the rest, with a special pride never written before or since. Tall words proudly saying We the People. That which you call Ee’d Plebnista was not written for the chiefs or the kings or the warriors or the rich and powerful, but for all the people! Down the centuries, you have slurred the meaning of the words, ’We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution.’ These words and the words that follow were not written only for the Yangs, but for the Kohms as well!
CLOUD: The Kohms?
KIRK: They must apply to everyone or they mean nothing! Do you understand?
CLOUD: I do not fully understand, one named Kirk. But the holy words will be obeyed. I swear it.
(Kirk leaves the Yangs to gaze at the old papers with new eyes.)
SPOCK: There’s no question about his guilt, Captain, but does our involvement here also constitute a violation of the Prime Directive?
KIRK: We merely showed them the meaning of what they were fighting for. Liberty and freedom have to be more than just words. Gentlemen, the fighting is over here. I suggest we leave them to discover their history and their liberty.

Analysis:

The first ten minutes of this were a strong Warp 5. The next 25 minutes were a solid Warp 3. But the last 15 were an appalling Warp Factor 1.

I was actually really excited about the mystery of the dehydrated crew. The empty Exeter had an eerie Hiroshima feel to it, the uniforms like silhouettes of the former crew emblazoned on the consoles. It actually gave me shivers. Then they beamed down to Racially Awesome Land where we learn that the “yellow civilization” is a bunch of genocidal Mongolian communists whose unrepentant evil forced whitey to devolve into Native American “animals.” Did anyone actually SEE this episode before it went on the air? I mean, even if you’re willing to forgive the excruciating racism (a big if), the sheer ludicriousness of the communist paranoia should be fodder for a million jokes. If those “Asiatic” communists win WE WILL ALL TURN INTO WOLVES. Think of the children! What the hell, Gene Roddenberry?

When they brought out the tattered American flag, I just about died. It felt kind of like that bizarre National Guard/Kid Rock advertising campaign, where you can’t actually believe anyone was supposed to respond to this with inspired awe because it’s just the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever seen and you can’t wait to go make fun of it on the internet.

And now that I have done that and had fun with my hyperbole, I’ll talk about it a bit more seriously: it’s racist, it’s offensive, and it’s baffling all at once. For a show whose mantra is the Prime Directive, Star Trek doesn’t just stomp on it here, it actively espouses cultural imperialism as the only way to set right so-called backwards societies. Granted, they’ve done it before, but never so blatantly and only as a “last” (interpreted generously) resort. Kirk has this nice moving speech in the beginning that “a star captain’s most solemn oath is that he will give his life, even his entire crew, rather than violate the Prime Directive.” HAHA that’s a good one, Kirk. I would love to see the Federation constitution that spells out the Prime Directive, with a little asterix footnote: “Not valid in CA, RI, or with James T. Kirk.” Tracey only wanted immortality—not so evil, really, just human—but Kirk actually comes in and accuses the Yangs of “slurring,” or polluting, the American values that should be held so high above all others. After his impassioned speech about freedom and liberty, Kirk demands to know if Cloud understands that the laws must apply to everybody and Cloud responds: “I do not fully understand, one named Kirk. But the holy words will be obeyed. I swear it. ” Because nothing says freedom and liberty like “OK you just tell me what to do and I’ll obey.” You don’t obey! That’s the whole point of freedom, ja?

Things that were awesome: McCoy trying to grab the tuning fork thing (but getting caught); the illustration of Demon Spock; Kirk shouting that there are no miracles. And...that’s all I can think of in the awesome category.

This misguided attempt at American patriotism is like a big sloppy wet kiss: so outrageous that at best, it’s uncomfortable to watch, and at worst it’s kind of revolting and oh god did you have to use tongue I can’t watch. Except I did. For you. And now I never have to see it again. Hurrah!

Torie’s Rating: Warp Factor 1

 

 

Eugene Myers: Few Star Trek episodes have such a promising setup and then go so far off the rails. The opening mystery on board Exeter tricked me into thinking this might be a different episode from the one I was dreading (further aided by a DVD mixup—I thought I was watching “By Any Other Name”). I had completely forgotten the plot involving Crazy Tracy, the infection, and the “immunizing” potential of Omega IV. I’d probably have given the first act of this episode a Warp 5, but the warp engines fail midway through and the show limps in just short of Warp 3 at the end.

 The situation on Exeter is creepy and intriguing, though the piles of white crystals in Starfleet uniforms immediately evoked the 1966 Batman movie for me. It’s always fun to see a “different” ship on the show, but it sure seems that the majority of captains are completely nuts, always craving power and/or immortality. They need better psychological screening, yeah? You also would think that the crew of Exeter would set up an automatic warning or distress signal, so investigating crews won’t find out about the infection until it’s too late.

Once Kirk and the others beam to the planet, the episode begins its slow decline. The “Yangs” and “Kohns” are still wince-inducing, fully lacking in subtlety and vaguely offensive in their portrayals of white men acting like Native Americans in silly furs and yellow “Asiatics” in Mongolian costumes. But it’s not trying to be subtle, is it? They go out of their way to draw the obvious parallels, and the planet is improbably similar to an alternate Earth where they have struck on the same flag, pledge of allegiance, and exact phrasing of the Constitution of the United States. If Spock doesn’t believe it, why should we? (Granted, it’s theoretically possible that given enough worlds, parallel Earths like this might well exist somewhere in our universe, if not in another one, but it certainly wouldn’t develop in the same galaxy.)

This episode is heavy on propaganda. The suggestion that the ideals of the Constitution must “apply to everyone” doesn’t seem problematic to anyone—in the same episode where the non-interference principle of the Prime Directive is extolled as the highest law. In today’s society, I found it especially chilling that Kirk accuses the Yangs of “slurring the words” of their Constitution and emptying them of meaning. Despite Kirk’s fervent patriotism for an ancient Earth “tribe” and his cocky announcement that the Consitution describes freedom better than any document before or since seems somewhat out of place, I do admire his passion. And the Constitution is a pretty good document. I thought it was a nice touch that Spock stops the security men from leading Tracey away just long enough for him to hear Kirk’s rah-rah-America speech. I might have forgiven some of the silliness of the Yankee-Communist reveal, but the incorporation of the “Star-Spangled Banner” crosses the line and highlights just how goofy the premise is.

This episode has one other mighty flaw: Spock’s use of hypnotism to force the woman to bring him a communicator. When I saw that, my first thought was, “Oh crap! Spock is the devil!” This ridiculous Vulcan ability that is rarely used in Star Trek, but I believe it does make at least one more appearance in another episode. (If he can use a Jedi mind trick whenever he wants, all tension is removed from any predicament he finds himself in. And you have to wonder why he allowed her to beat up his captain earlier in the episode.) It’s also too bad that they continue to beat the idea of immortality to death. The concept of an immunizing planet as a fountain of youth was new at the time, at least in Star Trek, but it’s revisited in later series—most notably Deep Space Nine.

I was happy to see Sulu in command of Enterprise, but where was Scotty? And why would he beam down into a potentially dangerous situation when all the other senior officers were already in trouble? (Incidentally, I hope someone told him and the red shirts that they need to cool their heels on Omega IV for a little while before beaming back to the ship, given that pesky infection that will kill everyone if they aren’t immunized first.)

Speaking of weird diseases... Man, the 1990s were rough; they had both the Eugenics War and bacteriological warfare experiments? How did any of us survive? Maybe there’s another planet out there where we didn’t, huh? There’s a plot for the next Star Trek movie. Writing is easy!

Eugene’s Rating: Warp 2 (on a scale of 1-6)

Best Line: MCCOY: “Spock, I’ve found that evil usually triumphs unless good is very, very careful.”

Syndication Edits: Spock walking to the science station to play the Exeter’s logs; three different sections of the fight between Kirk and Cloud Williams; the scene where Tracey forces Kirk to order more phasers, and Sulu’s refusal to do so; the buildup to the entrance of the flag; Cloud sticking the knife in the floor before Kirk and Tracey fight.

Trivia: Morgan Woodward, who plays Captain Tracey, appeared before as Simon Van Gelder in “Dagger of the Mind.” Both times he was a little off his rocker.

The voice of Roy Jensen, who played Cloud Williams, was digitally slowed for the episode.

Though Lt. Galloway dies here, he re-appears in “Turnabout Intruder” and “Day of the Dove” (though in the latter he is Lt. Johnson).

Other Notes: “The Omega Glory” was actually written two years earlier, in 1965, and was one of the three episodes considered for the pilot. (The other two being “Mudd’s Women” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” the latter of which was ultimately chosen.) In the original draft, the ship’s doctor was Milton Perry and he was killed in action during the course of the episode.

The original draft is very different from the episode aired. Originally, when Kirk beamed down and met Tracey, the man looks younger. It  turns out to be psychosomatic response to not having a captain’s responsibilities. Spock, on the other hand, had actual powers over women: he uses it to obtain information from an Omegan woman early on, then later touches the top of a woman’s head and she falls to the floor, dazed. He brought her out of it by closing her eyes and slapping her face. It was this hypnotism that led the Yangs to accuse him of devilry.

The original ending had a western-style gunfight, complete with rifles.

And regarding how this parallel planet could have gotten the Constitution down to the calligraphy: apparently an earlier draft of the script heavily implied that the Yangs and Kohms were descendants of settlers from the ’60s space race. Their ancesters were the first space colonists, and on Omega IV the Cold War played out and ended differently. This doesn’t jive with the final script, though, if we’re to believe that the Kohms really can live to be 1000 years old (the ’60s space race would have only been two hundred years ago).


Next episode: Season 2, Episode 23 - “The Ultimate Computer.” U.S. residents can watch it for free at the CBS website.

Check the Star Trek Re-Watch Index for a complete list of posts in this series.


Torie Atkinson thinks they should’ve just called them Morlocks and been done with it.

Eugene Myers wan in da korz uff oomn eelens, id bekkems neces ery forn pebli too dizzlev da powticle banz... Right?

56 comments
j p
1. sps49
But how could Cloud William speak English fine, but read it so badly?

Same flag and Constitution? Blargh. Although it helps to know it was a remnant of the original draft concept.

If they could've stuck with the Kohm- dirty Commie thing, I would've been happier. Who the hell let "yellow" and "white" racism in?

I remember trial by combat as a big part of the Arthurian mythos, where if so-and-so won, it was because God wanted him to. Might makes Right and Right makes Might got confusing to me, eventually.

It started off so good....

Well, back to my Fururama countdown. How many Star Trek references will be in tonight's new episode?
Marcus W
2. toryx
Man, this is another of those awful episodes that I'd completely forgotten about.

It's downright offensive but from a historical perspective it makes a lot of sense to me. Vietnam was still in full rage, after all, and McCarthyism was probably still potent enough to get people all in a patriotic bliss whenever an analogy like this was created.

What really surprises me, however, is how much more offended I am by the fervent jingoism now than I might have been fifteen years ago. I can actually see this episode being aired again today and a lot of people (er, Americans) strongly approving of the message. That just disturbs the hell out of me.
James Hogan
3. Sonofthunder
Hmm, this is one I've never seen before! And I can see that is probably a good thing. Wow. Even the recap you gave was shocking enough - I can't imagine *watching* it!!
Stefan Jones
4. Stefan Jones
I've always wanted to recreate the crystallized crew thing with rock salt and sets of thrift store clothing.

Man, imagine a whole cul-de-sac strewn with "victims" and a few well placed props, like an abandoned ball, and a pile of salt with a dog collar and a rawhide bone placed at one end.
David Levinson
5. DemetriosX
It's cheesy as hell, but I've always had something of a soft spot for this episode. OTOH, I seem to have really suppressed the racism of it. I agree with sps49 @1 that leaving it at commies vs. Yanks would have sufficed. I also suspect they were aware of the troubling aspects of the plot and that is why Sulu was in command. (Wouldn't surprise me either that George Takei pointed out those aspects to Roddenberry.)

I was actually thinking about this episode yesterday while mowing the lawn. (I remembered it was next up.) Without getting too political here, it occurred to me that there is a very vocal segment of the US population right now who know the words (sort of), consider them sacred, and yet really don't appear to understand them at all. The Yangs are here and without a civilization-ending biological war.
David Levinson
6. DemetriosX
Stefan @4: This isn't the only time that trope has been used. It's a large part of the first episode of Red Dwarf, with Lister even tasting several of the piles. There was also a bad TV movie with Peter Graves (I think) from the late 60s or early 70s where a solar flare reduced most of the world's population to little piles of salt.
Torie Atkinson
7. Torie
Yay we're back! So sorry about the erratic nature of these posts recently. I unfortunately have no control over scheduling, and last week there was a big site upgrade that kind of killed this post over and over again. It's fixed now (as you see before you), so hurrah!

@ 1 sps49

I just assumed that none of them could read or write at all, and that the words had been passed down verbally. It's like actual oral traditions, only stupid and racist.

Agreed that Commie vs. Yank would've been just fine without adding the color wheel garbage.

Futurama!! I can't tell you how excited I am. I'm going to bet on only 1 Star Trek reference tonight. What do you bet?

@ 2 toryx

I'm glad to see someone else reacting negatively to the fervent jingoism. At least unlike contemporary jingoistic shows the government didn't use it as a model for wartime policy...

@ 3 Sonofthunder

There's really no reason to watch it.

@ 4 Stefan Jones

Haunted house idea for Halloween! I kind of want to make that Devil Spock outfit as a costume.

@ 5 DemetriosX

I don't disagree.
jon meltzer
8. jmeltzer
It's a pity that we only have the first three acts of this fragment. Despite the yellow-white racism (did you really have to go there, Gene?) this abandoned episode does have its moments - we have a nice spooky atmosphere on the Exeter, McCoy has very good lines, and, with Captain Tracy, there is a villain who is Kirk's superior. I can even deal with the bunny fur suits.

Something must have gone horribly wrong in production, but I guess we should be thankful for what we do have.
j p
9. sps49
@7 Torie-

Okay, by "episode" I mean the full hour. By "reference" do we include items like door sound effects and the presence of Zapp Brannigan? Or just new, nonrecurring references? (my intent)

I will call 2 new references.

Also, I imagine you were busy fixing tordot; if so, thank you.
jon meltzer
10. jmeltzer
@3 SonOfThunder: Watch it up to the capture of Kirk and Spock by the Yangs.

Then turn off the TV set. There is no more after that.
Eugene Myers
11. ecmyers
@3 Sonofthunder

If I have to watch "The Way to Eden" again, then I don't see why you shouldn't have to watch this!

@ 4 Stefan Jones

That would make a phenomenal photo series. Are you a photographer?

@6 DemetriosX

Good memory! Also, Night of the Comet has something similar. I have an unreasonable love for that movie, which also has a young Robert Beltran in it.

@8 jmeltzer

You're exactly right, and that's why I didn't score this quite as low as Torie. I *almost* gave it a 3.
David Levinson
12. DemetriosX
Eugene @11:

Well, I'm a big RD fan and I was of an age where that movie really stuck with me. Apparently, that was the case for a lot of people my age. I found the film! It was called Where Have All the People Gone?. It was really pretty disturbing.
Torie Atkinson
13. Torie
@ 9 sps49

New, non-recurring references only. I still say one for the whole hour. I think they'll be preoccupied with self-referential humor.

Nope, nothing to do with fixing the site. I left in January and now I just moderate (and blog... sometimes). All the site-actually-being-awesome praise goes to the current Tordot commies: Bridget, Megan, Irene, Jamie, Chris, Stephanie, Michael... They are the greetest! Now I am leaving this comment thread for no raisin! (Not really, but now I have Futurama on the brain.)
Mouldy Squid
14. Mouldy_Squid
@ 1 sps49

Trial by Combat was not just in the Arthurian Mythos. It was, in fact, an actual legal custom of early feudal Europe. It was assumed that God would favour the winner of the combat and thus the winner was innocent of whatever crime he stood accused of. Such combats could be fought to the death, but actually rarely were. A sound thrashing and some spilt blood sufficed.
Stefan Jones
15. lemnoc
Tracy continues to act malevolently even after any possible motivation to do so vanishes. Once apprised that his immortality gambit was a fraud you'd think he'd have fallen on the temporary insanity gambit and helped get himself the heck out of there.

OTOH, Tracy hands Kirk his @rse in every tussle they get into. Thought Kirk was supposed to be the tough one, but Tracy mops the floor with him. Throws him around, gets the drop on him, nearly vaporizes him. Spock's got to cheat in order to keep Tracy from mounting Kirk on a wall.
Church Tucker
16. Church
I'm with Eugene, again. Pretty much a two, on average.

I liked the infection angle, and particularly the fact that the 'cure' was so simple that it was missed, initially.

The whole Yang/Kohm thing wasn't exactly subtle, but we didn't do much subtlety back then.

What I never could quite figure out was what changed, exactly? Was Cloud going to come down from the mountains and present the Constitution to the Khoms? Or was the fact that nothing really changed just reinforcing the Prime Directive?

@Torie, why do you consider this racist? The factions are at least partially racially based, but that's not the same thing.

The Khoms are depicted as the victorious side. Tracey sides with the Khoms, although he looks like a Yang (of course, he's a nutter, so not a ringing endorsement.) Kirk emphasizes that the Constitution applies to the Khoms as well (Takei was a vet of America's concentration camps, remember.)

Sure, the "Yellow race" comment sticks out now, and it was a bit long in the tooth at the time, but that was before we knew to say "oriental."
john mullen
17. johntheirishmongol
This was my favorite episode of the series. The first time, even with the foreshadowing, the guy bringing in the flag sent a chill down your spine.


And it's ok to look at anything and take it in context. During this period of time we were heavily involved in Vietnam and regardless of what you think now, most people supported the war until the 70s.

I think its good to look at anything with a fresh eye and see its flaws but there is power in this episode and it does have a payoff.
Stefan Jones
18. RetroGrouch
Actually, if you can overlook the holes in the plot that are big enough to drive a starship through, it isn't that bad.

One small nit: "Granted, it’s theoretically possible that given enough worlds, parallel Earths like this might well exist somewhere in our universe, if not in another one, but it certainly wouldn’t develop in the same galaxy." From a probability standpoint, it is just as likely to develop on the next nearest suitable planet as in another galaxy or universe (more likely than another universe, actually).
j p
19. sps49
@13 Torie

Soooo...

Kif operated a desktop viewer in Nixon's office very similar to the Briefing Room terminal.

The Death Sphere (Star Wars, of course) is a mashup of two different space payloads a la "The Changeling".

Hermes flips through "Janeway's" (Fighting Ships) Guide.

And a transporter sound effect, but that has been used before.

I'm not worried about a precise count. I am very happy to have more Futurama, but poor Leela had to pay a high price in the end.
Eugene Myers
20. ecmyers
@18 RetroGrouch

That's a good and true point! But the odds were obviously stacked in favor of the Enterprise crew...
Eugene Myers
21. ecmyers
@19 sps49

I think we're actually counting the whole "Garden of Eden/Adam & Eve" plot as a Star Trek reference too, and I'd say the "twist" at the end of the second episode evokes Twilight Zone yet again, specifically "I Shot an Arrow into the Air".
Rachel Hyland
22. RachelHyland
@ ecmyers

Okay, fair enough with this one, "The Omega Glory" is befuddling, jingoistic, discomfiting and spectacularly nonsensical, but "The Way to Eden"? Gold, baby! Spock and the hippies in a sing-a-long? What's not to love?

More troublingly, you have "Spectre of the Gun" in your near future. I look forward to seeing what you and Torie make of that particular page out of American history brought to episode budget-pleasing life.
Mike Conley
23. NomadUK
Okay, late to the party again. All I have to say:

- McCoy, in his attempt to snag a sharp tool and his smooth recovery, is one very cool character.

- It's good to see Kirk get the crap beaten out of him by someone for a change.

- William Shatner reading the Preamble to the Constitution of the US sends a shiver down my spine every time — in a good way. Pity it takes a Canadian to do it right.

- Real shame they had to use the silly Pledge of Allegiance, but I suppose 'When in the course of human events...' was a bit too long.

- Babe in scanty fur and leather outfit (borrowed from Raquel in One Million Years B.C.), and long, lingering pan as she opens the communicator under Spock's 'suggestion'. Enough said.

Okay, I'm done. I think.
Torie Atkinson
24. Torie
@ 16 Church

It shows the only non-white people on the planet as genocidal murderers who used bacteriological warfare to force white men back into the caves and end civilization as we know it. Yeah, racist.

If it's about commies vs. democrats, then why do they have to be Asian commies and white democrats? Why aren't the commies Russian, or East German? And it's not like we didn't have democracy lovers in China (Chaing Kai-Shek's Nationalists), Japan, or our allies in South Vietnam at the time. To set them apart racially means that more than a political divide, it's an ethnic one, and I don't see how or why they had to go there.

@ 19 sps49

Don't forget Brannigan saying "Hailing frequencies open" in the beginning, though I think we've seen that before.

The V'GINY thing was a reference to Star Trek: The Slow Motion Picture moreso than "The Changeling."

And yeah, I was underwhelmed by that premiere. And pretty grossed out by the end. I guess they're trying to "push the boundaries" on Comedy Central, but if I wanted to watch South Park I'd watch South Park.

@ 22 RachelHyland

Uh-oh... *gulp*

@ 23 NomadUK

The fact that Kirk got his ass kicked was confusing to me. He lost a man-fight to this guy THREE TIMES and then says "Let our final trial be a man-fight!" I guess he's not one to give up...
Mike Conley
25. NomadUK
Torie@24: Torie, Torie. Kirk never gives up.
Church Tucker
26. Church
@24 Torie "It shows the only non-white people on the planet as genocidal murderers who used bacteriological warfare to force white men back into the caves and end civilization as we know it."

Well, there's a couple assumptions there that I don't remember being part of the plot. We don't know that there are no other non-white people, although we don't see any in this village. And I was under the impression that both sides 'went bacteriological,' and this was as much a cautionary tale about escalation as anything else.

Yeah, it could as easily have been an oppressive white government, but we get plenty of those in other episodes.

In fact, you could read this as much as a parable of the American Indians as anything. Is that racist?
Torie Atkinson
27. Torie
@ 25 NomadUK

And that's why he's the captain.

@ 26 Church

To imply that Native Americans are the uncivilized and prehistoric versions of our culture is pretty damn arrogant (and yes, racist).
Mike Conley
28. NomadUK
You know, this episode would have been a lot different if the parallel culture had been English instead of American. Do you suppose Kirk has the words to Magna Carta memorised?

Kirk pulls the ancient scroll out of its box, and reads, dramatically:

Know that, through the inspiration of God, for the health of our soul and the souls of all our ancestors and heirs, for the honour of God and the exaltation of Holy Church, and for the betterment of our realm, by the counsel of our venerable fathers, of our nobles, and of our other faithful men, We have in the first place granted to God and by this our present charter have confirmed, for us and our heirs forever, that the English Church shall be free and shall have its rights entire and its liberties inviolate!

Doesn't quite have the same punch, I suppose....
Stefan Jones
29. Karen Coyle
I was about 8 years old when this one aired. I think I rolled my eyes and sighed more during this one hour of my life than I did during all the later years of my terrible teens.
Church Tucker
30. Church
@28 NomadUK

No, not quite the same. For all their faults, the Founders had a great sense of language.
Torie Atkinson
31. Torie
@ 28 NomadUK

I don't think Roddenberry would've gone for all that god stuff, anyway...

I do like thinking of the other possibilities. The Boy Scouts creed maybe? I still feel that in terms of "most likely to survive an apocalypse" a laminated, full-color Denny's menu would be higher on the survivability scale than the Constitution. "Moons over my hammy" could be easily misconstrued as sacred words, no?
Stefan Jones
32. Mercurio2
This episode provided perhaps the single most groan-worthy moment in my young TV-watching life when Kirk recited the preamble. But over the years ... well, it's *so* corny, *so* over-the-top, that I now think it falls into the so-bad-it's-good category. :)

Thanks for the amusing summary, folks.
lane arnold
33. lanearnold
---'60's television cold war psy ops---mixing political and science fiction seems to be a killer in this episode--it's a reflection of the times and the viewership---but, i didn't know spock was into hypnosis---that a'boy spocko!---
Church Tucker
34. Church
@27 Torie

You have a singular talent for finding racism.

I can't wait for season three.
Matthew Stevens
35. kent_allard
Thanks for the review guys! This is one I now know to avoid.

I can't get over these planets that perfectly parallel Earth history. There were explanations, at least, in "A Piece of the Action" and "Patterns of Force." But this episode and "Bread and Circuses" didn't even bother.

It's not like we didn't have democracy lovers in China (Chaing Kai-Shek's Nationalists), Japan, or our allies in South Vietnam at the time.

Oh Torie, I hope you were being ironic! :) You could say this with a straight face for Japan, but Chiang Kai-Shek ...*shudder*
Stefan Jones
36. FDRLincoln
The first 25 minutes of this episode are excellent, but it goes down hill from there.

Good points:
The situation on the Exeter
Some snappy dialog
Tracey is a great villain
Horrors of biological warfare

Bad points:
Spock says it himself...the parallel is "too close" with Earth
The flag...just too much
Racial and jingoist overtones

I would point out that it was never said which side STARTED the biological war. It could have been the "Americans" for all we know.

That said, here is something to consider: the war on this planet was at least a thousand and perhaps as long as 2,000 years ago....way before the US arose on Earth.

This episode shows both Roddenberry's strengths as a writer as well as his weaknesses. He was great at character development and could write some really nice dialog. But plotting and story set-up were real weaknesses for him. He was much better at taking someone else's original story plot and fixing the characters and dialog up than he was at coming up with his own story ideas. He was a brilliant re-writer...but a mediocre-to-poor plotter.
Stefan Jones
37. tbob
@34 Church

@27 Torie

You have a singular talent for finding racism.

-----------------

Tor.com in general has a talent for this. They should just put a header at the top of reviews for anything more than 20 years old: "We at Tor.com are much more enlightened than the racist neanderthals who wrote/filmed/produced the following racist piece of racist fiction."
Torie Atkinson
38. Torie
@ 37 tbob

There are plenty of places on the internet that will validate your worldview. Don't troll here.
Torie Atkinson
39. Torie
@ 35 kent_allard

Haha, okay, fair point, how about "commie-haters"? I just mean if it's commies vs. commie-haters, there were options.

@ 36 FDRLincoln

I think you're absolutely right. ST:TMP should be evidence enough of his weaknesses as a writer. He has great characters and even some really great ideas, but the plots themselves... well.

I am curious to read the original draft of this. It sounds interesting. I mean, except for Spock's powers. That's just ridiculous.
Stefan Jones
40. FDRLincoln
@ 39 Torie

I actually think TMP is a bit underrated. I found it boring when I was a kid, but as I've gotten older (I'm an old fart at 42), I appreciate what the story was trying to say a bit more now.

The plot was a ripoff of "The Changeling" of course, and there were too many long drawn out special effects sequences. But the concept of transendence and the tension between logic/feeling is something that I understand a lot better nowadays.

It's still not a good movie, but I don't hate it any more. The novelization is actually pretty interesting and better than the movie in some ways.
Torie Atkinson
41. Torie
@ 40 FDRLincoln

I don't think it's bad either. Its biggest issue was, if I recall correctly, pacing. But we'll see how I feel when we re-watch it after the series?
Mike Conley
42. NomadUK
So thrilled was I that a Star Trek movie had been made that I went to see it every afternoon for a week, cutting classes at university to do it. Clearly, I was insane.

Of course, this is the same guy who watched Space Seed three afternoons in a row without complaint because the local television station had forgotten to switch the tape.

The youth of today are spoiled rotten with riches.

And, actually, I thought the novel was rubbish. (As was George Lucas's adaptation of Star Wars; make your own connections, if any.)
Marcus W
43. toryx
Torie @ 31:

I love the idea of a Denny's menu as a sacred document. Man, that would have made for a great episode.

Incidentally, I fully agree with you about all the racist elements of this episode. Simply stomach churning.

FDRLincoln @ 36:

I absolutely agree about Roddenberry's rewriting skills over his original plot abilities. That's the kind of thing that seems to happen a lot in Hollywood, actually.

Re: Star Trek The Motion Picture -

I've always had a sort of love/ hate relationship with the film. I loved the extended fly by shots of the new Enterprise and I used to watch that part of the movie fairly regularly on VHS. I liked the feeling that time had passed between the series and the movie and that most everyone went on to do other things. I particularly wanted to know more about what McCoy had been up to.

Even the story was somewhat interesting to me, the whole man vs. machine, creator versus child, etc. But the pacing was definitely off. Someone must have been seriously in love with the special effects budget. Or hugely inspired by Kubrick's 2001.

But then, we're going to get our chance to talk about the movie in more depth, eventually, won't we? I should just shut up.
Eugene Myers
44. ecmyers
@42 NomadUK

Of course, this is the same guy who watched Space Seed three afternoons in a row without complaint because the local television station had forgotten to switch the tape.

That's amazing. At least it was a really good episode!
Stefan Jones
45. FDRLincoln
Some upcoming episodes will definitely show Roddenberry's "Terrific Characters/Great Dialog/Bad Story Concept" problems. But I won't spoil it for those of you who don't have the episodes memorized, lol.
Torie Atkinson
46. Torie
@ 42 NomadUK

At least they didn't leave "The Alternative Factor" on a loop...

SW: Episode I premiered on my birthday and I thought that was destiny. I can't tell you how excited I was about that movie.

Now I have to think of it every time my birthday rolls around. *weeps uncontrollably*

@ 43 toryx

Thanks! :) And yeah, I'm looking forward to the movie discussions.

@ 45 FDRLincoln

Looking forward to it!
Church Tucker
48. Church
And for those curious about what happened to the Exeter herself, the fanfilm series Starship Exeter follows the further voyages of the (decontaminated) Starship.

It's pretty good, and they do the best job of recreating the look & feel of TOS of any of the fan productions that I've seen. Just beware that the final act of their second episode (they release an act at a time) has been delayed forfrakingever due to some production difficulties.
Stefan Jones
49. tpence
"The Omega Glory" has always been one of my favorite Star Trek episodes, and I've always felt that it was one of the best. The fact that it is so despised by the America-hating, PC-phuqt, race-obsessed libtards only reinforces that position. The people who knock "Glory" are probably the same people who bought that moronic Daniel Bernardi book. Want to see an actual racist? Look in the mirror.
Torie Atkinson
50. Torie
@ 49 tpence

Consider this an official moderator warning: engage with the post, not the posters, and keep politics out of this. Mean-spirited and vile ad hominem attacks are won't be tolerated here.
Stefan Jones
51. tpence
hd t lgh t yr sttmnt "kp pltcs t f ths." Y mght hv ddd ". . . nlss thy'r MY pltcs." Typcl hypcrsy. Thn whn smn lk tbb r myslf trs t cll y n yr bll$&#*, y ply th rl f th ndgnnt mdrtr. f y'll ntc, dd nt trgt my rlr pst t ny thr spcfc ndvdl (lthgh, f th sh fts . . . ) ls s tht y r n f ths ppl wh lks t s th phrs "d hmnm" wtht ny knwldg whtsvr f wht t ctlly mns. Why s t y r llwd t b "mn sprtd" bt n n ls s?

Stefan Jones
52. Paul Milenkovic
C'mon people, don't y'all thing that Omega Glory ranks right up there in yummy cheesiness with . . . Spock's Brain!

Remember when President Reagan announced "Space Station Freedom" (Freeedoohhm! Yang worship word!)

(Sorry, some politics, but I couldn't resist.)
Mike Conley
53. NomadUK
I have to admit that I can never say the word 'freedom' without stopping, and then repeating it in a baritone with rising inflection. And, occasionally, the 'Yang worship word' tacked on.

Does make for unusual conversations, on occasion, and tends to take a little away from the ending of Braveheart....
Stefan Jones
54. kadajawi
Actually I quite liked this episode. Yeah, too much fighting (Kirk is no Bruce Lee...), and of course not too subtle, but quite interesting from a historical perspective, and that twist was quite chilling. IMHO this episode was very much inspired by Planet of the Apes... well, obviously not by the movie, but they are quite close. Both not very subtle, in both there was a war which has changed everything. In both there is this American symbol which introduces a big reveal (funny how Kirk & Co. weren't surprised at all).

I guess what happened was... they carried the war into space (somehow...), both ships entered, dunno, a wormhole that sent them into the past, they crashed, continued fighting, and then the whole thing evolved over several hundred thousand years.

Ps: All the PC is going too far. Just saying. You wouldn't fault Huckleberry Finn for the "n-word", would you?
Stefan Jones
57. Sam0
Good lord. Gene Roddenberry is almost certainly rolling over in his grave at this review. Torie managed to take one of the most subversive and subtle critiques of race in all of the old Star Trek episodes and conclude that the episode is actually promoting racism and racial slurs.

(By the way, I agree that the episode has lots of crappy elements, like all the fighting between the captains for no apparent reason.)

First off, there are lots of clues that this episode is about deconstructing racial categories rather than enforcing them. The most obvious aspect is the long discussion of Spock's appearance, and the stereotypical assumptions that apparently go along with that. Obviously viewers were meant to recognize that those assumptions were ridiculous -- you can't judge someone on the basis of their appearance. Do you really need to be hit over the head with this message?

Apparently so.

We also have lots of other hints that this episode isn't playing into some sort of racial stereotypes against Asians or otherwise. Sulu's in command of the ship for most of the episode, for gosh sake! And early on, we have Bones pointing out that all we are in the end is a bunch of (similar looking) powder. Our essence all looks the same, unlike the clothing -- and by implication, our appearances -- that is unrelated to that essence.

Okay, already that should be enough to note that there's probably some pretty strong subtext to this episode. But it seems that everybody is getting hung up over one use of the word "yellow" and a particular reading of the Native American suggestions (a reading which I don't think is implied at all by the script).

Let's start with "yellow." Are you aware of the "Yellow Power" movement? In the years 1967-72 or so, there was a huge civil rights movement for Asian Americans, particularly strong on California college campuses. The year of this episode (1968) saw, for example, the famous "Are You Yellow?" conference at UCLA. Asian Americans at this time were reappropriating the term "yellow" for themselves again in a positive way.

Racial terminology changed rapidly in those years. Before the late 1960s, "colored" and "negro" were the standard respectful terms to use for blacks, both of which had been highly endorsed at different times by the black community. See, for example, old names like the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), the UNCF (United Negro College Fund), or even many speeches of people like Martin Luther King.

But the radical left wanted to change the terminology. The most radical "Black Power" groups wanted to take the word "Black," which previously had derogatory associations, and reclaim it as their own. Others, less radical, favored "African American." Both terms are still with us today.

In the Asian community, there was a similar wish to reappropriate the "Yellow" term as part of "Yellow Power," though others favored the older "Oriental" term, and still others liked "Asian American." Mainly because Filipino activists did not identify as "Yellow," unlike many other East Asians, the "Yellow" term never caught on as "Black" did, and "Asian American" instead became the only dominant term.

Nevertheless, the use of "Yellow" in 1968 was not clearly an old derogatory term -- it probably hinted at the most radical left civil rights groups of the day.

On the other hand, this reappropriation allowed some awesome subtle subtext in this episode. Previously, "Yellow" had often been associated with phrases like the "Yellow Peril," an idea that dates back into the late 1800s, where Asians were thought to be a threat to American workers and taking their jobs, but which came to have deeper meaning during WWII. Those radical activists in the "Yellow Power" movement often actually gave out buttons that read "Yellow Peril," again to reappropriate a derogatory phrase toward radicalism.

Getting back to the episode, one of the associations of the "Yellow Peril" idea was an idea of invasions by Asians, whether it was fear of the Japanese in WWII, or the much older fears of Mongolians, Genghis Khan, etc.

The episode here does a straight-up role reversal, where the Asians (Comms) in the town act like "civilized" Europeans, while the Yangs are given specific stereotypical characteristics of "Mongolian" barbarians. Even their battle tactics are straight out of textbook Genghis Khan and accounts of Europeans who were overrun. The idea of putting forth a small force to draw the enemy out into the open and then overrunning them with rapidly deployed forces with seemingly inexhaustible numbers was not always a common battle tactic, but it is commonly associated historically with armies under the Khans. The disparities in weaponry, etc. are also similar, along with the perceived "uncivilized" character of the Yangs.

The "Asian caricature" of the Yangs is relatively obvious: they were the new "Yellow Peril," threatening the civilized Comm nation. Roddenberry had turned racial politics on its head.

But it gets even crazier. The Yangs are then shown not to be like the steppe riders of the Caucuses or something, but rather equivalent to Native Americans -- by far the most discriminated against racial group in American history. The Yangs didn't "devolve" or anything, and Kirk never says they did. Instead, they gained different skills by living outside the cities, just as the steppe horsemen of the Khans did. They learned to use their supposedly inferior weaponry with battle tactics even to conquer someone with advanced weaponry firing a phaser at them. (Note that the Comms, despite being portrayed by Asian actors, were not particularly shown in a bad light for the most part -- it was a crazy white man from the Federation who did most of the killing and waged the biggest wars.)

The Yangs had been oppressed and thrown "off their land," as the Native Americans had been, but they had regained their soil in the end. Yes, it leads to a stupid jingoistic American fanfare at the end, but we can't ignore that the victory was made by proxies for the oppressed Native Americans (and caricatures of the "Yellow Peril").

On the surface, it may look like white guys conquering Asians, and that's probably how they got it on television. Could you imagine the uproar if an Asian American or actual Native American walked on with the American flag at the end, and the Yangs were represented by these minority groups in reclaiming American values?? It could never have been done in the 1960s. Never on television.

But that doesn't mean that the racial symbolism of the Yangs doesn't serve to undermine racial stereotypes -- these are white guys who fight like Asians, are oppressed like Native Americans, and who still have American values. Meanwhile, the communists are portrayed as the more "civilized" group, undermining the Asian stereotypes of the time.

This episode repeatedly beats you over the head with the message: "You can't judge people by their appearance!" It consistently challenges racial stereotypes by putting people in roles that "don't fit" with stereotypes. Yes, we have American patriotism winning over "communism" in the end, but underneath all of that is an incredible subtext... and it's disappointing that this review missed an opportunity to talk about that, instead making ignorant assumptions from a few misunderstood words and lines in the script.

RIP, Gene Roddenberry -- let's hope that the next generations may actually learn to look beyond race at your true messages, rather than assuming the worst.
Stefan Jones
58. 2 years of the red bird
This episode and I go back. For a long time (70's-80's) TOG was up there as the lamest, cheesiest episode, and boring. In the late 80's and 90's, it became one of a select "other Captain as red shirt" episodes which I loved seeing. At this point, re watching it now, I admit I never was offended by the racial topic maybe out of naïveté but also that the Kohms were the "good guys" and after all who knew what started it but obviously this was a not too subtle point being made about WMD. As for the Years of the Red Bird or whatever, totally plausible. As for the US flag coincidence I am so less cynical. If you could buy into the idea is "universal struggles" such as liberty vs. communalism then why would it be a leap that the symbols would be universal? If you object, the whole series looks rather odd, especially as so many aliens all are humanoid English speakers I always take Star Trek 100% literally. Who am I to know that push buttons and inexpensive sounding beeps will not be in industrial style that far in the future?

Tracey being taller, older and hopped up on spores getting to a weakened Kirk not illogical, nor is the Captian's repeated tries to beat the dude up... it was bleak.

I am torn on Spock's magic trick towards the end. It was cheap and unnecessary as it looked like Kirk won fair and square.

Noticed also that uniforms look like modern workout gear and see moms wearing Uhura ish outfits at the gym.
Stefan Jones
59. shawn briggs
where are your references? Did you actually read the drafts for "Omega Glory"? I only had time to read the pilot script by Roddenberry while visiting UCLA, did you read the Pine's rewrite? If so would you happen to have a copy or notes I could reference for a paper I am woring on dealing with patriotism in American science fiction.
Thanks,
Shawn Briggs

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment