“Patterns of Force” is the twenty-first episode of the second season of the American science-fiction television series Star Trek.
Written by John Meredyth Lucas and directed by Vincent McEveety, it was first broadcast on 16 February 1968.
In the episode, the crew of the Enterprise tracks down a Federation observer on a planet dominated by a “Naziesque” regime.
This episode was banned on German television from 1968 until 1995 due to the depiction of Nazi uniforms and presence of several different Nazi insignia.
The starship Enterprise arrives at the planet Ekos to investigate the disappearance of a Federation cultural observer named John Gill, who was one of Captain Kirk’s history professors at Starfleet Academy. The Enterprise enters orbit around Ekos and is attacked by a rocket armed with a thermonuclear warhead, technology that is too advanced to be from either Ekos or their neighbouring planet, Zeon.
Kirk suspects Gill may be responsible for the introduction of advanced technology, which would mean that he has contaminated Ekosian culture and violated the Prime Directive. 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 inserts subcutaneous emergency transponders, a type of homing device, into the forearms of each in the event they cannot use their communicators.
Upon their arrival, Kirk and Spock watch in horror as a Zeon is arrested by Ekosian soldiers dressed as brown-shirted Nazi Stormtroopers. An outdoor video newsreel shows an Ekosian rally featuring huge crowds shouting Nazi-style slogans and waving swastika-emblazoned flags. A female Nazi officer, Daras, is shown receiving a medal of honour; the Iron Cross, Second Class. The “Final Solution” is mentioned, meaning apparently the extinction of all Zeons on Ekos, as a prelude to the entire destruction of Zeon. The broadcast ends with the reporter making a Nazi salute to a picture of the Führer – whom the shocked Kirk recognises as John Gill.
Startled and determined to contact Gill, Kirk and Spock steal uniforms and attempt to infiltrate the main headquarters, but are caught when Spock’s ears are exposed. He and Kirk are tortured until Party Chairman Eneg orders them thrown in a cell for further interrogation. There they meet Isak, the Zeon prisoner they had seen arrested earlier.
The trio quickly engineer an escape using the rubindium crystals from Kirk and Spock’s transponders as cutting-torch lasers and retrieve their communicators. Isak takes them to meet the underground resistance led by his brother Abrom. Suddenly, their hideout is raided, led by Daras, in what is quickly revealed as a ruse to test the strangers’ loyalty. Daras is actually a resistance member who has infiltrated the government. Abrom explains that Deputy Führer Melakon is actually the de facto leader of Ekos; in turn, Kirk and Spock explain the situation from their perspective, and ask for help in locating Gill. They learn that the “Führer” is to make a speech that evening that will officially launch the “Final Solution”.
To gain entrance to the broadcast centre, the whole group pretends to be a film crew. They find Gill in a broadcasting booth surrounded by guards, seemingly dazed but beginning his speech. Kirk has Dr. McCoy beam down; he arrives in a cloakroom, where the party is discovered by a security team led by Chairman Eneg – who surprisingly does not seem to recognise them. After he leaves, Isak explains that Eneg is also a resistance member.
Sneaking into the broadcast booth, McCoy confirms Gill is heavily drugged. He administers a counteractive stimulant while Spock uses a Vulcan mind meld on Gill, which confirms that Melakon was responsible for Gill’s condition. Barely coherent, Gill explains that he initially imposed a form of Nazism/Fascism upon the lawless Ekosians because he believed it to be the most efficient system of government ever devised. The system worked on Ekos until Melakon gained control and twisted it into a tool to wipe out Zeon.
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, renounces the “Final Solution”, cancels the invasion of Zeon, and declares Melakon a traitor. Melakon grabs a submachine gun and opens fire on the broadcast booth, fatally wounding Gill. In retaliation, Isak shoots Melakon twice, killing him. Eneg and Daras, still officially respected party leaders, agree to “stop the bloodshed,” and plan to announce the end of the Nazi regime. Eneg thanks Kirk for Starfleet’s help, but asks them to leave, saying it is up to the two planets to rebuild themselves.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Vincent McEveety.
- Writer(s): John Meredyth Lucas.
- Production: Desilu Productions (1966-1967) and Paramount Television (1968-1969).
- Distributor(s): Paramount Pictures (1966-2006), CBS Paramount Television (2006-2007), and CBS Television Distribution (2007-Present).
- Original Network: NBC.
- Release Date: 16 February 1968.
- Running Time: 50 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.