Breaking the First Directive by interfering with the natural development of a civilization is never a good idea. And if you violate it to develop a culture inspired by the National Socialist movement of Adolf Hitler, it’s even worse! This is exactly what happens in Patterns of Force, in which the USS Enterprise reaches the planet Ekos to look for a Federation historian, John Gill (David Brian), whose traces have been lost. Once on the surface of the planet, our heroes cannot believe their eyes: it seems to be in 1930s’ Germany! And, what a surprise, John Gill seems to be the adored leader of the whole society! What happened?
After a series of vicissitudes that include imprisonment, torture, and escape from a prison of Kirk and Spock, and also the discovery of a resistance movement against the Nazis (led by the blonde Daras, Valora Noland), it turns out that Gill naively decided to help the inhabitants of the planet to come out of anarchy by bringing the order inspired by Nazi Germany of XX century Earth. Spock even remarks that it wasn’t a completely terrible idea, given that that country managed to overcome the enormous difficulties related to the crisis after the defeat in the First World War! But of course the idea turns out to be terrible, especially because Gill is nothing more than a puppet in the hands of Melakon (Skip Homeier), his deputy who keeps him drugged and uses it as a symbol to rule in the shadows. Luckily, our heroes save the day in a daring finale that costs the lives of both leaders of the planet’s society, thus permitting a change of rules.
What about this episode? It’s a bit like A Piece of the Action: it all seems an excuse to recycle excellent period costumes, this time Nazis, yet there’s an underlying intelligent message. Every civilization should be allowed to develop autonomously, as all external interferences unfailingly prove to be harmful. It’s no coincidence that the First Directive remains one of the most important constants of all the Star Trek series ever made!
Moreover, the action here is really fun, with a lot of characters interacting on the screen, fights, plot twists, daring escapes, disguises… in short, it’s fun and at the same time there’s a classical Roddenberry message behind (and in it never hurts to remember that Nazis were horrible)! I also liked the statement that history is not a series of dates and events, but instead a chain of causes and consequences! In short, I recommend watching this episode without a doubt, ciao!
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