Star Trek: TOS – S03E22, The Savage Curtain

picture-121Oh oh, here we go again. The Savage Curtain is another episode in which Kirk and Spock are forced to fight for their lives by ultra-powerful aliens. The only change in the formula is that the evil alien is not the first one we see, an Abraham Lincoln look-alike (Lee Bergere), but a kind of predecessor of Jabba the Hutt (actually, more like Pizza the Hutt from Spaceballs, 1987, by Mel Brooks), a mass of sentient lava that sets up a good folk vs bad folk battle.

The good side can count on Kirk, Spock, Lincoln, and the father of the Vulcan civilization Surak (Barry Atwater). On the bad side we find Colonel Green (Phillip Pine), the beautiful (!) Zora (Carol Daniel DeMent), Genghis Khan (Nathan Jung) and the only character worthy of interest since I grew up with The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine: Worf’s idol, Kahless (Robert Herron).

And what are these brilliant minds forced to do? A fistfight, of course, as it’s traditional in Star Trek: The Original Series (this is one of the elements that products like Futurama enjoy so much making fun of). The first part of the episode is excessively slow with Lincoln’s warm welcome on board the USS Enterprise. The second part is all action with a hasty resolution: the bad guys are in numerical superiority after taking out Surak and Lincoln, but then they inexplicably run away after a brief confrontation with Kirk and Spock. Well… It’s not entirely clear to me what Jabba wanted to achieve by making these humanoids fight each other with their bare hands.

So, what about this episode? There’s a nice anti-racist dialogue between Kirk, Uhura and Lincoln. There’s the appearance of Kahless, a hero of the Klingon culture, and Surak, a monumental figure for the Vulcans (both contribute to the construction of an interesting mythology). But actually I could sense the desire to end this third season which, despite not being 100% terrible as I expected, certainly contains too many episodes like this which didn’t contribute to making the Star Trek’s name great. Well, two more episodes (hopefully better than this one), and I’m done, ciao!

PS: this episode has two writers: Gene Roddenberry (sigh) and the notorious Arthur Heinemann who had already given us the horrible The Way to Eden. Congratulations to both.

Previous episode: The Cloud Minders

Next episode: All Our Yesterdays


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