SCORE: (1/5 stars)
A tangled mess of a screenplay from start to finish, unsure of the story it wants to tell, overflowing with racist overtones hidden as a purported role reversal, and topping off with some sappy nationalistic pride, it’s no wonder why this script was not selected as the second pilot for Star Trek, though it was one of the finalists. The Enterprise comes across the USS Exeter, abandoned but orbiting a planet. When they beam over to find out what happened, they find the crew have dessicated into crystals, and a recorded message warning them that they too are now infected with whatever killed the crew, and their only hope is to beam down to the surface where Captain Tracey is.
They find Captain Tracey has made an allegiance to a local group called the Kohms, who look an awful lot like the stereotypical Mongolians. The Kohms are at war with the Yangs, a barbaric tribe of humanoids with white features. Kirk quickly learns that Tracey’s been in severe violation of the Prime Directive, but Tracey claims it’s for a good reason. Much like the premise to Star Trek: Insurrection, he claims this planet has some kind of healing power: the Kohms are disease-free and live for hundreds of years. Since the planet is holding off their dessication, McCoy gets to work on analyzing the disease they picked up so they can return to the ship, while Tracey and the Kohms take the rest of the crew prisoner. Tracey intends to turn this “fountain of youth” into a profitable venture for himself, Prime Directive be damned. Of course, once McCoy creates an innoculation for the dessication disease, he learns that there is no fountain of youth on the planet, and the Kohm’s disease resistance and long life is due to them evolving in the aftermath of biological warfare.
The Yangs come and overrun the Kohm town in a war of attrition, and take the Starfleet officers hostage. Kirk begins to get a hunch that the Yangs and the Kohms are an example of parallel planetary development… the Yanks versus the Communists. Indeed, the Yangs tout the American flag and say mangled versions of the Pledge of Allegiance and the Preamble to the Constitution, as if they were forgotten words of a religion. Kirk attempts to convince them that they’ve forgotten what they were about in the aftermath of the biological war, while Tracey, who has no desire to be taken to Federation prison, tries to convince them that he is God’s emissary, and Kirk and Spock are of the devil. They decide to determine who is telling the truth by pitting Kirk and Tracey in mortal combat, as good is stronger than evil. Kirk manages to get the upper hand as Spock uses a mind probe to get a female Yang to operate the communicator, alerting the Enterprise of the situation. Kirk wins but spares Tracey’s life, just as reinforcements beam down. As they bid farewell to the Yangs, Kirk tells them that the words of the Constitution are meant for them all, not just the chiefs, and freedom is the right of all sentient beings. Or was that Optimus Prime that said that one?
- McCoy states that water makes up 96% of our body. This is grossly inaccurate. It’s closer to 70-80%.
- Kirk’s log berating Tracey for violating the Prime Directive rather than let himself die seems to fly counter to the many, many times Kirk has violated it rather than let his ship be destroyed.
- Kirk: A star captain’s most solemn oath is that he will give his life, even his entire crew, rather than violate the Prime Directive.
- [Spock nerve-pinches a Yang]
Kirk: Pity you can’t teach me that.
Spock: I have tried, Captain.
- McCoy: Spock, I’ve found that evil usually triumphs unless good is very, very careful.