Director: James Komack
Writers: David P. Harmon and Gene L. Coon
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Anthony Caruso, Victor Tayback, Lee Delano, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, John Harmon, Sheldon Collins, Dyanne Thorne, Sharyn Hillyer, Buddy Garion, and Steve Marlo
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 1/12/1968
Production #: 60349
Upon investigating the planet Sigma Iotia II, a landing party discovers a world dominated by mobs resembling those of 1920s Chicago. After Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are captured by one of the bosses, an historical book left behind by the U.S.S. Horizon provides a clue as to how this backwards civilization was formed.
The Godfather meets Star Trek in this subtle commentary on how religious doctrines can originate from misinterpretations of ancient cultural records. Viewers with an interest in parallel Earth societies will appreciate this episode for obvious reasons, whereas those who enjoy classic gangster films should find Kirk’s interactions with Krako (Victor Tayback) and Oxmyx (Anthony Caruso) to be most entertaining.
The cultural barrier dividing the Iotians and the Federation results in many humorous exchanges between the Enterprise crew members and their anachronistic rivals. Notably, Spock’s bumbling attempts to navigate the Iotian culture are quite amusing, while the captain’s ability to manipulate his adversaries with a game of “fizzbin” and other such nonsense will appeal to fans of Star Trek’s lighthearted moments.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
While Kirk’s peaceful resolution to the conflict between both gang factions is commendable, certain viewers may question why two hardened mob bosses would simply tire of a lifelong power struggle and relinquish their violent ways as a result.
By this point in the series, many episodes have followed a formula in which Kirk and his crew are required to work around the Prime Directive when dealing with barbaric alien cultures. In “A Piece of the Action,” however, a slightly different twist is applied to the aforementioned premise. Because the Iotian gangster society was created by Starfleet interference (albeit unintentionally), the captain must rectify an earlier violation of said Prime Directive while also finding a solution to the perpetual street warfare raging on the planet’s surface. This, of course, allows for a less generic narrative progression than usual, thus giving the actors a chance to play off the campy and fun-spirited nature of Gene L. Coon’s script.
A tongue-in-cheek episode, “A Piece of the Action” employs many effective comedic devices involving Kirk, Spock, and the Iotion mafia members. For science fiction enthusiasts who also enjoy gangster-themed movies such as Goodfellas and The Godfather, this one is a must.
Overall Quality: 8/10
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