Director: Jud Taylor
Writer: Oliver Crawford
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Frank Gorshin, Lou Antonio, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Majel Barrett
Composer: Fred Steiner
Air Date: 1/10/1969
Production #: 60043-70
While traveling to the planet Ariannus, the Enterprise encounters a shuttlecraft whose pilot—a duo-chromatic humanoid named Lokai (Lou Antonio)—claims to be seeking refuge from Commissioner Bele (Frank Gorshin), who bears an identical visage to that of Lokai save for one minor difference: Bele’s people wear their black and white colors on the respective right and left sides of their faces, whereas Lokai’s people display their colors in the opposite arrangement. Kirk and his crew members remain unperturbed by this fact, yet the above variation in skin color has, according to Lokai and Bele, fueled a conflict spanning fifty thousand years.
Though conceived by laudable intentions, the premise for “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” lacks the subtlety to adequately explore the variety of factors involved in racial bigotry. In spite of this, many Star Trek fans will admire Kirk’s solution to a complex problem as detailed in this episode.
When Bele refuses to relinquish command of the Enterprise, Captain Kirk is placed in a most difficult position. This predicament later allows for a highly intense maneuver in which Kirk activates the auto-destruct sequence while exuding remarkable confidence, thus resulting in a bluff that parallels the corbomite deception in terms of effectiveness. Also commendable are the unique camera angles and convincing reactions from Scotty, Uhura, Chekov, Sulu, Bele, and Lokai—all of which combine to accentuate any preexisting tension (that being said, a ridiculous zooming effect used to complement the blaring siren of a red alert status does little to heighten said tension prior to this scene).
By shouting incessantly at one another, Bele and Lokai struggle to elicit sympathy when presenting arguments by which the Enterprise crew could potentially be swayed. Such an outcome is especially problematic given that Lokai at first seems to represent those members of society who have remained oppressed well into the 20th century, yet the almost constant hate-spewing of this character makes him appear no more enlightened than his perpetual adversary.
While few would likely admit as much, even the most vile of human prejudices are often somewhat grounded in reality; however, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” acknowledges no such grey area while fleshing out its central thesis and may therefore fail to resonate with those who wish for a more penetrating commentary on the disputes and social injustices that motivated the Civil Rights movement.
Like many Star Trek offerings, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” tackles a controversial topic through use of a science fiction theme. Unfortunately, the appeals made in this episode are rarely poignant enough to serve their intended purpose.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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