Director: Vincent McEveety
Writer: John Meredyth Lucas
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Richard Evans, Valora Noland, Skip Homeier, David Brian, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Patrick Horgan, William Wintersole, Gilbert Green, Walter Koenig, Ralph Maurer, Ed McCready, Peter Canon, Paul Baxley, Chuck Courtney, and Bart La Rue
Composer: George Duning
Air Date: 2/16/1968
Production #: 60352
While searching for the Federation cultural observer John Gill (David Brian), the Enterprise crew locates a parallel Earth society resembling Nazi Germany. Instead of oppressing Jews, however, the Ekosian Nazis have decided to hunt down and exterminate a rival species known as Zeons. After evading capture by stealing a pair of SS uniforms, Kirk and Spock resume their search for Gill—now the ostensible Führer of the regime in question.
Similar to “A Piece of the Action,” “Patterns of Force” examines a scenario where past violations of the Prime Directive result in dire consequences for a primitive alien culture. Though subtlety is all but absent from this offering, any clichés stemming from the Nazi theme can be excused in light of the intelligent and weighty perspective through which this concept is explored.
When Kirk and Spock arrive on the planet Ekos, a great deal of mystery surrounds the character of Gill and how his actions could have caused a civilization as described earlier to emerge. Upon aligning themselves with Isak (Richard Evans), Abrom (William Wintersole), Daras (Valora Noland), and other resistance fighters among the Zeons, the captain and first officer manage to infiltrate Führer headquarters through a series of clever maneuvers, at which point a shocking twist reveals the origin of this totalitarian society. The mystery components of this episode are likewise complemented with plenty of action and good humor shared by Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, thus culminating in the perfect combination of classic Star Trek elements.
Whereas most Hollywood depictions of Nazi Germany border on the absurd, “Patterns of Force” takes a more balanced approach to analyzing not only the malevolent intentions of Hitler and his followers, but also the pragmatic motivations that prompted them to erect such a system in the first place. Notably, historian John Gill makes a valid case for fascism when he describes the order that was brought to Germany following the downfall of the Weimar Republic in the 1930s. Gill realizes only too late, however, that consequences will inevitably ensue whenever authoritarian governments hamper the natural human drive for progress and innovation. While the ethical implications of totalitarian philosophies are never overlooked, this episode offers a thoughtful critique on why these ideals are flawed even from a practical standpoint.
Though downright campy at times, “Patterns of Force” will appeal to Star Trek fans for its resonating commentary on the most notorious regime of the 20th century. In addition, many viewers will be amused by the fact that Kirk and Spock are forced to don Nazi attire instead of their usual Starfleet uniforms.
Overall Quality: 9/10
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