Director: Marvin Chomsky
Writer: Jerome Bixby
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Michael Ansara, Susan Howard, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, David Ross, and Mark Tobin
Composer: Fred Steiner
Air Date: 11/1/1968
Production #: 60043-66
While investigating the sudden disappearance of a colony on Beta XII-A, the Enteprise crew encounters the Klingon captain Kang (Michael Ansara) and his wife Mara (Susan Howard). Enraged over what appears to be an unprovoked act of war, Kang accuses Kirk of disabling his vessel; however, further investigation indicates that a being which feeds on negative emotion may be the true culprit.
Though occasionally lacking in subtlety, “Day of the Dove” offers an intelligent commentary on the racial tensions that permeated the social climate of 1960s America. Also commendable are the Federation-Klingon relations as depicted in this episode, which draw attention to many unfortunate aspects of the human condition.
The quintessential Klingon performance, Michael Ansara’s portrayal of Kang embodies all the charisma, intelligence, and ruthlessness that one would expect of a militaristic starship commander. Kang’s formidable attributes are complemented quite effectively by his Federation rivals, many of whom behave just as barbarically as their Klingon adversaries due to the entity’s manipulative influence (to give just a few examples, McCoy reacts with bloodlust instead of his usual professional detachment when confronted with Klingon atrocities, Scotty and Spock exchange a series of racially fueled insults on the bridge, and Chekov nearly violates Mara while avenging the death of a nonexistent brother—all of which are exceptionally well-acted and will therefore appeal to Star Trek fans who admire the versatility of the original series cast members).
The aforementioned entity demonstrates an ability to transmute matter, alter the memories and perceptions of Klingons and humans alike, and resurrect the bodies of those killed in combat; thus, audiences may be inclined to question why such a powerful force would not simply afflict Kirk and Spock with more intense delusions as soon as they become suspicious of the crew’s bizarre conduct.
While certain viewers may have difficulty accepting the thesis that humans and Klingons share more similarities than differences (a typical Starfleet captain would never torture a helpless prisoner as Kang does to Chekov at one point), “Day of the Dove” nonetheless makes a compelling case for how a failure to communicate can result in devastating outcomes. Upon surveying the ostensibly destroyed Beta XII-A colony, Captain Kirk immediately infers that the Klingons are to blame. Similarly, before entertaining alternate explanations or allowing Kirk to plead his innocence, Kang wastes no time in accusing the Enterprise crew of attacking his ship. By jumping to conclusions, both captains initiate a vicious conflict that could have been prevented had Kirk and Kang established a peaceable dialogue during their first meeting.
A classic episode, “Day of the Dove” provides a resonating, if overly simplified, social commentary on a decidedly controversial issue. Additionally, those who enjoyed season one’s “Errand of Mercy” will appreciate this episode for continuing the conflict between humans and Klingons, this time on the Enterprise itself.
Overall Quality: 10/10
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