In terms of story line, this is my least favorite episode in the original series. It is political in nature, but there is no subtlety and ends up being a piece of pro-American propaganda. It was written by Gene Roddenberry himself and it is clear that it was meant to be a comment on the cold war between the Communist and American blocks. The setting is a parallel Earth (Omega IV) where the Communist side, now called the Coms, won control of the world in a bacterial holocaust. The American side, now called the Yangs, is fighting to regain control of the areas they lost. Over the centuries, the planet's inhabitants have developed immunity to the disease and now live for centuries. However, the disease is still present and is quickly fatal to anyone who makes planetfall. The Enterprise arrives at Omega IV and finds the starship Exeter, under the command of Ron Tracey, orbiting the planet. It fails to answer all attempts at communication, so Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Galloway beam over to find only empty uniforms. They access a log entry that says that they must beam down to the surface if they are to have any chance at survival. They beam down to find that Captain Tracey has violated the Prime Directive, fighting on the Com side against the Yangs. Kirk is imprisoned with the Yang leader and eventually they begin to communicate, collaborating to escape from the jail. However, the Yang leader turns on Kirk, knocking him unconscious. The Yangs attack again, defeating the Coms and the Starfleet personnel are brought to the Yang leaders, who are celebrating their victory. They bring out their sacred objects, which are an American flag, a copy of the constitution of the United States, a bible and a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The absurdity of this occurring on another planet is bad enough, but the events and dialog become very preachy. William Shatner's acting is at its' worst when he is speaking to the Yang leader and he says, "Do you understand?" Complete with wildly exaggerated arm movements, Kirk is more a fire and brimstone preacher than a starship captain. This episode aired on March 1, 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War. While it has a point about avoiding the massive death of an all out war between two competing blocks, it degenerates into a piece of absurd pro-American propaganda. It is one episode where the diversity of humanity, such a proud feature of the series, is ignored. Fortunately, Chekov was not in this episode, adding more pro-Russian absurdities.
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Charles Ashbacher (CharlesAshbacher)
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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What is it with Starfleet captains? So many of them become wildly grandiose. Witness "The Omega Glory," in which another starship commander, Ronald Tracey (Morgan Woodward), tramples the Prime Directive by interfering in a long-running conflict between primitive societies, in this case the Yangs and Kohms of planet Omega IV. Siding with the Kohms, Tracey creates an imbalance of power that Kirk works to adjust by arming the Yangs proportionately.
The script by series creator Gene Roddenberry is one of his not-so-subtle allegories for the state of the world in the 1960s, specifically our own cold war between nuclear superpowers. So bluntly drawn is Roddenberry's parallel between Omega IV and 20th-century Earth that this is one of the few Star Trek episodes that risks becoming completely absurd after a point. William Shatner (Captain Kirk) takes the biggest risk of all with a passionate, lengthy speech of the sort pranksters like comic actor Kevin Dunn are wont to imitate today. But the fact is that Shatner pulls off such chancy material very well, and certainly does so here. --Tom Keogh