An in-your-face commentary about racial hatreds, superb performance by Frank Gorshin
Jul 10, 2008
Subtle is the last possible word that could be used to describe this episode. It is blunt and a bit over the top in making a point about race hatred. It all begins with the Enterprise pursuing a shuttlecraft stolen from Starbase 4. After a tractor beam brings the craft on board the Enterprise, a being from Cheron (Lokai), with one side of his face white and the other black, staggers out and collapses on the deck. He is immediately taken to sick bay where Spock and McCoy are in agreement that his coloration is a genetic anomaly, a one-of-a-kind. When Lokai awakens, he is arrogant, feeling that it was his need that gave him the right to use the shuttlecraft. The Enterprise proceeds on mission when an unknown vessel approaches. While the sensors can detect it, there is no visual confirmation and when the vessel is destroyed, another, similar creature (Bele) appears on the bridge. He immediately announces that he is a law enforcement officer and he has been pursuing the criminal Lokai for thousands of years. Kirk refuses to hand Lokai over and Bele uses his mental powers to take over the ship. Kirk then begins to execute his threat to engage the autodestruct and when Bele is unable to stop it, acquiesces to giving control back to Kirk. The Enterprise completes its assigned mission and then Bele once again takes over the ship, which proceeds to Cheron. When they arrive, they discover that everyone on the planet is dead, having killed each other in a vast race war. In this case the racial differences are not in coloration but in location. While both Lokai and Bele are black on one side and white on the other, one is black on the right side and the other black on the left side. One after the other, they beam down to the surface of Cheron to engage in the last, pitiful battle of a race war that can only end in the deaths of everyone on the planet. The performance of Frank Gorshin as Bele is what made this episode work, his intonation and facial expressions drive home the point that this is a police officer who will stop at nothing to capture his prey. Gorshin is best known as "The Riddler" in the campy Batman series, and those same talents are demonstrated in his portrayal of Bele. It is a hard episode; neither of the protagonists generates much sympathy in you. They have only their hatred of the other and their only goal is to satisfy this perverted desire. It is also notable that this episode introduces the autodestruct potential built into the Enterprise. This feature was a fundamental plot necessity in a subsequent movie and in the "Star Trek The Next Generation" series.
The Enterprise crew gets involved with the dispute of two men whos trivial differences have led to years of pursuit and hate between each other. Real thick on it's message, but for it's time it was pretty ballsy and does represent what Trek was about, real world issues and mankind out in space.
"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" is one of those Star Trek episodes that everyone knows about or has seen but nobody actually likes. It has a memorable appearance by Frank Gorshin, cool make up, a memorable ending not to mention an important and brave anti racism message for a 60's television show, but one thing hurts the episode bad: the episode is SMOTHERED by this message. The story has the Enterprise running across a stolen shuttlecraft and find … more
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There's blunt and then there's really blunt. "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" is certainly the latter, a thick fable about the absurdity of intolerance, a story so obvious it becomes energized by its own, sheer audacity. Frank Gorshin, a 1960s television icon for his recurring role as the Riddler onBatman, plays Bele, an extraterrestrial cop pursuing a fugitive named Lokai (Lou Antonio). The latter is chalk-white on the right side of his body, and ebony-black on the left, an arrangement despised as inferior by Bele and his race, whose own color scheme simply reverses the two. While Captain Kirk (William Shatner) decides what to do about Lokai's request for asylum, the old race hatred between both sides looks increasingly ridiculous. Interestingly, the episode originated as an idea from producer Gene L. Coon, who envisioned an endless chase between a devil and an angel. Eventually it was decided that the sheer stupidity of prejudice would be underscored more clearly in the final arrangement and, indeed, several decades after the fact, the show does have a surrealist punch to it. Incidentally, theEnterpriseself-destruct sequence seen here was reprised in the feature filmStar Trek III: The Search for Spock.--Tom Keogh