EPISODE SIXTY: Day of the Dove
This episode is all kinds of good; it plays off both the greater mythology of the Trek universe while also exploring the escalation of war and how upsettingly easily people can slip into it.
Essentially, the crew arrives at the site of an outpost to find it no longer exists, then are met by Klingons whose ship is damaged and blame the Enterprise for it. They demand the Enterprise as payment, Kirk objects and Chekov goes nuts about how the Klingons killed his brother (which according to Sulu is impossible as Chekov is an only child). Through trickery Kirk brings the Klingons aboard under guard, but when swords appear in all their hands, they start to realize something’s not right.
Basically, there is an alien that is fanning the flames of war throughout the ship, escalating race relations and even driving Chekov to almost rape a Klingon woman. These ideas of an alien targeting weaknesses and exploiting them isn’t new, but it is very well executed here. The added difficulty of having to negotiate with Klingons in the midst of all of this complicates matters nicely and raises the stakes appropriately. It’s good stuff. Much like the salt vampire of the first episode, the alien feeds off of hatred and bloodlust and thus has turned the crew into and Klingons into fast healing, eternal combatants. There’s a cool concept here about turning the Enterprise into a kind of ghost ship, flying throughout the galaxy full of damned crewmen, which is all kinds of creepy and fun. We even get an awesome ‘everyone on the crew fights’ scene with swords in the bowels of the ship, which is nifty.
We also get a deeper look into the Klingon mindset, as Kang’s wife describes the need for expansion, not necessarily warlike, but out for necessity for the survival of the species. Kirk suggests that this is possible through friendship as well as conquest, which is a nice allusion to the coming peace in Next Generation.
That said, the episode isn’t without it’s problems; this is the worst of the ‘blackface Klingons’ episode to date, and while I don’t think it was their intention, it is particularly ridiculous when applied to women, who are still dolled up in the ‘Star Trek conception of beauty’ mode. Also, as is the way with Trek and sword play, the combat is rather silly at times. There’s also one of the best narration moments by Kirk ever:
“Captain’s log, Stardate…Armageddon.”
And Kirk don’t want to miss a thing…
The episode ends with an awesome solution of mocking the creature right off the ship, which leads to greater than average Kirk laughter, with Kang joining in heartily…the creature leaves and in classic Original Series style the episode just ends.