Thursday, December 09, 2010

"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"

From Wikipedia:

"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" is the fourteenth episode of the third season of Star Trek: The Original Series. It was first broadcast January 10, 1969, and repeated August 12, 1969. It was written by Oliver Crawford, based on a story by Gene L. Coon (writing under his pen name "Lee Cronin") and directed by Jud Taylor. The script evolved from an outline by Coon for a possible first season episode called A Portrait in Black and White. The script was accepted for the third season following budget cuts. The episode guest-stars Lou Antonio and Frank Gorshin, best known for his role as The Riddler in the Batman live-action television series. Gorshin received an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Bele.

Overview: The Enterprise picks up two survivors of a war-torn planet who are still committed to destroying each other aboard the ship.


Watch it

Notes and pics:

* Interesting. Their mission is some kind of toxic spill cleanup.

* The teaser is all Star Fleet procedure oriented. Nice.

* Am I the only one who's afraid the shuttle bay doors are going to chop off the tail end of the shuttle? It seems like they should wait until it's all the way in before they close it up.

* Cool looking alien. Like something from a deck of cards.

* Spock gets in a nice zinger on the doctor: "Yet you are pumping him full of your noxious potions as if he were a human."

* Kirk: "That's in the Southernmost part of the galaxy..." WTF? The galaxy has a South?

* I like Loki. He's quirky and interesting.

* Last week we had Catwoman. This week it's the Riddler. Anyway, great fucking entrance for Bele.

* Holy God. Frank Gorshin is fucking perfect. He clenches his fists in a weird stylized comic book thing.

* This is worth watching if only for the exchanges between Bele and Loki.

* I'm surprised by how long this debate on the political history of Charon has been allowed to go.

* Wacky red alert shot.

* Wait. This chase has been going on for fifty thousand years?

* Cool. Another debate between Loki and Bele.

* They have super powers.

* I love Bele using his psychic powers. The closed eyes with ominous music.

* Alright! They're doing the self-destruct sequence!!!

* Love the closeups here.

* Kirk: "Code zero zero zero destruct zero." I've known the final code by heart since childhood.

* Scotty: "And at warp 10 we're going nowhere mighty fast."

* Weird, Spock listening covertly to Loki's political proselytizing to the crew.

* What are they drinking here? Cool bottles.

* More intellectual discussion on race and freedom.

* Scotty runs the decontamination mission.

* Bele shows more super powers.

* Bele and Loki's usual debate turns into a super powered confrontation.

* Okay, while flat, I do like the revelation of Charon's destruction by race war.

* I like the shots of burning buildings superimposed over Bele chasing Loki. It looks like London during the blitz.

* Like many scenes in this episode, this chase sequence goes on forever. But Bele runs all funny.

* We don't often see the transporter room from this perspective.

* Sanctimonious final conversation on race hatred from the bridge crew. But it works.

* Okay, according to Wikipedia, "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" has been heavily criticized for being heavy handed, and this is a fair criticism. It is, indeed, very heavy handed, especially, no doubt, for the audience who viewed it first during the era of race riots, Southern lynchings, and rising black militantism. But this works well in science fiction. That is, even though it pounds its message into your face, it succeeds as the engine driving the plot, at least, forty years after the civil rights era.

Another potential problem is that it's so slow and cerebral. Much of the episode is just wild debate, which I like to see in my sci-fi, but I expect that most people don't share this taste. And it's very comic-booky. I mean, it's got the Riddler, after all, but it also trumps this up with a few touches here and there. I, for one, totally dig this, but again, I don't know how everybody else might like it.

So I'm giving this one a dual rating: four stars for me, and three for everybody else. I really like this one, but you might think it too damned goofy and slow.