|March 1st, 1968|
The episode of Gomer Pyle USMC that aired opposite it was called "The Price of Tomatoes." I almost wish I could swap that title with this one. I am serious, here - calling this episode "The Price of Tomatoes" has a Dylan-esque effect on my brain. I am puzzled by the metaphor, and my brain immediately starts buzzing to suss out the connections... visions of the US Marines invading Guatemala on behalf of the United Fruit Company, genetically modified crops protected by men with phasers, crates of tomatoes being picked by migrant workers and canned in giant factories. Cross-reference to black and white footage of men in haz-mat suits walking through cornfields with voiceover from the episode: "I'm convinced that once there was a frightening biological war that existed here. The virus still exists. Then over the years, nature built up these natural immunizing agents in the food, the water, and the soil." Omega Glory, indeed.
Memorability: (6) Well, it has to be one of the most memorable Treks going, doesn't it? Perhaps not for the best reasons, but, unlike, say, "The Savage Curtain" - an episode equal in notoriety, perhaps - "Omega Glory" has a bit more going on under the surface.
But yes, if anyone were to distill "TOS Insanity" into an energy drink, I imagine this episode would be one of the first ingredients on the label.
|I don't mean to beat up on "Curtain." Just that it's ultimately rather silly. I still kind of love it. Story of my life.|
On a personal level, the scenes on the Exeter at the beginning always freaked me out as a kid and still have an eerie quality about them, years later.
|This could also go under "Interior Logistics," but by the point this appears in this episode, it's a free-for-all, so hey. Cool drawing, though. This, by the way, is my threshold for being impressed with your tattoos.|
|Or this dude. Otherwise (shrug)|
Daniel Bernardi wrote a book entitled Star Trek and History: Race-ing Toward a White Future wherein he reads the entire story through the academic lens of white privilege, a perspective I do not share. I don’t mean there’s no merit in this approach. It just seems a bit imperialist to me. And isn't this the very crime of which Captain Tracey is guilty in this episode?
|"Interesting that the villagers know about fireboxes."|
And mightn't it be a little less black-and-white? And wasn't the f**king Cultural Revolution going on in China at the time? And didn't Gene Roddenberry's old Pan Am buddy Noonian - that's where that name comes from, in case you didn't know - get disappeared in such?
He goes on to say: "As the story progresses, the Yangs are constructed as noble savages; their cause to annihilate the Comms is established as justified. The Comms, on the other hand, are constructed as brutal and oppressive; their drive to suppress the Yangs is established as totalitarian. This more hegemonic articulation of race is made evident when Kirk and Spock realize the extent to which the Yangs and Comms parallel Earth's civilizations. In this light, the Yangs are no longer savages, but noble warriors fighting for a just and honorable cause. They want to regain the land they lost in a war with the Asiatics."
Again, it's not that I find this interpretation to be wrong or anything. I’d be content to leave it there if I didn’t see real-world consequences of this sort of thinking, i.e. every-and-anything can be reduced to unexamined racism on the part of the white people writing it / talking about it. I think this approach obliterates a lot of relevant details.
I’m more partial to Allan Austin’s perspective in Space and Time: Essays on Visions of History in Science Fiction and Fantasy Television: "'The Omega Glory' consciously and unconsciously reflects a number of deep American anxieties that grew out of more than two decades of the Cold War. By the mid-1960s, some Americans began to critique what they saw as mindless nationalism. This unthinking patriotism had coalesced as part of a liberal consensus grounded in confidence in the essential soundness of American society as well as the assumption of a pervasive communist threat to the U.S. and its allies."
|"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." - Goethe|
Consider all the contamination talk of the episode, the sub-plot to generate a serum, etc. All covered by the quest for eternal youth element but suggestive, in this context, of something else entirely.
|"There's no serum!" Kirk erupts. "ALL OF THIS IS FOR NOTHING!!"|
Interesting in this light that a renegade Starfleet Captain threw his lot in with the communists, while (as Michael Chabon notes in his excellent essay:) "all the Yangs needed was a Captain Kirk to come and add a little interpretive water to their freeze-dried document (i.e. the Constitution), and the American way of life would flourish again."
|"I didn't recognize the words; you said them so badly."|
|When he wasn't orchestrating cosmic sex syzygy, I mean.|
|"Good, Captain. Try to reason with them."|
|"Their behavior is highly illogical."|
It's certainly not the only episode to do that, but what finally does is in for me is the late-innings Super Spock Syndrome (i.e. the expansion of Mister Spock's abilities to resolve a contrived plot conflict, i.e. Tracey's and Kirk's mano-a-mano.)
Depending on which of the interpretive approaches you prefer, you could read this sequence as implying the Yangs (we have met the enemy, and it is u.s.) are easily mind-controlled.
Not to mention their convenient supersitition of a pointy-eared devil. Though perhaps it's that nationalism needs a boogeyman?
|Oh God. I give up.|
Morgan Woodward as Captain Tracey. Last seen as "My name is... UKK!" in "Dagger of the Mind."
His line delivery is effective. At times crazed ("We killed thousands and they still came...") and at times he sounds completely sane/ justified. He goes for broke at the end and flips the crap out. But I think this gets lost in the general craziness of the last twenty minutes
Roy Jenson plays Cloud William.
|Interesting, too, that Roddenberry gave the "Yankee" an American Indian designation.|
|Johnny Geronimo - has that name ever been taken? If not, I call dibs.|
Irene Kelly plays Sirah.
|Taking a page out of Zarabeth's fashion magazine, I see. (Though both were likely "cut from the same cloth" as One Million Years BC.)|
Lloyd Kino plays Wu.
If I ever travel back in time and join the French Resistance, "I have seen 42 years of the Red Bird" will be the code-response that gets you through the door.
Not sure if it's a truly great episode, per se, but an important one and definitely one for my desert island scenario. It's also the sort of metaphorical roller coaster that is desperately needed on the small screen today.
Total Points Awarded: 41