(written from a Production point of view)
The crew of the Enterprise find themselves caught in the middle of an intractable conflict with a bizarre fugitive alien and his equally belligerent pursuer.
On an urgent decontamination mission to the planet Ariannus, the USS Enterprise encounters a Federation shuttlecraft reported as stolen from Starbase 4. The vessel's life support systems are failing and the pilot may be suffocating in the lack of atmosphere. Captain Kirk orders the shuttlecraft to be brought aboard.
When the pilot emerges and subsequently collapses in front of Kirk and Spock, he displays a unique appearance: black on one side of his face and white on the other.
In sickbay, Kirk, Spock and Dr. McCoy surmise the alien's skin coloration to be a rare mutation of some kind. McCoy revives the pilot, who identifies himself as Lokai from the planet Cheron. Although grateful for the Enterprise's rescue, he is combative when Kirk questions him about the theft of the shuttlecraft. Kirk plans to return him to Starbase 4 to face serious theft charges once the important Arrianus mission is completed.
En route however, Chekov reports that sensors have detected a highly sophisticated (and invisible) vessel on an apparent collision course with the Enterprise. At the last moment before impact, the ship appears to disintegrate, but deposits its pilot on the bridge – similar in appearance to Lokai. "Explain, Spock," Kirk asks. "One of a kind?"
When Bele is brought to sickbay to see Lokai, the crew learns that Bele has been pursuing Lokai for a very long time: 50,000 Earth years as it turns out. Bele charges that Lokai led a revolt against the ruling order, but Lokai counters that Bele's people enslaved his on Cheron and continues to oppress them. Bele demands that Kirk surrender Lokai, while Lokai requests political asylum with the Federation. Kirk ends the bickering, giving Bele quarters and states his intention to fulfill his mission, then hand both of the aliens to Starbase 4 to have the matter settled. Bele is clearly not satisfied, but leaves sickbay. Kirk advises that Lokai get some rest, especially his vocal cords, as he will get a chance to practice his oratory when they arrive at Starbase 4.
Suddenly, the Enterprise is commandeered by an unknown source. Soon, Bele reveals on the bridge that he is controlling it, by using his mental powers to direct the ship to Cheron. When Bele proves impervious to phasers, Kirk, Spock, and Scott, are forced to activate the three-part self-destruct sequence in order to force Bele to relinquish control of the ship. The timer starts counting down from thirty seconds, and Kirk points out that once the countdown passes five seconds, the self-destruct sequence cannot be countermanded in any way.
With only six seconds left before the Enterprise destroys itself, Bele releases control of the starship, and Kirk issues the abort command to the self destruct at the last possible moment. With force not being an option, both Bele and Lokai attempt to enlist the sympathies of the crew while en route to Ariannus; Bele tries to win over Kirk and Spock, and Lokai appeals to the junior crew. Kirk submits a report to Starfleet Command for a resolution.
Starfleet's answer to Bele's request is received while he speaks with Kirk and Spock--and it is to deny that request. Since Cheron has no diplomatic treaties with the Federation, Starfleet cannot extradite Lokai without due process. Uhura also adds that the decision from Starfleet notes that they are confident that Bele will be allowed to return to Cheron with Lokai after the hearing is over. Bele fumes that Lokai has again deceived outsiders about his people's obvious inferiority to Bele's people. He explains that his people are black on their right sides, while Lokai's people are white on their right sides. Kirk and Spock try to persuade him that this difference is not significant, but he dismisses the suggestion.
The Enterprise arrives at Ariannus and begins the decontamination procedures. Once the decontamination mission to Ariannus is complete, Kirk orders to head to Starbase 4, however, Bele sabotages the self-destruct mechanism as well as directional control, rendering both of them inoperable, regains control of the ship, and sets it back on a course for Cheron.
Lokai begs for the Enterprise crew to intervene, and Bele berates him, for he believes he has finally caught him. They fight, but Kirk tries to defuse the situation for fear of destroying the ship, saying the bridge will be their "last battlefield." Bele returns control, since their fighting will destroy themselves with the ship.
The crew realizes they are near Cheron; however, its sensors reveal massive destruction of all Cheron's major cities and huge piles of unburied corpses – the entire population of Cheron has apparently mutually annihilated itself in a civil war. Consumed with mutual insane hatred and blaming each other for the resulting holocaust, Bele and Lokai fight on the bridge, despite Kirk's offer for them to live with the Federation. Kirk implores them to give up their mutual hatred of one another, since that destroyed their planet and their people. Lokai derides Kirk, accusing him of being an "idealistic dreamer," and flees the bridge, with Bele in pursuit. The pair then chase each other through the ship's corridors, each eventually finding their way to the transporter room and returning to the planet's surface to continue their fight…the last two sapient life forms on a dead planet. Kirk sadly notes that, in the end, all they have left is their hatred of each other. Kirk decides to leave them there and orders that Sulu set course for Starbase 4.
- "Captain's log, stardate 5730.2. The planet Ariannus is vital as a transfer point on regular space commercial lanes. It has been attacked by a bacterial invasion which threatens to render it lifeless unless checked. Our mission, to decontaminate it."
- "Captain's log, stardate 5730.6. Having completed our mission to Ariannus, the Enterprise is now on course to Starbase 4. The crew is on normal routine and we are proceeding without incident."
- "Captain's log, stardate 5730.7. In a deliberate act of sabotage, Commissioner Bele has burned out our destruct mechanism and, through the power of his will, has again taken over directional control of the Enterprise."
"We must therefore conclude that this alien is that often unaccountable rarity. A mutation, one of a kind."
- - Spock, on Lokai's bi-colored appearance
"When in doubt, the book prevails, Mister Spock."
- - McCoy, on Lokai's medical treatment
"I'm grateful for your rescue."
"Don't mention it. We're pleased to have caught you."
- - Lokai and Kirk, in sickbay
"You monotone Humans are all alike. First you condemn and then attack!"
- - Lokai, upset with Kirk's accusations
"I'm very tired."
"And very evasive. Or, at least, not… fully responsive."
- - Lokai and Kirk
"Explain, Spock. One of a kind?"
- - Kirk, seeing Bele on the bridge
"You can no more destroy this ship than I can change color."
- - Bele, calling Kirk's bluff
"Begin thirty second countdown. Code zero-zero-zero-destruct-zero."
- - Kirk, initiating the destruct sequence countdown
"30 seconds...29...28...27...25 seconds...20 seconds...15 seconds....10...9...8...7...6 ---"
- - Computer Voice counting down to self-destruct and Bele screaming his submission
"Mr. Spock, is this ship headed for Ariannus?"
"Negative, captain. The Enterprise is now moving in a circular course."
"And at warp 10, we're going nowhere mighty fast."
- - Kirk, Spock and Scotty, after Bele releases his control from the ship
"Disgusting is what I call them."
- - Scott, on Bele and Lokai's mutual hatred
"There was persecution on Earth once. I remember reading about it in my history class."
"Yes, but it happened way back in the twentieth century. There's no such primitive thinking today."
- - Chekov and Sulu, trying to understand Cheron's civil war
"It is obvious to the most simple-minded that Lokai is of an inferior breed."
"The obvious visual evidence, Commissioner, is that he is of the same breed as yourself."
"Are you blind, Commander Spock? Well, look at me! Look at me!"
"You're black on one side and white on the other."
"I am black on the right side."
"I fail to see the significant difference."
"Lokai is white on the right side. All of his people are white on the right side."
- - Bele, Spock, Bele, Kirk, Bele, Kirk, Bele
"Change is the essential process of all existence."
- - Spock, to Bele
"I once heard that on some of your planets, people believe they are descended from apes."
"The actual theory is that all lifeforms evolved from the lower levels to the more advanced stages."
- - Bele and Spock, on evolution
"Yes, he will delay, evade, and escape again. And in the process put thousands of innocent beings at each others throats, getting them to kill and maim, for a cause which they have no stake in. But, which he will force them to violently espouse by twisting their minds with his lies, his loathsome accusations, and his foul threats."
- - Bele speaking about Lokai
"What do you do? Carry justice on your tongues? You will beg for it, but you won't fight or die for it!"
"After so many years of leading the fight, you seem very much alive."
"I doubt that the same can be said for many of his followers."
- - Lokai pleading with Kirk and Spock to kill Bele
"You're finished, Lokai! Oh, we've got your kind penned in on Cheron into little districts, and it's not going to change! You've combed the galaxy, and come up with nothing but monocolored trash, do-gooders, and bleeding hearts. You're DEAD, you half-white!"
"You useless pieces of bland flesh… I'll take you with me, you half-black!"
- - Bele and Lokai, before lunging at each other
"My people… all dead?"
"Yes, Commissioner. All of them."
"No one alive?"
"None at all, sir."
- - Bele, Spock, Lokai, Spock, after finding Cheron all but destroyed
"You band of Murderers did this…"
- - Bele, Lokai, now both driven mad at their homeworld's demise
"Listen to me. You both must end up dead if you don't stop hating."
"You're an idealistic dreamer.
"Bele. The chase is finished."
"He must not escape me!"
"Where can he go?"
- - Kirk', Lokai, Bele, and Spock, after Lokai flees the bridge, soon followed by Bele
"Shall I alert security, sir?"
"No, lieutenant. Where can they run?"
- - Uhura and Kirk, after Lokai and Bele leave the bridge
"It doesn't make any sense."
"To expect sense from two mentalities of such extreme viewpoints, is not logical."
"But their planet's dead. Does it matter now which one of them was right?"
"Not to Lokai and Bele. All that matters to them is their hate."
"Do you suppose that's all they ever had, sir?"
"No… but that's all they have left."
- - Uhura, Spock, Sulu, Spock, Uhura, and Kirk after Bele and Lokai return to Cheron
- The original story concept did not depict the aliens with bi-colored skin. Fred Freiberger recalled, "Gene [Coon] originally had a devil with a tail chasing an angel." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 74) Episode director Jud Taylor came up with the idea of bi-colored skin shortly before the episode began filming. His original suggestion was that they be half-black/half-white, one color from the waist up and the other from the waist down, but each wearing reversed color schemes. The central idea stuck but the colors were finally separated along the vertical axis rather than along the horizontal. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp. 399-400)
- Producer Fred Freiberger stated that this was one of the episodes of which he was most proud.
- This was the last episode Robert Justman worked on as co-producer. He resigned from the show's production team because of the program's declining quality and NBC's harsh treatment of it. He was also disappointed that instead of making him the new producer, Gene Roddenberry hired Freiberger instead. Justman felt burned out and eager to get out of the show. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Three)
- Bele and Lokai both have brown hair on their heads, but their eyebrows are black and white to match their faces.
- This episode represents the last on-screen appearance of the hangar deck in the original series. The shuttlecraft itself makes one last appearance on the planet set of "The Way to Eden".
- Effects footage from "The Galileo Seven" was re-used for all of the original episode's shuttlecraft shots. As a result, despite dialogue stating that the shuttlecraft had been stolen from Starbase 4, the shuttlecraft tractor-beamed into the hangar deck was labeled Galileo NCC-1701/7. In the remastered version of the episode, the stolen shuttlecraft's front and sides markings were corrected to show Starbase 4 as its post. This CGI version of the shuttlecraft was labeled Da Vinci, after the noted Renaissance artist/scientist Leonardo da Vinci, and it had SB4-0314/2 as its new registry number.
- Gene L. Coon's association with the series ended with the production of this episode. As with all of his contributions to the third season, for which he was unable to use his real name due to contractual obligations elsewhere, the story was credited to one of his pen names, Lee Cronin.
- The reference book Inside Star Trek: The Real Story (pp. 197 & 399) attests that this episode was originally a first season story outline from August 1966, titled "Portrait in Black and White". The book additionally states that, by 1968, NBC and Paramount were keen on using every available story idea, so Coon's outline was "taken out of the trash bin" and Oliver Crawford based a teleplay on it. However, documentation from the making of TOS reveals that these two episodes actually were, from a production standpoint, significantly different. A first draft script of "Portrait in Black and White", never mentioned in the book, was issued on 28 September 1966, and was entirely different from the storyline of "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield". (Gene Roddenberry Collection at UCLA, Box 19, Folder 10) They had different story numbers too – "Portrait in Black and White" was story #28, and "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" was #93. Also, in the writers' report dated 29 March 1968, the latter was listed as a new story assignment in progress, whereas the former had been listed among TOS' few shelved teleplays in the writers' report dated 1 March 1968. (Gene Roddenberry Collection at UCLA, Box 35, Folder 15)
- This episode was filmed in early October 1968.
- This episode features a close-up of the Enterprise model. Zoom shots from below and above the saucer section are used, representing some of the rare 'beauty shots' of the ship filmed during the series (episodes "Operation -- Annihilate!" and "Metamorphosis" have unique shots of the Enterprise as well). During the opening credits in the first scene, for example, the camera glides underneath the saucer to an extreme closeup of the saucer's phaser section and light. "That Which Survives" uses the same shot briefly when the Enterprise is shaking at warp.
- The self-destruct sequence from this episode is repeated exactly in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; however, in Search for Spock, it is Scott who gives the second command in place of Spock, and Chekov who gives the third command instead of Scott. (The Star Trek Compendium 4th ed., p. 123) In this episode, the self-destruct is set for a 30-second countdown whereas the film has a sixty-second countdown.
- The final chase scene depicting Lokai and Bele running through the corridors of the Enterprise is mixed with stock footage of burning cities filmed after WW II aerial bombing raids, as each visualizes the destruction of their shared home planet. Fred Freiberger stated, "We ran a little short on that show which is why it ended with a chase that went on forever. I thought it was a hell of a creative solution." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 74)
- The Remastered version shows Cheron cities still burning from space.
- Bele's totally "invisible" ship perhaps is the most noticeable effect of the biggest budget cut in the original series. (The Star Trek Compendium 4th ed., p. 123)
- The close-up of Chekov's hand operating the decontamination of Ariannus is a recycled shot of Kirk's hand from "The Doomsday Machine". (It was also used as Spock's hand in both "Obsession" and "The Immunity Syndrome".)
- The episode's director, Jud Taylor, included a unique effect in this episode. During the "red alerts," the camera zoomed in and out quickly on the blinking red alert signal, and moreover, it was tilted at an angle. According to several sources, among them The Star Trek Compendium, this effect allegedly paid homage to Frank Gorshin's role as the Riddler in Batman, even though Taylor never directed any episodes of Batman.
- In the third season blooper reel, several sequences from this episode are featured. In one, Frank Gorshin, who was also a talented impressionist, does a James Cagney imitation while on the transporter pad. In another, he and Lou Antonio collide forcefully as they are running through the corridors. (The Star Trek Compendium 4th ed., p. 123.) In yet another, Gorshin initially pronounces his character's name "Belly," before correcting himself and pronouncing it as it was pronounced in the finished episode. Finally, footage of nude swimmers in a pool was inserted at the point where Kirk asks, "Could it be a Romulan ship, using their cloaking device?"
- Both Bele and Lokai wear gloves the entire episode, which freed Fred Phillips of the burden of having to make up the hands of actors Frank Gorshin and Lou Antonio.
- In some editions of Allan Asherman's The Star Trek Compendium, this episode is incorrectly titled "Let This Be Your Last Battlefield."
- In the 1970s, the Mego toy company created a "Cheron" action figure doll, but unlike both Bele and Lokai's makeup and costuming, the doll had no hair, and its costume was entirely half-black and half-white, right down to the boots.
- The SciFi Channel, the DVD, and the remastered version added some new scenes that were not in the original and VHS version. After Kirk makes his first log entry at the beginning of this episode, he asks Chekov about estimated time to Ariannus, tells Uhura to contact them to tell them that decontamination is to begin on arrival, and asks Scott if it will it present any danger. Then after the shuttle is brought to the hangar deck, there is a shot of the shuttlecraft docking with the Enterprise. Sulu then calls Kirk in the turbolift to inform him that hangar doors are closed. Finally, there is a shot of Kirk and Spock in the hallway before they meet with the guards.
- Several shots of the main viewer from the rear of the bridge are recycled shots that show Hadley in Chekov's position, but we hear Chekov's voice and see him in the closeup.
- The Cherons' names approximate the names of fire deities: Logi (not to be confused with Loki) in Norse myth and Pele in Hawaiian myth.
- Story outline by Lee Cronin, titled "Down from Heaven", 11 March 1968
- Revised story outline, 22 March 1968
- First draft teleplay by Oliver Crawford, titled "Down from Heaven, Up from Above", 2 September 1968
- Second draft teleplay, 23 September 1968
- Final draft teleplay by Arthur Singer, titled "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield", 2 October 1968, 3 October 1968, 4 October 1968, 5 October 1968, 7 October 1968, 8 October 1968
- Revised final draft script by Fred Freiberger, 10 October 1968
- Additional page revisions by Freiberger, 11 October 1968
- Filmed, 4 October 1968 – 14 October 1968
- Day 1 – 4 October 1968, Friday – Desilu Stage 9: Int. Bridge
- Day 2 – 7 October 1968, Monday – Desilu Stage 9: Int. Bridge
- Day 3 – 8 October 1968, Tuesday – Desilu Stage 9: Int. Bridge, Sickbay
- Day 4 – 9 October 1968, Wednesday – Desilu Stage 9: Int. Sickbay,Bridge
- Day 5 – 10 October 1968, Thursday – Desilu Stage 9: Int. Engineering, Corridors, Transporter room, Bele's quarters
- Day 6 – 11 October 1968, Friday – Desilu Stage 9: Int. Bele's quarters, Turbolift, Bridge
- Day 7 – 14 October 1968, Monday (Half Day) – Desilu Stage 9: Int. Recreation room (redress of Briefing room), Bridge
- Original airdate, 10 January 1969
- Rerun airdate, 12 August 1969
- First UK airdate, 27 January 1971
During the syndication run of Star Trek, the following scenes were typically cut from broadcast
- Extra discussions about Bele's ship being invisible, followed by Kirk asking Chekov for magnification, to which Chekov replies that there is still no visual contact.
- Extended pause and reaction shots to Bele announcing his name when he appears on the bridge.
- A slightly longer exit of Bele, Kirk, and Spock exiting the bridge for the first time.
- A extra line spoken by Kirk, where he says that the conflict between Lokai and Bele is settled "at least for the present".
- Extended scene of McCoy examining Lokai in sickbay.
- More dialogue between Scott and Kirk about the ship being off course, Scott switching to auxiliary power, then Kirk calling him again to see if the ship is back on course.
- A more lengthy scene of Bele explaining he has control of the ship, followed by reaction shots from the bridge crew.
- As a prelude to entering the destruct sequence, Kirk asks the computer if it is ready to copy the destruct order and then orders the computer to standby to verify the destruct order.
- The computer counting down from twenty five to twenty in the destruct sequence scene.
- An establishing shot of the Enterprise approaching Ariannus.
- Additional shots of the Enterprise orbiting Ariannus during the ship's "crop dusting" scene.
In an additional rare syndication cut, shown only on the Sci-Fi Channel, the destruct scene was heavily cut to show Kirk entering the codes and activating the sequence entirely by himself, without dialogue from Spock and Scott entering and confirming their own destruct codes.
Video and DVD releases
- Original US Betamax release: 1988
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 36, catalog number VHR 2432, 7 January 1991
- US VHS release: 15 April 1994
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 3.5, 24 November 1997
- Original US DVD release (single-disc): Volume 35, 23 October 2001
- As part of the TOS Season 3 DVD collection
- As part of the TOS-R Season 3 DVD collection
Links and references
- Frank Gorshin as Bele
- Lou Antonio as Lokai
- James Doohan as Scott
- Walter Koenig as Chekov
- Nichelle Nichols as Uhura
- George Takei as Sulu
- Majel Barrett as Nurse Chapel
- Majel Barrett as the computer voice
- William Blackburn as Hadley
- Frank da Vinci as
- Roger Holloway as Roger Lemli
- Jeannie Malone as Yeoman
- Joe Paz as Sciences division lieutenant (recycled footage only)
- Unknown actors as
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- "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" at Wikipedia
- "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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