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 a decontamination mission to the planet Ariannus, the USS Enterprise encounters a 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 that the shuttlecraft be brought aboard.
When the pilot emerges and subsequently collapses, he displays a unique appearance; black on the left side of his face and white on the other. Brought to sickbay, the pilot is revived by Dr. McCoy and identifies himself as Lokai from the planet Cheron. Although grateful for the rescue, he is combative when questioned about the theft of the shuttlecraft. Concluding that Lokai's coloration is a mutation of some kind, Kirk plans to return Lokai to Starbase 4 to face theft charges once the Arrianus mission is completed.
En route, however, sensors pick up 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; Commissioner Bele – similar in appearance to Lokai, but the colors are reversed. Bele identifies himself as an official from the Commission on Political Traitors from Cheron, who has come to apprehend Lokai.
When Bele is brought to sickbay to see Lokai, we learn that Bele has been pursuing Lokai for a long time; 50,000 Earth years as it turns out. Bele charges that Lokai led a revolt of people who are black on the left side against the ruling order, which is black on the right side. Lokai counters that the black/right (white/left) order enslaved the white/right (black/left) people of Cheron and continues to oppress them. Bele demands that Kirk surrender Lokai, while Lokai claims political asylum with the Federation. Kirk ends the bickering and submits a report to Starfleet Command, looking for a solution.
Starfleet's answer is that, since Cheron has no diplomatic treaties with the Federation, Starfleet cannot hand over Lokai without due process. Unhappy with Starfleet's response, Bele commandeers the Enterprise, using his mental powers to drive the ship to Cheron. Kirk is forced to activate the self-destruct sequence in order to force Bele to relinquish control of the ship. Having failed through confrontation, both Bele and Lokai attempt to enlist the sympathies of the crew while en route to Ariannus.
Once the decontamination mission is complete, however, Bele sabotages the self-destruct program and regains control of the ship, headed for Cheron once more. Upon arrival at Cheron, however, sensors reveal massive destruction of all major cities and huge piles of unburied corpses - the entire population of Cheron has mutually annihilated itself in civil war. Blaming each other for the holocaust, Bele and Lokai fight, despite Kirk's offer for them to live with the Federation. The pair then chase each other through the ship, each eventually finding the transporter room and returning to the planet's surface to continue their fight... the last two sapient lifeforms on a dead world.
- 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. 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.
- Captain's log, stardate 5730.7. 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.
"To you we are a loathsome breed that will never be ready!"
- - Lokai to Bele
"It is obvious to the most simpleminded 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, and Kirk
"Change is the essential process of all existence. For instance, the people of Cheron must have, at one time, been monocolored."
"You mean, like both of you?"
"I'm sure there was a time – long ago, no doubt – when that was true."
- - Spock, Bele, and Kirk
"And yet, you are filling him full of your noxious potions as if he were a Human."
(bristling) "When in doubt, the book prevails, Mr. Spock. I've run tests; blood is blood – even when it's green like yours. All the usual organs are there; somewhat rearranged, perhaps, plus a few I've never seen before. Now I've enriched the oxygen content of his blood and I've pumped in a strong stimulant... and, I must say, his recuperative powers are excellent."
- - Spock and McCoy, on treating Lokai
"Don't you know whose property you've stolen?"
"I am not a thief!"
"Well, certainly no ordinary thief, considering what it is you... appropriated."
"You're being very loose with your accusations, and drawing conclusions without any facts... My need gave me the right to use it. Mark the word—the use of it."
"Inform Starbase we have their shuttlecraft... and its 'user'."
- - Kirk and Lokai
"I am grateful for your rescue."
"Don't mention it – we're pleased to have caught you."
- - Lokai and Kirk
"So this is justice after Ariannus; you have signed my death warrant! If you are partisans of justice, prove it – kill him!"
"We are not killers."
"Well, what do you do, carry justice on your tongues? You will beg for it, but you are not willing to fight or die for it!"
"After so many years of leading the fight, you seem very much alive."
"I doubt the same can be said for many of his followers."
- - Lokai, Chekov, Kirk, and Spock
"From five to zero, no command in the universe can prevent the computer from fulfilling its destruct order. You can use your will to drag this ship to Cheron, but I control the computer – mine is the final command!"
- - Kirk to Bele
"Has the Enterprise returned to the course set for it by my orders?"
"Negative; the Enterprise is now moving in a circular pattern."
"And at warp 10, we're going nowhere mighty fast!"
- - Kirk, Spock, and Scotty
(with contempt and distaste) "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
"You're finished, Lokai! Oh, we've got your kind penned in on Cheron into little districts, and it's not going to change – not for ten times ten thousand years... You're dead, you half-white!"
(to the crew) "You useless pieces of bland flesh" (to Bele) "I'll take you with me, you half-black!"
- - Bele and Lokai, as they approach Cheron
"Computer, this is Captain James Kirk of the USS Enterprise. Destruct sequence one, code: 1-1-A." "Computer, this is Commander Spock, Science Officer. Destruct sequence number two, code: 1-1-A-2-B." "Computer, this is Lt. Commander Scott, Chief Engineering officer of the USS Enterprise. Destruct sequence number three, code: 1-B-2-B-3." "Destruct sequence completed and engaged. Awaiting final code for thirty second countdown" "Code: zero, zero, zero, destruct: zero" "Destruct sequence is activated."
"What's the matter with you? Do you hear Spock – your planet's dead! There's no one alive on Cheron because of hate! Give yourselves time to grieve; give up your hate! You're welcome to live with us. Listen to me – you both must end up dead if you don't stop hating!"
- - Kirk
"Bele – the chase is finished."
"He must not escape me."
"Where can he go?"
- - Kirk, Bele, and Spock
"Shall I alert security, sir?"
"No, lieutenant... where can they run?"
- - Uhura and Kirk
"But their planet's dead; does it matter now which was right and which was wrong?"
"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."
- - Sulu, Spock, Uhura, and Kirk
"There was persecution on Earth once; I remember reading about it in my history texts."
"Yes, but that was back in the 20th century – there's no such primitive thinking today."
- - Chekov and Sulu, discussing Lokai's descriptions of Cheron
- The original story concept did not have the aliens with bi-colored skin. It was episode director Jud Taylor who came up with the idea 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 one opposite. The idea stuck, only the colors were finally separated on the vertical axis rather than the horizontal. (citation needed • edit)
- Bele and Lokai have brown hair on their head, 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 makes one last appearance on the planet set of "The Way to Eden".
- Stock footage from "The Galileo Seven" was used for all of the original episode's shuttlecraft shots. As a result, despite dialog stating that it has been stolen from Starbase 4, the shuttlecraft tractor-beamed into the hangar deck is labeled NCC-1701. In the remastered version of the episode, the stolen front and sides were updated to show "Starbase 4" and a 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, the story was credited to Lee Cronin.
- This episode was filmed in early October 1968.
- In a continuity error during the same scene, although both Walter Koenig and George Takei are heard speaking lines of (dubbed) dialog in this scene, Koenig is not in the room.
- No other episode in the original series features close-ups 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.
- 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.
- In a syndication cut which was only used by the Sci-Fi Channel, the self-destruct sequence is considerably trimmed where Kirk activates the entire destruct sequence by himself and then in the next scene he is giving the activation code for the countdown. In the normal syndication broadcast which appeared on network television, the entire destruct sequence can be heard.
- The "chase scene" between Lokai and Bele through the corridors of the Enterprise is mixed with footage of burning cities from air raids during World War II, as each imagines what has happened to their planet.
- Bele's totally invisible ship perhaps is the most noticeable effect of the biggest budget cut in the original series.
- The director 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 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.
- In the third season blooper reel, several sequences from this episode are featured. In one, Frank Gorshin 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. 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.
- In 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 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.
- Story outline by Lee Cronin, originally entitled "A Portrait in Black and White" 11 March 1968
- Story outline by Lee Cronin, 22 March 1968
- Teleplay by Oliver Crawford, 2 September 1968
- Revised teleplay by Oliver Crawford, 23 September 1968
- Filmed in early October 1968
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
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
- William Blackburn as Hadley
- Frank da Vinci as Brent
- Roger Holloway as Roger Lemli
- Jeannie Malone as Yeoman
20th century; Ariannus; ape; bacteria; blood; Cheron; Cheron native; Cheron scout vessel; Civil Rights Movement; class F shuttlecraft; Coalsack; command frequency 2; Commission on Political Traitors; commissioner; Da Vinci; death warrant; destruct sequence; directional control; due process; evolution; extinction; extradition; genocide; hangar deck; history; hull breach; intergalactic treaty; lava; logic; master computer; master race; memory bank; Mendel; Ministry of Health; nucleotide; oxygen; political asylum; racism; recreation room; recuperative powers; Romulans; sabotage; sapient lifeform; scope; sentience; shields; skin; slavery; spray tank; Starbase 4; Starfleet Command; stealth; theft; tractor beam; United Federation of Planets; United Fleet of Planets; vocal cords; volcano; Vulcan (planet);s Vulcans
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