Kirk and Spock are forced to fight alongside such historical figures as Abraham Lincoln of Earth and Surak of Vulcan by aliens who want to understand the concepts of "good" and "evil."
- "Captain’s log, stardate 5906.4. Who or what has been beamed aboard our vessel? An alien who has changed himself into this form? An illusion? I cannot conceive it possible that Abraham Lincoln could have actually been reincarnated. And yet his kindness, his gentle wisdom, his humor, everything about him is so right."
Lincoln makes a brief tour of the ship, then invites Kirk and Spock to beam down to a thousand-kilometer Earth-like region that suddenly appears on the sensors. Kirk seems all too ready to admire the "illusion," whereas McCoy and Scotty insist that the whole affair is a setup to lure Kirk and Spock to their deaths on the planet's deadly surface. Kirk and Spock accept the invitation, and discover themselves locked in a mortal combat of good versus evil, with the good represented by themselves, Lincoln, and Surak (the Vulcan equivalent of Lincoln), and evil represented by four archetypes led by a charismatic but thoroughly despicable colonel. The planet's denizens reveal themselves to be a race of rock-like beings, the Excalbians, who often stage such combats to learn more about alien philosophies. Since Kirk refuses to fight, the aliens raise the stakes by damaging the Enterprise's matter/antimatter equipment, which will cause the ship to "blow to bits" in four hours – unless the "good" side manages to defeat their opponents.
- "Supplemental log, stardate 5906.5. Engineer Scott reporting. The Enterprise is doomed to explode in two hours if Captain Kirk is defeated by the enemy on the surface of the planet. The enormous power of the Enterprise has been neutralized and we sit here watching, unable to assist."
Of course, Kirk and Spock prevail, and are allowed to beam back to a miraculously repaired Enterprise.
"President Lincoln, indeed! No doubt to be followed by Louis of France and Robert the Bruce!"
"If so, then we will execute appropriate honors for each, gentlemen."
- - Scott, as Kirk enters the transporter room
"You're both out of your heads!"
"And you're both on the edge of insubordination!"
"Would I be on the edge of insubordination to remind the captain that this smells of something happening to him that I might not be able to patch back together again?"
- - McCoy, Scott, and Kirk
"Oh, forgive me, my dear. I know in my time some used that term as a description of property."
"But why should I object to that term, sir? In our century, we've learned not to fear words."
- - "Abraham Lincoln" and Uhura
"Live long and prosper, image of Surak; father of all we now hold true."
"The, uh – image of Surak read in your face what is in your mind, Spock."
"As I turned, and my eyes beheld you, I displayed emotion... I ask forgiveness."
"The cause was more than sufficient... let us speak no further of it."
- - Spock and "Surak"
"I am pleased to see that we have differences. May we together become greater than the sum of both of us."
- - "Surak"
"Your choice of actions is unlimited as is your choice of weapons. Should you wish to use any, you may fabricate anything you desire out of what you can find around you."
"Mister Spock and I refuse to participate."
"You will decide otherwise."
- - Yarnek and Kirk
"There is no honorable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war except its ending."
- - "Abraham Lincoln"
"It would seem that evil retreats when forcibly confronted."
- - Yarnek
"We came in peace." "And you may go in peace."
- - Kirk and Yarnek
- This episode marks the second time TOS encounters a silicon-based lifeform. The first time is in "The Devil in the Dark". Janos Prohaska played both lifeforms, with Bart LaRue supplying the Excalbian's voice.
- When Abraham Lincoln asks if the crew still measures time in minutes Kirk says "We can convert to it." This is obviously not true, as there are numerous examples in prior episodes in which even Spock expresses time in minutes (e.g., "The Tholian Web").
- Arell Blanton was hired for this episode because of his military background, needed for the welcoming ceremony for Abraham Lincoln. He was in an episode of M*A*S*H years later for the same reason.
- A boatswain's whistle is used by Lt. Dickerson to welcome Lincoln aboard. This is the "hailing" signal used on board the ship, which was one of many ways that Gene Roddenberry brought naval traditions aboard starships. We will see an electronic boatswain's whistle in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
- This episode marks the final appearance of Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) in the series.
- The episode also marks the final appearance of a Klingon in TOS. From whatever "source" Kahless was created, he apparently had a talent for mimicking voices (this was ignored in TNG).
- When Kirk thanks Mr. Lemli, it sounds suspiciously like "Mr. Mulney." William Shatner, who's well-known for his "unique" pronunciations, garbles Lemli's name in other episodes, too (e.g. "Turnabout Intruder").
- Both of the "real-life" figures recreated by the Excalbians, Abraham Lincoln and Genghis Khan served as a visual inspiration for the look of the Klingons. John Colicos, the first actor to play a Klingon, suggested that the make-up artist make him look like "a futuristic Genghis Khan" and the look of David Warner as Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was designed to resemble Lincoln, as indicated in the DVD special features for this film.
- Three of the historical figures introduced in this episode appeared in some form in later Star Trek series. Kahless (or at least a clone of him) appeared in TNG: "Rightful Heir", Jonathan Archer possessed and spoke to the katra of Surak in ENT: "Awakening", and archival footage of Colonel Green addressing a crowd was watched by John Frederick Paxton in ENT: "Demons".
- Kirk and the Enterprise crew encountered Abraham Lincoln again in the non-canon 1971 Gold Key comic book story "The Legacy of Lazarus".
- Of the four "good guys," only Kirk kills. He defeats Kahless and Green in combat.
- Yarnek appears to have been filmed from two perspectives. His more-common appearance is as a "living rock" formation in a clearing. However, in the other shot (which was used twice), he's shown in front of a large rock wall. The latter may have been filmed as a "reaction" shot after principal photography was already completed.
- After Yarnek introduces the "good guys" and the "bad guys" and lays the ground rules, he "morphs" back into an ordinary boulder. A few minutes later, however, during the first fight sequence, he has "magically" re-morphed into his "living" incarnation off-screen (this is the shot of him against the rock wall).
- Yarnek is never named in dialog. Even in the closed captioning, he's merely credited as "Excalbian."
- Colonel Green talks to Surak and argues that while the latter is there "talking peace" the others ("the good guys") are preparing to attack. This is somehow a paraphrase from a well-known latin proverb : Si vis pacem, para bellum (if you want peace, prepare for war).
- Series proposal, "Star Trek is...": 11 March 1964 - mentions similar story idea "Mr. Socrates"
- Story outline by Gene Roddenberry, 8 May 1968.
- Story outline by Gene Roddenberry, 9 May 1968.
- Teleplay by Gene Roddenberry, 11 September 1968.
- Teleplay by Gene Roddenberry and Arthur Heinemann, 27 November 1968.
- Final draft script, 6 December 1968
- Filmed in mid-December 1968
Video and DVD releases
- Original US Betamax release: 1988.
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 40, catalogue number VHR 2436, 18 March 1991.
- This volume is a three-episode tape to close out the series.
- US VHS release: 15 April 1994.
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 3.8, 2 March 1998.
- Original US DVD release (single-disc): Volume 39, 11 December 2001.
- As part of the TOS Season 3 DVD collection.
Links and References
- William Shatner as Kirk
- Leonard Nimoy as Spock
- DeForest Kelley as McCoy
- James Doohan as Scott
- George Takei as Sulu
- Nichelle Nichols as Uhura
- Walter Koenig as Chekov
- Barry Atwater as Surak
- Phillip Pine as Colonel Green
- Arell Blanton as Dickerson (credited as "Chief Security Guard")
- Carol Daniels DeMent as Zora
- Robert Herron as Kahless
- Nathan Jung as Genghis Khan
- William Blackburn as Hadley
- Roger Holloway as Lemli
- Bart LaRue as Voice of Yarnek
- Janos Prohaska as Yarnek
Arcturian dog bird (Arcturian); carbon cycle lifeform; class M; dress uniform; evil; Excalbia; Excalbians; France; good; Grant, Ulysses S.; haggis; honor detachment; Louis XIV; Negress; nitrogen; oxygen; Robert the Bruce; Starfleet Command; Tiburon; Time of Awakening; Union Army; Vulcan; Vulcan (planet); whiskey; World War III
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