Star Trek: The Original Series (1968) – Spectre of the Gun and Day of the Dove

Captain’s log: stardate 4385.3

Spectre of the Gun is a bit of an interesting episode. Written by Gene Coon, under a pseudonym the episode premiered on 25 October, 1968. 

When the Enterprise trespasses into Melkot space, the alien race punishes some of the crew including Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Scotty (James Doohan) and Chekov (Walter Koenig). They find themselves in a surreal recreation of the American Old West and cast in the roles of the ill-fated Clantons in a showdown with the Earps at The Ok Corral.

Although barely glimpsed, I’ve always liked the design of the Melkotians, are they great floating brains with glowing eyes and a neck-like appendage or is that simply the way they wish to be perceived.

I rather like this episode, and as strange as it is, this episode may have been my first introduction to the Western genre. I don’t remember being a fan of them at a young age. I, of course, was aware of them, but they were never my thing, so this may very well have been the first cowboy thing I’d ever seen!

The climax seems inescapable, especially when one if their own falls to an Earp’s gunfire. As Kirk and the survivors try to find a way out, to settle things peacefully, they realise that perhaps history doesn’t have to play out the way it did. Perhaps they can reach the Melkotians, and perhaps establish relations.

The stylised sets lend a surreal feel to the episode. That and the red sky. 

I love how Spock figures things out, and that leads to a well-thought out resolution that shows our heroes standing up to the Earps.

Considering how rough some of the third season episodes are, this is one that I heartily enjoy everytime I see it. 

Captain’s log: stardate unknown

The Day of the Dove is a bottle episode, which tends to be pretty entertaining while commenting on the Vietnam War, and giving us one of the strongest looks, to date, at the Klingons. Written by Jerome Bixby, the episode first aired on 1 November, 1968.

Michael Ansara plays Klingon commander Kang, and he and his crew become trapped on the Enterprise, the two crews locked in mortal combat by a formless entity that feeds on hatred. Endlessly resurrected the crew fight over and over, and will continue to do so if they can’t find a way to put a stop to the entity.

The Klingons come off better in this episode than any other episode to date, there is a hint of the honor which will come to define their culture.

The entity manipulates people as much as it can, pushing them to hate and fear, to fight. They are driven beyond reason, to destroy and kill, and even to turn on one another. As both crews begin to think objectively​, they realise they could be under the control of something other than their own wits, and work together towards a precarious peace that could save all of their lives.

The entity seems to delight in physical conflict, transforming items into swords and sabers, even as McCoy tries to keep them patched up.

This is an episode that for some reason I’ve only seen a handful of times. That being said, I recall the first time I saw it, and loved how Kirk and Kang ultimately​ solved everything. Seeing enemies united together, laughing and smiling, even if it was just in passing, hinted at the probability of real, aachievable peace.

That’s a strong message. Hope, peace… the Human Adventure continues…

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