Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 22 – The Savage Curtain

Ah, the last three episodes.  The light at the end of the tunnel.  Must stay strong.

The Enterprise is investigating signs of life on a planet whose surface is covered with molten lava.  Suddenly the viewscreen on the Bridge is filled with an image of Abraham Lincoln sitting in a leather chair in his usual coat and stovepipe hat.  He explains that he is on the planet’s surface and would like to come aboard the Enterprise.  Suddenly an area of earthlike environmental conditions appears on the planet’s surface.  Kirk orders full presidential honors to be extended to this inexplicable appearance of an historical personage.  This occasions Scotty to assume the kilt.  Lincoln displays a charming personality and obvious ignorance of the modern sociological conditions when he describes Uhura as “a charming negress.”

Despite strong opposition by McCoy and Scotty Kirk and Spock decide to transport down to the planet’s surface with Lincoln.  There they meet up with another historical personage, Surak.  He was the founder of modern Vulcan culture and revered by all Vulcans including of course Spock.

Next, they meet up with a native of the planet.  He looks much like a giant steaming cow-dropping with eyes.  He informs us that the Enterprise crew have been selected to instruct the natives with a demonstration of the relative strengths of good and evil.  Kirk, Spock, Lincoln and Surak will represent good and Genghis Khan, Kahless the Klingon, Zora and Col. Philip Greene will represent evil.  If you don’t recognize any of the names other than Genghis Khan the reason is because they’re made-up conquerors from pseudo future history.

The Cow-Pat declares that the winning side gets to live and the losing side will already be dead.  But to make the deal more persuasive to Kirk it is revealed that the Enterprise is being held captive in orbit and will also be destroyed if Kirk’s side loses.  The bad guys fake a parlay then attack.  They are driven off by our heroes in whom the force is strong.  While Kirk attempts to convince everyone to build spears for a battle to the death.  Surak declares that he will attempt to negotiate a peace with the enemy.  Spock declares that this is an honorable position.  But he continues to build weapons with Kirk and Lincoln.

Shortly after he leaves for his peace mission Kirk, Spock and Lincoln hear a scream followed by a voice that supposedly sounds like Surak repeating over and over, “Help me Spock!”  It is in reaction to this that Spock declares, “A Vulcan would not cry out so.”  But Kirk and Lincoln want to attempt a rescue.  The plan is for Kirk and Spock to perform a frontal attack on the enemy base while Lincoln circles behind their position and frees Surak.  But when he reaches Surak, he finds him already dead and his entry discovered.  Then we find out that Kahless was mimicking Surak’s voice and now shows how he will mimic Lincoln’s cry for help.

But suddenly Lincoln staggers toward Kirk and Spock to warn them of the trap.  After warning them he falls forward and we can see he has a spear planted in his back.  He dies there and the battle is joined between Kirk and Spock and the four evil warriors.  When Kirk manages to kill Col. Greene the other three evil fighters run away.

At this point Road Apple declares Kirk and Spock winners and sends them home.

This episode is the source of a quote that has echoed down the decades with my brothers and me.  At any random time since its inception in 1969 any one of us might exclaim in “Spockian” tones the seemingly meaningless sentence, “A Vulcan would not cry out so.”  The question of why we would say this is open to psychological or maybe neurological debate.  But suffice it to say that mocking Star Trek could be boiled down to mocking that one line.

I assumed this episode would be as aggravating as many of the season three installments.  But I actually enjoyed it.  Sure, it was absurd but the extra characters added some much-needed novelty to the overdone interactions between Kirk and Spock.  Once again, the guest stars were much better actors than the crew of the Enterprise.  Even the oversized cow chip had more panache than Kirk and Spock.  Although I did enjoy one comment by Scotty where he mentioned something about haggis in the lunch room.

I’ll be magnanimous and give this a  7  //  4.

A Vulcan would not cry out so.

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