Space Nazis! In the immortal words of Dr. Zachary Smith, “Oh the pain, the pain.”
The Enterprise is headed for stellar system blah, blah, blah where there are two planets with humanoid life. One planet, Zeon, is more advanced and peaceful. The other, Ekos, is less advanced and warlike. The Federation sent an observer ten years earlier name John Gill who was an historian that Kirk knew from back at the Academy. Nothing has been heard from him for years. Their mission is to establish communications with Gill and find out how conditions on Ekos are progressing. As the Enterprise nears Ekos a missile with an H-bomb approaches and has to be destroyed. Ekos should not have that level of technology so Spock and Kirk go down to the planet expecting trouble.
When they beam down they find that the Ekosians are dressed as Nazi soldiers and they are treating the Zeonians as the Nazis treated the Jews during their time in power. We get several episodes of Kirk and Spock dressed as Nazis trying to infiltrate the Nazi headquarters to reach John Gill who they learn is the Führer of the Ekosian Nazi state.
They are captured, jailed, whipped and threatened. Eventually they escape by manufacturing a laser out of the transponders that were subcutaneously emplaced under Kirk and Spock’s skin as a way to locate and rescue them if their communicators were lost. They escape to the sewers where they join up with the underground resistance of Ekosians and Zeonians. Eventually they reach John Gill. They find he’s been drugged and he eventually explains that he used the Nazi model as one that could overcome the disorganized nature of Ekosian society. It worked but then Melakon, his deputy, drugged him and seized power with the intent of going full tilt Nazi. At this point the final solution is about to be unleashed on the Zeonians. Kirk rouses Gill and forces him to make a speech denouncing the treatment of the Zeonians and blaming Melakon. Melakon shoots Gill and is himself shot by the soldiers present. The Ekosians renounce Nazism and focus on manufacturing high end automobiles.
What can I say? What can anyone say? Space Nazis!
So let’s get down to it. Shatner has moments where he embraces his Kirkian magnificence. At the beginning when McCoy is rambling on about what could have happened to Professor Gill Kirk very good naturedly reminds him that that is exactly what he and Spock are heading down to the planet to find out. Later on when he is being whipped in the Gestapo dungeon he does a great Shatner pain face. Not full intensity, but more as if an annoying hemorrhoid were flaring up. Later on Spock has to climb on Kirk’s recently whipped back to reach a light bulb placed high on the prison cell wall to work his Rube Goldberg laser device. Kirk reminds him very pointedly about the high quality of the whipping he had received and stresses that time is of the essence to finish the maneuver before Kirk collapses in pain. The exchange may actually be the humorous high point of the episode. A few funny non-Shatner lines are thrown in. When Kirk and Spock are first disguising themselves in Nazi uniforms Spock notes that Kirk will make a very convincing Nazi. Later on when Spock is brought before the deputy Führer, he has to stand passively by as the high ranking official gives a very insulting description of Spock’s physiognomy in pseudo-scientific terms that highlight the supposedly degenerate aspects of his distinctive ears and eyes. Spock’s expressions while listening to the lecture are amusing.
I give this episode 4 // 7.