In the highest circles of the Shatner-Khan hierarchy there is no more sacred text than “Eed plebnista” and “norkon forden perfectunun.” One of my oldest acquaintances has been heard to spontaneously break out into this phrase with no visible rationale. Because of these tendencies I tackle this review with great trepidation. If I get it wrong there could be serious blowback.
The Enterprise is sent to planet blah,blah,blah to find out what has become of the Starship Exeter. It’s found circling the planet and Kirk, McCoy, Spock and a redshirt fully primed for certain death beam over to the Exeter. There they find a bunch of empty uniforms dribbling rock salt from the sleeves and pant cuffs. Surprise, surprise, everybody’s dead and a video clip tells them that a disease brought up from the planet was the cause. Being warned to beam down to the planet immediately they do so and find out that the lone survivor is Captain Tracey of the Exeter and he is engaged in Prime Directive defying aid to the Kohms in their war with the savage Yangs. And unsurprisingly the Yangs are the descendants of the defeated white Yankees and the Kohms are the victorious Chinese Communists who won a biological weapons war and occupied the Yangs homeland.
But the Yangs are finishing off a long reconquest of their homeland and even with Captain Tracey’s fire boxes (phasers) the Kohms are in big trouble. Tracey captures the Enterprise party and demands that Kirk provide him with ten more phasers with three extra power packs for each. When the redshirt reaches for his phaser Tracey disintegrates him. We also find out tha the disease that killed off the Exeter would have been harmless if the crew members had stayed just a short time longer on planet blah,blah,blah and now all of them could return to the Enterprise without risk to the ship or themselves. But Tracey has discovered that the inhabitants live to be over a thousand years old and he is convinced that the secret to this amazing longevity can be discovered by McCoy and then sold by Tracey to the highest bidder once he’s beaten of the Yangs. McCoy debunks the theory and says the longevity is just a natural byproduct of the survival after the bioweapon ordeal.
Meanwhile there is all this tuh-doing between Kirk and Tracey and a Yang prisoner who we find out is the Yang Chief Cloud Williams and his wife. Finally Spock and Kirk escape from jail. But eventually the Yangs attack the Kohms and we get to hear Tracey makes his horrified report of the battle, “They sacrificed hundreds just to draw us out in the open and then they came and they came. We drained four of our phasers and they still came. We killed thousands and they still came!” Good times, good times.
So the Yangs capture all of the Federation personnel. When the Yangs break out an antique American flag and Cloud Williams starts reciting a really garbled version of the Pledge of Allegiance Kirk completes the pledge and now Cloud wants Kirk to explain how he knows their sacred words. But whereas Kirk wants to explain that they are from another world Tracey claims that Kirk and his crew are devils. He uses as proof the fact that Spock has pointed ears and no heart. Cloud Williams is unclear who to believe and asks if Kirk can complete the most sacred of their texts which only a chief would know. He starts it with “Eed plebnista.” But Kirk can’t figure out what it is. So instead he claims trial by combat against Tracey to the death. Spock uses Vulcan mind games to get one of the Yang women to trigger a communicator and an armed landing party arrives with Sulu in command just as Kirk defeats Tracey but refuses to kill him.
Now hearing a few more of the words, “norkon forden perfectunun,” Kirk figures out that it’s the preamble to the Constitution and recites it and then gives Cloud and his tribal circle a civics lesson. And then somehow they head back to the Enterprise, even though Sulu and the others are now infected with a disease that will dehydrate them down to bath salts within minutes. The End.
“Eed plebnista” indeed. There’s just so much to love about this episode. Tracey beats up Kirk several times in the episode. Shatner’s overacting while giving the Yangs their civics lesson. And Tracey is so great in his angry intensity. He wants that immortality drug and the power it will give him. He comes up with that great “He has no hearrrrt!” line about Spock and finally he has his great narration of the Yang attack.
This gets a 10 // 7.