Thursday, March 31, 2022

Star Trek -- Season 2 Episode 23 (The Omega Glory)

Looking back on the original Star Trek, it’s amazing how many episodes featured races that were portrayed as being rather simple.  On occasion, as with The Omega Glory, the races were called savages outright.  However, it was odd to find a civilization at least on par with 20th-century humans.

In the case of The Omega Glory, The Enterprise is looking for another Federation ship, the Exeter, commanded by Captain Ron Tracey.  They find the ship in orbit of Omega IV only to discover the crew turned to dust.  When Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the obligatory Red Shirt beam down to the planet, they find Captain Tracey, in uniform, interacting with the local population.

There are two warring groups on the planet:  The Yangs and the Kohms.  (The Yangs look European while the Kohms appear more Asian.)  Kirk finds that Tracey has been helping the Kohms, in direct violation of the Prime Directive.  Why?  They can live for more than a thousand years.  Tracey has found the Fountain of Youth.  As long as the landing party stays on the planet, they’re safe.  If they leave, they’ll turn to dust like the Exeter’s crew.

Kirk agrees to stay, if only to find a cure.  It soon becomes clear that something is up.  The Kohms and the Yangs are actually not all that different from the humans of Earth.  In fact, they have a constitution.  Or, should I say, The United States Constitution.  (As much as I hate to give away the big reveal, I do want to mention this later.)

Omega IV saw a nasty war which caused the aforementioned disease.  This apparently has little to do with anything.  Their longevity and immunity to the disease are little more than how their race developed.  Tracey is denied his magic youth serum and the Omegans are given a new understanding of how freedom works.

This brings me to The Constitution.  I find it incredibly odd that a planet would develop, word for word, a document that we also developed.  Star Trek was good at using allegory, even if it was thinly veiled.  However, this comes off as heavy-handed lecturing.  We even get a speech at the end about how freedom is meaningless unless everyone has it.

It’s a shame because it’s a message that is still relevant today.  Had it been done better, maybe with a reworded document, it could have been a decent episode.  I remember first watching the episode and wondering if Omega IV didn’t have founding fathers, exactly like ours, working out the document.  It would imply that both their world and ours had very similar histories.

I think with a little more thought and nuance, this could have even been a great episode.  There are too many negatives for me to get over, such as the delineation between races.  The episode is a little too blunt to be effective.  I’m used to a more subtle approach with my stories.


IMDb page


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