The Omega Glory

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"The Omega Glory"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 23
Directed by Vincent McEveety
Written by Gene Roddenberry
Cinematography by Jerry Finnerman
Production code 054
Original air date March 1, 1968 (1968-03-01)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"The Omega Glory" is a second season episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek, first broadcast March 1, 1968, and repeated July 26, 1968. It is episode #52, production #54, written by Gene Roddenberry, and directed by Vincent McEveety. The story was one of three outlines submitted for selection as the second pilot of Star Trek, the others being "Mudd's Women" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before".[1]

In the episode, Captain Kirk must find the cure to a deadly disease and put an end to another Starfleet captain's cultural interference.

Plot[edit]

The Federation Starship Enterprise has been sent to planet Omega IV to search for the USS Exeter, which has been out of communication with Starfleet for six months. Exeter is found still orbiting the planet, and Captain Kirk, along with First Officer Spock, Dr. McCoy and Lt. Galloway, beams over to investigate. They find the ship deserted, save for a few uniforms covered with a crystalline substance, found to be human remains. The ship's logs reveal that the Exeter's crew has died from an infectious disease brought from the planet, and that Enterprise landing party must beam down to the planet if they are to survive.

Kirk's party beams to the last coordinates in the Exeter's computer and discover Exeter Captain Ron Tracey (Morgan Woodward) in what resembles a Tibetan village. Tracey explains that he was stranded when the disease ravaged his ship, and has discovered that remaining on the planet confers immunity. Tracey then reveals that the villagers, known as "Kohms", are at war with savages called "Yangs".

After a Yang attack, Spock investigates the field of battle and finds evidence that Tracey has been helping the Kohms in violation of the Prime Directive. Kirk tries to contact the Enterprise, but is prevented by Tracey. To justify his actions, Tracey reveals that not only have the natives become immune to the mysterious disease, but they have developed lifespans of over 1000 years.

Tracey orders McCoy to investigate the secrets of their longevity and has Kirk and Spock locked up in a crude jail with two Yang prisoners, one male and one female. Kirk has the Yang male loosen the bars of the cell window, but the Yang knocks Kirk out and escapes with the woman. When Kirk recovers, he and Spock make their own escape.

Reunited with McCoy, Spock modifies some medical equipment into a makeshift communicator, which is destroyed by Tracey. McCoy and Kirk try to explain that the natives' longevity has nothing to do with their immunity to the disease, but Tracey's mind snaps, and he attempts to force Kirk to order more weapons to be sent down from Enterprise.

During a struggle between the two, Yang warriors arrive and carry everyone back to their village. Their leader is Kirk's cellmate, known as Cloud William. During a ceremony to celebrate the Yang victory, Kirk and Spock, discussing the Yang culture, connect the names Yang and Kohm with "Yankee" and "Communist". Spock surmises that the history of Omega IV closely paralleled that of Earth, until the former was devastated by a biological war which Earth had avoided. This hypothesis is confirmed when William produces a very old American Flag, along with ancient documents from which he recites the Pledge of Allegiance in a garbled accent. The Yangs are shocked when Kirk completes the Pledge.

Tracey, in an attempt to save his own life, denounces Kirk and Spock, claiming that they were cast out of Heaven, and pointing to Spock's appearance as proof. William asks Kirk to prove himself by completing the "sacred words" from another document. Kirk doesn't understand the words and suggests trial by combat between himself and Tracey. As they fight, Spock sends a mental suggestion to William's female companion to activate the communicator lying near her. Sulu and a security detail beam down to investigate, and Tracey is taken into custody.

Cloud William now kneels before Kirk as if he were a deity, but Kirk orders him to stand. The second document proves to be a version of the American Constitution. Kirk rebukes the Yangs for forgetting its meaning, and declares that the words were meant not just for the Yangs, but "must apply to everyone or they mean nothing." William does not fully understand, but swears to Kirk that the words will be obeyed.

Analysis[edit]

According to author Daniel Leonard Bernardi in his book, Star Trek and History: Race-ing Toward a White Future: "Like the Federation, the Comms [sic] have full command of the English language (although they speak with a homogenized 'Asian' accent). The beginning of the episode thus shows that those with white skin can be uncivilized savages and those with yellow skin can be civilized and rational [...] This would be counter to the hegemonic representation of Asians in the United States media; that diverse collective of peoples are consistently constructed in film and television as a menacing 'yellow horde.'"

Bernardi goes on to say:

'The Omega Glory' is not, however, a counter-hegemonic episode. In fact, the episode not only reveals an unwillingness to be critical of the hegemony of racist representations, but also systematically participates in the stereotyping of Asians. As the story progresses, the Yangs are constructed as noble savages; their cause to annihilate the Comms is established as justified. The Comms, on the other hand, are constructed as brutal and oppressive; their drive to suppress the Yangs is established as totalitarian. This more hegemonic articulation of race is made evident when Kirk and Spock realize the extent to which the Yangs and Comms parallel Earth's civilizations. In this light, the Yangs are no longer savages, but noble warriors fighting for a just and honorable cause. They want to regain the land they lost in a war with the Asiatics.[2]

Allan W. Austin, Professor of History at Misericordia University, writes that this episode

consciously and unconsciously reflected a number of deep American anxieties that grew out of more than two decades of the Cold War. By the mid–1960s, some Americans began to critique what they saw as mindless nationalism. This unthinking patriotism had coalesced as part of a liberal consensus grounded in confidence in the essential soundness of American society as well as the assumption of a pervasive communist threat to the U.S. and its allies. Many supporters of the liberal consensus believed that economic growth and development would solve any remaining social inequalities while damping class conflict.[3]

Like Bernardi, Austin discusses racial stereotypes in the episode; citing Bernardi, he argues that, instead of considering "the Yangs as noble savages, the Yangs can now be seen as an example of the result of mindless nationalism run amok, albeit still salvageable in Roddenberry's ever-optimistic view of the future."[4] He adds, "Many of the qualities ascribed to the Yangs mirrored terms used to describe the 'yellow peril' at an earlier time in U.S. history. For example, Tracy, after noting directly that the Yangs are white, describes them as vicious and deceptive enemies who cannot communicate intelligently."[4]

In "The Omega Glory", a 2006 essay reminiscing on stories about the future, Michael Chabon says, "Eed plebnista, intoned the devolved Yankees, in the Star Trek episode 'The Omega Glory', who had somehow managed to hold on to and venerate as sacred gobbledygook the Preamble to the Constitution, norkon forden perfectunun. All they needed was a Captain Kirk to come and add a little interpretive water to the freeze-dried document, and the American way of life would flourish again."[5]

Production[edit]

This story was originally offered by Roddenberry as an option for the second pilot titled "The Omega Story".[6] The original script, while not significantly different in tone and message, did have some significant differences in characterization and background information. As the character of Dr. Leonard McCoy had not been created yet, the ship's surgeon is named Milton Perry, and in one version of the script it is Perry who attempts to use a "Medi-Scanner" to signal the Enterprise for rescue, only to be killed when Captain Tracey destroys the scanner with his phaser. Dr. Carter of the Exeter was also to be shown dissolving onscreen.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitfield, Stephen E & Roddenberry, Gene (1968). The Making of Star Trek. Ballatine Books. 
  2. ^ Bernardi, Daniel Leonard. Star Trek and History: Race-ing Toward a White Future. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1998, pp. 57-58.
  3. ^ Austin, Allan W. "The Limits of Star Trek's Final Frontier: "The Omega Glory" and 1960s American Liberalism," in Space and Time: Essays on Visions of History in Science Fiction and Fantasy Television. David C. Wright, Jr., and Allan W. Austin, editors. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2010, pp. 68-69.
  4. ^ a b Austin, Allan W. "The Limits of Star Trek's Final Frontier: "The Omega Glory" and 1960s American Liberalism," in Space and Time: Essays on Visions of History in Science Fiction and Fantasy Television. David C. Wright, Jr., and Allan W. Austin, editors. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2010, p. 74.
  5. ^ Chabon, Michael (January 2006). "The Omega Glory" (pdf). Details. Retrieved July 31, 2012. 
  6. ^ Herbert Franklin Solow; Robert Justman (1997). Inside Star Trek The Real Story. June: Simon & Schuster. p. 66. ISBN 0-671-00974-5. 

External links[edit]