(written from a Production point of view)
The crew of the Enterprise find themselves caught in the middle of an intractable conflict with a bizarre fugitive alien and his equally belligerent pursuer.
On a decontamination mission to the planet Ariannus, the USS Enterprise encounters a shuttlecraft reported as stolen from Starbase 4. The vessel's life support systems are failing and the pilot may be suffocating in the lack of atmosphere. Captain Kirk orders the shuttlecraft to be brought aboard.
When the pilot emerges and subsequently collapses in front of Kirk and Spock, he displays a unique appearance: black on the left side of his face and white on the other.
Brought to sickbay, the pilot is revived by Dr. McCoy and identifies himself as Lokai from the planet Cheron. Although grateful for the rescue, he is combative when questioned about the theft of the shuttlecraft by Kirk. Concluding that Lokai's coloration is a mutation of some kind, Kirk plans to return Lokai to Starbase 4 to face theft charges once the important Arrianus mission is completed.
En route, however, sensors pick up a highly sophisticated (and invisible) vessel on an apparent collision course with the Enterprise. At the last moment before impact, the ship appears to disintegrate, but deposits its pilot on the bridge. Commissioner Bele – is similar in appearance to Lokai but his black and white skin colors are reversed.
Bele identifies himself as an official from the Commission on Political Traitors from Cheron who has come to apprehend Lokai.
When Bele is brought to sickbay to see Lokai, we learn that Bele has been pursuing Lokai for a long time: 50,000 Earth years as it turns out. Bele charges that Lokai led a revolt of people who are black on the left side against the ruling order, which is black on the right side. Lokai counters that the black/right (white/left) order enslaved the white/right (black/left) people of Cheron and continues to oppress them. Bele demands that Kirk surrender Lokai, while Lokai claims political asylum with the Federation. Kirk ends the bickering and submits a report to Starfleet Command for a resolution.
Bele is not satisfied with the situation and commandeers the Enterprise by using his mental powers to direct the ship to Cheron. Kirk, Spock and Scotty are forced to activate the three-part self-destruct sequence in order to force Bele to relinquish control of the ship.
With only six seconds left before the Enterprise destroys itself, Bele releases control of the starship. With force not being an option, both Bele and Lokai attempt to enlist the sympathies of the crew while en route to Ariannus.
Starfleet's answer is at last received. Since Cheron has no diplomatic treaties with the Federation, Starfleet cannot extradite Lokai without due process. Once the decontamination mission to Ariannus is complete, however, Bele sabotages the self-destruct program as well as directional control and regains control of the ship and has it headed for Cheron once more.
Upon arrival at Cheron, however, sensors reveal massive destruction of all major cities and huge piles of unburied corpses - the entire population of Cheron has mutually annihilated itself in civil war. Consumed with mutual insane hatred and blaming each other for the resulting holocaust, Bele and Lokai fight, despite Kirk's offer for them to live with the Federation. The pair then chase each other through the ship's corridors, each eventually finding the transporter room and returning to the planet's surface to continue their fight... the last two sapient lifeforms on a dead world. Kirk sadly notes that, in the end, all the two have left is their hatred of each other.
Log entries Edit
- "Captain's log, stardate 5730.2. The planet Ariannus is vital as a transfer point on regular space commercial lanes. It has been attacked by a bacterial invasion which threatens to render it lifeless unless checked. Our mission, to decontaminate it."
- "Captain's log, stardate 5730.6. Having completed our mission to Ariannus, the Enterprise is now on course to Starbase 4. The crew is on normal routine and we are proceeding without incident."
- "Captain's log, stardate 5730.7. In a deliberate act of sabotage, Commissioner Bele has burned out our destruct mechanism and, through the power of his will, has again taken over directional control of the Enterprise."
Memorable quotes Edit
"We must therefore conclude that this alien is that often unaccountable rarity. A mutation, one of a kind."
- - Spock, on Lokai's bi-colored appearance
"When in doubt, the book prevails, Mister Spock."
- - McCoy, on Lokai's medical treatment
"I'm grateful for your rescue."
"Don't mention it. We're pleased to have caught you."
- - Lokai and Kirk, in sickbay
"You monotone Humans are all alike. First you condemn and then attack!"
- - Lokai, upset with Kirk's accusations
"Explain, Spock. One of a kind?"
- - Kirk, seeing Bele on the bridge
"You can no more destroy this ship than I can change color."
- - Bele, calling Kirk's bluff
"Begin thirty second countdown. Code zero-zero-zero-destruct-zero."
- - Kirk, initiating the destruct sequence countdown
"Mr. Spock, is this ship headed for Ariannus?"
"Negative, captain. The Enterprise is now moving in a circular course."
"And at warp 10 we're going nowhere mighty fast."
- - Kirk, Spock and Scotty
"Disgusting is what I call them."
- - Scott, on Bele and Lokai
"There was persecution on Earth once. I remember reading about it in my history class."
"Yes, but it happened way back in the twentieth century. There's no such primitive thinking today."
- - Chekov and Sulu, trying to understand Cheron's civil war
"You're black on one side and white on the other."
"I am black on the right side."
"I fail to see the significant difference."
"Lokai is white on the right side. All of his people are white on the right side."
- - Kirk and Bele
"Change is the essential process of all existence."
- - Spock, to Bele
"I once heard that on some of your planets, people believe they are descended from apes."
"The actual theory is that all lifeforms evolved from the lower levels to the more advanced stages."
- - Bele and Spock, on evolution
"Yes, he will delay, evade, and escape again. And in the process put thousands of innocent beings at each others throats, getting them to kill and maim, for a cause which they have no stake in. But, which he will force them to violently espouse by twisting their minds with his lies, his loathsome accusations, and his foul threats."
- - Bele speaking about Lokai
"What do you do? Carry justice on your tongues? You will beg for it, but you won't fight or die for it!"
"After so many years of leading the fight, you seem very much alive."
"I doubt that the same can be said for many of his followers."
- - Lokai pleading with Kirk and Spock to kill Bele
"Your band of murderers. You're dead! You half-white!"
"You pyromaniacs. You useless pieces of bland flesh! I'll take you with me! You half-black!"
- - Bele and Lokai, before lunging at each other
"Your planet is dead! There's nobody alive on Cheron because of hate."
- - Kirk, imploring Bele and Lokai to end their hostilities
"You're an idealistic dreamer."
- - Lokai when Kirk suggests that he and Bele put aside their differences now their homeworld is destroyed
"He must not escape me."
"Where can he go?"
- - Bele and Spock, after Lokai leaves the bridge
"It doesn't make any sense."
"To expect sense from two mentalities of such extreme viewpoints, is not logical."
- - Uhura and Spock, after Bele beams down to Cheron
"But their planet's dead. Does it matter now which one of them was right?"
"Not to Lokai and Bele. All that matters to them is their hate."
"Do you suppose that's all they ever had, sir?"
"No, ... but that's all they have left."
- - Sulu, Spock, Uhura and Kirk, after Bele and Lokai return to Cheron
Background information Edit
- The original story concept did not depict the aliens with bi-colored skin. Fred Freiberger recalled, "Gene [Coon] originally had a devil with a tail chasing an angel." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 74) Episode director Jud Taylor came up with the idea of bi-colored skin shortly before the episode began filming. His original suggestion was that they be half-black/half-white, one color from the waist up and the other from the waist down, but each wearing reversed color schemes. The central idea stuck but the colors were finally separated along the vertical axis rather than along the horizontal. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp. 399-400)
- Following his tenure on the show, producer Fred Freiberger stated that this was one of the episodes that he was the most proud of working on. 
- This was the last episode Robert Justman worked on as co-producer. He left the show because of its declining quality and NBC's harsh treatment of it. 
- Bele and Lokai have brown hair on their head, but their eyebrows are black and white to match their faces.
- This episode represents the last on-screen appearance of the hangar deck in the original series. The shuttlecraft makes one last appearance on the planet set of "The Way to Eden".
- Effects footage from "The Galileo Seven" was re-used for all of the original episode's shuttlecraft shots. As a result, despite dialogue stating that the shuttlecraft had been stolen from Starbase 4, the shuttlecraft tractor-beamed into the hangar deck was labeled Galileo NCC-1701/7. In the remastered version of the episode, the stolen shuttlecraft's front and sides markings were corrected to show Starbase 4 as its post. This CGI version of the shuttlecraft was labeled Da Vinci after the noted Renaissance artist/scientist Leonardo da Vinci and had SB4-0314/2 as its new registry number.
- Gene L. Coon's association with the series ended with the production of this episode. As with all of his contributions to the third season, the story was credited to one of his pen names, Lee Cronin.
- Coon wrote the original story outline (entitled "Portrait in Black and White") as early as August, 1966, during the first season. Although Gene Roddenberry very much liked the outline, it was rejected by NBC program executive Stanley Robertson, who deemed it "unacceptable." However, two years later NBC and Paramount were keen on using every available story idea, so Coon's outline was "taken out of the trash bin" and Oliver Crawford based a teleplay on it. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp. 197, 399)
- This episode was filmed in early October 1968.
- This episode features a close-up of the Enterprise model. Zoom shots from below and above the saucer section are used, representing some of the rare 'beauty shots' of the ship filmed during the series (episodes "Operation -- Annihilate!" and "Metamorphosis" have unique shots of the Enterprise as well). During the opening credits in the first scene, for example, the camera glides underneath the saucer to an extreme closeup of the saucer's phaser section and light. "That Which Survives" uses the same shot briefly when the Enterprise is shaking at warp.
- The self-destruct sequence from this episode is repeated exactly in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; however, in Search for Spock, it is Scott who gives the second command in place of Spock, and Chekov who gives the third command instead of Scott. (The Star Trek Compendium 4th ed., p. 123). In this episode, the self-destruct is set for a 30 second countdown whereas the film has a sixty-second countdown.
- The final chase scene depicting Lokai and Bele running through the corridors of the Enterprise is mixed with stock footage of burning cities filmed after WW II aerial bombing raids, as each visualizes the destruction of their shared home planet. Fred Freibereger stated, "We ran a little short on that show which is why it ended with a chase that went on forever. I thought it was a hell of a creative solution". (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 74)
- Bele's totally "invisible" ship perhaps is the most noticeable effect of the biggest budget cut in the original series. (The Star Trek Compendium 4th ed., p. 123)
- The close-up of Chekov's hand operating the decontamination of Ariannus is a recycled shot of Kirk's hand from "The Doomsday Machine" (also used as Spock's hand both in "Obsession" and "The Immunity Syndrome").
- The director included a unique effect in this episode. During the "red alerts," the camera zoomed in and out quickly on the blinking red alert signal, and was tilted at an angle. According to several sources, among them The Star Trek Compendium, this effect allegedly paid homage to Frank Gorshin's role as the Riddler in Batman.
- In the third season blooper reel, several sequences from this episode are featured. In one, Frank Gorshin does a James Cagney imitation while on the transporter pad. In another, he and Lou Antonio collide forcefully as they are running through the corridors. (The Star Trek Compendium 4th ed., p. 123) In yet another, Gorshin initially pronounces his character's name "Belly," before correcting himself and pronouncing it as it was pronounced in the finished episode. Finally, footage of nude swimmers in a pool was inserted at the point where Kirk asks, "Could it be a Romulan ship, using their cloaking device?"
- Both Bele and Lokai wear gloves the entire episode.
- In some editions of Allan Asherman's The Star Trek Compendium , this episode is incorrectly titled "Let This Be Your Last Battlefield."
- In the 1970s, the Mego toy company created a "Cheron" action figure doll, but unlike Bele and Lokai's makeup and costuming, the doll had no hair, and its costume was entirely half-black and half-white, right down to the boots.
- The SciFi Channel, the DVD, and the remastered version added some new scenes that were not in the original and VHS version. After Kirk makes his first log entry at the beginning of this episode, he asks Chekov about estimated time to Ariannus, tells Uhura to contact them to tell them that decontamination is to begin on arrival, and asks Scotty if it will it present any danger. Then after the shuttle is bought to the hangar deck, there is a shot of the shuttlecraft docking with the Enterprise. Sulu then calls Kirk in the turbolift to inform him that hangar doors are closed. Finally, there is a shot of Kirk and Spock in the hallway before they meet with the guards.
- Several shots of the main viewer from the rear of the bridge are recycled shots that show Hadley in Chekov's position, but we hear Chekov's voice and see him in the closeup.
Production timeline Edit
- Story outline by Lee Cronin, originally entitled "A Portrait in Black and White" 11 March 1968
- Story outline by Lee Cronin, 22 March 1968
- Teleplay by Oliver Crawford, 2 September 1968
- Revised teleplay by Oliver Crawford, 23 September 1968
- Final Draft by Lee Cronin, 2 October 1968
- Filmed, 4 October 1968 – 11 October 1968
- Original airdate, 10 January 1969
- Rerun airdate, 12 August 1969
- First UK airdate, 27 January 1971
Video and DVD releases Edit
- Original US Betamax release: 1988
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 36, catalog number VHR 2432, 7 January 1991
- US VHS release: 15 April 1994
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 3.5, 24 November 1997
- Original US DVD release (single-disc): Volume 35, 23 October 2001
- As part of the TOS Season 3 DVD collection
- As part of the TOS-R Season 3 DVD collection
Links and references Edit
Also starring Edit
Guest stars Edit
- Frank Gorshin as Bele
- Lou Antonio as Lokai
- James Doohan as Scott
- Walter Koenig as Chekov
- Nichelle Nichols as Uhura
- George Takei as Sulu
- Majel Barrett as Nurse Chapel and the computer voice
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- William Blackburn as Hadley
- Frank da Vinci as Brent and Vinci
- Roger Holloway as Roger Lemli
- Jeannie Malone as Yeoman
- Unknown actors as
20th century; Ariannus; Ariannus Ministry of Health; ape; bacteria; blood; "Bones"; Cheron; Cheron native; Cheron scout vessel; Civil Rights Movement; class F shuttlecraft; Coalsack; command frequency two; Commission on Political Traitors; commissioner; Da Vinci; death warrant; destruct sequence; directional control; due process; Earth; evasive action; evolution; extinction; extradition; genocide; hangar deck; history; hull breach; intergalactic treaty; lava; logic; master computer; master race; memory bank; Mendel; Milky Way Galaxy; nucleotide; oxygen; political asylum; racism; recreation room; recuperative powers; red alert; Romulans; sabotage; sapient lifeform; scope; sentience; shields; skin; slavery; spray tank; Starbase 4; Starfleet Command; stealth; suffocation; theft; toast; tractor beam; United Federation of Planets; United Fleet of Planets; vocal cords; volcano; Vulcan (planet); Vulcans
- "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" at Wikipedia
- "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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