(written from a Production point of view)
The Enterprise, searching for a missing Federation historian, discovers that the historian has apparently contaminated the cultural development of the planet where he was assigned as a cultural observer to have it follow the societal path of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and '40s.
The USS Enterprise heads for the planet Ekos to locate a missing cultural observer, John Gill, a noted historian and brilliant history teacher who had been one of Kirk's instructors at the Academy. Spock and McCoy reminisce about his style of approaching history as a matter of causes and motivations, rather than simply dates and events.
While approaching the planet, the Enterprise is attacked by an old-style chemical rocket with a thermonuclear warhead – technology of whose development the planet is not yet supposed to be capable. Kirk has Chekov destroy the rocket with the ship's phasers. McCoy notes that the missile is generations ahead from where they should be technically. Kirk surmises that they may have had help – and Spock glances at Gill's photo.
Fearing that Gill's mission has been compromised in violation of the Prime Directive of non-interference with developing planets, Kirk and Spock beam down to Ekos. Before they do, they have McCoy insert subcutaneous emergency transponders, dependent on crystalline rubindium, into their forearms, to locate them for retrieval in the event they cannot use their communicators. Kirk orders that Scotty beam them up at the appointed time if they fail to contact the ship, no matter what their condition may be.
Upon beaming down, Kirk and Spock find a culture almost identical to that of Germany during its Nazi period of the 1930s and 40s, right down to the uniforms, salutes, persecution of another ethnic culture – in this case the inhabitants of the neighboring planet Zeon, and the concept of the Führer – John Gill himself. Stealing some SS uniforms, Kirk and Spock attempt to infiltrate the Führer's headquarters but are quickly captured when Spock is forced to remove his helmet, revealing his pointed Vulcan ears.
Kirk and Spock are stripped to the waist and interrogated by an SS-Major, who lashes them cruelly with a whip; this, however, is interrupted by Chairman Eneg, who chides the SS guard for not realizing that punishment is effective for only just so long.
Left with their wounds still open, they find themselves imprisoned next to Isak, a Zeon underground member who explains how the Nazi movement began on Ekos, coinciding precisely with the time of Gill's arrival. Improvising a crude cutting-torch laser from the rubindium crystals from the transponders Kirk had had McCoy insert, at a subcutaneous level, into the skins of their forearms before beaming down, the trio manage to escape and retrieve two disassembled communicators from a SS laboratory. Kirk and Spock are able to steal SS uniforms again and leave, hauling out Isak in a stretcher. Later, the three return to the underground's base. There, Isak is greeted by his brother, Abrom, and told of the death of his fiancée, Uletta. In the midst of this, a squad of Ekosian stormtroopers (led by a woman) arrives, intent on arresting the entire lot. She apparently shoots Abrom dead and plans to "finish the job" by killing Kirk.
When Kirk and Spock intervene to help the underground workers, it is revealed that the woman, Daras (who they recognized from a propaganda broadcast they viewed earlier), is an Ekosian member of the underground and the storming was a test to see if the two strangers could be trusted – once Kirk and Spock responded to her apparent murder of Abrom by her holding at gunpoint, those gathered realized that the two strangers were definitely on their side and put an end to the ruse. Kirk and Spock then reveal who they really are and why they are there.
The next opportunity to the Führer, is an upcoming speech in the chancellery in which Isak suspects war will be declared on Zeon (the "final solution"). To infiltrate the chancellery, Kirk and Spock accompany Daras and Isak (in Nazi disguise) to Führer headquarters posing as a Nazi documentary crew to try and reach Gill. Kirk, Spock, Isak, and Daras walk down a corridor pretending to film a record of the Führer's final solution speech. During this, Spock catches a glimpse of John Gill in a guarded room, seemingly drugged. Kirk tells Spock that they need Dr. McCoy. Kirk hides inside a cloakroom with Spock and asks Lieutenant Uhura to have McCoy beamed down from the Enterprise, however, they learn from Daras that the transmission was traced, prompting a search party. The doctor joins them dressed in a Nazi colonel's uniform and throws the search party by pretending to be drunk.
With McCoy now joined with them, the group listens to a speech by Gill, followed by another from his deputy, Melakon, pledging the destruction of Zeon which is already taking place as he speaks. Meanwhile, the three are able to sneak into a broadcast booth and find Gill, heavily drugged. Partly revived by McCoy, they learn the truth; Gill had taken matters into his own hands on Ekos, which he had found to be in a condition of anarchy. He had organized the planet using (what he thought was) the efficiency of the Nazi system, but had tried to prevent it from sliding into sadism. Unfortunately for his plans, however, Melakon had begun a takeover and had begun drugging Gill, leaving what now remained of Gill as a figurehead; the direct result was that Melakon has been the real power on Ekos for years.
The search party, led by Eneg, steps into the room, and Kirk quickly pretends they foiled an assassination attempt by Spock. They convince Eneg to present him to Melakon, which also convinces Isak that he is a member of the underground resistance. While they distract Melakon, Kirk struggles to revive Gill to a sufficiently coherent state. Gill is finally able to broadcast a message halting the invasion and declaring Melakon a traitor. Melakon takes an MP40 machine gun from a guard and shoots Gill through the broadcast booth curtain to silence him. Isak, in turn, shoots him twice with a Luger, killing him instantly. As Gill dies in Kirk's arms, he tells the captain that the Prime Directive was the right way all along. Meanwhile, Eneg takes control of the government, declaring, "There has been enough killing. Now we'll start to live the way the Führer meant us to live." He plans to go on the airwaves with Daras to offer a new way of life for both Ekosians and Zeons.
Back on board the Enterprise, Spock expresses confusion as to how a man as logical as Gill could make such a mistake emulating the Nazis. Kirk says the problem was not simply the Nazis themselves but giving any one individual so much power. McCoy remarks how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely; Spock dryly points out several examples from Earth history of just that mentality and Kirk cuts off their argument by saying, "Gentlemen, we've just been through one civil war; let's not start another." Kirk then orders that Ensign Chekov to plot a course and break orbit around Ekos as quickly as they can before another civil war starts.
"Our missiles utterly destroyed the enemy."
"You look quite well for a man who's been utterly destroyed, Mister Spock."
- - Ekosian Newscaster and Kirk, on the missile attack on the Enterprise
"You should make a very convincing Nazi."
- - Spock, commenting on Kirk's Gestapo uniform
"Lieutenant? Better see a doctor. You don't look well. Your color."
"Yes. I shall tend to it, Major."
"Lieutenant! Your helmet. Remove it!"
- - SS-Major uncovering a disguised Spock
"I...don't care if you hit the broad side of a barn. Just hurry, please."
"Captain, why should I aim at such a structure?"
"Never mind, Spock. Just...get on with the job."
- - Kirk and Spock, before breaking out of their jail cell
"If we adopt the ways of the Nazis, we're as bad as the Nazis."
- - Isak, after learning of Uletta's death
"Captain, I'm beginning to understand why you earth men enjoy gambling. No matter how carefully one computes the odds of success, there is still a certain... exhilaration in the risk."
"Very good, Spock. We may make a Human of you yet."
"I hope not."
- - Spock and Kirk, on the Human thrill of risk-taking
"Doctor McCoy is having difficulty with that uniform, sir."
"Send him down naked if you have to! Kirk out."
- - Uhura and Kirk, before McCoy beams into the cloakroom
"Note the sinister eyes and the malformed ears. Definitely an inferior race."
- - Melakon to Daras, on Spock
"Even historians fail to learn from history...they repeat the same mistakes. Let the killing end, Kirk. Let--"
- - John Gill's final words
"For so long I've prayed for this. Now I'm sorry."
"So was he."
- - Isak and Kirk, after Gill's death
"It is time to stop the bloodshed...to bury our dead."
- - Eneg, as the war between Ekos and Zeon (apparently) ends
"Gentlemen, we've just been through one civil war; let's not start another."
- - Kirk, as Spock and McCoy debate Gill's mistake
Background information Edit
Production history Edit
- Production number: #60352
- Story outline "Tomorrow the Universe" by Paul Schneider: 13 December 1966
- First draft teleplay: 20 January 1967
- Second draft teleplay: 3 March 1967
- Revised second draft: 1 June 1967
- Story outline "Patterns of Force" by John Meredyth Lucas: 7 June 1967
- Revised story outline: 19 June 1967
- Second revised story outline: 26 June 1967
- First draft teleplay: late-October 1967
- Second draft teleplay: November 1967
- Additional page revisions: 24 November 1967, 27 November 1967, 28 November 1967, 30 November 1967
- Filmed: 29 November 1967 – 6 December 1967
- Original airdate: 16 February 1968
- First UK airdate: 3 August 1970
- No stardate is logged in the episode. Bjo Trimble gave it a stardate of 2534.0 in her Star Trek Concordance, apparently using an earlier script version. This episode was filmed in early December 1967.
- John Meredyth Lucas wrote this episode out of his fascination with the functioning of totalitarian regimes (especially Nazi Germany) and their ability to stay in power.  William Shatner quoted him to Chris Kreski, in Star Trek Memories, as saying that "it was fun to write a well-meaning Nazi, a guy who for the right cause completely fucked everything up. Y'know, we started with the question, 'How the hell did Nazism get past the shits and the street gangs and take root among the basically decent people? How did sane, reasonable adults come to buy into this bullshit?' The answer seemed to be because it was efficient and because, in a society beset by all kinds of problems, it may have seemed like a feasible necessity. So it becomes feasible, and the people take that leap."
- During the first season, Paul Schneider wrote a story outline entitled "Tomorrow the Universe" about the Enterprise encountering an alien planet adopting Nazi ideology and forming its own "Third Reich." Schneider began to develop the story further; however, when Lucas came up with his very similar idea of "Patterns of Force," it was deemed much better than Schneider's story, which was scrapped. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Two)
- An early draft of this episode had the source of cultural contamination arriving aboard a small "Ambassador-class" vessel called the Magellan. The name was later applied in TNG to the Ambassador-class of ships in the mid-24th century.
- Eneg's name is an inside joke – it is "Gene (Roddenberry)" backwards. The name "Zeon" is a take on "Zion," while "Abrom" corresponds to "Abraham", "Davod" to "David", and "Isak" to "Isaac"; "Daras", reversed, is almost "Sara". With respect to the "Eneg" name, Walter Koenig attempted to repeat this inside joke several years later when writing for Land of the Lost. It was to be the name of the Altrusian character in that show. However, somehow the name got mistranscribed as Enik.
- This is the second mention of Nazi Germany in Star Trek, the first being in "The City on the Edge of Forever". However, in "Mirror, Mirror", Scott did compare Sulu's security system to "the ancient Gestapo".
- Star Trek 12 contains a novelization of this story by James Blish and J.A. Lawrence.
Sets and costumes Edit
- The headquarters of the Nazi Party in this episode are the redecorated offices of Paramount Pictures during the 60s, including the building where Lucille Ball ran Desilu. Paramount office buildings were also used as locations in "Assignment: Earth", and a short newsreel scene in "Bread and Circuses".
- The underground area is the same set as was used for "The Devil in the Dark".
- All the Nazi uniforms used in this episode are taken from Paramount's costume storage, and were previously featured in many of the studio's World War II-era films. Many of them featured mismatched epaulets, collar tabs, and other rank-identifying insignia. However, McCoy's collar tabs, bearing a single silver oak leaf, correctly identify him as a colonel, as Kirk had ordered.
- Several uniforms, such as Kirk and McCoy's, show cuffbands reading "Adolf Hitler". They represent members of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, special bodyguards of the Führer.
- The front of the Ekosian Chancellery has all of its windows and shutters closed, for the real world reason that the actual building was an active office of Paramount Pictures with daily business going on inside while the film crew and actors were shooting the exterior. Even so, two individuals who appear to be curious Paramount Pictures employees can be seen looking down on the courtyard from an upper window.
- This episode makes a common mistake about Nazi Germany common to televison takes on the Third Reich. Kirk tells the Enterprise to outfit McCoy as a Gestapo Colonel. The Gestapo were the national secret police force (Geheime Staatspolizei), who were more like the FBI and did not wear uniforms, but plain clothes. Hogan's Heroes often made the same mistake with Major Hochstetter, who wore the SS uniform, but was repeatedly referred to as "Gestapo".
Cast and characters Edit
- This episode marks the only time, in any Star Trek series or film, that actor Leonard Nimoy is seen on camera not wearing a shirt.
Special visual effects Edit
- V-2 rocket footage from World War II Germany is used in the newscast showing Ekosian missiles.
- In a change from the stock explosions used throughout the second season, an animated nuclear blast was created for this episode. It could be faulted for a possible scientific error--the micropressure of space is commonly held to make visible explosions impossible. However, the attacking V-2 rocket might have been carrying oxidizer along with its fuel, whose oxygen content could permit visible explosions. (This is not known ever to have actually been tested.)
- The attacking V-2 rocket on the viewscreen of Enterprise was reused footage of the Orion scout ship from "Journey to Babel" earlier in the season.
- In one of the sequences of news footage, all of which consisted of stock shots and stock footage, a car with Adolf Hitler accompanied by soldiers is used to represent John Gill as the Führer on the planet Ekos. The sequence is a use of stock footage from Triumph of the Will, the infamous Nazi propaganda film for whose production Leni Riefenstahl was responsible.
- Because the subject matter of the nation's Nazi past was deemed too serious a topic for light TV entertainment, this episode was withheld from broadcast by the German stations that aired TOS until 2011. During the first German run of TOS in the 1970s, many former Nazis were still alive; during the second run in the 1990s, a wave of neo-Nazi violence was just sweeping the former GDR. (citation needed • edit)
- Austrian state-owned TV, on the other hand, did broadcast it, although untranslated with German subtitles. (Translation of the other episodes was done in Germany and bought by Austrian TV stations.) Southernmost Germany in range of Austrian TV broadcast thus could watch the episode. In Germany a translated version was aired in the mid 90s, but only late at night. There was a home video release, however, and the newer German DVD and Blu-Ray sets contain the episode. The fact that the episode was only dubbed 20 or so years after the other shows is obvious by the sound of the dubbing voices which have clearly aged. Especially Gerd Günther Hoffmann's (Kirk's dubbing voice in most of the Star Trek TV shows and films, and also Sean Connery's) voice has notably aged and the Kirk in this episode sounds more like the one in Generations than that of the rest of the TV show. (citation needed • edit)
- The episode's thesis, espoused by Gill and corroborated by Spock, that Germany, and especially Nazi Germany, was the "most efficient" state ever known in Earth history, was a popular notion in 1960s America.
- The said thesis is, however, strongly denied by modern historians; these point to the many bloated, competing bureaucracies with ill-defined jurisdictions that existed in that period, mostly financed with stolen and expropriated funds. (citation needed • edit) Also, as they observe, nearly every official in Nazi Germany was the bitter enemy of nearly every other; likewise, the political strongman who had ruled the original Nazi Germany regime, Adolf Hitler, who had been bored with the details of day-to-day governing and was thus willing to leave them largely to his subordinates, considered nearly every such subordinate his bitter enemy.
The remastered version of "Patterns of Force" aired in many North American markets during the weekend of 19 May 2007. While the episode required very few new effects, an entirely new shot of the Enterprise phasering the Ekosian warhead was substituted. In addition, Ekos was given a CGI-makeover as a more Earth-like planet, with new orbital shots of the Enterprise, and the rubindium crystal beam was refined.
Video and DVD releasesEdit
- Original US Betamax release: 1986
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 27, catalog number VHR 2379, 2 July 1990
- US VHS release: 15 April 1994
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 2.8, 21 July 1997
- Original US DVD release (single-disc): Volume 26, 19 June 2001
- As part of the TOS Season 2 DVD collection
Links and referencesEdit
Special appearance byEdit
- James Doohan as Scott
- Nichelle Nichols as Uhura
- Patrick Horgan as Chairman Eneg
- William Wintersole as Abrom
- Gilbert Green as an SS Major
- Walter Koenig as Chekov
- Ralph Maurer as an SS Lieutenant
- Ed McCready as an SS Trooper
- Peter Canon as a Gestapo lieutenant
- Paul Baxley as First Trooper
- Chuck Courtney as Davod
- Bartell LaRue as The Newscaster
- William Blackburn as
- Frank da Vinci as a Soldier at a party
- Roger Holloway as a Soldier at a party
- Jeannie Malone as an Ekosian citizen
- Sean Morgan as Second Trooper
- Eddie Paskey as a Zeon resistance member 2
- Joe Paz as an SA official
- Basil Poledouris as a Trooper
- Unknown performers as
- Ekosian citizen
- Ekosian corporal
- Ekosian lance corporal
- Ekosian trooper 1
- Ekosian trooper 2
- Ekosians at window
- Ekosians in newsreel
- SA stormtroopers
- SA officials
- SS brigadier
- SS brigadier general
- SS guard 1
- SS guard 2
- SS guard 3
- SS guard 4
- SS official
- SS private
- Wehrmacht general
- Zeon resistance member 1
- Zeon resistance member 3
Alexander the Great; anarchy; barn; Bonaparte, Napoléon; "Bones"; Caesar, Julius; cancer; catalepsy; Chancellery Detention Center; coma; cultural contamination; cultural observer; Daras' father; Deputy Führer; drugs; Earth; Ekos; Ekosian; Ekosian Chancellery; Ekosian missile; excellency; Federation; Final Decision; Final Solution; Führer; Führer's Special Documentary Corps; gambling; Germany; Gestapo; Gestapo Command Headquarters; Hitler, Adolf; Human history; hypnosis; Iron Cross; kilometer; Leader Principle; Kuan, Lee; logic; MP40; medi-comp; microphone; millimeter; National Socialist Party (Nazi, Nazi Party); pig; Prime Directive; projectile weapon; psychosis; radio; Ramses; rubindium; secretary; SS; space fleet; standard orbit; Starfleet Academy; subcutaneous transponder; suicide; swastika; swine; transponder; Uletta; Vulcan mind probe; Vulcan neck pinch; Zeon; Zeon (planet)
- "Patterns of Force" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Patterns of Force" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Patterns of Force" at Wikipedia
- "Patterns of Force" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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