This episode adds more fuel to the K/S fire, without offering anything remotely heterosexual-looking to challenge it, despite the prominant presence of a gorgeous dame. This episode also throws a spotlight on Kirk's "creative" (some might say peculiar) problem-solving methods, which shows that, not only is Kirk a masochist, but Spock gets off on humoring him(!), as I shall explain.
It all begins when the Enterprise bypasses inhabited planet Xeon to focus their attention on Xeon's more primitive neighbor Eccos. These folks supposedly aren't very advanced, but before you know it a nuclear missile launched by the Eccosians is on its way to intercept the Enterprise. Our guys phaser it out of the sky easier than swatting a fly, but what really worries them is the Eccosians are supposed to be incapable of an attack that technologically advanced. Could esteemed historian John Gill be to blame? Is it possible he violated the sacred Prime Directive?
Apparently there is only one way to find out the answer to this troubling question. Kirk and Spock dress in workshirts and blue jeans as if they are headed for Provincetown's Boatslip and their famous Sunday tea dance, and they beam down to investigate... and maybe do a little shopping. Spock casually conceals his exotic Vulcan eyes, greenish complexion and obviously alien ears with a woefully inadequate knit cap, as usual.
Things immediately get very interesting as our boys witness a fellow getting bullied by a small gang of guys in Nazi uniforms. It becomes clear that the Eccosian Nazis don't like Xeons or people who could be assumed to be Xeons.
Kirk and Spock watch a TV broadcast that shows some Nazi propaganda, and ends with a salute to Der Furher: John Gill! Welp, that answers that question. Guess they can go home now.
Before Kirk and Spock have a chance to really do something with this damning information, a Nazi points a pistol at them and starts to give them a hard time. Kirk, thinking fast as usual, quickly agrees with the Nazi that there is something off about Spock. Distracted, the guy takes a good look at Spock, and Kirk knocks him out.
[NOTE: Here's where things start to get really bizarre. Kirk asks Spock to dress in the Nazi's uniform, as if he can pass, which he can't. The helmet doesn't hide Spock's greenish complexion and exotic eyes any better than the knit cap did. I guess Kirk just wants to undress and dress Spock and play with him like he's a big doll, again. It's not like they have no choice, as I shall explain further, later.]
OK, Spock dons the Nazi's uniform, and now Kirk becomes his "prisoner".
[NOTE: Notice how easily they fall into these roles, with no discussion about it, as if they've done this so many times before that it has become second nature.]
They proceed toward the center of town and the heart of the Nazi's stronghold, with no particular plan except to somehow get a chance to talk with John Gill.
[NOTE: Here's a suggestion - try calling him on the phone. It's safer.]
As they are walking along, they are ambushed by another trigger-happy Nazi who feels Spock's pinch moments later. Once unconscious the guy is stripped of his snappy SS uniform and Kirk eagerly dons that. As Kirk sets his cap, Spock remarks admiringly that Kirk "will make a very credible Nazi". Kirk takes it as a compliment.
As Kirk finishes dressing up for Spock in his Nazi get-up, he apologizes to Spock for having a snappier uniform with a higher rank than him.
[NOTE: Hey, he's the Captain...isn't that his prerogative as the guy in charge? This is one more example of how Kirk is uncomfortable with even the appearance of Spock being subordinate to him, (especially since they are not among their comrades aboard the Enterprise).]
OK, Spock's a little shaky on how to act like a proper Nazi. While brazening their way into Gill's fortress, the boys are stopped because Spock forgot to salute someone properly.
[NOTE: This is one more example of how Spock is inexpert and uncomfortable with acting servile and subordinate, again. There have been many others, in dozens of episodes. ]
Now that they really get a good look at him, the Nazis see that Spock is definitely not one of their own. Spock is ordered to remove his helmet, and the jig is up.
Next thing you know, Kirk is barechested and is getting abused again, but amazingly Spock is also stripped to the waist for the whipping-and-interrogation scene, and unlike Kirk (who's famously shaved smooth), Spock's got lots of lovely chest hair! Sensational! We get to watch as this delectable duo (with wrists in handcuffs) calmly stand and take a flogging as if they've done it many times before. OK, Spock is calm. He won't give his abusers any satisfaction. Kirk OTOH gives them a little. He flinches a little now and then. As usual, Kirk's a very good sport about being tortured.
They've been whipped with such savage force that they both bear very visible, painful-looking whip welts. Spock's are green, as you'd expect.
[NOTE: If they can do that, then why can't they make his lips green?]
[NOTE: the sloppy pattern of the whip marks show that they have been punished by a rank amateur. All of Kirk's welts are on one side of his back, and they go too high up on his shoulder and neck. Gimmee that ding-dong whip and stand back, I'll show you how to work that thing, ya lamer.]
They are then offered a very half-assed attempt at an interrogation, which earns Kirk's amused contempt. Kirk boldly asks for an audience with John Gill. Even asking for a cup of coffee right now would be wildly inappropriate, but Kirk goes for the gold. This ridiculous request is ~of course~ refused. Spock, not surprised, looks seriously bored (unless he's looking at Jim).
[NOTE: During this scene Spock and Jim appraise each other admiringly a couple of times.]
A handsome young Nazi official interrupts the whipping-and-interrogation scene to order the prisoners to be incarcerated for an hour. After some discussion, the Nazi whipmeister agrees, and the guards shove Kirk and Spock (still barechested and wearing handcuffs) into a cell together.
In the next cell is the young Xeon fella that the Nazis captured earlier. He's got a bunk that hangs from chains on the wall, and not much else. He, interestingly, is fully dressed and wears no handcuffs.
Spock and Kirk's cell has a bunk too.
[NOTE: TWO MEN, ONE BUNK. I guess *somebody* is not going to get much sleep tonight! Hmm. I wonder who it will be? In Return Of The Archons Spock got a bunk and Kirk didn't. I guess it's Kirk's turn this time. Unless he already used his turn in City On The Edge Of Forever. Hmm. That's another thing that bothers me...In City, Kirk and Spock supposedly could stay in a depression-era, skid-row flop house for free, but instead they opt to rent a spacious private room. There *are* two beds, but Spock uses one for a work table, which leaves only one for them to share, I mean take turns with... but that's not what bothers me. What bothers me is I sometimes wonder why Miss Keeler saw fit to convince Spock and Kirk to take a room instead of offering them cots with the misson residents... but I digress.]
The Xeon prisoner sagely observes that Kirk and Spock can't possibly be from around here. He has questions, but is mostly ignored as our guys put their heads together to puzzle out a solution to their incarceration problem. It occurs to them that they can use their subcutaneous transponders to rig a primitive laser thingy.
[NOTE: Gee! Subcutaneous transponders? I believe this is the only TOS episode where they are used.]
Kirk yanks the mattress away and reveals the metal slats of the cot. He yanks one of the metal bands out with his bare, handcuffed hands, and then offers the same item to Spock so Spock can cut Jim's wrist to liberate the little transponder that has been hidden under the skin there. Kirk then returns the favor, while their neighbor marvels, asking, "Are you trying to kill yourselves?"
[NOTE: If it's sharp enough to cut their wrists with, then Kirk should have sliced his hands up yanking it free, but never mind.]
They ignore the guy, happily absorbed by their task, occupying a little world that's all their own, again.
Now Spock takes the transdohickys and (I guess) using spit or blood or both for glue afixes them to the two ends of the bent metal slat. Now something extremely weird takes place...
[NOTE: ~GET THIS!~]
Spock announces that he needs to step up on some sort of platform to get close to the cell lightbulb. He plans to channel the light through the transponders in such a way that it creates a laser ray that they can use to cut the cell lock open with. Kirk instantly volunteers to become Spock's stepping stool, saying...
"Mr. Spock, I'd be honored!"
...and Spock, amazingly, easily agrees to this without debate.
[NOTE: Wait. It gets better!]
Kirk kneels, and Spock struggles rather awkwardly to climb up. Finally he steps up onto Kirk's knee, then finds a way to kneel on Jim's well-whipped bare back. Jim stand/squats and bears this painful burden with a peculiar range of expressions evident on his face. He can't resist squirming a little, which obviously makes Spock's task a bit harder.
[NOTE: With Kirk squatting and Spock kneeling, Spock really isn't much closer to the cell lightbulb than he would have been if he had just stood there and reached up.]
Their Xeon neighbor watches this entire weird interaction, stunned with amazement.
Here is what follows - dialog captured verbatim:
Kirk (grunting, agonized): "Mr. Spock, the guard did a very professional job on my back. I'd appreciate it if you'd hurry."
Spock (calmly): "Yes, of course, Captain." (pause) "You realize that the aim will, of course, be very crude."
Kirk (choking back a strained cry of pain): "Iiii! ...don't care if you hit... the broad side of a barn! Just hurry, please."
Spock (proceeds slowly, thinks, stops to comment): "Captain... why should I aim at such a structure?"
Closeup on Jim's sweaty face as he reacts. Reaction? Kirk resolves to steadfastly bear Spock's sadistic delays patiently, without complaint.
Kirk (mildly): "Never mind, Mr. Spock, just get on with the job."
Spock deliberately positions his crude gadget and eventually manages to coax a laser-type beam out of it, which he then aims at the cell door lock. He slowly begins to cut the lock open with the beam.
Kirk (quietly, obviously in agony): "Oh, my goodness!"
Spock continues cutting, and ultimately the lock is opened. Kirk reacts to the sight. Xeon guy reacts. Spock reacts.
Closeup on Kirk's happy face...
Kirk (strained, but joyfully): "BEAUTIFUL!" (pause) "Oh! Oh, Mr. Spock!" (indicating that Spock should now dismount) "Spock!"
[NOTE: Kirk forgets to remind Spock to get down and Spock forgets to get down until Kirk has his little crisis of joy, which just goes to show that accomplishing the light trick is not his only reason for climbing up there.]
Spock finally deigns to jump down, Kirk straightens and they both rush to inspect Spock's handiwork.
Kirk (100% pleased): "Beautiful!"
[NOTE: Not only is Kirk thrilled with the ends, he has no complaints about the means. And why should he? It was his idea!]
Now Kirk as usual volunteers to create a commotion and draw attention to himself, so the guard will come running and get pinched by Spock. They steal another guy's uniform again so Kirk can get all dressed up as a Nazi in full regalia again.
Meanwhile, the Xeon prisoner who witnessed these two faggots playing their kinky little games (and who now knows for sure they must both be mad as March hares) very diplomatically resists the urge to ask why Kirk didn't just clasp his handcuffed hands together and give Spock a foothold that way. Instead, he convinces the guys to release him too, and promises to help them on their quest in return.
OK, the Xeon guy leads them first through the Nazi stronghold past a guard to the laboratory, so they can retrieve their communicators, and phasers n stuff. Kirk bumps the guard on the way and smoothly picks his pocket for the keys.
[NOTE: Holy Cow! Kirk is an expert pickpocket! Wonder when he learned to do that...in the Boy Scouts?]
They find their gear in pieces in a box. They take the pieces, because Spock can reassemble them. The Xeon guy asks again who the heck they are and where the heck they come from, and again gets no answer. Hey, the Prime Directive says they can't say!
[NOTE: So far Kirk and Spock have been good about observing it, if you don't count the fact that Spock being so obviously neither Eccosian nor Xeon is a dead giveaway. At the moment, Spock is ~obviously~ not a local, since he's still running around naked to the waist, with big, very visible green whip marks all over him. Plus, he's got those ears. And those eyes. Plus, he's kind of greenish all over...]
OK, the guard misses his keys and returns to retrieve them, and the Xeon guy knocks him out. Now Spock gets dressed in another guy's stolen clothes again.
Thence to the Xeon good-guy's secret hideaway. Oddly, Jim and Spock opt to appear among these poor, sorely oppressed people - with whom they hope to become friends - while still fully clad in the uniforms of the oppressors.
[NOTE: Gee! They sure do seem to like those uniforms very much! Maybe too much!]
We meet the Xeon club leader, then this gorgeous blond Nazi chick comes in and shoots him. Turns out (after the commercial break) that it was just a way to test Kirk and Spock, and he's not really shot. Now the babe du jour, Darius, reveals she's a spy among the Nazis for the Xeons, and after some chat, Kirk impulsively decides to reveal who he really is to these people. They are astonished to learn from Kirk that Der Furher is really an alien from another world. They agree to help Kirk get to John Gill.
[NOTE: This is not a case of Kirk violating the Prime Directive. Kirk is here to fix things if possible, and he needs the natives to help him. To convince them to help, he has to tell them some facts, but he doesn't interfere in their culture. He's here to repair Gill's interferance. Kirk many times introduces himself to aliens he meets, so just doing that much is not a violation of the PD.]
[NOTE: Never, not once, does Kirk even flirt with the beautiful young blond babe Darius. They don't swap glances even once. NOTHING. There is never one scrap of even one thing that looks remotely like Kirk is heterosexually inclined. NADA! Scotch the Kirk-bangs-a-babe-in-every- show theory. He doesn't even seem to notice that this dish is a girl! Or maybe he does notice and just doesn't give a rat's ass.]
Next thing you know, they are running around a big official function posing as a documentary crew who are filming Darius' every move. One thing leads to another, and they find John Gill locked in a room. It seems he may be drugged, but Kirk wants to be sure, so he hides in the closet to order Dr. McCoy to dress as a Nazi colonel and beam down toot sweet to join the party.
Next is an incredible scene where we see Kirk, Spock and Doctor McCoy all in the closet *literally*, dressed to the nines as Nazis.
[NOTE: No comment!]
The communicator beam is traced and the same guy who intervened during the whipping again shows up and saves their hash by buying their preposterous story and leading the armed guards off on a wild goose chase. Kirk and Spock can't believe their luck, but a few minutes later it's revealed that that fellow is actually another Xeon-friendly mole.
Gill gives a speech in which he orders the genocidal war against Xeon to begin, but it is now obvious that someone else is pulling his strings.
The whole motley lot of our guys and their pals now crowd into the room where Gill is, and McCoy examines him. The guy has been drugged. Kirk very urgently demands that McCoy wake him up with a stimulant, but after two shots doesn't work, McCoy balks. Kirk orders Spock to mind-meld with the guy and Spock obeys without comment.
They are all interrupted again, and Spock is declared to have been trying to assassinate Gill, and Darius is declared to be the heroine who stopped him, and everybody but Gill and Kirk troop off to make a big deal about this.
Kirk, having managed to get rid of anybody who is going to play the weak sister, now gives Gill another shot himself, knowing that it might kill the guy. He gets down on his knees and shakes the guy, desperately pleading with him to wake up and recall the warships.
Cut to amusing scene where the real bad guy publicly humiliates Spock, which Spock endures with his usual icy calm.
Cut to Kirk godslapping Gill, still desperately trying to wake the old boy. Ultimately he is successful. Gill, propped up in a chair before the microphones, woozily declares that he's calling the war off, and he names the bastard who's really responsible for the whole mess. That guy thanks him by spraying him with machine gun fire, then he gets shot, and they are both definitely goners now.
Cut to Kirk (in full Nazi regalia) holding der dying furher in his arms as the old boy croaks out an apology and dies. Aww!
Darius promises to lead the Eccosians and Xeons into a compassionate new era of caring and sharing, and it looks like our work here is done.
Back aboard the Enterprise, Spock and McCoy begin another of their trademarked snipefests, but Kirk interrupts them (for once!) to say:
"Gentlemen! Gentlemen! We've just been through one civil war, let's not start another!"
[NOTE: At least not unless we can be ~properly attired~!]
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