Star Trek: Day of the Dove

Kirk: "We've been under stress before. It's never set us at each other's throats."

"Day of the Dove" is rather like a starship-sized game of real life Risk, and something of a rehash of "Wolf in the Fold." So the anti-war propaganda was blindingly obvious, and the alien simply a mechanism to tell the story. I liked this episode a lot when I was a kid, and I still do.

Ben pointed out in earlier reviews that Star Trek may have been remarkably progressive when it aired, but it usually took the side of the Establishment over the flower children. Not this time. This episode gave us a total indictment of war as a result of stupidity, misdirection and racial prejudice, and ended with the moral that if we can see the truth and think logically, we'll see how pointless, destructive and idiotic it can be.

Some of this episode was outright uncomfortable, though. Chekov nearly raped Mara. The racial slurs were cringeworthy, and interestingly – was it coincidence? – the Klingon makeup changed again and was a whole lot darker this time. And yes, the effect of the alien was somewhat inconsistent, although I always thought that knowledge was the key to resisting it. Spock and Kirk were able to do it because they knew for a fact that there was an alien aboard. McCoy was able to shake off his anger and bigotry when he saw with his own eyes that the injured combatants were healing at an unreal, accelerated rate. It took Mara a bit longer, but even she got hit over the head with the truth and finally overcame its effect.

Maybe I like this episode because of Kang, who is my favorite original series Klingon. Michael Ansara just really sold it. Tall, intimidating, big deep voice, overdose of testosterone, he was a Klingon's Klingon. I really liked that he hated humans with a passion, but refused to be manipulated once he knew the truth. His "burning house" line was just wonderful, beautifully delivered. I liked that we also got our very first female Klingon, and she was not just Kang's wife, she was the science officer. I loved Mara's costume, makeup and hair as well as her tough as nails attitude. Although Kirk does sort of drag her around by the arm through most of the episode.



In keeping with the message of peace, we learned that Klingons are warlike and aggressive because there are poor planets in the empire and they need to survive. This episode suggested that Klingons could quite possibly be allies someday. They're not unreasonable. They're not unreachable. Cool.

Ben says...

For no good reason whatsoever and to the tune of Don McLean's "American Pie":

A long, long time ago
I can still remember how
The Klingons used to make me smile
And I knew if I gave them swords
It would mean so much more than words
And maybe they'd be happy for a while


But Jim Kirk made me sick
Acting like some red peacenik
Bad news on the turbo lift
Unending war was such a gift
I can't remember if I cried
When a fight in a house on fire was denied
But it showed the Klingons' cool new side
**The day that nobody died**


So

Bye, bye boring Klingon guys
Soviet stand-ins had always left me dry
Someday these Klingons could be an ally
Singin' this'll be the day that they won't die
This'll be the day they won't die


I could go on and, in fact, I had a couple of snappy bits about Gagh and Klingon women, but the High Command has informed me that this was quite enough.

So what's my point? It's simple. That this was the day the Klingons got cool (which is a lot harder to rhyme in a chorus than you'd think). Prior to this, they had been kind of undifferentiated stand-ins for the Soviets. They were sneaky, kind of cowardly, and tended to betray everyone at the drop of a hat (see "Friday's Child" for example). This episode gave us the masterful Michael Ansara as Kang, who would sacrifice his wife for victory, who laughed in the face of powerful aliens. He's smart and strong and we end up liking him by the end of the episode.

Without "Day of the Dove," we would have had no Worf, no Klingons as TNG allies, no Klingon dictionaries, no Klingon opera. They go from a vague enemy to barbarians who are dangerous even as friends. They are the Universe's most interesting men. And they made the whole Star Trek universe much richer and more interesting. (Indeed, the Deep Space Nine episodes in which Kang and his compatriots return are in many ways a tribute to how great this episode made Trek.)

Back to Billie for bits and pieces:

— No stardate given. (Actually, Kirk said, "Stardate, Armageddon.") Colony Beta 12-A, which had a green sky and fluorescent pink plume plants. Was there ever a human colony, or was it all a mind game by the alien?

— Intraship beaming. Why not? Why wouldn't it work?

— I always thought the alien creature looked like a partially invisible buzz saw. Would it be necessary to use two opposing races? Why not just turn the Enterprise crew into two camps? Because it wouldn't work? Because they know they're not enemies?

— A red shirt beamed down to the planet and actually made it back to the ship alive.

— The computer didn't sound like Majel Barrett this time. It was shrill and annoying. Maybe that was just another way for the alien to make the crew homicidal.

— Chekov was tortured by the agonizer from "Mirror Mirror" and got to scream again.

— William Shatner actually picked up Walter Koenig and carried him to Sick Bay. That was pretty impressive.

— This episode was written by Jerome Bixby, who also wrote "Mirror Mirror," "By Any Other Name," and the upcoming "Requiem for Methuselah."

— As Ben mentioned, Michael Ansara reprised his role as Kang in episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager.

Quotes:

Kirk: "Go to the devil."
Kang: "We have no devil, Kirk. But we understand the habits of yours."

Klingon: "Four thousand throats may be cut in one night by a running man."
Sounds like a Klingon proverb. Four thousand. That's a lot.

Kirk: "We must talk to Kang. Bury the hatchet."
Spock: "An appropriate choice of terms, Captain."

McCoy: "If we are pawns, you are looking at one who is extremely sorry."
Spock: "I understand, Doctor. I too felt a brief surge of racial bigotry. Most distasteful."

Kirk: "We can't be killed! There's an alien aboard! It wants us alive."
Kang: "Then no doubt you will reassemble after I've hacked you to bits."
Point. I sort of wish we'd gotten an answer to that one.

Kang: "We need no urging to hate humans! For the present, only a fool fights in a burning house!"
Two Klingon proverbs in one episode!

Three out of four buzz saws, mostly for Michael Ansara,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

2 comments:

Jerry Modene said...

This is not one of my favorite episodes, but it does have its moments, and it could have been worse - the original draft of the script started with a "Peace March" aboard the Enterprise. No kidding.

I've also read that when Scotty picks up his sword and claims it's a claymore, it's not - but I've forgotten what kind of sword it actually was.

Michael Ansara was one of the great "ethnics" actors of his day; he was all over TV and the movies playing various ethnic roles, as well as evil genies on "I Dream of Jeannie" - so his casting as a Klingon makes perfect sense, and Ben is right that his portrayal of Klingons put them on the right path - after John Colicos' Kor, they did indeed seem to have been mishandled, our affection for William Campbell's Koloth notwithstanding.

tinkapuss said...

I would assume that the darker make-up was intentional as, it seems, a 60s audience was considered in need of more emphasised connotation. Personally, I think it would have been more powerful if the human and Klingon sides had looked pretty-much the same.