Star Trek (1966–1969)
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Errand of Mercy 

With a war with Klingons raging, Kirk and Spock attempt to resist an occupation of a planet with incomprehensibly placid natives.



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Episode complete credited cast:
David Hillary Hughes ...
Walt Davis ...
Klingon Soldier
George Sawaya ...
Second Soldier


War! The Klingons and the Federation are poised on the brink, and then war is declared. Kirk and Spock visit the planet Organia. Organia, inhabited by simple pastoral folk, lies on a tactical corridor likely to be important in the coming conflict. Whichever side controls the planet has a significant advantage. But the Organians are a perplexing people, apparently unconcerned by the threat of the Klingon occupation or even the deaths of others in their community. Finally, Kirk and the Klingon commander Kor learn why, and the reason will change Federation/Klingon relations for decades to come. Written by CommanderBalok

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

23 March 1967 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


A reference to the events of this episode would appear in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Sword of Kahless (1995) when Jadzia Dax introduces Worf to Kor, Worf tells Kor he had heard stories about Kor since he was a child including Kor's confrontation with Kirk on Organia. See more »


Sulu is left in command of the Enterprise, even though Scott is on the ship (although not on screen) and should be the acting captain while Kirk and Spock are on Organia. See more »


Kor: Smile and smile... I don't trust men who smile too much.
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Referenced in Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II: Mind-Sifter (2014) See more »


Theme From Star Trek
Written by Alexander Courage
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User Reviews

Klingon Rule - Not a Pleasant Prospect
30 July 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Here they they're here, the Klingons - aggressive, ruthless and sadistic - make their first appearance in the Trek universe. Kirk describes their society as a military dictatorship and there are parallels to Nazi rule in Europe during World War II. The Klingons take over a seemingly primitive civilization here briefly, with Kirk & Spock stuck in disguise in the center of it as a genuine war escalates up above in space (back to the folly of war as in "Balance of Terror"). The Klingons, as first presented here, are not total barbarians (tho they come close), as they do place value on glorious battle & courage in the middle of their penchant for torture, and only start executing populations when affronted somehow (well, good for them). The Klingon commander, Kor (Colicos in a sinister, threatening performance), also resembles a disciple of Genghis Khan and his marauding hordes, as if those invaders suddenly got their hands on 23rd-century technology. There's talk of political causes for the sudden escalation to war with the Federation, but how can anyone expect such an aggressively violent society as the Klingon Empire to stay out of war for any reasonable amount of time? It seems like a closed book and an inevitable outcome when trying to come up with reasons to stop the widespread hostility on display in this episode.

This may be the real motivation for the actions of the Organians in this episode. When their true nature is revealed, we get the impression they see very little, if any, difference between Starfleet (Kirk, Spock) and the invading Klingons. This attitude, of course, was on display from the beginning of the episode, causing Kirk great frustration before the truth was, er, illuminated in front of him. From his perspective, how could anyone not see the differences between his benevolent society and the slave-labor worlds dominated by Klingons? But, if you or I look down on the ground and see two armies of ants waging their little war, would we really pick a side? To us, ants are ants - why would we prefer one side to the other? However, we probably wouldn't take the trouble to stop the ants from fighting - and this is the puzzling aspect to the actions of the Organians in the end. Perhaps they realized, due to the nature of the Klingons, leaving them and the Federation to their own devices would lead to some kind of galactic devastation. Klingons continued to bedevil Kirk is several more episodes of the original series and the Trek movies. In the TNG series, they began to lean towards the honorable traits and away from the sadism.

But, this episode works on other insightful levels, from our perspective in the 21st century. Throughout the episode, it's spelled out, even by Kor himself, that there is indeed very little difference between Klingons and Humans, besides minor 'ideological' ones. Kor also has one of the better lines in this season ("I do not trust men who smile too much"). He and Kirk find themselves agreeing a bit too well on their erroneous view of the seemingly contemptible Organians and, despite Kor's amusing protests, the episode's function as prophecy seems to hold true - that eventually the two warring factions will be allies in some future. Though it does seem unlikely during this episode, it does predict the events of the "Star Trek: the Undiscovered Country" film and the TNG series. This episode also has distinct similarities to "Arena," where-in the Metrons, another highly-evolved race, also interfered with our immature warlike tendencies. The deus ex machina nature of these story lines, courtesy of such 'higher powers,' makes them a little weaker than the more hard-hitting episodes of the series, but they remain high concept science fiction.

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