"Star Trek: Let That Be Your Last Battlefield (#3.15)"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"Star Trek" Let That Be Your Last Battlefield (1969)

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22 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Red Alert - Self-Destruct Sequence in Progress!

Author: Bogmeister from United States
3 March 2007

I was prepared to vote lower on this overbearing, transparent commentary on racism until I viewed it again: there are some compelling scenes, it turns out, mostly courtesy of actor Gorshin (better known as the Riddler on the "Batman" TV show) as Commissioner Bele. He does overact as he spews his venomous hatred to anyone within earshot (anyone within a light year, it seems like), but it's a curiously appropriate performance - apropos the wild, irrational tone put on display for the taken aback Enterprise crew. Bele grits his teeth, chews up phaser blasts, and appears ready to hurl physical bile past his abused larynx due to so many years of pent-up fury (very many years, it's revealed - see below). The crew, of course, are well evolved beyond the petty prejudices we see here and so we see things from their aghast perspective. Bele is, for purposes of this story, the half-black: the upper class establishment figure of his alien planet, used to putting certain people in their place. But, the story doesn't take sides; Lokai, the half-white - the pursued lower class persecuted figure - doesn't come off looking any better. He seems most content being the center of attention, displays similar prejudice against mono-colored peoples and probably wouldn't mind sacrificing thousands of his 'followers' if it made him look heroic in the end. Though a product of the relevant sixties, this hasn't dated as much as one would think.

There's a reason, by default, that this episode may not rate higher: with no one to root for, the story lacks a focal point or someone we can relate to. We listen to both Bele & Lokai angrily espouse their views throughout the episode, reminding us of various speeches by political leaders, but, in the end, it all comes off as pointless ranting and babbling - neither one is worth listening to. It's a 'message' episode, watch out. And, in this case, the message seems to be that if you're filled with hate, you'll end up running around the Enterprise corridors to no purpose. That's it, after 50,000 years? I would've preferred a number of 50 years or even 50 centuries, but, according to this episode, these two guys have been running around the galaxy since Cro-magnon man first developed on Earth. I suppose this extreme length of time was meant to stress the futility of their irrational hatred or to lend a cosmic slant to their never-ending antagonism, but come on, Trek. So these guys are immortal, have personal force shields and Bele can control the ship with his mind. Were all their race so accomplished? We'll never know. This episode does have the marvelous self-destruct sequence initiated by Kirk, in which Spock & Scotty join in to voice the self-destruct codes. This sequence manages to squeeze out every bit of suspense possible for such a televised few minutes and foreshadows the now-famous sequence later duplicated in the 3rd Trek film, "The Search For Spock." Knowing what we do now about that movie, the countdown to doom in this episode is all the more chilling.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Star Bellied Sneetches!

Author: Hitchcoc from United States
8 May 2014

Two men show up on the Enterprise. They are each black and white, split symmetrically. One is black on the left and white on the right. The second is black on the right and white on the left. So, to a casual observer, they are nearly identical. Even their body types are about the same (they both look like Frank Gorshin). They become the consummate nuisance on the ship. One is in pursuit of the other, attempting to legally apprehend him (legally, according to his view of things). Kirk gets fed up with them, telling them to knock it off. Not only does this not happen, they gain control of the Enterprise and it takes Kirk bringing the ship to near destruction to dissuade them (at least temporarily) from their racist activities. Without ruining the ending, it reminds me of those stubborn Dr. Seuss characters who pride themselves on the most insignificant physical traits. At the end, the Sneetches can't remember how each of them was different. These guys go down that road. In some ways rather precious; in others a bit of profundity.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

"You mono-toned humans are all alike".

Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
10 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As faulty as one's memory can be, I'd still go on record stating that this was one of the episodes I caught in re-runs in the Seventies that made me a Star Trek fan. Roddenberry and his co-writers skewer racism in the story, and manage to turn the concept on it's head with a brilliantly clever twist. Though on the surface, Bele (Frank Gorshin) and Lokai (Lou Antonio) appear to be of the same race, they are obviously at war with each other because their coloration forms a mirror image of each other.

The episode achieves absurd proportions when Bele proclaims to his nemesis - "You're dead, you half-white"! It's at this point that the viewer either 'gets' it, or doesn't. The inherent nature of racism is entirely wrong headed and unsupportable by any logical rationale. If you were to strip away any of the physical features that define people, whether color, race, nationality, sex or what have you, you have no basis for fear and hate. Imagine if everyone in the world were blind. On what pretext would one be able to base his hatred for another person?

On top of the racial component, the episode also offers that intriguing smack down between Captain Kirk and Bele over the fate of the Enterprise. The destruct sequence by itself would have made for a great episode, but here it's part of a larger story. In fact, it gave Bele one more opportunity to bring his prejudice into the equation by declaring to Kirk - "You can no more destroy this ship than I can change color". Brilliantly played.

However there was one thing that obviously contradicted continuity in the story. It was mentioned that the shuttle-craft Lokai arrived in was stolen from Starbase 4. Yet when it landed in the hangar of the Enterprise, it clearly showed the call numbers of the Enterprise itself - NCC 1701-7. It seems to me this could have been easily avoided by changing the numbers, so I wonder why no one thought of it. Maybe by that time, cast and crew might have gone color blind.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Very Good Season Three Episode, With A Message

Author: Ralph from World Traveler
23 March 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This one episode I remember well from first viewing it in the early 70's when Trek was shown in syndication (unike some season three episodes which I have forgotten due to them resembling a Lost In Space episode without the Dr Smith). I rate it as one of the best season three episodes and its still a great watch today if you have never seen it. Gorshin is the establishment (interestingly referred here as "the Black" by his nemesis because of the color on his right side, which is probably another statement alluding to the right being conservative) and he is a chasing another of his race who is anti establishment and also a different skin color (he's white on his right side). Rascism is the tone the episode mainly takes, but you can see other parallels with the 60's generation rising up against "The Man" here as well. Excellent episode to watch. Now for some cheap nit picking, when Kirk is issuing the self destruct, Gorshin's character only had to knock him out, than he can't give the command, right? OK that was too easy, how about the way to save money by using an "invisble" alien space ship, that was pretty lame. Despite those two gaffs that I saw, the aliens here are pretty cool, with personal force fields and life spans of over 50,000 years. To bad they didn't study the 1990's LA riots history and know that we all just need to get along. My rating, 8 of 10, its nice to have a Trek episode with a moral again as not all of season three did. The ending is a bummer also which is actually a pleasant surprise, not all things in the Trek universe work out.

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A bit obvious and dull, but not a bad episode

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
9 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

An odd-looking wanted man whose face is bright white on one side and black on the other is caught by the Enterprise. Soon, another similar man shows up and claims that the man is his prisoner. What exactly the first guy did that was illegal is a bit difficult to discern--as the "charges" against him are mostly platitudes and vitriol. The crew isn't sure why they hate each other so much and are shocked to hear that the reason they hate so much is OBVIOUS--one is white on the right side while the other is white on the left! The very conclusion of the episode when both escape is extremely fitting and well-done.

I've heard some people praise this episode because it addressed race relations and this is true and quite commendable. The problem is that despite its plot, the show is pretty dull and the way racial prejudice is handled seems a tad heavy-handed. In fact, the biggest problem is that almost the entire episode (except for a teeny, tiny clip) takes place on the Enterprise--and so many of the ship-bound episodes are more static and less exciting.

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

a rather crude episode on the effects of racism

Author: fabian5 from Canada
1 October 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This show had great potential: however, its analogy on racism is much too crude to have any impact on the viewer. Basically 2 aliens--Bele and Lokai--repeatedly fight on the Enterprise with the use of forcefields and other infernal devices with neither side gaining an upper hand. They are so filled with hatred for one another that they cannot stop quarreling and turn the Enterprise into their own 'battlefield.' Captain Kirk is compelled to travel to their original home only to discover that both Bele and Lokai's native planet of Cheron have been totally destroyed by their racial conflict--and no human life exists. Indeed, the planet is so desolate that animals are even encroaching into the planet's now empty city centres, notes Spock from his sensor scans.

The repeated emphasis of Bele and Lokai running around the battleship and attacking one another just demeans the seriousness of the topic on racism. It is much too heavy handed to be taken seriously. If the episode had been played more subtly, its effectiveness could have been more substantial. Basically, the show had a good premise but extremely poor execution. The makeup is also below average but at least the producers had a good excuse here--NBC's serious cutbacks in Star Trek's budget. There are a few good lines such as the scene where Spock tells Bele that his planet was once a violent world which the Vulcans eventually resolved through logic and cool reasoning. Bele, however, is much too irrational to make peace with his arch-enemy Lokai or to settle on a new life other than his native Cheron.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Good classic cheesy 60s Sci-Fi

Author: ronindave from Tokyo
22 December 2013

"Let that be your Last Battlefield" is a heavy-handed tale of racism that beats the viewer of the head with its not so subtle message that "racism is stupid" every 5 minutes. Still this episode has a goofy charm that the old Star Trek series would somehow be less if this episode hadn't been made. It's a kind of so bad it's good episode.

The two guest stars in their cheap black&white make-up (you could tell they were scraping the barrel of the budget for the show by this time) steal the show with their constant hating of each other while the Enterprise crew does very little except watch and make self-righteous comments.

This episode is a time capsule of sorts because it is very much a part of its time as the settings of many Sci-Fi stories of the 50s&60s were often just thinly-disguised commentaries about social conditions and human nature. Writers of such stories were more interested in the message than in fleshing out a story universe that made sense.

"Let This Be Your Last Battlefield" though is enjoyable fare to sit back and enjoy and not to be surprised by the inevitable obvious ending. What makes it even more delightful is the appearance of Frank Gorshin, Jr famous for playing The Riddler in the 60s Batman series as one of the illogical hate-fueled aliens.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

One of the Best Star Trek Episodes is not as "Black and White" as It Appears

Author: classicalsteve from Oakland, CA
4 February 2017

This episode has been criticized because it seems its main point is applied with a sledge hammer. And yet, if you watch the episode carefully, there are subtle hints that there's a lot of blur about what its ultimate message could be. The Starship Enterprise has inadvertently crossed paths with two alien beings who have been at odds for 50,000 years, Lokai and Bele. A shuttlecraft was stolen from a Starbase 4 and the Enterprise is in pursuit. They use a tractor beam to "rescue" the shuttlecraft and a strange humanoid who is black on one side and white on the other. His name is Lokai and he said he "borrowed" the shuttlecraft to escape a commissioner from the planet Cheron who has been pursuing him. When McCoy examines him, he determines that Lokai would be regarded as a superhuman when compared to average humans from Earth.

Shortly thereafter another humanoid obviously from the same planet appears on the Enterprise, Bele. He says the Enterprise holds "precious cargo": Lokai. Bele also has the same trait of having a black side and white side. We learn that Bele regards Lokai as of an inferior race and that Lokai's "people" were destroying their civilization. By contrast, Lokai contends that Bele's people enslaved his people. Bele also demonstrates abilities far above those of earth humans. When the difference between the two is finely revealed, Kirk and Spock are somewhat flabbergasted as to the characteristic which distinguishes the individuals.

While this story device of humanoids with a black side and a white side may appear to be an obvious commentary on contemporary racial relations, the story does well to keep from portraying one side as being "right" and the other "wrong". Lokai's claims his people were oppressed by the people represented by Bele may at first seem like the obvious choice for our sympathies. But then we learn that Lokai's people engaged in destruction on a mass scale. He also continually admonishes the crew for not carrying out justice because they are not willing to kill Bele. Simultaneously Bele believes he is pursuing not only Lokai but justice and that his apprehension of Lokai represents the greater symbolic rightness of "justice".

This is a subtle story if you examine its depth. Its not really about who was right or wrong in terms of the "facts" of who was more or less oppressed and/or who was more destructive. The final message is that no matter which point of view may be right, the real villain is the hate which emerges from the conflict. And as the final scenes attest, hate becomes the overriding destructive force which may be the unintended consequence of pursuing justice, however that is defined.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A black and white issue

Author: Tweekums from United Kingdom
13 August 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As the Enterprise nears the planet Ariannus on a mission to decontaminate its atmosphere another ship is spotted; a Federation shuttle that had been stolen from a nearby star base. It is brought aboard and a strange alien emerges; his left side is white, his right side is black. He identifies himself as Lokai and states that he is fleeing persecution on the planet Cheron. Spock and McCoy state that they believe his appearance must be due to a unique mutation… a theory is soon disproved when another ship appears carrying a very similar alien… although this one, who identifies himself as Bele, is black on the left and white on the right. Bele states that Lokai is a traitor he has been pursuing for fifty thousand years! It soon becomes apparent that on Cheron those whose left side is white are considered a lesser race while those who are white on the right dominate. Bele insists that Kirk takes them both back to Cheron and when Kirk refuses he uses a telepathic power to force steer the Enterprise towards his home planet… something Kirk is determined to stop; even if that means destroying his ship.

The racial message of this episode is handled in an interesting way; to the viewer and the Enterprise's crew the two aliens look almost the same; which side of their bodies are black and which are white is irrelevant however to them it is everything. Once that is realised the message that such racism is ridiculous is a little heavy handed but that doesn't really matter as the message is still valid. The ending proved to be rather interesting as they avoided the cliché of having the two realise the stupidity of seeing trivial differences as reasons to hate; instead we see where the hate led their civilisation as their chase goes on. On the down side the idea that these two have been hunter and hunter for 50,000 years is crazy to say the least. The acting is solid enough with guest stars Lou Antonio and Frank Gorshin doing good jobs as Lokai and Bele. Overall an okay episode which is memorable as 'the one with the black and white aliens'.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Intelligently written and directed in spite of itself!

Author: mike48128 from United States
3 May 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Fred Freiberger directed some of the best episodes. It's a fascinating insight into mindless racial hatred and only "bogs down" a bit in the middle. Could have also been written by Dr. Seuss as it brings to mind his fable of "Sneetches with and without stars" (who are better?). Two beings exactly alike in every way except one has a left white face with the right side black and the other is exactly the opposite. One is the master race and one is the slave race. Both have super-powers and can control the Enterprise. You get the idea. All theories are suggested by Spock including nature vs. nurture. Their hated has outlasted the population of their planet. The only writing flaw is their hatred spans thousands of years. Nobody lives than long, except the "Q" maybe! A fitting "1960's episode". Frank Gorshin channels his inner "Kirk Douglas" as he was an amazing impressionist as well. A brilliant performance as "Commissioner Bele" in pursuit of a "filthy-right sided white face" criminal whom he believes caused the uprising on planet Cheron". Now they will battle for eternity, together and forever. The "stock footage" used for the burning of the planet looks suspiciously like the burning of Atlanta from GWTW, don't you think?

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