"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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15 out of 19 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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9 out of 13 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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6 out of 8 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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5 out of 7 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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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

"You monotones don't understand"

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
12 July 2014

Stranger things have been known to happen, but the chances of two races of humanoid as typified by Frank Gorshin and Lou Antonio probably couldn't happen in real life. Still as an allegory about prejudice these characters and this Star Trek episode are a fine example.

First Lou Antonio manages to board the Enterprise requesting asylum. He's white and black with a dividing line clear down vertically of his body. After that Frank Gorshin arrives stating he's a law enforcement official from the planet Charon the other side of the galaxy with a warrant for Antonio whom he describes as a terrorist. Gorshin is also black and white just on the reverse sides.

From them we learn how Gorshin's crowd became the dominant race on their planet and how Antonio is a freedom fighting hero for his people. Both of them have extraordinary mental abilities and drive the Enterprise at will forcing control away from William Shatner and the crew. Oh, and they've been pursuer and pursued for 50,000 years.

In the end when they get to Charon it's quite a sight for both of them.

Sometimes these blood feuds can take on a life of their own. As humans and purportedly rational beings we have to overcome that. A lesson humankind has yet to learn.

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1 out of 1 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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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Predictable but still engaging

Author: Christopher Baird from United States
10 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a surprisingly decent episode of Star Trek in an otherwise quickly declining third season. There is nothing glaringly wrong or annoying with this episode, but also nothing especially new or suspenseful. The Enterprise stumbles on two alien humanoids locked in eternal battle; both from the same species but with a slight skin difference that has created the prejudice behind the battle they are carrying out which is representative of the battle being carried out between their races back on their home planet. Despite the plot being well-worn and predictable, this episode is surprisingly watchable due to decent acting and musical scoring. The problems I see that this episode has:

1) The black/white makeup for the aliens is just awful. That's not skin. That's cheap paint applied clumsily. It would have looked at lot more real if they had gotten two white actors and sun-tanned half of the face.

2) Upon rescuing the first black/white alien, Kirk and McCoy go on and on about how alien he really is, how he must have come from some unknown star system and be a mutant. But then this alien gains consciousness and immediately speaks perfect American English. This was very jarring and made the whole wow-he's-so-alien bit look silly. I know this happens in almost every episode, but it was especially bad in this scene. At the very least the actor could have faked an exotic accent like in other episodes.

3) As soon as you see the aliens have their first contentious exchange you just know that the message is going to be that prejudice is bad and symmetrical war just leads to mutual destruction. Despite being predictable and forced, this message still has value.

4) Kirk and the crew really didn't do much this episode. They just watched the two aliens lock horns and waited for them to self-destruct.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

Author: Scarecrow-88 from United States
30 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" examines race relations and two alternate viewpoints, both sides extremely devoted to their causes, hate driving everything they now do. The two alien lifeforms, Bele (Frank Gorshin) and Lokai (Lou Antonio) from a planet, Sharon, located in an uncharted galaxy, represent different sides of a conflict regarding slavery and cruelty, the rise against being enslaved: Lokai has evaded Bele's capture so long because he speaks for those who were under rule, under slavery, mistreated and considered inferior, a message that could or could not be true yet effective enough to garner sympathy every place he has been to. Bele does indicate a superiority complex for his people and when he speaks, there is a sense that he considers his race on the Sharon planet as superior to Lokai's. You see, Lokai and Bele have one side of their face black and the other white: it is just that Bele has black on the right side and Lokai on the left. All of the death and hate that exists over a matter of the slight difference in skin pigmentation…sounds familiar, doesn't it? Yep, this is definitely a message episode without a hint of subtlety. I think we go one step further and say Bele and Lokai represent sides of any opposing party/viewpoint. Both sides so set in their ways, Democrat/Republican, Conservative/Liberal, Pro-Life/Pro-Choice, whatever the argument is for/against, the results are often hostile and angry as intelligent conversation, a method of communication, trying to find a way to bridge the large gap that exists between two ideals, the results of "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" are rather apt and authentic: hate too often exterminates the ability to put aside hard feelings and embrace a peaceful solution to a long-term problem that hasn't accomplished anything. This episode will prove too political, its message too loud and preachy for many, but I do think it is worth telling. While this is a designed message episode, Trek fans will likely find the most memorable scene to be Bele's control over the ship stunted by Kirk's psychological cat and mouse by using auto-destruct as a means to get power turned back over to him. We also see the strain and stress Kirk is under dealing with these two; he does not like to see The Enterprise used as a pawn in a duel between two aliens who have been at war for so long. Kirk tries to be diplomat, as does Spock who mentions his planet Vulcan was almost rendered extinct because of war. It is all futile because Bele and Lokai are unable to listen, too far gone, too blinded by the hate that guides them.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

"You mono-toned humans are all alike".

Author: classicsoncall from United States
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 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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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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