Star Trek: Season 2, Episode 21

Patterns of Force (16 Feb. 1968)

TV Episode  |   |  Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 920 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 6 critic

Looking for a missing Federation cultural observer, Kirk and Spock find themselves on a planet whose culture now models the German Nazi Party of old Earth in the 1930's.



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Title: Patterns of Force (16 Feb 1968)

Patterns of Force (16 Feb 1968) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Evans ...
Skip Homeier ...
David Brian ...
Patrick Horgan ...
William Wintersole ...
Gilbert Green ...
S.S. Major
S.S. Lieutenant (as Ralph Maurer)
Ed McCready ...
S.S. Trooper


The Enterprise tracks the missing Federation's cultural observer, Professor John Gill, to the reportedly primitive and peaceful planet of Ekos. When Kirk and Spock beam down, they find the Ekosians have turned into a Nazi society, with Gill as its Fuhrer, and are at war with the peaceful people of neighboring planet Zeon. They steal uniforms to enter the headquarters; but when Spock is forced to remove his helmet, his ears betray them and they are led straight to the torture chamber. After a flogging as 'Zeon spies,' they manage to escape with the Zeon prisoner Isak, who takes them to the Zeon resistance. The resistance tests them, and plots with an Ekosian defector to get to Gill, posing as a Nazi propaganda film crew. Inside they discover things are not quite as they appear. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

16 February 1968 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The character Eneg (Patrick Horgan) is Gene Roddenberry's first name, spelled backwards. See more »


While in the jail cell and attempting to remove the transponders from their arms with bed spring, the handcuffs that Kirk is wearing are clearly unlocked and open. See more »


Capt. Kirk: [after Kirk knocks an Ekosian unconcious] Spock, take his uniform.
Spock: You propose we pass ourselves off as Nazis, Captain?
Capt. Kirk: If John Gill is the Fuhrer, it would seem the logical approach.
Spock: That's very well taken, Captain.
See more »


Referenced in Futurama: Where No Fan Has Gone Before (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

Patterns of Seriousness
11 August 2006 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

This is the episode that somewhat undermines my theory that a lot of the cheesiness and campiness of the series was unintentional. Roddenberry and company get very serious in Patterns of Force, and understandably so--this is the episode about Nazism.

Nazism is broached through a very common theme for the series--an alien culture has been corrupted by an outside force. In this case, as in many others, the outside force was a previous explorer from the Federation, one who chose to ignore the Prime Directive of non-influential interference.

For most of the episode, Star Trek doesn't have anything very unprecedented to say about Nazism. It's a fairly literal presentation/examination, with a race from a neighboring planet serving as a barely veiled representation of Jews. Towards the end of the episode, however, there is a pretty controversial stance taken towards Nazism--it arrives in the justification for breaking the Prime Directive. Scripter John Meredyth Lucas and Roddenberry are clever enough to wrap their controversial point in an undermined character who is potentially interpretable as a villain for his decisions.

But the reason this episode is so good and unusual isn't because it has profound things to say about Nazism. It's because it does a lot of typical Star Trek things--like Kirk and Spock being held captive, having to bluff their way out of jams, and so on--in a very unusual, very serious way. We usually have little worry that Kirk and Spock will be shortly out of a locked cell, but here, director Vincent McEveety films a very familiar scene so that it is very suspenseful. Likewise, Spock in incongruous disguises or modes often causes laughter, and frequently the threat of him being revealed when he needs to be disguised is just as promising of humor as tension. Here, there's nothing funny about it, it's instead nail-biting. With laudable help from the make-up department, McEveety also manages to truly make Spock feel alien. Even Shatner gives a serious, intense performance rather than hamming it up this time around, and the same goes for DeForest Kelley. In fact, McEveety so successfully achieves a weighty mood that even the typical, somewhat comical bickering between Spock and McCoy takes on an edge of nastiness in the final scene.

I love Star Trek's normal campiness and cheesiness, but Patterns of Force goes to show that it's just as excellent when they try to keep everything on the straight and narrow.

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