Captain James T. Kirk (played by actor William Shatner) and Mr. Spock (played by actor Leonard Nimoy) in a scene from ‘Patterns of Force,’ show during season two of the original ‘Star Trek’ television series.
“You should make a very convincing Nazi.”
—Mr. Spock complementing Captain James T. Kirk’s snazzy Nazi uniform in the 1968 ‘Star Trek’ episode ‘Patterns of Force.’
If just reading the title of this post gave you a sudden case of the “what the fucks” then you better sit down, because if you’ve never seen the episode titled “Patterns of Force” from the original Star Trek television series (season two, episode #21), then your mind is about to be blown.
Like many of you, I spent a bit too much time on my couch last week watching movies. I happened to catch a sweet Star Trek marathon on the tube that was in the midst of showing some groovy early episodes. After thoroughly enjoying the amusing “I, Mudd” (season two, episode eight) I decided to see what other episodes were coming up and caught an image of Spock dressed like a Nazi. Was I drunk? Yeah, sure, probably a little, but my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. As the episode unfolded things only got weirder.
“Patterns of Force” was originally broadcast back in February of 1968. Just a bit over 20 years since the end of WWII making it reasonable to assume that people who had opposed the Nazis during that time, or who were, you know, survivors of the Holocaust, were probably sitting down to watch one of the most popular shows on television. Only this time beloved intergalactic odd couple Captain James T. Kirk and his adroit Vulcan pal Mr. Spock (along with Dr. McCoy) end up on planet Ekos, a place that has embraced every aspect of Nazi culture and German society from the 1940s. Shortly after the episode begins we even get treated to images of Adolf Hitler and the ugliness of Nazi Germany in an authentic newsreel that is playing on a video monitor on the streets on Ekos. “Patterns of Force” plays the Nazi card to the hilt utilizing images of swastikas, actors costumed in Nazi-esque uniforms, and plenty of those nasty “seig heil” salutes we’re once again seeing thanks to some of the alt-reich supporters of our president-elect. Dialog for the show included the use of the word “Fuhrer” which was used to address Ekos’ fictional leader, the mundane sounding “John Gill.”
It’s worth mentioning—as I know that many of our readers are history buffs—that there are several inconsistencies with the Nazi costumes that would have made Lemmy Kilmister cringe. Such as the black “Gestapo” uniforms that were modeled after the garb worn by the Waffen SS in “Patterns of Force” and the fact that you can clearly see the name “Adolf Hitler” embroidered on both McCoy and Kirk’s cuffs during the episode. Which makes little sense to begin with as Hitler didn’t actually exist on Ekos. That said Patterns of Force is nothing short of chilling given the current circumstances we’re all supposed to be “getting used to” here in the U.S. Especially when you consider that the plot line focuses on Ekos’ desire to eliminate inhabitants of neighboring planet “Zeon” who they refer to as “Zeonist pigs.” Sound familiar? Despite the grim parallels to horrific past events and the deeply disturbing ones that are occurring with increasing frequency now, it’s an absolute must see moment of television history which I for one will never be able to scrub out of my mind. Because once you see Mr. Spock dressed up like a member of the SS, you can never unsee it.
And here’s another interesting factoid about “Patterns of Force” that helps reinforce my thoughts about the episode: In 2011 “Patterns of Force” was shown in Germany for the first time since it aired in the U.S. back in 1968. Though it had been released on video in the mid-90’s with German-language dubbing, it had never been shown on television. And even then it was only allowed to air after ten o’clock with a warning that the content should not be viewed by anyone under the age of sixteen. And that was a full 66 years after the end of WWII. I’ve included an array of stills from “Patterns of Force” as well as a short clip from the episode featuring Kirk and Spock trying to figure out how the fuck what happened during WWII could actually be happening again in outer space.
Kirk, Spock and McCoy all decked out in their “Adolph Hitler” designer Nazi uniforms.
A short clip from ‘Patterns of Force.’