There have been a number of memorable Klingons to appear on the original run, but maybe the best of them is Kang. He first pops up here on “Day of the Dove,” and he’s played by actor Michael Ansara. Geeks like me know Ansara best as the voice of Mr. Freeze. His Kang has vocal inflections similar to Freeze’s, with this serious authority that suggests a much more noble opponent than we’ve seen from other Klingon operatives. He isn’t actively scheming against Kirk, and he seems to have what he thinks are legitimate complaints with Kirk. Plus, he has a wife he brought with him that he shows affection for. We don’t exactly see a lot of Klingon women in the original series.
That said, this episode does do one thing that seemed a little weird to me.
Basically, the episode just kinda ends. It’s actually not a bad episode of the series, but the way things go down, I was left a little bit wondering what would happen next. Kirk and Kang share a laugh to scare off an alien that thrives on aggression and violence as a form of sustenance and that’s that. There are 38 Klingons loose on the Enterprise, and while both groups know they were tricked by the unnamed alien orb into their conflict, it does raise a question or two about what happens next. The Klingons have no ship to return to, and for that matter, the Enterprise has almost depleted its dilithium crystals, so do they even have fuel to go anywhere? Wikipedia tells me the episode ends with the Enterprise going to return the Klingons to their own space. Did I miss a line somewhere because I don’t remember that.
Then again, I may be getting ahead of myself, and this episode is paced a little weirdly.
Let’s backtrack: the Enteprise arrives at what they say is a Federation colony, but there’s no sign of anyone. Are they all dead? Actually, is there even a colony? We know this energy-based alien orb does stuff to perception, and it does look like it messed with minds and communication, so it’s possible the colony never existed and Kirk and the crew only believe there was.
And then a badly damaged Klingon ship shows up. It’s commander, Kang, claims his ship was attacked, probably by the Enterprise, and he too was responding a distress call, but this one was a Klingon SOS. Furthermore, he insists his people have been honoring the treaty between the Klingon Empire and the Federation. After some quick thinking on his part, Kirk manages to capture Kang and the surviving members of Kang’s crew, including Kang’s science officer and wife Mara.
Now, this would seem to be when things might be coming to a close as Kirk takes the captured Klingons off to wherever, but some things happen. Chekov, for one, really hates the Klingons due to the death of his brother at Klingon hands. The ship suddenly shoots off in an unknown direction at top speed. A bulkhead traps all but 38 members of the Enterprise crew in another part of the ship, making the remaining crew and the Klingons evenly matched. And when Kirk goes down to see if Kang or his people messed with the ship, tempers fly, board games turn into swords for the Klingons while Kirk and his people’s phasers likewise turn into swords. No one really questions this too hard as a fight breaks out. Soon, the Klingons control some decks while Kirk and his crew control the rest.
If we want more of a hint something is going wrong, we can see it in the familiar characters. Chekov’s blind rage isn’t unique. McCoy, while generally an emotional man, is outright boiling over with hate against the Klingons when he sees the shape of the men brought down to Sickbay. Never mind these men seem to be healing quickly no matter how severe their injuries.
And then, at one point, Scotty and Spock get into a racially-charged argument that only stops when Kirk steps in to stop them from coming to blows. Plus, Sulu, looking confused, tells Kirk that Chekov was an only child.
So, it doesn’t take much effort to figure out there’s an alien intelligence on the ship. Kirk and Spock find it when they stop Chekov from sexually assaulting Mara.
Yes, that is something that almost happened.
So, really, once Mara accepts that the alien is real, she and Kirk work to get Kang to just stop. When even mortally wounded men get up to keep on fighting, there’s a problem. The ship may just drift for a thousand lifetimes with a never-ending fight, the alien continually allowing neither side to gain the upperhand.
The only thing to do, really, is share a laugh. And having Kang give Kirk a backslap so hard that Kirk almost seems to fall over was a nice touch.
But then the alien leaves and I’m wondering what happens next. The Klingons are still on the ship.
But, then again, there is one more thing to bring up: Mara explains why the Klingons are so aggressive. Fed massive propaganda about how bad the Federation is, the see themselves as hunters/warriors, and they need to find more resources for the four planets that make up Klingon space. What else can they do?
Kirk gently suggests simply asking for help.
So, is this where the thaw in the Federation/Klingon Cold War started? The Klingons are almost allies by the time we get to the last movie to show the original crew. If so, that’s rather nice. If not, well, I can still pretend.