Enterprise discovers a planet that is based on 1920’s gangsters and must determine how it got in that condition and how to fix it. Originally broadcast on January 12, 1968 this is A Piece of the Action.
Captain’s Log Stardate undetermined.
Visiting Sigma Iotia II, a planet that has not been visited in nearly 100 years, Enterprise discovers that the planet’s culture has been altered by a book left behind by the starship Horizon. A highly imitative civilization, the Iotians took the book as a guideline for their civilization and have now created an entire society based on the Chicago Mobs of the 1920’s.
Determining that the only way to help this species is to play along, Kirk and team infer that a new gang ‘the Federation’ is taking over and the local mob boss, Krako, must follow suit or be taken out. After a display of force from the Enterprise, the mobsters fold and agree to let the Federation take over with a 40% cut of the planet’s action. Leaving the planet in a better spot than it was, McCoy discovers that he has mistakenly left his communicator on the planet. Spock surmises that this may become the basis for this new society and they may end up coming to meet this Federation in the future.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is a key episode that gives us a good explanation as to why the Prime Directive is so important to the Starfleet and it’s mission of exploration. While this episode serves as an extreme case study, with a very adaptive and imitative species copying the context of a book, it still manages to hammer home the point of non-interference as it pertains to the Prime Directive.
That aside, there are some rather interesting assumptions the Iotians make based on the book that was left behind. For one thing, they all have and use a very specific dialect that sounds like Chicago era gangsters. While much of this could have been covered in a historical book, the actual accent and dialect would not be 100% accurate. In fact, I think this episode would have been much more interesting if the Iotian people imitated 1920’s Earth but retained their original accents and dialects. This would have made the alien aspect of this species much more obvious with an interesting juxtaposition of Earth’s past.
While it is only hinted that the Iotians would base their new society on the communicator left behind, it is worth noting that in the book ‘The Worlds of the Federation’ it is noted that the Iotian’s have formed a civilization not unlike that of Earth’s own Federation and makes a warning that visiting members should be careful not to believe this is an actual Federation base of operations.
Overall, this is a fun episode that has since become a very iconic and well known entry for the series. While it is far from the best of the series, it is a strong entry and one that is well worth your time.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- Officially we never find out what happened to the Iotian people after the communicator was left behind, but as mentioned above, it could make an interesting future story line.
- We learn that Enterprise’s ships phasers can also be set on stun…which is interesting considering they are not really meant for being fired on individuals.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: By Any Other Name
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Late To The Game 3/23/2022
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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