The Savage Curtain
Four of the worst villains in history square off against Kirk, Spock, Surak the Vulcan and Abraham Lincoln in the – theoretically – ultimate battle of good versus evil. All of this for the benefit of a race of aliens that really doesn’t get the whole good and evil thing. Which side will prevail? Find out when we put The Savage Curtain in the Mission Log.
Tags: Abraham Lincoln, Excalbia, Surak, The Original Series, The Original Series Season 3, The Savage Curtain, Yarnek
Trivia : ( from memory alpha ) Robert “Bob” Herron served as a stunt double for Jeffrey Hunter in the first Star Trek pilot, “The Cage” ! and also appeared, uncredited, as an Enterprise crew member named Sam in TOS: “Charlie X”. He later played the Excalbian recreation of the legendary Kahless the Unforgettable in this episode .
What’s the name of the outro used for the podcast?
I was wondering, when listening to the focus on “good vs. evil” of this episode, whether the villains would’ve been radically different if it had been, say, the crew of Voyager who encountered the Excalbians… for example, would it have possibly been Andrew Jackson as part of the villains if Chakotay’s mind was probed? Or could Abraham Lincoln have been a villain if the person whose mind was probed was a Confederate sympathizer?
My point is “good” and “evil” as taken from the mind of an individual, as both the episode AND the podcast indicate, is an inherently subjective thing.
Seems that absolutely it would play out that way – and as for Chakotay’s mind, maybe his concept of “evil” or “the enemy” would be different depending on when that avatar was created.
I think that a better fit for Shatner would have been Sir John A McDonald.
That would be a great episode: Andrew Jackson vs. Abraham Lincoln.
The Excalbian was named Yarnek… kenraY!
Ken Ray is a rock man!
And here I thought he was secretly a robot.
Another excellent analysis – though I’m surprised you were confused over whether or not the Excalbians had learned a lesson (and if the avatars were self-aware or not). At the end, after Team Evil (I love that name!) run off, Rocky wants an explanation:
“You have failed to demonstrate to me any other difference between your philosophies. Your good and your evil use the same methods, achieve the same results. Do you have an explanation?”
“You established the methods and the goals.”
“For you to use as you chose.”
“What did you offer the others if they won?”
“What they wanted most. Power.”
“You offered me the lives of my crew.”
Now, as to the choice of opponents: pretty poor. Kahless was nothing like the one we would know later (but then he could be based on Kirk’s paltry knowledge of the Klingon character). I’m assuming that Zora was plucked from Spock’s mind, given her scientifically unethical actions would offend him. Genghis Khan’s a name that gets thrown around a lot in any list of dictators, and though he did kill many he was more worthy of admiration than a later Khan that the Enterprise crew will be seen fawning over.
As for Green, I’m assuming that the only reason that the obvious choice, Hitler, wasn’t used was because it was way too soon to have him on the screen (even if we did have a planet of Nazis not that long ago on the show).
Still, it was nice to see Genghis Khan and Lincoln back together again later with Bill and Ted 🙂
Your wondering what was the exact nature of the historical characters is quite interesting. I’ve seen this over so many years that I’ve never really pondered that. I would suppose they’re an amalgam of Kirk and Spock’s memories and beliefs from what they’ve studied of history — which is subjective. And also the Excalbians scanned the ship’s computer banks for this info — which inherently would have its limits and biases.
There could also be a random element for their actions and decisions, like rolling a 12 sided die in D&D, or shuffling a deck of cards, or more likely a random number generator creating a choice, weighted by their “score” of intelligence, strength, etc.
But how this extrapolation would truly determine the nature of good and evil is problematical.
This plot reminded be a bit of the episode, “Arena,” and especially The Outer Limits’ “Fun and Games,” (which was based on the the former short story.) The participants were all real, but it was a contest of different beings.
Interesting discussion on language. I suppose we are still sensitive to language because it is one of the institutions used for oppression. It is hard to “see past it” because the oppression still exists and we don’t want to compound injury. In a future devoid of oppression (as has been claimed by the characters), I guess the words tied to that wouldn’t really have any weight.
I have a great respect for words so it’s hard for me to imagine a reality in which they don’t have every great or terrible power. But perhaps.
I think this episode was a cool examination of the concept that violence begets violence. I could be an extremely peaceful person but if you attack me and I push you off, I have now committed an act of violence (albeit less than yours) that I never intended, nor wanted. No matter how strong good is, it can never be truly peaceful in world full of violence catalysts.
At least that’s is what I thought. Sarek has an interesting rebuttal to this idea: if you take the hits, maybe your attacker will eventually have a change of heart and the cycle of violence can be stopped. I guess you have to really want peace more than anything else because you could end up paying with your freedom, your health, or even your life (unless you are peace envoy #21).
Peace isn’t free but it will ultimately cost you a lot less than violence.