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Day of the Dove

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at September 22, 2006 - 8:19 PM GMT

See Also: 'Day of the Dove' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: The Enterprise follows a distress call to find a human colony entirely eradicated. While a landing party investigates, a group of Klingons arrives and their captain, Kang, accuses Kirk of having destroyed his ship. When Chekov accuses the Klingons of having killed his only brother and is captured and tortured by them, Kirk has no choice but to give them passage on the Enterprise, though he warns Spock to be prepared and puts the Klingons in a modified holding cell. A series of disasters sends the ship careening into interstellar space while most of the crew is trapped belowdecks due to a failure of the bulkheads. Soon the Klingons have escaped and all the energy weapons aboard have been turned into swords. When Kirk discovers that, in fact, Chekov never had a brother and sees that even McCoy is suffering from violent fury toward the Klingons, he realizes that they have brought on board an entity that feeds off hatred, which is keeping a balance between humans and Klingons and allowing them to heal quickly so they can continue to fight. With the help of Kang's wife and science officer Mara, Kirk is able to convince the Klingons to make peace and to bond over mutual disdain for the creature, which leaves the ship.

Analysis: An episode which reads at times better than it plays, "Day of the Dove" gives most members of the original series cast plenty of opportunities for overacting and they make the most of them. At times one gets the impression that writer Jerome Bixby wanted to see sword-fighting on the Enterprise and came up with a scenario to allow it: the scene where Scotty walks into the armory to find that all the phasers have been turned into different styles of antique swords, like a magnificent Renaissance Faire weapons display, is quite enjoyable but also absurdly anachronistic. One can explain away the more outrageous behavior of the crew because the Evil Pinwheel Entity affects everyone's behavior, but that doesn't mean they don't look pretty silly at times.

Thematically, "Day of the Dove" is a sound episode - Deep Space Nine would revisit the concept of two armies killing one another and coming back to life to fight again in "Battle Lines", and there are some interesting parallels to be drawn between Kirk's insistence on a balance of power in "A Private Little War" and the alien balancing act here, where it becomes obvious that sometimes having equal sides gives each of them just enough hope of victory that they will keep fighting indefinitely. Kang isn't as overconfident as Kor nor as pompous as Koloth; he and Kirk make solid adversaries, each believing he has a legitimate grievance and each convinced that the other is capable of thoughtless, savage destruction.

It's also a delightful surprise to meet Mara, a senior officer on Kang's ship as well as his wife - given that we have seen no evidence of equal treatment for Klingon women before, how wonderful that she as much as Kirk must convince Kang to change his mind. This episode led me to believe that Klingon women must be truly equal to their male counterparts, like women in Starfleet, and I was irate when the Duras sisters showed up on The Next Generation to say it wasn't usually so. Though she wears so much eye makeup that one fears she may collapse under the weight of it, and though she is distressingly passive for much of the episode - despite coming from a warrior culture, she barely struggles when a maddened Chekov tries to rape her - Mara demonstrates that Klingon women may be as educated and empowered as the men, and it's a shame we never get to see her again.

Perhaps because he is shown to be a family man, Michael Ansara's Kang gets to be something Kor and Koloth never really do: a brooding, sexy anti-hero. Despite ordering his men to torture Chekov in the early minutes of the episode, he is never the villain of the story, for Kirk's impulses are just as violent from the time he beams down and William Shatner's portrayal of Kirk's rage and frustration is far less subtle than Ansara's. The actors are well-balanced particularly once they have swords in their hands and they each control one part of the ship, or think they do. Kang appears to distribute power among his men in much the same way that Kirk does; he doesn't allow his subordinates to contradict him, but he listens to what they have to say even when he disagrees, counseling patience rather than a rush to fight even after he has come under the influence of the alien. He isn't an egotist like Khan who wastes time torturing the crew; he wants to take engineering, bring the ship into Klingon space and then worry about punishing Kirk for the deaths of Klingon crewmembers.

Unfortunately, as the characters come further under the influence of the Evil Pinwheel Entity, their dark sides are balanced by a tendency to pontificate. Kirk rightly realizes that both McCoy and Spock are espousing racist beliefs that contradict their usual attitudes, but instead of simply pointing this out to them, he makes speeches. "We've been trained to think in other terms than war. We've been trained to fight its causes, if necessary," he announces. "Has a war been staged for us, complete with weapons and ideology and patriotic drum beating...even race hatred?" It's a clumsy declaration, laying out in words things that are already evident to the viewing audience from the actions of the crew...though I must admit that in the political climate of 2006, it's rather resonant.

In the end it's laughter that does in the Evil Pinwheel Alien, much like Harry Potter's Boggarts, and it flees the ship as the combined Starfleet and Klingon crews ridicule it, though the tension isn't entirely diffused ("We need no urging to hate humans," declares Kang). There's a lot to be said for the idea of Hatred as an externalized, alien force which is itself the enemy, far more so than whoever one happens to hate, for whatever reason. Even presented with evidence that these Klingons have no weapons of mass destruction...that is, that they could not have eradicated a human colony from so far away, Kirk disregards facts in favor of insisting that they must somehow be responsible for something, or soon will be. Meanwhile Kang and Mara have no problem believing exactly the same of humans, given that they have heard stories of Federation death camps and the sort of mindless brutality that McCoy - McCoy! - espouses under the influence of the alien.

Interestingly, Kirk and Spock realize that if they do not succeed in forming a truce, they will be fated to wander forever between galaxies with madmen at their throats. The lines are very similar to Kirk's description of Lazarus from "The Alternative Factor", who was faced with a mirror version of...himself. "I won't stay dead," Kirk warns Kang, who has a blade at his throat. "Next time I'll kill you. And it goes on, the good old game of war...stopping the bad guys, while somewhere some thing sits back and laughs." The Klingons don't believe in the devil, Kang tells Kirk, but he understands this one. Taking a chance on trust is their only course for salvation.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Michelle Erica Green is a news writer for the Trek Nation. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.

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