Recap / Star Trek S1 E26 "Errand of Mercy"
The one with the Klingons for the very first time ever!
The war between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingons is coming to a head and it looks like the peaceful planet Organia is stuck in the middle. Kirk puts Sulu in charge of the Enterprise
, reminding him that his duty will be to the ship, not to the landing party consisting of Kirk and Spock. The people of Organia are a peaceful, welcoming bunch, content with their medieval way of life. When Kirk informs them of the war encroaching on their planet, the Organians seem unconcerned.
When the Klingons make their grand appearance and start occupying Organia, Kirk and Spock go undercover as traders, hoping to get the drop on the Klingons and drive them out. Much to Kirk's shock, the Organian council of elders betray them to the Klingons, only to rescue them from jail easily enough. Kirk is increasingly chagrined by the Organian's refusal to fight back against the tyrannies that the Klingons are imposing on them.
As the moment of full blown war approaches, the Organians reveal the truth. They are actually Sufficiently Advanced Aliens
of pure energy
who cannot be killed by conventional weapons. In fact, they use their mental abilities
to neutralize not only all the weapons present, but the fleets of both the Federation and the Klingons! They impose a peace treaty on both sides, making it clear that they can render all their military forces helpless no matter where they are. The Organians bid them farewell, express a wish that both races will learn not to be so violent and disappear.
Tropes for this episode include:
- Actual Pacifist: The Organians.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: The reason why the Organians don't always look like glowing balls of light.
- Ball of Light Transformation: This is the true form of the Organians. The amiable old men turn into blindingly bright light at the end of the episode — their humanoid appearance was simply A Form You Are Comfortable With.
- Big "NEVER!": Kor's reaction to Ayelborne's prediction of peace between The Federation and the Klingon Empire. Becomes Hilarious in Hindsight in view of the cooperation between the two powers in the Star Trek: The Next Generation era.
- Characterization Marches On: The Klingons. As an example, the Klingon lieutenant prefers obeying Kirk to dying. Two seasons later, Kang will say "A Klingon would never have surrendered."
- Disapproving Look: When Kirk gets chagrined enough to start backpedaling and tells the Organians, "Well, no one wants war...", Kor shoots him a glare that says "Speak for yourself, Kirk!" loud and clear.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The Prime Directive had not become a major plot point this early in the show's run. Hence Kirk promising lots of technological goodies to the Organians in return for them allowing the Federation to use their planet as a base in the looming war with the Klingons is not the big deal it would be in later series.
- Also, Kirk calling himself "a soldier, not a diplomat" goes against later statements that Starfleet prefers its captains to be more diplomatic than martial.
- Great Escape: Subverted. Ayelborne just opens the door and tells Kirk and Spock they can go. These things happen when you're a being of pure thought.
- Heel Realization: After the affair is concluded, Kirk admits to Spock that he found his own protesting of the Organians stopping the war rather embarrassing.
- Humans Are Bastards: But Klingons are even worse.
- I Have Your Wife: The Klingons try to manipulate Kirk by threatening Spock, which greatly upsets the captain. Ho Yay abounds.
- Idiot Ball: Hints that there is something a bit off about Organia are present, but even Spock fails to follow them to their logical conclusion.
- Doors open and close automatically, despite the fact that this is supposedly a pre-industrial culture. Kirk, Spock and the Klingons might have failed to notice this because they come from civilizations where automatic doors are the norm.
- Trefayne announces that eight Klingon ships have entered orbit and that hundreds of Klingons are beaming to the surface. Despite past experiences with psychic powers, Kirk asks how he knows this. Kirk and Spock also fail to consider the possible implications of the Organians being psychic. Likewise, the simple fact that people supposedly from a society stuck at a Medieval level of technology even understand the concept of starships and transporters in the first place fails to arouse any suspicions.
- Improvised Weapon: Kirk uses the simple rope belt on his costume to garrotte a Klingon to force him to give information.
- Just You And Me And My Guards: Kor doesn't even have to shout for his guards, as his own office is under surveillance.
- Moral Myopia: Kirk is pompous enough to criticize the Organians for being so high-handed as to put a stop to the war, thus denying the Federation and the Klingon Empire their right to govern their own affairs. Of course, the entire episode showed that neither side really cared about the impact the war would have on non-aligned planets like Organia and that both merely saw them as strategic assets. Cold War allegory much?
- Not So Different: Invoked by Kor to try and persuade Kirk into turning traitor on the Federation, as he notes that the two of them have more in common with each other than with the "sheep-like" Organians. Kirk denies this, but the implication that Kor has a point is hardly subtle, especially when Kirk angrily declares his detestation of the seemingly spineless and sheep-like Organians, or when Kirk and Kor are both furiously berating the Organians for interfering in the war between their species.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: The Organians do it without even trying very hard. Kirk tries to fake being dumb to pass for an Organian, but Kor sees through it right away. Spock's mental disciplines mean he can even trick a machine into thinking he has no idea what's going on.
- Planetville: Kirk and Spock just beam down into the middle of a primitive town square and expect that somebody will be able to direct them to the offices of the local world government.
- Playing with Fire: The Organians make all weapons, including the control panels on the Enterprise (and presumably the Klingon ships as well), too hot to handle. Even hand to hand combat causes burning pain.
- The Quisling: The Organians seem this way, at first.
- Small Role, Big Impact: This was John Colicos' only appearance as Kor on TOS before reprising the role decades later on Star Trek: Deep Space Ninenote , but his Genghis Khan-influenced performance set the standard for all Klingons throughout the Star Trek franchise.
- Space Amish: The Organians appear to be this. Not only do they have only a Medieval level of technology, but they show neither signs of having made any progress in a long time, nor any interest in acquiring more advanced technology.
- Stepford Smiler: The Organian Council of Elders.
- Strange Salute: Ayelborne greets Kirk and Spock by bowing and making fluttery circular motions with his hands. Kirk and Spock catch on quickly and return the greeting. In Kirk's case, rather sarcastically at times.
- Training the Peaceful Villagers: This is what Kirk and Spock attempt to do with the Orgainians to make them resist the Klingon occupation, only to find that they are firmly uninterested and for good reason.
- Understatement: Kirk points out Spock's talent for this.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The people who live like Medieval peasants take no notice of the two strange men who have beamed down into their midst note
- Kirk and Spock actually comment on the oddity ("You'd think they had people beaming down every day." "Yes. Curious lack of interest."), but are apparently too distracted by the immediate crisis to ponder its significance.
- War Is Glorious: Kor is disappointed that the Organians prevented a war that "would have been glorious".
- Wham Line: Kirk: "WE HAVE THE RIGHT..." Ayelborne: "To wage war?.....Is that what you're defending?"
- Worthy Opponent: Kor expresses outright admiration for Kirk, and is deeply disappointed that they didn't get to meet on a battlefield.