In which Nazis are bad, the Prime Directive is good, and Spock recommends that a fascist state join the Federation.
Kirk is looking to make contact with an advance Starfleet historian/observer that has lost contact with central command. It’s a two-civilization system – one has primitive interstellar flight and the other does not. And the less advanced one has just launched a nuke at the Enterprise. Now, keep in mind that the Earth/Romulan warof a century prior had been fought with nukes, and phasers and shields just outclass them on every level, but still. It’s worrying not so much for the safety of the crew but for what it means for the civilization.
Starfleet had indicated that the planet of interest, Ekos, were a primitive warlike people, so Kirk and Spock take the precaution of having transponders implanted that will allow them to communicate. Which it looks like will be a good idea because the first inhabitant they meet, a Xeon (the other planet) native who gets beaten up by thugs wearing swastika armbands.
While the citywide megaphone-and-telescreen announcement plunges us headfirst into all the forms and hallmarks of classic fascism and shows us that the starfleet historian is the Fuhrer, lets make some guesses. It’s stated that he has staunch theories about history being a result of motivation and rather than specific people which… I don’t want to say ‘duh’ but… duh. Anyway, it looks like he’s set out to prove himself right by becoming the head of the, let’s call it at least the fifth reich (Holy Roman Empire, German Empire, Nazi empire, Khan’s empire).
Kirk and Spock manage to do the ‘steal some uniforms’ bit for all of about twenty seconds before it falls apart and they get taken away to be interrogated. This episode is basically an introductory course in Nazi ideology. Take a fractured and fractious population that knows only war and hardship, and give them an external enemy to face off against and root out of their own society and see what they can achieve.
All Kirk and Spock are able to achieve with their transponders is a cutting laser. MacGyver would be proud. Of course, this means their only way out is by solving the puzzle, because now they don’t have their beam-me-out button anymore.
There is just no end to the uniform-stealing. I mean, okay, if everyone who’s not a filthy xenos pig-dog wears a uniform, you kind of need to, but still. Fortunately, one of the nazi ranking officers is cute and Kirk will be able to hit on her. Or it’s a loyalty test.
Next up, the “we’re making a movie about someone important” ruse. They do a film crew with the sleeper underground agent to get into the building, and find that the Starfleet Observer is some flavor of catatonic. Next up, heavily lampshaded failure to see through a disguise at close range. It works out, and they’re able to call McCoy down from the ship to counter-drug the Starfleet guy to the point where Spock can get some answers out of Starfleet Guy. Unsurprisingly, his vizier took over once the planet was unified and turned it from a benign dictatorship meant to pull Ekos out of its civil war into, well, Nazi Germany.
Conclusion: Three cheers for the Prime Directive! Hip hip!
Like, a lot.
Seriously Nazis: Go fuck yourselves. You’re the worst.