Star Trek: The Original Series

"The Omega Glory"

*

Air date: 3/1/1968
Written by Gene Roddenberry
Directed by Vincent McEveety

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Kirk, Spock, McCoy and a doomed red-shirt beam down to investigate a Prime Directive issue when they believe Captain Tracey (Morgan Woodward) has used his phaser to help a group of people called the "Kohms" in their slaughter of the barbaric "Yangs."

Potentially interesting, "The Omega Glory" quickly degenerates into wretched excess, the first of many problems being the extreme to which the insane Tracey takes his treachery against Kirk, even when the rationale for it disappears. This episode is one of the most colossally huge messes I've ever seen on Trek. This is a plot that prompts one to start scanning the screen for the kitchen sink, and specializes in out-and-out incoherence. The attempt to politicize the material proves inept—the Yangs (Yankees) versus the Kohms (Communists) requires a leap of credulous faith I'm not willing to take. The "parallel Earth" arguments are dubious, to say the least, but when it goes so far as to use the American flag and the Constitution as symbols of an alien ideology gone wrong, it becomes preposterously overly patriotic—especially through Kirk's final speech.

All meaning is lost in a sea of seemingly random ideas posing as allegory, none of which is slightly believable on one very important level—the story's surface. Gene Roddenberry may be known for many things, but one would hope he's not known for writing "The Omega Glory."

Previous episode: By Any Other Name
Next episode: The Ultimate Computer

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20 comments on this review

John Pate
Tue, Dec 1, 2009, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
The Omega Glory - surely that should get minus 4. How did it get even 1?!
LWG
Sun, Jul 11, 2010, 1:28am (UTC -5)
The Omega Glory wasn't that bad of an episode. It was a decent one that was just tragically overshadowed by an awful ending. I'm an American and I love my country, but when I saw them bring out the flag I couldn't help but roll my eyes and say, "This has no place on Trek".
Looking past that though, the character interaction and dialogue was alright. It had the token redshirt death, good fight scenes with accompanying soundtrack, and an interesting nemesis for Kirk in Captain Tracey, who manages to best him in a fight (initially). Definitely one of the better guest appearances. The plot did hold together well enough until the aformentioned lame ending; I wasn't bored watching this one like I have been with some episodes. I also thought it was kind of funny how after Kirk and Spock escape and subdue the guard, meeting up with McCoy, he just says "Good morning, Jim" as he was expecting them all along. Any episode that makes good use of that trio has at least something going for it.
Destructor
Tue, Jan 18, 2011, 4:27pm (UTC -5)
I have to agree with John Pate- TOG is just the worst episode of Star Trek. I'm currently re-watching the whole series and that will be the ONLY episode I intend to skip over- it's just that bad.
Mike Meares
Sat, Jan 22, 2011, 10:32pm (UTC -5)
I have to admit when I first watched The Omega Glory in 1968 I liked it. However, over the years of rewatching the first two years of The Orginal Series I have come to realize it is a very poor episode. To even think that another planet could develop into two cultures like the Americans and the Chinese is too far fetched. And to have Kirk side with the whites against the yellows smacks of racism. I can barely believe this was one of the orginal stories that was proposed for the second pilot. Gene should have left this story on the shelf.
Stubb
Thu, Apr 14, 2011, 1:56pm (UTC -5)
Also, one Redshirt quibble: Lt. Galloway (David Ross) in "Omega Glory" is NOT just another doomed Redshirt. He starred in several other episodes, including "A Taste Of Armageddon".
Strider
Tue, Jun 19, 2012, 9:42am (UTC -5)
I agree with the comment about the good use of the 3-some, but this whole thing felt to me like 15 minutes of plot stretched over 50 minutes. Even with the 3 men I like, they aren't really in character. Spock's comments in that whole jail scene were sarcastic and juvenile--so out of character. Spock was just off for the whole episode.

And isn't this like the 3rd ENTIRE starship whose crew was ENTIRELY destroyed? How can Star Fleet bear the loss of 1500 crew or more in just a few short years? And since when can Spock plant thoughts in people's heads without touching them? And how do people with spears and swords overcome people with phasers--why don't they use the stun setting? And now we know that the ship can stun the whole planet--why not just stun the planet and beam up the landing party? And why couldn't Spock or McCoy just tell the Yangs where Spock's heart was--"it's not there; it's over here!" And then Kirk performing the Constitution...wow.

I don't know...so many crazy weird things in here. So much lack of character consistency.
Corey
Thu, Mar 28, 2013, 8:12pm (UTC -5)
It's not nearly that bad. The camera work is more intimate, and it was during the Cold War era and a spurt of pride for the USA during the time. It might be a tad hokey but still, it's not that bad at all. Cpt. Tracey was a great antagonist. It also made spiritual hokum look downright silly, which I'm a huge fan of!
mike
Thu, May 2, 2013, 11:50am (UTC -5)
The only word that comes to mind is ridiculous. The American flag AND the Constitution on an alien world? I understand that this has to be seen in context with the times -- the Viet Nam years-- but this episode begs too much to be allegorical. Especially irritating, Shatner has taken his hammy acting so far over the line at the end that he is actually a parody of himself. Spock should have nerve pinched him.
Moonie
Wed, Jan 8, 2014, 10:32am (UTC -5)
Oh my.
Dan A.
Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 8:23pm (UTC -5)
I really thought an episode where primitives worshiped their flag, the Constitution, and intertwined both with their bible, was basically just misinterpreted. Think about it, this could reasonably be a lost colony, not parallel society.
Seem to recall they also treated any source of science and logic as demonic.

This is obviously Gene speculating on the far end of patriotism blending with religion in a retrograde society. Either that, or it was the foretelling of the Tea Party.
dgalvan
Wed, May 14, 2014, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
This episode had several really good ideas which were hamstrung by poor execution.

---------------
Likes:

*The concept of original ideals (the constitution) being misunderstood/misinterpreted by distant future generations was cool and interesting, IMO. It sort of hearkened back to "planet of the apes" style of post apocalyptic story telling.

The plot about trying to find the serum (fountain of youth), and then it turning out that the people live longer on that planet simply due to natural selection, was good as well. That explained (at least on a surface, sci-fi level of believability) why you couldn't extract a serum that gave people long life. Just like we humans can't just make a serum from turtles or trees that makes us live as long as them.

---------------
Dislikes:

*The biggest problem was that it required too big a suspension of disbelief regarding the "parallel Earth" being so exactly like our Earth in that this planet even had the same exact American flag and the same U.S. constitution, word for word. I kept waiting for the explanation: ("oh and by the way a time-traveling star fleet ship accidentally went back in time and delivered the U.S. constitution and Flag to this planet"). But it never came! Roddenberry meant for us to just believe that this planet developed identically to Earth, including the creation of the United States of America. I mean, if he wanted to do that he could have used time travel in this episode and sent the Enterprise into an alternate future Earth. Or he could have just had all the same themes, but not have the exact flag and verbatim constitution. . . instead something that was recognizably analogous but not identical, having developed on a different planet and all.

*And, yeah, there was probably too much plot for one episode, but IMO it could have still been a great episode if the above problem had been corrected.
dgalvan
Wed, May 14, 2014, 2:41pm (UTC -5)
I also notice the trend that Strider mentioned above:

several episodes this season had the basic formula:
Enterprise goes to planet where previous Earth-based ship had been, with original crew meeting demise somehow, and the surviving crew members playing a role in the indigenous society.
-Omega Glory (other star fleet captain participates in fight between factions.)
-Patterns of Force (Federation historian crafts society based on Nazi Earth)
-Bread and Circuses (Freighter ship captain becoming First Citizen in modern-day-Rome society)

With three formulaic episodes, I think this counts as another Trek stereotype right up there with Kirk outsmarting a computer!
William B
Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 10:41am (UTC -5)
I agree with Dan A. on the episode's "point" -- it's pretty clearly Roddenberry objecting to people viewing the U.S. Constitution as a religious artifact but leaving the words behind. Given that the episode ends with Kirk assuring the Yangs that they have to treat the Kohns like people too, I think it's Roddenberry's way of saying that the true test of American patriotism is whether one believes in the "All men are created equal" credo enough to apply it to one's enemies. That's a noble goal, and it earns the episode a little bit of credit.

But dude. That flag. The Star Spangled Banner playing! The way the episode is set up as an alternate world in which the "yellow" (Kirk's word!) man is civilized and the white man is a savage, only to turn it around at the end and show that the white man indeed are just confused Americans and clearly the best of the lot (and that their savagery is them taking on Native American rituals) (!). I can't even. Full disclosure: I'm Canadian, and so it may be that the nationalism here is just lost on me due to a different set of experiences, but Canadians are also pretty inundated with American culture so I suspect that I mostly get it. In order to deliver this parable about the importance of believing in freedom for one's enemies, Roddenberry is embarrassingly racist and jingoistic.

Anyway, as Jammer says, this plot has a kitchen sink quality -- it just wanders from one idea to another, without any kind of focus until the very end -- at which point the focus becomes terrible. This would be a time where I'd be tempted to write an act-by-act breakdown ala the ones Elliott is doing for DS9 in the comments on this site -- because it's hard to even know how to talk about the episode's many bizarre plot shifts. In order, though, the episode introduces and then drops:

- disease which apparently destroyed and entire crew
- Tracy on the planet. dilemma 1: is it ethical for Tracy to interfere in a local fight in order to protect himself, given that he's going to die otherwise?
- possibility of fountain of youth. dilemma 2: is it ethical to ignore the PD in order to stay alive in order to use the Fountain of Youth?
- Tracy kills Galloway for no apparent reason
- Kirk/Yang fight! this episode is so low-budget that it cuts to Spock every time there's a punch.
- Tracy tries to get phasers sent down. Kirk is able to stop because Sulu requires actual authorization, and Tracy, I guess, doesn't try to force Kirk to give that authorization at phaserpoint, because ???. Sulu makes no effort to follow up on this.
- As Jammer says, Tracy continues betraying Kirk even after the rationale disappears. What?
- Tracy now tries to convince everyone that Kirk is sent by the devil (!)
- Kirk/Tracy combat, because...?
- Spock mind controls Yang woman into calling the Enterprise. SPOCK HAS MIND CONTROL POWERS, NEVER SEEN BEFORE OR SINCE. Mind control powers that don't require physical contact. Not only that, but it is completely irrelevant to the episode, since Kirk wins the fight.
- AMERICA

What even. I did really like McCoy's blase reaction to Kirk and Spock entering though.

I guess 0.5 stars -- this is such an incredible mess.
jonn walsh
Sun, Jun 7, 2015, 7:48am (UTC -5)
Actually, in both A Taste of Armageddon and By Any Other Name, Spock is understood to have the ability to plant thoughts in others' minds.
In ATOA, he fools the guard into coming into the holding room after which they escape, though in BAON he gets zapped in the brain (indeed Spock's injury is their pretext for returning to the ship)
DutchStudent82
Fri, Oct 16, 2015, 8:55am (UTC -5)
Insufferably bad episode.

Sin 1 : Must it always be a paralel earth or a Kirk outsmarts the Machine [TM]?
paralel earths do NOT exist in the SAME universe, let alone copied in the numbers we see them in TOS.
*Classical Greek earth
*Roman earth
*20's earth
*Nazi earth
*60's earth
*Cold War Earth
and who knows how many more of these..

Sin 2 : TOTALLY unplausible
If you do have to add a second earth, at least get your story straight, and aliens that copy your culture down to the very symbol of the flag and constitution is totally bogus!

Sin 3 : American nationalism (sigh)
There are MANY Scify watchers like me who are NOT american.
I am european, and I don't particulairy like america, in fact americanism for me is a verb of my nation going down the drain!
Also in my nation nationalism/patriotism is seen on equal foot with nazicism, to much waving the flag and such and your seen as a nazy, as such I find the general behaviour of this waving the flag in general distastefull.

Sin 4 : Kirk sees himself as american
This series plays in the future, kirk was born 90 years after the founding of the federation, and 150 years after forming united earth.
By the time he gets command, thats 120 years after the founding of the federation and 180 years after forming united earth.
--
But granted even as nation states ceased to exist, the idea of nationality died slower, just as people still wave flags of nations that no longer excist today, basques in spain, frisians in netherlands, texans in america, and so on, and so on. The general factions on earth (before unification) were 1 The African Union 2 Russia 3 European Hegemony 4 North American Federation 5 Eastern Coalition 6 Austalia.. and a couple more.
as such, kirks thinking as an american may still be valid in some sence.. but THAT america was after the post-nucleair horror, and such, so it had a different flag, different constitution. So to identify with something CENTURIES before your time, is well not unheared of in humans, but not the behaviour one would expect to see in a captain of the federation who is trained to leave behind all that kind of thinking.
So to think that a biggot american would become federation captain, is like saying a racist KKK member would becomre president of the USA, not very likely.


Sin 5 : that other captain behaves irregulair
There was simply no need for him to keep up his paranoid thinking after it was clear that the long lifespans were not possible to duplicate

Sin 6 : the culture fell in despair
United earth, came out of an atomic war, and had the eugenics war before that. And still we managed to launch the phoenix.
It is not likely an entire planet would turn to barbarism after a nucleair war, and even lose the ability to read and write, especially with lifepands of 1000 years, and ample time to rediscover things. If it survived enough to preserve items like the flag and constitution, it should have been able to preserve more items that would enable them to have rebuild more.
CPUFP
Mon, Nov 30, 2015, 9:19am (UTC -5)
I agree with the few positive remarks Dan A. and William B made. To me, the episode's message was that even a society which prides itself on being built on democracy and personal liberty can devolve into barbarism in the course of war if it treats its own civic symbols and texts as religious artifacts, dehumanizes its enemies and stops seeing them as worthy of the same liberties as its own citizens. So at its core, the episode actually had a few points going for it as a comment on the US's role in the Cold War, and that actually was enough to make me forgive the whole flag-waving, parallel Earth nonsense and plot inconsistencies.

One detail I found funny, in addition to all that has been said above by other commenters, is the return of the "trapped in a cell without guards" trope, which has saved the skin of a lot of Starfleet officers in the 23rd and 24th centuries (though it is not exclusively used in the Star Trek franchise). After being beaten unconscious by the Yangs, Kirk is lying in his cell for seven hours without anybody checking on him. But granted, there was only one Kohm guard in the whole facility, and he had his hands full with stopping McCoy from flirting with the meal delivery lady!
CPUFP
Mon, Nov 30, 2015, 9:29am (UTC -5)
Oh, almost forgot: Didn't you just love Spock's comment on the parallel Earth trope? "Kohms? Communists? The parallel is almost too close, Captain."
Maq
Mon, Dec 14, 2015, 3:21am (UTC -5)
This is really horrific, disgusting and bad very bad. That was my first thought. I mostly enjoy the poor episodes because they can be funny. Here it is difficult to laugh.
I don’t know if Mr Shatner suffered doing this, as a Canadian had certainly not learnt to fall in tears when the USA flag was hailed.
My first reaction was disgust. But when reading the comments above I saw it in a slightly other way. Was it really some sort of appeal to be critical and open minded there? Kirk saying that the freedom is there also for the “Kohms”.
I do have my difficulties to put this episode into the normal “star trek universe”. It do though force any sensible person to reflect.
Pam
Tue, Feb 2, 2016, 6:36am (UTC -5)
This. Episode. Is. Dreck.
Joey Lock
Wed, Jun 22, 2016, 7:21am (UTC -5)
The very overly patriotic Americanism in this episode is nauseating, probably because I'm not American but in a world that's meant to have gotten rid of nationalism, the idea that an individual countries constitution is somehow remembered word for word and then spreads across the Alpha Quadrant is mental.

I see far more American over-patriotism on the internet and television than Id like to in real life, when it invades the Star Trek universe that's when it just gets far fetched.

The rest of the episode is pretty good though, like the jail fight scene with Spocks calm advice and McCoys scenes in the laboratory.

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