Star Trek: The Original Series

"Day of the Dove"


Air date: 11/1/1968
Written by Jerome Bixby
Directed by Marvin Chomsky

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The mutual distrust between the Klingons and the Federation becomes the center of attention for Kirk when he takes Klingon prisoners aboard the Enterprise for trespassing in Federation space and attacking a Federation outpost. Once aboard the ship, an alien entity that thrives on hostility allows the opposing forces to lock into a repetitive cycle of combat—allowing an equal number of Kirk's men for every Klingon on board to fight above decks in a sort of arena of violence.

"Day of the Dove" isn't great, but it's good—showing more promise than many third-season offerings. Michael Ansara as Kang provides a good adversary for Kirk, as the distrust between the two sides elevates into an all-out battle of swordplay, courtesy of the animosity-inducing alien presence.

The "violence is bad" message is pretty obvious, but it manages to work fairly well in the story's context. I particularly liked the scene where Kirk and his crew come to realize that they're feeding off racially motivated hatred, even if it was a little overplayed. The end provides a classic Trek solution, where the two sides end hostilities to be rid of the alien entity's cycle of pointless bloodshed. Not groundbreaking, but respectable.

Previous episode: Spectre of the Gun
Next episode: For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky

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15 comments on this review

Mon, Nov 26, 2012, 11:24am (UTC -6)
Just caught this one the other day. One of the funniest things is spotting the normal TOS extras (the guy who alternates with Chekov/Sulu, Spock's stand-in, the big guy who was Kirk's bodyguard in "Mirror, Mirror") appear as Klingons.

It's a pretty good episode, though I couldn't quite figure out why the alien's ability to mess with people worked faster on some people than others. Chekov is almost instantly affected, then McCoy, then Kirk, Spock and Scotty.

And was there actually a colony on Beta XII-A?
Wed, May 29, 2013, 2:59am (UTC -6)
What if they gave a war and no one came?
Tue, Oct 29, 2013, 2:21am (UTC -6)
This is a 4-star episode IMHO. An away team redshirt made it through an entire episode without dying, the foundation for what the Klingons became was laid out, we saw the first site-to-site transport, and the sword fighting scenes were classic. What's not to love?
Fri, Dec 13, 2013, 2:14am (UTC -6)
I haven't seen this episode yet, but I wonder why nobody complains about repetitive storylines in TOS when people were ravaging Voyager every week. TOS had two tricks: stick an away team in a recreation of Earth's past, and have supreme beings making everyone fight each other. It's a bit like Time Team crossed with a bunch of schoolboys who put a wasp in a jar with a load of ants.
Sat, Feb 15, 2014, 12:23pm (UTC -6)
@ NoPoet, this s exactly why I'm having so much trouble with season 3 of TOS. I've seen too many of the same plots and at this point, they just leave me cold.
Jo Jo Meastro
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 4:42am (UTC -6)
I pretty much fully agree with the review; good and a very respectable effort, but not quite ground breaking.

Although I do think the episode deserves some brownie points for giving us a memorable Klingon villain with genuine charisma, depth of character and intelligence (TOS Klingons normally lack all three!). And praise for the effective anti-war sentiment showing us the hideous nature of hatred and those in power who feed on it.

3 stars is my rating too. One scene which really surprised me was when Checkov nearly raped Kangs' wife, I didn't think TOS could go that dark! A scene showing Checkovs' remorse and apology for that incident would have been nice even if he wasn't in control of his actions, it would make for a good character moment.
Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 3:30am (UTC -6)
Although I enjoy TOS , NoPoet is right. There are an awful lot of 'superior being judging humanity and/or making them fight each other' plots, and 'going into the past , in whatever era we have standing sets on the Paramount lot' plots
Sun, Mar 16, 2014, 1:13am (UTC -6)
I agree with NoPoet about TOS in general. It's a dated show with it's share of shortcomings. This episode, however, is one of its best as far as I'm concerned. It also reminded me a bit of the DS9 episode "Battle Lines" as well perhaps "The Last Outpost". Plus we also got to see Klingon women for the first time. Fun episode.

One minor detail that threw me off was when the Enterprise fired on the damaged Klingon ship and destroyed it. Why did this need to happen? My impression was that this action would backfire since the evidence of the initial attack on the Klingon ship would be destroyed, thus increasing the suspicion that it was a Federation attack. Of course, it didn't play out that way.
Mon, Mar 17, 2014, 4:47pm (UTC -6)
@Alex I think Scotty mentioned in dialogue that the Klingon ship was emitting too much radiation and becoming a danger to the area.
Wed, Apr 16, 2014, 3:01pm (UTC -6)
I agree with the 3 / 4 stars given. I think Michael Ansara was one of the high points of the episode, and the other was the 2nd most famous Klingon proverb - Only a Fool Fights in a Burning House.
William B
Thu, Sep 18, 2014, 7:30pm (UTC -6)
A nice spiritual sequel to "Errand of Mercy." In "EoM," the mounting tensions between the Federation and the Klingons were defused by the incorporeal Organians; in this one, the tensions are stoked by an incorporeal being. I guess the question, in analyzing the episode, is what, if anything, the "war monster" entity represents. Two possible answers come to my mind:

1) the semi-literal one: the "war monster" represents human interests who profit from war -- arms dealers, governments who stay in power by manufacturing conflicts, what have you. In fact, there are many industries that do benefit from war. The thing is, the people who benefit from war are very often not the soldiers who are fighting it. Kirk's final speech to Kang -- "Be a good soldier! Don't question orders!" -- suggests this idea: Kirk and Kang, and their respective crews, are convinced by mind control (which maps onto propaganda) which exploits their emotional weaknesses to push them into neverending conflict, which goes from generation to generation, and benefits not the fighters but the masterminds.

2) the very abstract one: the "war monster" represents the human aggressive impulse as a rule. When people get enraged, and when they get trained to fight, eventually fighting and the hatred of one's enemy becomes habitual. Its reason for existing is pretty clear -- as animals, competing for resources, fighting was a matter of survival, and emotional/instinctual charge to fight and continue fighting would help survive. But taken out of its proper context, this can "take over" otherwise rational people entirely, as happens here with the human and Klingon crews, unless they can correctly identify and fight against this impulse. People are responsible for their actions -- but the things carried out by fighters in the frenzy of war are so often so far from what those same people do in peacetime, that it is clear that it is sometimes difficult to keep perspective when in the emotional thrall of combat mentality. The way the creature ramps up aggressive and vengeful impulses, to the point of having Chekov nearly rape the Klingon science officer (!!!), represents this well.

I think both levels are suggested by the episode, and it makes it a fine allegory. If peace were completely easy to maintain, there wouldn't be war; it requires effort to fight against internal or external signals that stoke conflict. This works as a sequel to "EoM" because this time Kirk has taken the lesson from the Organians and now applies it to his own life -- he is now able to convince Kang (and himself) to stand down, rather than having to be forced to stand down.

The episode does introduce, as Adara points out, the concept of Klingon honour, though a little indirectly. We also get our first picture of female Klingons, and I like that she's a high-ranking officer -- and a science officer, which puts her into direct analogue to Spock. (Funny moment: Kirk and Spock's awkward little glance when Kang says that she is his wife and science officer.) Kang is charismatic and a good match for Kirk -- in terms of strategy and eventually in terms of reasonability. I like how he even uses his own biases against the alien -- they need no incentive to hurt humans! And I like "only a fool fights in a burning house."

Execution-wise, I can't escape the general feeling I have from other season three episodes that there's not quite enough material for an hour-long show. I think the choice to show the violence monster energy cloud in the teaser detracts a little, because it becomes abundantly clear from the very first moment that something is affecting people. But I still think it's an effective story. 3 stars -- one of the better and more essential s3 outings.
Tue, Mar 3, 2015, 9:30am (UTC -6)
Great episode.
Strength: Showing how easily buried suspicions can be manipulated into overt hostility for an outsider's benefit, a metaphor that should have been plate-glass-clear to anyone alive when the show was aired.
Weakness: Scene-stealing and line-counting. Prime example: Corridor scene with Kirk, Spock, Mara. So many of Kirk's or Spock's lines regarding insight into Kang's motivations and likely reactions would have made much more sense coming from Mara (a fellow Klingon, a fellow officer and his WIFE, for cryin'out loud) -- especially once she realizes (and she clearly realizes) Kirk and Spock are looking for a way to end the fight on the best terms for both sides. But she's reduced to cutaway "hey, here's a cute alien babe" shots. She should have had a lot more to do with how this episode resolved itself. But Nimoy and (especially) The Shat were no doubt counting lines again.
Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 9:55pm (UTC -6)
Michael Ansara! (Cochise!!)

Allow me to borrow a line from Ricardo Montalbán: "Excellent. Excellent."

Wed, May 11, 2016, 9:08am (UTC -6)
Sometimes I watch an episode, then come here to check out the analysis... and wonder if I've watched the same episode as everyone else. I thought this one was pretty horrible. I was laughing through most of it for the bad acting and worse dialogue. Everyone seemed so over the top. And I know that it was supposed to be the effect of the alien presence, but what about The Naked Time? That was a similar kind of thing, and though the acting there was also a bit over the top, it was fun and engaging and very well done.

But in this one... Chekov was just a maniac; Shatner was at his most self-parodying; Nimoy was patently done with the whole thing (though he gave a decent performance, his delivery lacked its usual crispness); and Kelley was just a joke.

Even though we have the luxury of witnessing the end result of their progression, the Klingons in blackface were a bit hard to watch. Not only did it look like their faces were smeared with liquid poo, the whole concept of the Klingons at that time seemed inherently racist.

And this episode seemed extra sexist, even for Star Trek. Not just Chekov's attempted assault on Mara, but the way she was treated in general. Shatner yanked her around the whole time, even when she was cooperating. And apparently while the alien made the men aggressive, it just turned Uhura into a whiny mess. The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth. Finishing this season is going to be a grind, if - as has been mentioned here - this is one of the best offerings of season three.
Trek fan
Fri, Feb 3, 2017, 2:47am (UTC -6)
Love this episode -- the whole thing has an edgy, dark, gangbusters feel to it. I especially like the way the racial nastiness of the Enterprise crew gradually builds from subtle "did I really just see that?" moments into all-out bigotry. Somewhat shocking to see this behavior on idealistic Star Trek, even if it happens to (mostly) be caused by a malevolent alien entity stoking the hatred, but it really underlines the anti-bigotry message nicely when the crew realizes how ugly they've been. Good to see the screenwriters acknowledge racial bigotry explicitly rather than burying it more deeply in sci-fi metaphor as in some other episodes.

I also like the humane way the crew tries to reason out a way to fight the creature, seeking a truce with the Klingons. And speaking of the Klingons, I love Michael Ansara as Kang, a worthy adversary who isn't above reason -- a quality I fear the Klingons lose somewhat from TNG forward when they become stereotyped as always willing to fight no matter what. I appreciated the character of Kang's wife, clearly a competent crew member, as the first Klingon woman on Trek. And you've gotta love the laughing scene at the end, with Kang's slightly harder-than-necessary slap on Kirk's back and Kirk's stifled reaction to it.

There's a particularly strong ensemble feel to this episode, with all 7 main recurring characters getting little moments in the plot: Scotty's anti-Spock tirade and finding of the claymore; Sulu walking around doing war strategy while holding a Japanese sword; Uhuru bursting into a rant about the downed communications; McCoy's anti-Klingon bloodlust tirade in response to sickbay casualties; Chekhov's desire to revenge an imagined brother and his shocking assault on Kang's wife; Spock losing his emotional cool almost imperceptibly at first in response to Scotty baiting him; and William Shatner hitting all the best mannerisms in one of his most stylized go-for-broke performances as Kirk.

All in all, I would give this one 3 1/2 or maybe even 4 stars, as it's a classic Trek story at its finest. While the theme of "we can all get along in the future despite our differences" is a frequent theme of Trek episodes in all the various series, I think the execution here is particularly strong, elevating this treatment above some better-regarded variations on the formula from earlier in the series. It's entertaining and gripping at the same time to see how the two crews gradually just tear into each other.

Finally, what makes this one particularly unique in my mind is that the Federation and Klingons make peace on their own initiative, a contrast to "Errand of Mercy" where powerful aliens forced them to do so. This voluntary truce with the Klingons does not happen anywhere else in TOS,. Also, together with "Errand of Mercy" and "Trouble with Tribbles," this is one of only three TOS "Klingon episodes" where the Klingons emerge as fully-fleshed corporate adversaries, as compared with other Klingon shows like "Friday's Child" where we only see one unnamed Klingon character. That's why DS9 was wise to bring back Kang, Koloth, and Kor from the three strongest TOS Klingon episodes for "Blood Oath."

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