Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Original Series

"The Savage Curtain"


Air date: 3/7/1969
Teleplay by Gene Roddenberry and Arthur Heinemann
Story by Gene Roddenberry
Directed by Herschel Daugherty

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The Enterprise crew finds itself face to face with an entity that appears and claims to be Abraham Lincoln (Lee Berger). Lincoln invites Kirk and Spock down to the surface of a planet, where they all find themselves the pawns in a game of "good versus evil," courtesy of a rock-like creature that wants to learn the difference between the two powerful forces. Surak (Barry Atwater), the master who forged the peaceful Vulcan ideology milleniums ago, joins Kirk, Spock, and Lincoln to engage in a battle to the end against four nefarious figures from history.

This poorly conceived episode might've been better titled "Arena VII: The Abe Lincoln Factor." Seriously, was it really in remotely good taste for this episode to use Abraham Lincoln as a character in such a silly adventure? I'm inclined to say no. Who really wants to see President Lincoln reduced to a hollow supporting character—especially considering that in the end he takes a spear in the back?

"The Savage Curtain" is a routine, bland hour of TOS, with the same themes we've seen over and over again. It's another in a long line of Trekkian outings where the humanity of Kirk's crew is tested—but less enlightening than most.

Previous episode: The Cloud Minders
Next episode: All Our Yesterdays

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8 comments on this review

charlie - Mon, Jan 21, 2013 - 7:10am (USA Central)
Col. Green "led a genocidal war early in the 21st Century on Earth"?

That's funny, I always thought George W. Bush did that (hey, somebody had to say that, so it may as well be me).
Paul - Thu, Mar 14, 2013 - 1:56pm (USA Central)
This episode has a lot of bad TOS cliches -- Kirk in a fight to the death, the bridge crew helpless and forced to watch, bad-guy aliens playing puppet master, weak fight scenes and over-the-top-look-how-far-they've-come moments ("In our century, we've learned not to fear words.").

But ... I still don't hate this episode and I would rate it at least 2 stars, maybe 2 1/2.

The dialog between Kirk and Lincoln makes for some good moments (I love when Lincoln compares Kirk with General Grant). The episode is also an origin tale for both the Vulcans and the Klingons (admittedly, Kahless is done badly here, but Surak is interesting). And Colonel Green has some presence as a villain.

My biggest problem with the episode is Kirk and Spock willfully beaming down to the planet, though McCoy and Scotty have a good scene where they try to talk them out of it. Scotty really grows as a character in season 3, actually.

Probably the most important thing: This episode, while goofy, isn't dull like so many other season 3 offerings.

Last thing: This is the final episode where the main cast appears together. We only hear Scotty's voice in "All Our Yesterdays" and Uhura isn't in "Turnabout Intruder".
Dan L. - Sat, Nov 9, 2013 - 6:07pm (USA Central)
So, what did the rock creature learn about good and evil by episode's end? Nothing - zero-which also describes the amount of watchable content this offers.
Nonya - Thu, Dec 26, 2013 - 4:06pm (USA Central)
This episode is pretty dumb. Getting two sides to fight one another is not how you get to know these two sides. You need to see them when they're not under extreme pressure.

That being said, I actually love the beginning of this episode. If this were just an episode where Lincoln comes aboard and helps the Enterprise do something, that would have been really fun. Surak could have come along too.
Peter - Sun, Dec 29, 2013 - 1:23am (USA Central)
For me the most absurd a spect of the episode is the glimpse of Lincoln seated like he is in the Lincoln memorial monument floating around in space.It is intention getting at the beginning, but surely there was no one in the audience who thought it really was Lincoln or who did not think it was an illusion, or some alien in Lincoln clothing. How does he manage to breath in the vacuum of space?
Yet Kirk and his crew apparently think it is real. Most of us know that Lincoln was well and truly dead by the 23rd century, and by assassination. Logically he could not have been the real Lincoln but Kirk and the crew put on their best full dress uniforms and practically genuflect to him. If, I remember rightly, no one asks him how he survived assassination, and how he swiped the chair from the Lincoln memorial and blasted off into space with it. A stronger degree of scepticism by Kirk, and if if the writers could have come up with a more convincing way of introducing Lincoln in the story, then the rest of the story premise might have been more acceptable too,even if we had seen the duel in the area used too many times already
The Lincoln in space made for a striking visual opening teaser for the episode, but someone among the producers or writers should have realised how dumb or stupid it was.

redshirt28 - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 - 3:27am (USA Central)
This episode would have fit right in with season 1TNG
John TY - Wed, Aug 20, 2014 - 10:09am (USA Central)
Lol at Jammer's second paragraph. I think they could have made a whole series out of shamelessly killing history's noblest figures!

At least this inspired a pretty good Futurama episode.
213karaokejoe - Sat, Sep 6, 2014 - 3:25am (USA Central)
Interesting that one of the villains chosen for the battle of good vs evil is the one and only Kayless(sp?)the father of Klingon Warriorism acting like an unhonorable cheater.

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