"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" is pretty bad. But actor Frank Gorshin (yesterday Yvonne 'Batgirl' Craig, today The Riddler?) deserves some credit so I'm refusing to give it zero stars.
Enterprise catches a leaky shuttle stolen recently from Starbase 4. The thief stumbles out and collapses.
Good gravy, it's a MIME!
And they travel in pairs. But they're the talking-est damn mimes you ever did see!
They hail from planet Cheron in the southern region of the galaxy where the boll weevils are bifurcated and the cotton is on fire from ten times ten thousand years of race-based fighting.
Bele (to rhyme with peel) has been in pursuit of Lokai for 50,000 years in his invisible (and therefore cost-effective) ship. With a lot of padding and self-destruct bluffing, the totalitarian cop seizes mental control over the Enterprise to fly it back to planet Bigot III.
36 minutes in, Bele (to rhyme with Ed O'Neill) finally explains the source of the conflict between them: Bele's people, former enslavers, are black on the right side, Lokai's people, formerly oppressed, are white on the right side. See?
One side frosted for kids, one side sensible for adults. Like Mini-Wheats.
Kirk tells Bele (to rhyme with Jessica & Jennifer) how the Federation is big on individual rights. Chekov and Sulu assure Lokai that Earth has no persecution any longer. Neither alien seems eager to join up- bioelectric strangulation being so much more rewarding.
Kirk and Spock, with no evidence, state the Cheron people must once have been mono-coloured like Vulcans and humans. How did they reach that conclusion? Earlier today nobody had ever seen a duo-toned alien, now you're more confident in your guesses about their origins and evolution than they are? Looks like humans got more arrogant when they did away with persecution.
42 year old spoiler: Cheron is a lifeless ruin. This time we can't blame the damn dirty apes.
The last nine hours of the episode are Bele chasing Lokai while Spock reports on their progress like monotone Doodles Weaver at the racetrack.
Sulu gets a good line for once. "Their planet's dead. Does it matter now which one's right?"
I never loved this episode, but the moral had more impact when I was a kid. Now, it feels ham-fisted on the right side, numbingly dull on the left side.