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State of American History, Civics, and Politics

William Shatner, Captain Kirk, and Mike Pence: Together At Last

William Shatner at 90

William Shatner, Captain Kirk, and Mike Pence were joined together on October 13, 2021 at 8:00 PM ET in an unprecedented combination of science fiction and history. Shatner was shown on CNN with obvious Trekkie Anderson Cooper who has been having the time of his life. At the same time on the cable network Heroes and Icons, was showing Star Trek as part of its normal six-day a week schedule of:

8:00 Star Trek
9:00 Star Trek: Next Generation
10:00 Deep Space Nine
11:00 Voyager
12:00 Enterprise.

It’s not only Friends and Law and Order which are on all the time!

The Mike Pence reference is to the Star Trek episode being shown that night.

STAR TREK KIRK AGED DIFFERENTLY THAN WILLIAM SHATNER

As is turns out, while William Shatner was boldly going where no 90-year old had gone before, he already had been old before. In the episode “The Deadly Years” shown on December 8, 1967, in the second season, the humans on a planet had experienced a rapid aging. When I say rapid, I mean rapid. People were growing old right before our eyes. Look at this picture of how the Hollywood make-up artists envisioned the old Captain Kirk.

Captain Kirk at 90

The entire episode is based on the aging officers of the Enterprise growing too old to fulfill their responsibilities.

The contrast between the actual actor at age 90 in 2021 and the aged character in the 1967 episode is truly remarkable. As you watched and listened to current version, you saw no one like the TV character. Of course, truth be told, in his physical mobility and mental necessities, he didn’t much resemble many people of his age today either. Imagine if back in 1967, he could have seen a picture of what he would really look like when he reached 90!

LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW

Shatner made an extremely casual comment in an interview with Cooper prior to the flight that is easy to overlook. He waxed poetic about his expectations of seeing the majesty of space and the oasis of earth from the rocket window. He would be like a kid with his face pressed against the window not wanting to miss a moment of the experience. Perhaps he was contrasting himself with people who never look up from their gadgets. Today, it’s only real if it is on a screen.

Then Shatner said, “I don’t want to see someone looking back at me” when I am looking out the window. Such an expression seems eminently reasonable. It would be quite shocking if when gazing out into the dark vastness of the universe, suddenly from outside the ship, there was someone looking back at you. While your faced was pressed against the window on one side, imagine the horror if someone or something also was pressed against the window but from the outside.

Nothing else was said about that comment during the interview. But Shatner the actor had had exactly that experience once before. It occurred not on Star Trek but on The Twilight Zone. The episode was “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” shown on October 11, 1963, four years prior to his becoming old before his time on Star Trek.  The episode has become one of the more famous ones in Twilight Zone lore. It even has been retold. Part of what is so fascinating now is to see the limitations in special effects compared to what exists today.

Another fascination is how the show becomes such a terrifying story. It was confined to the passenger section of a plane and the mind of a person recently released from a mental treatment facility following a nervous breakdown. Now he is seemingly recovered and being escorted home by his wife. All I can say about the episode, is that when I first saw it I was terrified. Kudos to Rod Sterling and company for crafting a tale that scared the hell out me. And the scariest moment of all [SPOLIER ALERT] occurred when William Shatner stared out the window on the wing of the plane and saw something staring back at him.

Once this Twilight Zone shot was terrifying

Kudos also to the 90-year old Shatner for joining together The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, and his voyage into space.

CAPTAIN MERIK VERSUS VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE

The Mike Pence connection takes a little explaining. While Anderson Cooper was giggling, Heroes and Icon was showing the Star Trek episode “Bread and Circuses” which originally aired on March 15, 1968. In that show, Captain Merik and his crew from his spaceship are missing. The Starship Enterprise crew locates the crew on a planet governed by a 1960s version of the Roman Empire. So if you channel surfed, you could flip back and forth between Shatner and Cooper and Captain Kirk and a Roman Caesar in an earthlike world of 1960s technology where Rome never fell.

Mike Pence has been no Captain Merik from Star Trek “Bread and Circuses.” Will he be a hero now? (William Smithers)

Does this missing Captain look familiar to you? Does he bear a passing resemblance to anyone today?

Back on October 3, 2019, more than one year before the 2020 election and January 6, I wrote a blog entitled “Will Mike Pence Become a Profile in Courage?” The issue then was the second impeachment due to the attempted extortion of the Ukrainian President.

On the planet, Captain Merik sells his soul to the Roman Emperor, to Caesar and not to Christ. It is not an exact match to V.P. Mike selling his soul to his Lord and Savior, the chosen one, blessed be his name, but it is close enough.  Pence’s performance in the Cabinet meeting where he thanked God for enabling him to share the same space-time continuum as The Donald will forever define him. In its own way, it is even more pathetic than Captain Merik’s abject submission in the TV show.

 Be that as it may, both Mike and Merik have violated their oath. Merik has violated the Prime Directive by interfering in the planet and sharing knowledge of the existence of the Federation of Planets along with the awareness of a superior technology to that a 1960s country possessed. Vice President Brown Nose has been submissive in his behavior but whether he has crossed the line or not is another issue…until the current scandal

Now he faces a moment of truth. He was present during the violation of the Constitution and the cover-up. What will he do? He was part of it. Will he tell the truth? He has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution.

In the Star Trek episode, Merik redeems himself. In the moment of truth, Merik rescues Kirk and Co. enabling them to beam back to the Starship Enterprise and escape the clutches of the imperial order. He pays for that decision with his life. Sometimes being a profile in courage can be fatal. Just because you demonstrate the right stuff to go into the arena does not mean you will survive the ordeal and emerge a victor. In the TV show, Merik did not.

What will Mike Pence do? He prides himself on his Christian values. Will he tell the truth? He prides himself on never dining alone with a woman who is not his wife. Will he tell the truth? He prides himself on his integrity. Will he tell the truth? He thinks he is part of God’s plan. Will he tell the truth?

No.

He will not rise to the occasion.

He will not be a profile in courage.

I returned to this issue in blog from January 7, 2021, the day after the attempt to steal the election, overthrow the Constitution, and attempt to hang Mike Pence. I concluded that blog with the wishful thinking that “The country needs him to be the hero and not a zero” and hope that he would be one. True he did not go along with the 6-step program insisted on by the Hitman, but that is not enough. His last chance to be a profile in courage will occur when he is subpoenaed to testify before the House Committee about his involvement in January 6. The odds are Pence will remain true to character and fail his country once again.

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