If you accept its ridicolous premise, A Piece of the Action is not only fun to watch, but it also contains a certain amount of satire that I appreciated a lot (also, it came out exactly 14 years before I was born). And what about the premise? The USS Enterprise arrives on Sigma Iotia II, a planet with which a hundred years earlier the Federation interacted, violating the First Directive. The USS Horizon made contact with the inhabitants but it is not known to what extent since then it was lost with all hands. When Kirk arrives to the planet, he discovers that…
… Its society is organized according to a book on 1920s’ Chicago: there are gangsters, complete with Tommy guns, and everyone speaks the typical criminals’ slang of that era. It’s a bit hard to believe that an entire planet decides to follow the dictates of a book left by chance by alien visitors… or not? Is it really so unlikely? Aren’t some of the most powerful organizations in our world organized according to the contents of old books? Actually, McCoy says it out loud when he sees the book in question: “It’s their bible!“
Kirk’s thinks that nothing makes any sense, but he’s biased as he comes from a society which evolved so much that a crime-based society can only seem like madness. On the other hand, couldn’t we say the same about people who pretend to apply literally the dictates of books theoretically written thousands (or more probably hundreds) years ago? The episode may be deeper than what the gangster slang and suits may initially suggest!
And the great thing about A Piece of the Action is that it’s also an action-packed episode, full of twists and turns, excellent dialogues (particularly with the two bosses of the local mafia, Bela and Krako played by, respectively, Anthony Caruso and Vic Tayback), funny scenes, and splendid sets and costumes (I guess that they managed to recycle stuff from a gangsters’ movie at the Studios: let’s call it economies of scale). Once again, like in The Trouble with Tribbles, the show doesn’t take itself too seriously and it goes to its advantage, since this is another funny episode which doesn’t forget about satire. Ciao!
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