Episode Title: "BREAD AND CIRCUSES"
Production Number: 43
Original Air Date: 03-15-68
Stardates: 4040.7, 4041.2, 4041.7
The U.S.S. Enterprise finds debris from the survey vessel S.S. Beagle, which has been missing for six years. The wreckage appears to have drifted from Planet Four in Star System 892. Captain Kirk knew the Beagle's captain, R. M. Merik, who was dropped in his fifth year at the Academy and went into the Merchant Service.
The Enterprise assumes orbit over Planet Four, which is a Class-M planet like Earth, with a similar atmosphere, land-to-water ratio, and diameter. The planet's humanoid population has a pre-atomic industrial level of technology like Earth's Twentieth Century, communicating through radio and television signals, but its society has developed as if the Roman Empire had never fallen, with slaves, barbarians, and televised gladiator battles, an example of Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Planet Development.
Captain Kirk leads a landing party to search for survivors of the Beagle's crew on the planet. The S.S. Beagle was the first ship to make a survey of this star sector, so the Prime Directive is in full force, meaning that the landing party may not identify itself or its mission, interfere with the planet's social development, or make references to space or other worlds.
The landing party encounters a group of runaway slaves calling themselves Children of the Son, who are fighting against the Roman Empire that dominates the planet, and the Empire's false gods including Jupiter, Mars, and Neptune.
When the landing party is captured by Roman soldiers, Kirk learns that Captain Merik has become the Empire's First Citizen, in violation of the Prime Directive. Merik tells Kirk that the S.S. Beagle had meteor damage, and Merik led a landing party to search for iridium ore to make repairs, when he met Proconsul Claudius Marcus, who convinced Merik not to spread word of the planet's existence to other worlds. Merik ordered his crew members to beam down to the planet, where many of them were executed as barbarians in the gladiator arena.
Captain Kirk refuses to order his entire crew to beam down to the planet. Proconsul Claudius Marcus is about to have Kirk executed, but Merik contacts the Enterprise and has the landing party beamed up, but Merik is killed by the Proconsul for his betrayal.
Factoid: The S.S. Beagle was a small Class-Four stardrive vessel with a crew of 47.
Factoid: In Earth's third world war, 37 million people died.
Guest Characters: Lt. Leslie
KEY: [brackets]=illusions *star=first appearance