When the Enterprise proceeds to Eminiar VII in order to establish diplomatic relations, they get caught up in a war with the neighbouring planet Vendikar. But this is no normal war – all attacks are calculated by computers, and those declared casualties must report to disintegration chambers. Now, the Enterprise has been announced as a casualty of war, and the crew has twenty-four hours to report to the disintegration chambers. Can Kirk find a way around this in time?
Just two episodes ago, Kirk waded into a civilisation, destroyed their central computer and changed their entire way of life, and here he is doing it again. Nonetheless, this is an excellent episode, showcasing TOS at its best. Here we have a society who has evolved war to a point where they don’t even fight any more, they just tot up theoretical casualties and make them report to suicide booths (it’s amazing they even got those onto network television). It sounds ridiculous, but to them it makes perfect sense – isn’t it better than a real war that destroys infrastructure and spreads disease and poverty?
Of course, it’s up to Kirk to shake things up and show the planets a new way of life. Last time I argued about whether he was right to do so, but here the end at least justifies the means – in Return of the Archons, the people were largely happy as they were, but here peace and an end to meaningless deaths are definitely an improvement.
Bits and Pieces
- This episode is, I believe, the first mention of the Federation by name.
- Ambassador Fox marks the start of a new Star Trek archetype – the idiot ambassador who insists on taking the Enterprise into a dangerous situation. From now on, I’ll be looking out for ambassadors who aren’t complete dicks.
- Scotty is perhaps the only person ever to use the phrase “the haggis is in the fire”.
- Spock’s telepathic abilities now appear to include being able to influence the minds of people close by – this is the one thing that detracts from the episode bit, as it feels like a convenient plot device.
- More racial diversity – we get a Chinese yeoman as part of the landing party.
Summary – A Taste of Armageddon: A most splendid episode.