Star Trek: A Taste of Armageddon

Anan 7: "We have been at war for five hundred years."
Kirk: "You conceal it very well."

This one was interesting. Here we had a culture that wanted to continue waging war so much that they turned it into a computer game – but with real casualties. A nice, clean conflict that could go on forever. Would you like to play a game?

I could get behind Kirk burning down disintegration chambers and destroying all-powerful computers this time. Expecting everyone on a visiting starship to just walk into a disintegration chamber to satisfy the requirements of your bizarre culture is a bit much to expect. Forget the prime directive, although I suppose it doesn't apply to cultures on an equal technological standing with our own.

The biggest flaw in the story is the robot-like Eminians. Yes, dutiful and obedient, I get it, but up to three million dead a year? It's unlikely that not a single person refused to walk into a disintegration chamber over the course of five hundred years. It might have been easier to swallow if they'd had the equivalent of Sandmen going after runaways. I looked it up, and the novel, Logan's Run, was published in 1967. Maybe the author saw this episode and realized what was lacking. (I'm kidding.)

As Kirk blew up disintegration chambers and beat up people down on the planet, Scotty got to shine as he risked court martial by defying Ambassador Fox, whose autocratic attitude and lack of imagination got them into the situation in the first place. It took a death sentence to bring Fox around, but he turned out to be a pretty good guy in the end. And hey, if he hadn't done what he did, they'd still be dying by the millions on Eminiar and Vendikar, so good on him.

I just have to say a word about the costumes. I truly appreciate that Star Trek created groundbreaking science fiction on a budget that would probably be used today to produce a half hour show on the gardening network. And I truly appreciate how creative they tried to be with the alien clothing. But the costumes made Eminiar males look like Keebler elves with vinyl cootie catchers on top of their heads.

Ben says...

Wow, I re-watched this and thought that this one is like the bottle of wine on the back shelf that turns out to be a Lafitte '59. It has aged into a classic. It's the videogame militarism which we live with today where we send the poor to distant deserts to die and zap other human beings with drone Hellfire from game consoles in Nevada. It's easy to fight a war when it's indistinguishable from X-box. The levels of casualties in this episode would be hard to ignore, but the sentiment that you could have a war which never touches the society is an important one, and one we live with today.

Okay, I re-read what I just wrote and it's a pretty heavy sentiment, so let me close with an observation about Vulcan truthfulness. It's been stated repeatedly that Vulcans can't lie (more on that in "The Enterprise Incident"). Allow me to quote Mr. Spock, "Sir, there is a multi-legged creature crawling on your shoulder." There was no multi-legged creature, sir! Do you know who started this Vulcans can't lie rumor? I'll tell you, it was a bunch of damned lying Vulcans.

Back to Billie for bits and pieces:

— Stardate 3192.1. Star cluster NGC321 and Eminiar 7. The S.S. Valiant visited Eminiar 7 fifty years ago, and was destroyed.

— A number after a name is usually the star followed by the planet's order from the star, like Earth being called Sol 3. Why wasn't Vendikar called Eminiar 3? When you add in all of the character names followed by numbers, it gets a bit messy.

— Code seven ten apparently means that the planet is big trouble. And general order twenty-four means, burn it down. I wonder how often the Enterprise destroys entire planets, since they actually have to have a code for it?

— Three red shirts beamed down with Kirk and Spock, but didn't die horribly. It's a new dawn and a new day for red shirts.

— Ambassador Fox apparently beamed down while the shields were up. I thought that was impossible.

— Spock was able to distract the guard using telepathy, through a locked door. This seemed a bit more far-fetched than the mind meld, but okay.


— Mea 3 was played by Barbara Babcock. I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but I watched every episode of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and she was a cast member: Dorothy, Michaela's best friend.

Quotes:

Anan 7: "Our civilization lives. The people die. Our culture goes on."

Spock: "Sir, there's a multi-legged creature crawling on your shoulder."

Scott: "Diplomats. The best diplomat I know is a fully activated phaser bank."

Scott: "The haggis is in the fire for sure."

Spock: "Yeoman Tamura, you stay here and prevent this young lady from immolating herself. Knock her down and sit on her if necessary."

Kirk: "We can admit that we're killers. But we're not going to kill today." Sort of like a twelve-step program, but for cultures.

Spock: "Captain, you almost make me believe in luck."
Kirk: "Why, Mister Spock. You almost make me believe in miracles."
Now, come on. That's outright flirting.

Three out of four pointy hats,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

2 comments:

Jerry Modene said...

I love this episode, and Spock's line about the multi-legged creatures is a classic.

And who says he was lying? The multi-legged creature in question may have been one of those little just-barely-bigger-than-microscopic creatures that crawl on all of us, unseen and unknown.

It's been written that this episode was supposed to be an allegory over the "casualty counts" that were airing every night on the evening news.

Absolutely correct about Scotty's shining moment.

tinkapuss said...

I love everything about this episode; one of the best, in my opinion. So my only criticism is a rather petty one: the Ambassador had the most dreadful eye-bags I have ever seen! Could not the cosmetic surgeons of the 23rd Century have been able to fix that sort of thing?