War, War never changes. This is what the crew of the Enterprise discover when they are caught in a battle and claimed as casualties. Originally broadcast on February 23, 1967 this is A Taste of Armageddon.
Captain’s Log Stardate 3192.1
Enterprise visits a planet who appears to be at war. On the demand of Ambassador Fox, Kirk and team beam down only to discover that this planet simulates wars and, after the simulation is completed, the casualties calculated simply line up and to be executed. There they learn that the Enterprise has been calculated as destroyed and the crew is given 24 hours to report for termination. The landing party is jailed and the Eminians (who are at war with the Vendikar) attempt to trick the rest of the Enterprise crew to beam down. Scotty doesn’t fall for it despite the demands of Ambassador Fox to sent the crew to the planet. On the surface, Spock uses telepathy to help the team escape.
Ambassador Fox beams down to determine what is going on only to discover the truth and finally meets up with Kirk. Kirk soon informs the leaders of the planet that, if they do not stop what they are doing Enterprise will destroy every city on their planet. Kirk instead destroys the master computer making it so that the Vendikar may believe that the Eminiar have broken the treaty that lead to the simulated fighting. Fearing the reality of war, not just a comfortable simulation, Anan 7 reluctantly agrees and ends the hostilities freeing Kirk and his crew. Ambassador Fox remains behind in hopes to garner peace between the two worlds.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Imagine having a war for so long that you just executed people based on a simulation going off of the idea that it’s more civilized that actually fighting. That’s the premise here, war has evolved to a point where casualties are just a part of everyday life and the citizens willingly sacrifice themselves as part of this simulated war. This, of course, allows for property and the ‘civilization’ itself to continue, but the citizens themselves as nothing more than pawns in an interplanetary game of Risk.
The idea is a solid one, have a war without actually having a war, which would be all fine and good, not unlike some wars on our own planet being resolved through soccer games, if it just stopped there. However, in this case, that’s where this war takes a dark turn giving us a glimpse into an almost Ender’s Game style of warfare, simulations with real repercussions. This is a war that has gone on for so long that the parties involved have forgotten why war was to be avoided to begin with and have simply made it a part of their every day life.
What I love about this episode is that it asks the question of ‘can war, in any form, be justifiable’? It’s a simple question, one that has been asked many times all with the same answer. No matter how peaceful a war is, any war that results in casualties, even voluntary ones, is not justifiable in any way. Additionally, we get a chance to see just how dedicated the crew of the Enterprise is to their ship and Captain. Even facing a general court martial, Scotty refuses to put his crew in danger until he learns more of what has become of Kirk and the away team. He shows just how solid of a leader he is and how he will stop at nothing to do what is right no matter what.
Overall, A Taste of Armageddon is an excellent episode that really showcases what makes this original series work so well. By asking difficult questions and exploring the extremes that can come from those questions, this series gives viewers a chance to experience events that have real world implications. As I have stated time and again in previous reviews, Star Trek is best when it tackles the hard subjects and there is not much harder than that of war.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- We learn that Spock has some latent telepathic powers.
- Spock refers to his people once again as the Vulcanians.
- We never learn what becomes of Ambassador Fox or the war between these two planets, it is assumed that it is resolved peacefully.
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Late To The Game 1/21/2022
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