Even more Prime Directive shenanigans but this time the Klingons are involved. Originally broadcast on February 2, 1968, this is A Private Little War
Captain’s Log Stardate 4211.4
While on a scientific expedition to a peaceful primitive planet, Kirk, Spoke and McCoy discover evidence of a giant ape creature known as a Mugato, but their discovery is stalled when the primitive inhabitants arrive with weapons they could not possibly have. After noticing that these people are heading toward their friends, the three attempt to distract them without violating the Prime Directive. Soon Spock is wounded by a flintlock weapon but the three manage to distract their assailants long enough to escape via transporter.
Back on the ship Doctor’s M’Benga and McCoy rush to save Spock while Kirk tries to determine how the natives got weapons beyond their ability to make. Things get even more complicated when they discover a Klingon ship is also orbiting the planet. Kirk and McCoy return to the planet to investigate, leaving the wounded Spock in Dr. M’Benga’s capable hands. On the planet Kirk is wounded by the Mugato and McCoy must get him to their friend Tyree before the Captain dies from the Mugato’s venom.
After finding their friend, Kirk is healed and Tyree explains that their enemies have suddenly gained technology that they should not have and it is causing problems. We soon discover that it is in fact that the Klingons are providing weapons to the inhabitants that are more advanced with each delivery. The Klingon commander intends on arming the people there so that they can ‘legally’ subjugate the people by forcefully advancing the people of the planet to modern technology. Soon Kirk and McCoy must teach their primitive friends how to use the weapons to defend themselves which neither of them like doing. Things get more complicated when Nona, one of the primitive allies (a love interest for Kirk and Tyree’s rather witchy wife) steals Kirk’s phaser and, using it, is killed in the action making Tyree demand more weapons as he feels that peace is no longer an option.
Knowing that they can not abandon their friends without giving them a fighting chance, Kirk orders the delivery of 100 flintlock weapons to be delivered to the inhabitants. Leaving the planet, Kirk and McCoy know that they have helped continue a horrible war.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
I don’t know. To me, this is very much a disposable episode. There are moments in this episdoe that work fantastically. Things like Kirk returning to the site of a past mission, the inclusion of Doctor M’Benga (who is supposed to return in Star Trek Strange new Worlds) and the introduction of the Mugatu (which returns on Lower Decks) are wonderful additions to Star Trek canon and make this episode canonically significant, but that is pretty much all this episode has going for it.
Sadly, the story itself feels like a haphazard attempt to tell a socially significant story while cramming some rather pointless action scenes, drug addled moments of strangeness and just an overall silly story for the Klingons to be involved. If anything, this episode creates a rather strange conundrum for Klingon culture as the Klingons in this episode are used mostly as a ‘filler’ enemy that could have actually been any other creature. To be honest, they act much more like Romulan’s or even early Ferengi in this one and, unlike previous appearances, they seem more interested in subterfuge than actual fighting. I have to wonder if maybe these could have actually been Romulan Tal Shiar mascaraing as Klingons, honestly, that would make for a pretty solid retcon for that part of the story. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t solve the other issues…
One of the biggest and rather frustrating issues in this episode is Kirk having a small affair with his friend’s ‘witchy wife’ Nona. Sure, she saves Kirk’s life by casting some sort of spell on him (i.e. giving him drugs) but then for Kirk to give in to his desires and ultimately betray his friend while also inadvertently escalating a war and potentially destroying an entire culture in the process.
Overall, this is a broken and wandering script that frankly just doesn’t work. It has the bones of a great story but feels like it was just over produced in too many ways. My suggestion, watch it if you are doing a deep dive into the franchise, but otherwise skip it.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- We never learn what happens after the Enterprise’s departure from the planet Neural. I would imagine that it is not a pleasant place to be.
- This is the only time we meet Krell the Klingon in the series even though it is suggested that he appears once again in one of the films. More on that later.
- Kirk, Spock and McCoy are all injured during this story. Kirk is poisoned, Spock is shot and McCoy’s arm is grazed by a bullet.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: The Gamesters of Triskelion
As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!
Late To The Game 3/14/2022
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
“Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made production intended for recreational use. No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.”