Episode Reviews (5)
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Perhaps the most innovative storyline of the original Star Trek television series.
A science fiction story that I thought very clever, Kirk and associates encounter a society which has concluded that warfare between two belligerant worlds can never be ended, so it shall be replaced with a virtual war fought via computer network. Many of the miseries of actual war, such as material destruction, famine, pain, disease, war crimes and permanently disabled persons are abolished. Only death, instant and painless, meted out without respect to persons, remains.
This story is even more prescient in view of the news on the date of this writing, 08 December 2011. Today a concerted attack was made on various US-based Internet commercial assets in response to the detention of WikiLeaks principal Julian Assange. If we as humans should be so fortunate, perhaps our compulsion for killing the people who belong to the tribe over the hill and who worship strange gods can be supplanted by virtual warfare coupled to euthanasia. Aside from eliminating the above-named ills, the immense economic burden of our current warfare industry can be reduced by about 60 dB, with a concomitant blossoming of our society.
But getting back to our story, we have Kirk and crew first puzzled by an apparent sitzkrieg between the two combatants until Spock gains enough data to infer the outline of a the conflict. Kirk determines this to be a malignant societal devlopment and to throw a monkey wrench into the works, on the grounds that his crew is being threatened with annihilation. Escape, hit and run raids, other commando tactics ultimately put the Landing Party in a position to destroy the node computer, abrogating the treaty on which the war operates. Thus the neat and tidy Eminians are compelled to face actual war and are so repelled that peace talks commence.
An excellent story, presented surprisingly well considering the limitations of network television. Overall I rank this episode number 6 of the 79 original Star Trek episodes.moreless
Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock are captured during a diplomatic mission and declared dead.
Made during the Vietnam War, this episode is Star Trek's statement that trying to keep war "nondisruptive" and "neat and clean" is not a good thing. The A story is the classic "Kirk and Spock on the planet of the week, working their way through the obstacles put in their path". And the B story is about Scotty, in charge of the Enterprise, dealing with the leader of the planet below and an Ambassador who disagrees with his decisions. Both stories are effective, and overall it's a good, though sometimes plodding and predictable, episode. Kirk's speech at the end is especially interesting.moreless
Kirk beams down to a planet and rudely breaks up a friendly game of “Risk”
The ending message of this episode is really profound. And stated even more profoundly than the message itself. Spock had some great lines in this episode about practicing a peculiar variety of diplomacy and the one about the "multi legged creature" on the Armenian's shoulder. And how about the suggestion to have that yeoman sit on Mea if she attempted to escape? Quite funny. This script was written well except for the fact that Fox was able to beam down with his assistant while the shields were still up!moreless
Keep war clean … or keep it real?
OK, not one of the most memorable episodes of the series. Kirk and Enterprise folks arrive at Eminiar VII on a diplomatic mission to establish a treaty with the locals. Ambassador Robert Fox is insistent that his mission succeeds, even after being warned that the planet has been at ar for 500 years with its neighbour. Fox’s view is that diplomacy can conquer all. However, the aliens fight their war not in reality, but with computer simulations, callously herding the “casualties” into disintegration chambers to keep up the body count. When the Enterprise is declared “collateral damage”, the head of Eminiar VII’s ruling council Anan 7 demands that the entire crew beam down and report for disintegration. Understandably, Kirk isn’t wild about that idea and destroys the Eminiarian’s computers, violating their agreement with their enemies. So Anan 7 is forced to sue for peace or fight a war for real. No contest!
Criticisms: I thought it odd that the Ambassador wouldn’t have kicked up more of a fuss over Kirk’s decidedly un-diplomatic solution to the problem. Also, it’s in direct violation of the Prime Directive.
Praise: A very clever idea that at least does address another aspect of the human condition. We approve of war when it’s kept “clean” and away from our sight. A clear allusion to the war in Viet Nam which was raging at the time, albeit, half a world away.moreless
Kirk, Spock and a landing party visit a planet where it emerges that a 'peaceful', mathematical war is being fought, that endangers the Enterprise. Not terrible, but a rather average instalment...
This episode is far from bottom-of-the-barrel, but does rather have 'average' written all over it. It presents a number of elements that are seen in various other episodes, and often done better and more memorably than here.
By far the most interesting element of the episode to me is the 'mathematical' war that is being raged; where the casualties are worked out by a computer, and then the people in question are disposed with in disintegration chambers. I found this a very intriguing idea, although I did feel that it was never quite explained to its potential.
There are also parallels with the 'faceless casualties' of war, and probably had some nods to the Vietnam War, which was being fought at the time this episode was made.
The episode also features what I consider to be one of the funniest Original 'Star Trek' moments, as Mr. Spock distracts a guard by calmly and straight facedly (what else) saying "Sir, there's a multi-legged creature crawling on your shoulder", before giving him the Vulcan neck pinch.
This is also a good episode for Mr. Scott, as he holds his own as he commands the bridge as the Enterprise is endangered, and stands up to the Ambassador who is ordering him to lower the shields.
All-in-all, not bad, but a distinctively average episode.moreless