Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Star Trek -- Season 1 Episode 23 (A Taste of Armageddon)

It would seem that the Enterprise came across a lot of unusual situations.  I would think that visiting most planets would be boring.  There’s no promise that there’s any life on them at all.  Many would probably prefer to be left alone.  Such is the case with Eminiar VII.  The Enterprise is directed to make contact with the planet by Ambassador Fox.  Eminiar VII insist that no contact be made, but the ambassador says that having a treaty that planet is necessary.

The crew soon finds out why.  Eminiar VII is at war with another planet, Vendikar.  This is no ordinary war, though.  The entire thing is done by computer.  A program determines which areas have been hit and it’s up to the citizens to report to a facility to be killed.   It’s all very neat and orderly.

War is not supposed to be a pretty thing.  It’s certainly not supposed to be neat and orderly.  However, Eminiar VII and Vendikar have it down to a science.  Of course, you would, too, if you had been doing it for 500 years.  The reasoning is that the respective cultures can be preserved.  People are killed, but the buildings and artwork are preserved.  There’s no mess to clean up.  Life goes on for everyone else.

The only problem is that the Enterprise is reported destroyed in a simulated attack.  The leader of Eminiar VII expects Kirk to play along.  The crew is supposed to beam down and be killed, as if they were citizens of the planet.  Kirk, of course, refuses.  He didn’t sign up for their war and isn’t going to be held to their practices.  Instead, he has to find a way out of the mess, hopefully without destroying both sides for real.

This was definitely one of the odder episodes for me.  On one level, I get the message that war is never really that clean.  You will always have casualties, even if the buildings remain intact.  On the other hand, it’s odd to see two warring societies that have each become so accustomed to battle that they’ve mechanized it.  How do you even have a war that long without a victor?  You’d think that one side would have either built better weapons or at least found a way to cheat.  (Yes, it’s engrained in their societies, but it takes just one person.)

It is also odd that the residents of the planet would expect Kirk to honor their request to kill everyone.  Again, it’s been five centuries, so it’s become an integral part of their societies.  Are they so blind to it that they really expect outsiders to understand and accept their deaths?

For that matter, how did it all come about?  Someone had to first design the computer system.  Then, both sides had to agree to use it.  I suppose, to some extent, it would seem better.  Only the targets are killed.  Buildings are left intact, which makes progress that much easier.  There’s nothing to clean up.  I can’t imagine trying to pitch that idea, though.

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