Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, December 30, 2013

Season 1, Episode 23 "A Taste of Armageddon"

"A Taste of Armageddon"
Production Number: 23
Air Order: 22
Stardate: 3192.1
Original Air Date: February 23, 1967

Ship Goddess Uhura celebrated a birthday on Saturday. May we all look this good at 81.


Kirk's Log 3192.1 The Enterprise is headed to Eminiar VII to open relations with them. There's an ambassador on board, and you just know that this guy is going to be as big a dick as Galactic High Commissioner Ferris from "The Galileo Seven" episode. Uhura receives a message from Eminiar VII, "code 710", which means "kindly leave us the fuck alone."
"Cool," says Kirk. "We'll leave."

But Ambassador Fox is all, "No, we've lost people mysteriously in this quadrant, so we're going to force our way in and force our friendship on these people."
For once, Kirk is being rational, and thinks that that's a bad idea. Because, you know, it is. But ambassadors have almost as much power as God, so Fox pulls rank and orders them on. The smart thing here would be to consult Starfleet or Yoospa, or whoever the hell is in charge now. But Kirk orders yellow alert and full steam ahead.

Kirk's Log 3192.5: "Now orbiting Eminiar VII, with intent to beam down to establish relations with people who told us to GTFO. Because conditions could be dangerous, and because I'm Kirk, I'm beaming down instead of the ambassador."
Spock reports that Eminiar VII has had space flight for several hundred years, but have never left their own space. When contacted by Starfleet 50 years earlier, they were at war with another planet. The Starfleet ship that recorded and passed along this info mysteriously disappeared. Kirk puts Scotty in charge, then beams down with Spock, two Red Shirts, and a yeoman. It always seems unnecessary to take yeomen on away missions.
The beam-down site on Eminiar VII is the same matte painting and set from Starbase 11 on "Court Martial" and the envelope parts of "The Menagerie".

These are the Eminians, you guys. Everyone is wearing black leggings, and the men are wearing half of the coveralls from "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" Also, I'm pretty sure their hats are something that I've seen on Dr Zoidberg's home planet on Futurama.

I kind of like her costume, though. It's an artfully-draped tartan, and it's not bad. The candy-colored corridors are a bit much, but it's not the end of the world.
The girl introduces herself to the away team as Mea 3, and she gets a bit of Girl-O-Vision, as well as the Pretty Girl music.

Mea takes them to the council, headed by Anan 7, who tells them that the Eminians have been at war with their neighbors for the past 500 years. They warned the Enterprise away for their own safety. Next time, Kirk, just obey code 710. Chuck the rank-pulling ambassador out of an air-lock, and walk away.

Spock is surprised to hear that they are at war still. He says that while his scans show them as being technologically advanced, he can't find any evidence of a war.
"Oops, gotta go," says Anan 7. And a panel slides open in the wall to reveal a bank of cardboard box computers.

As they watch, Mea explains that a fusion bomb hit just occurred there in the city, even though there is no evidence of it. Anan explains that the computers on Vandikar calculate where the strike hits, and how many would die. In this case, it's half a million. That many people in the city then receive notice to report to disintegration chambers and are killed. Then Eminiar VII launches a similar strike against Vandikar. This way, both societies thrive during the war.
"Scientifically logical," notes Spock.
"Thanks," says Anan 7.
"But kind of stupid," the Vulcan adds. "I get it, but it's dumb."
"Oh, well. Sucks to be you, anyway. We told you not to come," says Anan. "Your ship was a casualty, just like that Starfleet ship 50 years ago. We're going to hold you guys hostage until your crew reports for disintegration."
Dramatic music!

Kirk's Log, delayed: "The landing party isn't considered 'dead', but the crew of the Enterprise is."
The away team is being held hostage in what appears to be visitors' quarters, which is weird because, while friendly, the Eminians seem to be xenophobic, so who the hell would they be entertaining? Mea comes in and tells Kirk that she is a casualty, and must report to a disintegration chamber by noon tomorrow. If she or others refuse, Vandikar will launch actual weapons, and Eminiar will do the same. Both civilizations would be destroyed. This is why they play Electronic Battleship: Casualty Edition.

Up top, Bones yells at Scotty for not trying to find the captain. At least he's consistent - he yells at Spock for doing this, too. A message comes in from Kirk, who says the delightful Eminians have invited the entire ship down for shore leave, and that the Eminians will run the Enterprise while everyone is living it up on the surface. We cut back to the council chamber, where Anan is using a voice changer to sound like Kirk.

Fortunately, Scotty thinks it's BS and runs the message back through a voice analyzer. Nope, not Kirk.

Downstairs, Spock uses telepathic abilities through the wall to get the guard to open the door. They escape with the unconscious guard's weapon. Stumbling upon a disintegration chamber, they watch several people get in, but not climb back out. Kirk pulls Mea aside as she is making her way to the chamber to report for death. She and Kirk bicker while Spock strolls up to the guard and pinches him. Then he calmly walks back and Kirk fires on the chamber while the Eminians run.

Anan gets word of what they have done and gives the order to destroy the Enterprise.

Captain's Log 3193.0: "Scotty here. Kirk and Spock missing for the millionth time. Looking for them. At least the ship isn't broken."
The ship rocks, and the dummy light comes on. Scotty and Bones are discussing firing back on the planet when Fox shows up. Remember that dude? The one that said "Ignore their wishes, and the damn Prime Directive, because I want to make friends"? Yeah, that dude.
"You can't fire on them because of reasons," he declares. And he orders Uhura to open a channel to Eminiar VII.

The away team breaks back into their holding room with Mea, on the pretense that no one will look for them in there. That's actually pretty smart. In their raid, they got some male uniforms, a bunch of weapons, and a communication device, which Spock is going to alter to call the E.
Somewhere, two guys are waking up naked on the floor, moaning, "No, not again!"
Kirk pulls Mea aside and tells her that he wants to stop the killing. He convinces her to help him.

In the council chamber, Anan is enumerating why it sucks to be them right now: their weapons did nothing against the Enterprise's shields; one of their suicide booths was murdered; and their killing quota has not been fulfilled. Fox calls them. Anan gives him a flowery, diplomatic lie.
"So sorry, we fired on you by mistake! Our bad! You wanna beam down so we can become BFFs?"
"Totes!" gushes Fox, like a schoolgirl.
Anan switches off the channel and tells a flunky to blow up the ship once the shields are down.
Up top, Fox smugly tells Scotty to beam him down and lower the shields.
"Fuck that noise," replies Scotty. "I drop the shields, they blow us up."
"I'll have you tossed in a federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison!" barks Fox.
"Do it," dares Scotty.
Now would probably be a bad time to remind you of the fact that, technically, you have to drop the shields in order to beam Fox down.

Kirk sneaks into a room where Anan is having a drink by himself. The councilman invites the captain to join him, and Anan remarks on their races' shared instinct for violence. Kirk says that he could destroy Eminiar VII with one disruptor. Anan volunteers the whereabouts of Kirk's comms and weapons, but secretly, he has called for help. Once in the corridor, Kirk is overpowered by two guards, then dragged unconscious to the council chamber.
Meanwhile, Fox and some nameless assistant beam down to the surface. Anan greets them diplomatically, then informs them that they are going to die. What does the Fox say? It sure as shit isn't ring-a-ling-a-ling.

Spock finally gets a hold of the E, and tells Scotty that no one should beam down under any circumstance.
"That dumbshit Fox just beamed down," relays Scotty.
The look on his face gives Spock's thoughts away. They're here on the ambassador's orders, completely fucked, and now Fox has gone all damsel in distress. Clearly, Spock would like to leave the guy's sorry ass behind, but that would be unethical, and they're kind of responsible for Fox's safety. Spock takes the two Red Shirts (now dressed like Eminians) and leaves Yeoman Temula in charge of Mea.

The Eminians are attempting to shove Fox into a disintegration chamber when Spock and the Red Shirts show up. They take out the guards and blow up the chamber. Fox agrees to take up a weapon to help them find Kirk, which is pretty generous considering his idiot decisions got them into this mess in the first place. None of the Eminians seem to care enough to stop them. They're probably just glad that they aren't dead now.
Meanwhile, Kirk and Anan 7 are playing Cuban Missile Crisis in the council chambers. By not dying, Anan says Kirk will start a regular war, with destruction and disease and famine and suffering and all of that jazz. He opens a line to the Enterprise, but when Scotty answers, Kirk yells "General Order 24 in 2 hours!" Anan then tells Scotty that they have his people, and that he needs to start transporting E crew members down in 30 minutes so they can kill them.
"Dumbass," laughs Kirk. "I just gave the order to destroy the planet. Right now, my guys are targeting each of the cities on the surface. They'll do it in two hours."
Anan tries to get his own people to fire on the starship, but it is reported that the Enterprise has moved out of range.

Vendikar calls. They're pissed because Eminiar hasn't reached quota. Then guards check in to say that the away team is fucking up all the shit. Anan laments, Hamlet-like, because his world has gone to hell, and when his back is turned, Kirk easily takes out the entire council and all of the guards, ending up with half a dozen people at gun-point. Are... are you kidding me? These guards fold easier than Stormtroopers in red tunics. Spock & Co burst in to find that Kirk is all good.

They send everyone out into the corridor and Spock figures out which computer to destroy to bring down the entire system.
"You've killed us all!" says Anan. "A real war will start now!"
"Yep," says Kirk. "Without the messiness of war, you guys just killed your own for 500 years. So now you can build bombs, or you can wage peace."
Eager to have something useful to do, Ambassador Fox offers his services as a negotiator.

The away team cancels Order 24 and beams back up. After a while, Fox calls to say that the Eminians and Vandikarians are talking tentative peace treaties.
Kirk and Spock discuss the weight of the gamble that Kirk took. He told Mea that he wanted to stop the killing, but did so by forcing them to choose between war and peace. He might have actually caused more deaths by doing what he did. Let's call that outcome a "maybe". The other thing he said he would do was take out the whole planet with one disruptor gun. He actually did do that, so he feels his odds were good. Spock replies that Kirk almost makes him believe in luck. Kirk counters by saying that Spock almost makes him believe in miracles.

Let's talk plot holes: we never see the Vandikarians. We never hear them, either. We just get messages relayed through Eminarian flunkies, who are receiving messages from computers. There's a direct line from the Eminian high council to the Vandikar high council, but no one has used it in several hundred years. For all we know, they don't actually exist. I know that was done because of Budget, but it's possible that Vandikar was made up by the Eminian government, and they've been exterminating their own people for 500 years. So that's my lame-o conspiracy theory for this episode.

Some things that you were not allowed to discuss on television in the 1960's: war, equality among the genders, and race relations (among other things). So what is frequently discussed or addressed on Star Trek? War, gender equality, and race relations. Gene Rod and Co could dance around these issues because it was supposedly science fiction, emphasis on the "fiction". This is one of the things that I really like about this show - whether it reaches a resolution or not, they always try to add in the subjects that make you think. In this case, what if war was neatly packaged? What if one could wage war against someone else that did not include the "messy" parts? It's actually a rather elegant solution. The civilizations continue on, in spite of the differences, and the casualties appear to be chosen by lottery. The thing is, it works better in theory than in practice. As Kirk pointed out, by simplifying things and not allowing the messy bits to occur, the Eminians have allowed the war to drag on for 500 years, at the cost of 3 million dead per year. They've become complacent with this outcome, and have decided that it's easier to just carry on like always and accept it, rather than try to work things out. At the end, Kirk remarks that Eminians are a very "tidy" people with a "tidy" society, and that they'll fall all over themselves to keep it that way, battling the instinct for violence in the name of peace and civilization.


This week's tea is brought to you by Teacup, who for Christmas gave us baked goods, Japanese candy, homemade marmalade, and Comfort and Joy Tea by The Republic of Tea. I was hesitant because the description listed both the C-word and the Other C-word (cinnamon and cloves), neither of which I find enjoyable in larger quantities. But both were subtle, and went well with the black tea and apple bits that the blend boasts. It was good. I would buy some of this. But if you're going to do so, you might want to get it now, because according to the tin, it's a limited edition.

Spoils of war Christmas

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