23 "A Taste of Armageddon"

(airdate: February 23, 1967)

Story: Robert Hamner      Teleplay: Robert Hamner and Gene L. Coon
Director: Joseph Pevney

Anan 7: David Opatoshu
Mea 3: Barbara Babcock
Lt. Galloway: David L. Ross

Ambassador Fox: Gene Lyons
Yeoman Tamura: Miko Mayama
Lt. DePaul: Sean Kenney

Stardate: 3192.1

Captain's Log: The Enterprise is travelling to the star cluster NGC 321 to make contact with the civilizations that live there, bringing Federation Ambassador Robert Fox along with them. They travel to Eminiar VII, which is fighting a war against the neighboring planet of Vendikar. Kirk beams a landing party down and learns that this war, which has been going on for five hundred years, is now fought entirely with computers: the computer randomly conducts simulated attacks, and then chooses casualties. These casualties then report to a special disintegration chamber to be killed. During the landing party's visit, the Enterprise is targeted and "destroyed". The leader of Eminiar VII, Anan 7, demands that the crew of the Enterprise report for disintegration, holding the landing party prisoner until they comply. Kirk and company escape and begin destroying disintegration chambers, thus preventing Eminiarans from dying and therefore violating the agreement with Vendikar. Kirk and Spock break into the Eminiar High Council's chamber and destroy the computer running the war; Eminiar VII has broken the agreement with Vendikar, thus triggering a real war. But Kirk has banked on the belief that Vendikar doesn't want a real war anymore than Eminiar VII does, and Ambassador Fox volunteers to broker an actual, lasting peace between the two planets.

Whoops!: The credits misspell Yeoman Tamura's name as "Tamula". [This has led to her constantly being called Tamula in reference guides like this one, but she's consistently called "Tamura" on screen. Besides, Tamura makes far more sense as a Japanese surname than Tamula.] In our world NCG 321 is a spiral galaxy over 200 million light years away (in the constellation Cetus), not a star cluster. Vendikar is described as the third planet in its solar system, and the closest neighbor to Eminiar VII. So why is the planet called Eminiar VII and not Eminiar II or IV? [Perhaps Vendikar is the closest inhabited neighbor.]
     Eminiar VII's planetary disruptors are sonic, producing 1812 decibels. Even setting aside how insanely powerful that would be (remember, the decibel scale is logarithmic, not linear), space is a vacuum, so no sound waves are going to travel through it. Now, decibels don't have to measure sound (strictly speaking, they just measure a ratio), so we could perhaps theorize that "decibel" in this case is measuring some other sort of energy - except that Lt. DePaul explicitly describes them as "sonic" vibrations. So either the space around Eminiar VII is dense enough with gases and such for sound to travel through, or this is nonsense.
     Not so much a mistake as simply at odds with how we've come to think of how shields work, but how is Ambassador Fox able to beam down to the surface with the Enterprise's screens still up? We know they're still up because if they were to go down then Eminiar VII would fire, destroying the ship - not to mention Scotty's adamant refusal to lower them for any reason, disobeying Fox's direct order. [Star Trek Generations will go some way toward answering this, by showing that you can send objects through a shield if you know the frequency at which the shields are operating, so that's probably what happened here - after all, Eminiar VII is only preparing to fire, not actually firing, so there's a bit of leeway with the shields.]
     Something that's sometimes cited as a goof but probably isn't: Uhura says that Eminiar VII is broadcasting Code 710, which seems to be a Starfleet code - so how could the Eminians know to broadcast that? But it's probably more likely that the Eminians are broadcasting their own version of "do not approach under any circumstances", and Uhura just translates it into terms easily understandable by the bridge crew.

Classic Lines: Spock, responding to the knowledge that the war is simulated but with real deaths: "There is a certain scientific logic about it." Anan 7: "I'm glad you approve." Spock, admonishingly: "I do not approve. I understand."
     Fox to Spock, as Spock's about to destroy a disintegration chamber: "What are you doing, Mr. Spock?" Spock: "Practicing a peculiar variety of diplomacy, sir."

Cringe Lines: "Aye, the haggis is in the fire for sure."

Don't Wear a Red Shirt: Setting aside all the people who went to their deaths into disintegration chambers off-screen during the course of this episode, we see three people (a woman and two men) step into these chambers directly. We also see Fox's aide shot and (presumably) killed during a battle in a corridor.

Library Computer: Eminiar VII is a dark blue/purple planet [standard Earth-like in the remastered version] and the principal planet of star cluster NGC 321. Its nearest neighbor is the third planet in the system, Vendikar. The part of the surface that we see is well-manicured, with green lawns, a pool, and some walls, surrounded by tall white buildings (including one that looks like a sort of inverted pyramid). The Eminians are humanoid, with pink skin. The men wear black turtlenecks with black pants. They also wear a sash that runs across their left shoulder down to their right hip and down, forming a second pant leg that goes over the pants. Some of them are also wearing tall pointy [stupid-looking] hats. The women wear outfits with a similar look - although they're not wearing the black undershirt, they're wearing black leggings instead of pants, and they're wearing a dress that runs across the left shoulder like the male sashes do, with a patterned print. The Eminians are an advanced civilization, having possessed spaceflight capabilities for several centuries - although they've never ventured beyond their own solar system. Probably because...
     For the last five hundred years, Eminiar VII had been at war with Vendikar, which had been settled by Eminians some time ago but had since become their enemy. At some point during the war, the two planets reached an agreement where the war would continue not with conventional weapons, but instead with computers. These computers would calculate a number of people killed in a simulated attack (including a simulated fusion bomb that was materialized over its target), whereupon those "killed" would report to a disintegration stations, where they would be killed for real. Casualties had twenty-four hours to report to a station. The two planets' computers were linked to each other; should this link be broken, or should people not report to be killed, this would abrogate the agreement between the two planets and resume the war with conventional weapons.
     This arrangement allowed Eminiar VII to develop a peaceful and prosperous civilization, albeit one where large numbers of their populace were killed (one to three million each year). Non-combatants were still considered to be valid targets, including orbiting spaceships; thus, while the Enterprise was in orbit around Eminiar VII, it was targeted by the computers and considered "destroyed" by a tricobalt satellite explosion, with the Enterprise crew expected to beam down and report to disintegration chambers. When this failed, the Eminians attempted to use planetary sonic disruptors, producing sonic vibrations of 1812 decibels - powerful, but not powerful enough to disrupt the Enterprise's shields. A landing party from the Enterprise was already on the surface at the time, and this party ended the war by destroying first a number of disintegration chambers and then the computers themselves, Kirk having gambled that Vendikar was no more eager to resume conventional warfare than Eminiar VII was. Federation Ambassador Robert Fox facilitated negotiations between the two warring planets, with a hopeful outlook as the Enterprise departed.
     Robert Fox was a Special Ambassador for the United Federation of Planets. [Although the Federation has been mentioned before, this is the first time we get the full version of the name.] He was an older white male with strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes. He was wearing an olive-beige suit with a jacket that fastened down the right side that clasped at the right shoulder, with decorative trim along the jacket edge, and an extremely wide collar. He had been sent aboard the Enterprise to open negotiations with the civilizations in the NGC 321 star cluster for a treaty port in the area; having this port would help save a lot of lives in the quadrant, with thousands having been lost over the last twenty years. [Because of the war, or something else in the area?] This mission gave Fox power of command over the Enterprise and the authority to ignore a Code Seven-Ten, which forbade any ships from approaching a planet under any circumstances. Fox was eager to negotiate with the Eminians, although not so eager that he wasn't willing to side with Kirk and hold the Eminians at phaser point once they had directly threatened his life.
     The Federation first made contact with Eminiar VII over fifty years ago, when the USS Valiant [presumably not the same ship as mentioned in "Where No Man Has Gone Before"] reported that the planet was in a state of war with Vendikar. The Valiant was destroyed by Eminiar VII, due to its having been chosen as a target by the war computers. [We don't know for sure how the Valiant was destroyed; it's possible the crew were all lured down to the planet and killed, the way Anan 7 tries to lure down the Enterprise crew. Or maybe they were destroyed by the Eminians' sonic disruptor.]
     At the time of the Enterprise's visit, Eminiar VII was ruled by a high council. The head of the High Council of the Eminian Union was a man named Anan 7. He had short brown, slightly greying hair and a close-cropped goatee, and he believed that the Eminians were a killer species, and that this computer-controlled war was the only way to tame that killer instinct. He had lost his wife in the last "attack". The High Council met in a complex called the Division of Control, in the War Room, next to where the war computers were housed. [Insert your own Dr. Strangelove joke here.] One of the aides to the High Council was named Mea 3, who was a tall blonde woman with blue eyes. She was scheduled to be killed, but the Enterprise landing party prevented her from carrying out this duty.
     The High Council had access to a voice duplicator, which Anan 7 used to fake Kirk's voice, trying to lure down the Enterprise crew. The voice duplicator was a close copy, but it was still detectable as such by both the ship's computer and Scotty.
     Eminiar VII has a beverage called trova, which is a dark translucent amber liquid.
     Spock can perform a mind meld without direct physical contact [although he's not certain it'll work, so it's not a natural part of the Vulcan mind meld].
     General Order 24 instructs a starship to destroy the entire inhabited surface of a planet. [This seems rather out of keeping with what we know of how Starfleet and the Federation work. It's possible that this is a fictional order that Kirk worked out with some of his command crew ahead of time to use as a bluff in circumstances such as these. Possibly lending credence to this theory is Uhura's reaction of surprise when Scotty informs Anan 7 what General Order 24 means, so either this is indeed made-up and no one told Uhura, or she doesn't know her general orders and regulations that well.]
     There's a planet called Argona II.

Final Analysis: "They fight their war with computers. Totally." A clever idea realized well, with the basic argument of a simulated war by computers being ultimately a bad idea presented in a clear and entertaining way. There's also a good amount of action throughout the episode, and so the pace is consistently exciting, while everyone gives strong performances. (And we adore Miko Mayama's "just try and mess with me, I dare you" pose after she's been left to guard Mea 3.) Thoroughly enjoyable.

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