Wednesday, January 23, 2019

A Taste of Armageddon

TOS Season 1 Episode 23
Air Date: February 23rd, 1967

This is one of my favorite original series episodes. I remember it from when I was a kid. I really liked it because it shows how absurd the concept of war is. The episode was made during the height of the Vietnam war where US citizens were being drafted into a war they didn't believe in.

In this episode the Enterprise is on a diplomatic mission to Eminiar VII. When they arrive they are warned that it is not safe for the Enterprise to be there, but the Federation diplomat Ambassador Robert Fox insists to continue with the mission. Kirk convince the Federation diplomat to let him beam down first to make sure it is safe. When they arrive, they are greeted and brought before the planets representatives and are warned that it isn't safe since they are at war with the neighbouring planet Vendikar.

The Enterprise shows no signs that there is a war. The planets infrastructure is undamaged and modern. Shortly after, Vendikar attacks Eminiar VII and millions are killed. But still the Enterprise shows no signs of an attack. The away team then discovers that the attacks are all simulated and the computer decides who died in the attack. When someone is marked as dead they have 24 hours to get to a disintegration pod.

While this sounds absurd, normally the Federation would look the other way due to the Prime Directive. But in this case, the Enterprise was listed as one of the casualties and Eminiar VII gives Kirk 24 hours for the crew to beam down and report to their disintegration pods. Kirk of course refuses and they are taken captive.

Eventually they escape and find a way to destroy the computers that perform the simulations. When the 24 hours are up, the treaty between Vendikar and Eminiar VII would be broken and real bombs will fall. The leader of Eminiar VII is scared and accuses Kirk of creating pain and bloodshed. That their cities will fall and hundreds of millions will die instead of just a few million. But they estimated that three million people died each year to the war, and for five hundred years. That is one hundred and fifty million people that died from the war.

This is the part that stood out to me as a kid. War is bloody. It is messy. Cities get destroyed and many people die needlessly. It is this that makes war something that we strive to avoid and if we are in it, we strive to find a way to peace. The people of Eminiar VII and Vendikar had gotten comfortable with war. So comfortable that they were at war for over five hundred years and had no real reason to make peace. Sure enough, as soon as the 24 hours was up, no bombs fell. Both sides were scared of the prospect of a real war. The people that started the war five hundred years earlier were long dead and the people today accepted it as part of life. Now, there is a reason to make peace.

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