Premise: Under the orders of an Ambassador who wants to establish a “treaty port” in the region, The Enterprise visits a planet called Eminiar VII, despite broadcast warnings to stay away. They discover a civilization that has been at war with a neighboring planet for 500 years – but instead of using traditional weapons, the two entities do battle via computer. Citizens who are labeled virtual casualties must report to disintegration machines to be killed. The justification for this method of war is that it prevents the wide-scale destruction that would otherwise end the civilization. A virtual attack ensues and the orbiting Enterprise is classified as destroyed, meaning that all crew must report for suicide by disintegration. Can Kirk and Spock save the crew and help the planet?
12:05 – Council leader Anan 7 has just revealed his planet’s method of war. Kirk is baffled, but Spock is able to understand the logic behind it:
Kirk: “Do you mean to tell me your people just walk into a disintegration machine when they’re told to?”
Anan 7: “We have a high consciousness of duty, Captain.”
Spock: “There is a certain scientific logic about it.”
Anan 7: “I’m glad you approve.”
Spock: “I do not approve. I understand.”
I think the world would be a much better place if more people sought to understand, like Spock does.
I always enjoy seeing how the guards of various civilizations are dressed – they seem to get the most oddball costumes. Check out those hats!
17:18 – A really fascinating moment here. The landing party (Kirk, Spock, and three red shirts) are being held captive in a locked room, and a guard is standing right outside the door. We hear this interchange between Kirk and Spock:
Kirk: “Are you sure you can do it, Mr. Spock?”
Spock: “Telepathic abilities are inherent in Vulcanians, Captain. It may work, it may not.”
Kirk: “Do your best.”
Spock proceeds to walk over to the door and run his fingers delicately along it, sensing the location of the guard:
Kirk watches with a look of wonder & admiration:
Spock somehow gets telepathically inside the guard’s head, causing him to open the door, and Kirk is ready to take him out with a neck chop. Very cool, I had no idea Vulcans had the ability to manipulate people without physical contact! This Spock guy is magical. ❤
20:45 – Yet another Vulcan nerve pinch. I love the way Spock sets this one up – he walks right up to the the guard and says: “Sir, there’s a multi-legged creature crawling on your shoulder.” When the guard looks down at his own shoulder, Spock swoops in with the pinch. An incredibly calm and deft maneuver.
A nice exchange at the end of the episode, when the crew is safely back on the bridge:
Kirk: “Actual war is a messy business. A very, very messy business. I had a feeling that they would do anything to avoid it, even talk peace.”
Spock: “A feeling is not much to go on.”
Kirk: “Sometimes a feeling, Mr. Spock, is all we humans have to go on.”
Spock: “Captain…you almost make me believe in luck.”
Kirk: “Why, Mr. Spock…you almost make me believe in miracles.”
I just love the quizzical expressions on Spock’s face!
This is a fascinating episode – one of the best of the first season, I think. It raises interesting questions about war, diplomacy, human nature, and self-sacrifice for the greater good. Was Kirk right to impose his culture’s values on the people of Eminiar? Is mass destruction a necessary component of war? What happens when war becomes a societal safety blanket, a way of life? I think this episode would translate well to a full-length film. It’s also a good Scotty episode, for fans of the Enterprise’s Chief Engineer.
“Death, destruction, disease, horror – that’s what war is all about. That’s what makes it a thing to be avoided. You’ve made it neat and painless – so neat and painless you’ve had no reason to stop it.” – Captain Kirk