Star Trek TOS: Anti-War Kirk Goes on the Warpath at Eminiar
Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 1, Episode 24
A Taste of Armageddon
Diplomacy was on the menu as Kirk sought to open communication with a planet called Eminiar VII. That cordial plan was altered when a message arrived from the planet to stay away. Kirk, in a thoughtful manner, wanted to honor the foreboding warning, but an ambassador named Robert Fox vetoed Kirk’s wishes.
Off to Eminiar VII they went.
A blue-eyed woman in Star Trek’s signature glimmering cinematography greeted Kirk, Spock, and friends, taking the crew to an ominous panel. Kirk learned that diplomacy was “impossible” per the panel’s declaration. The folks on Eminiar VII claimed to “lose millions” of people per year because a hostile and advanced civilization murdered them with fusion bombs.
One problem — Kirk didn’t actually believe that the people on the planet were at war.
The plot thickened when Anan 7, the leader of the planet, explained the war was borne of computers, continuing the recent-to-the-plot theme of man versus machines. And Anan 7 deemed Enterprise a threat, starting the clock on its existence. Kirk had 24 hours to wiggle out of this one.
Then, Anan 7 found a way to imitate Kirk’s voice when he baited the crew on Enterprise into a deadly trap. Thankfully, the crew was too smart for the trick, digitally analyzing the voice to determine it was a copy of Kirk’s voice.
The episode is a commentary on the absurdity of war. “War with computers,” in this sense, involved the warring civilizations sending people into disintegration chambers to avoid widespread destruction of the respective planets. That is — people on both planets would willfully die to save their brother and/or planet. Who needs full-scale war when you can preach mass suicide for the good of the community? Kirk even expressly denounced the “suicide stations.”
The saggy-eyed ambassador (Fox) on Enterprise was a real treat. His presence was irritating, especially because Kirk wanted nothing to do with this dangerous garbage in the first place. Nevertheless, Fox was calling the shots back on the ship, preventing the trigger-happy crew from firing on the planet with hopes to save Kirk and his men.
Kirk found a solution — stop the damn killing. In the face of centuries-long way, Kirk wanted to be the anti-killer, further promoting the progressive and perhaps uncommon philosophy the show was founded on.
Scott — the hardheaded Irishman — did not enjoy Fox, so he openly defied him, even in the face of possible incarceration. Put simply, the Irishman was loyal and stubborn — assuredly traits of the Irish — to Kirk.
Fox teleported down to Eminiar VII, attempting to save the day. That failed. He was immediately intercepted, but Spock managed to thwart that capture with an unusually significant flex of force.
Kirk and Anan 7 have the greater good debate — are 500 of Kirk’s men more important than the millions of Eminians who commit suicide because of the computers? This was met by a Kirk scoff as Enterprise’s souls are his responsibility — not cult-like civilizations. Kirk was unafraid to dip into a little savagery to save his people.
“Destruction, disease, horror. That’s what war is all about Anan. That’s what makes it a thing to be avoided,” a direct quote from Kirk — is the takeaway from A Taste of Armageddon.
Kirk challenged them to wage real war and hence destroyed the death-merchant computers. It would force Anan 7 to experience the actual atrocities of war and likely end the madness.
The Spockian plan, although created by Kirk, worked.
Themes: Diplomacy, Absurdity of War
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. His odyssey with Star Trek starts from beginning to finish, watching ‘The Original Series,’ all the way to the present day. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).