Recap: Star Trek S 1 E 23 A Taste Of Armageddon

Series:Star Trek: The Original Series
Episode: Season 1, Episode 23
Title:"A Taste of Armageddon"
Previous: Space Seed
Next: This Side of Paradise
Recapper: Synjo Deonecros

The episode opens with the Enterprise shuttling a douchey ambassador to the planet Eminiar VII, in order to negotiate a diplomatic agreement with the planet. However, after several days of non-communication with the planet, Eminiar finally responds with a universal code ordering the ship not to enter their space for any reason. For once, Kirk is willing to respect the wishes of the planet...but the ambassador does not, instead pulling some bullcrap rank and forcing the ship to continue on course.

Upon arriving at Eminiar, Kirk ditches the Rules Lawyer on the ship to meet with the planet's commander, Anan 7, who orders them back to their space, because of the war the planet's currently embroiled in with their neighboring planet Vendikar. However, the lack of destruction or loss of life commonly associated with war suggest to Kirk that the war is a Cozy Catastrophe at best and an Inferred Holocaust at worst. Then an incoming attack is announced, and everyone rushes to their computers...wait, what? Yes, it turns out that Eminiar and Vendikar are actually in the middle of recreating the final scenes of WarGames, but with the calculated dead being marched into death chambers for each simulated "strike".

In another twist of fate, it turns out one of the simulated attacks has also "destroyed" the Enterprise, forcing Anan 7 to hold the away team hostage until the ship's crew is beamed down and executed. Naturally, Kirk doesn't take kindly to this idea, and fights back, only to get captured and put under guard until he complies. To further complicate matters, Anan starts getting tired of waiting and opens fire on the Enterprise with sonic cannons (don't you just love Star Trek and their love for Hollywood Science?), and even using a faked message from Kirk to try and trick the crew into coming down; McCoy and Scotty, in command, don't buy it, but unfortunately the idiot ambassador does, and transports himself down to the planet after failing to convince the other two to comply with Anan's orders. As you might have guessed, the moron ends up getting captured and sent to a death chamber himself.

Luckily for him, Kirk and Spock manages to escape their captors, and start wreaking havoc on Eminiar's tidy little war machine, with Spock torching every death chamber he can find (saving the ambassador's sorry life in the process), while Kirk has a good long talk with Anan, trying to intimidate the man by claiming to be able to destroy the planet with just his phaser. Unimpressed, Anan tries one last time to get Kirk to bring down his crew for the slaughter, but Kirk just orders Scotty to execute a bombardment order if they don't hear from him within 2 hours, forcing Anan to make a threat of his own. Unfortunately for Anan, Kirk won't go down that easily, and manages to slip away into the war machine's central computer core, destroying it in his second-usual fashion (phasering it to death, instead of asking it to play tic-tac-toe against itself or something). Anan is understandably horrified by this, as this nullifies the agreement Eminiar had with Vendikar that created the war games scenario in the first place, and will now force both planets to result to bloody, messy real war...precisely what Kirk expected; he gambled that the same orderly mindset that caused both planets to find such a neat and tidy way of killing each other to avoid the horrors of war will now force them to seek a more peaceful solution to avoid the same. Anan acknowledges this, and with the help of the douchey ambassador (now less douchey, now that he's finally realized what his douchiness has gotten himself and the Enterprise crew into), makes progress in doing so.

Oh, and Kirk does call off the bombardment order.

Tropes used in the episode

  • A Million Is a Statistic: Part of this episode's Aesop is that adopting this attitude towards war actually helps facilitate it.
  • Aesoptinum: The computer game/disintegration chambers exist to set up a critique of the doctrine of "limited" war.
  • Ass in Ambassador: Robert Fox is pretty much this until more than half way through the episode. Then he suddenly becomes something of an Ambadassador.
  • Batman Gambit: Kirk pulls one off by destroying Anan's computer, suspecting that he would rather talk peace than continue a messier war.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Scotty demonstrates this when Anan 7 tries to trick the Enterprise crew into beaming down to the planet by faking Kirk's voice. Scotty, already suspicious of what's going on, immediatedly runs the message through a voice analyzer which proves that it is not Captain Kirk.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum:
    • Ambassador Fox, along with his assistant, beaming down to Eminiar 7 while the Enterprise's shields were up; in numerous other episodes, it's a plot point that beaming people on or off the ship while the shields are up is not an option.
    • Spock, who usually requires physical contact for any sort of telepathic event, mentally dominates a guard standing on the other side of a solid wall several inches thick.
  • Go Look at the Distraction: "Sir, there is a multi-legged creature crawling on your shoulder." And the guard falls for it. Literally.
  • Humans Kill Wantonly: This trope Kirk has to avert at the end of the story by telling the Eminiars that as rational beings, they surely have enough capacity for self-control to allow themselves to make peace with their enemies.
  • Kirk Summation: The method Kirk uses to accomplish that above goal.
  • Master Computer: A different example of this trope than usual for the series. While the Eminiars (and presumably Vendikans) do what the computers tell them to do, the computers aren't actually capable of committing any external actions by themselves, and it isn't clear whether they even have true artificial intelligence. Additionally, Kirk destroys the computers by just shooting them, rather than relying on a Logic Bomb.
  • Nasty Party: Anon 7 tries to invite the entire crew to one, but Scotty sees right through it. Fox, however, beams right into it.
  • Orbital Bombardment: General Order 24, which Kirk orders Scotty to carry out if the Eminian problem isn't solved in two hours. Fortunately, he calls it off.
  • Red Shirt: Kirk and Spock have three with them for this mission and they all survive the story.
  • Redundant Rescue: Spock bursts into the council chambers to save Kirk—to find The Captain holding the entire council at bay with a stolen disruptor.
    Spock: I assumed you needed help. I can see that I am in error.
  • Sadistic Choice: A rare example perpetrated by the hero. When Kirk destroys Anan's computer, he forces the warring planets either to find a way to get along or to start an old-fashioned war, hence destroying the precious order they had wanted to preserve.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Scotty refuses to follow Fox's tactically stupid orders.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Ass in Ambassador Fox. Had Scotty followed his orders to lower the Deflector Shields, the Enterprise would have been destroyed. He then beamed down into what was almost his own death before Team Spock's Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • War Is Hell: The moral of the episode is that it should be, so that people will try their hardest to avoid it.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: OK, a 'sonic' weapon could just be a low frequency weapon of some sort, but even so, decibels are a logarithmic unit, so "Decibels - 18 to the 12th power" is vastly more power than the luminosity of our entire galaxy.