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Recap / Star Trek S2 E19 "A Private Little War"

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Nona casts her love spell on Kirk.

Original air date: February 2, 1968

Kirk, Bones and Spock beam down to a peaceful, idyllic planet where some years previous Kirk had befriended a native called Tyree (Michael Witney). Kirk intervenes when he sees a group (including Tyree) about to be ambushed by a rival group armed with flintlocks. Which is odd, because this society is supposed to still be in the Bronze Age. In the ensuing melee, Spock gets shot and has to be taken back aboard the Enterprise.

While Spock convalesces, Kirk and Bones beam back down to investigate this ongoing war. It seems those darn Klingons are at it again! They convinced one faction of natives that they could be more powerful than the others. All they needed was better weapons. As if dealing with them wasn't bad enough, there are these critters called the mugato to contend with. Kirk gets poisoned by one. Fortunately, Bones is able to get him to Tyree's tribe, where his wife Nona (Nancy Kovack) is able to heal Kirk.

But Nona's services are not free. She insists that Kirk give her a weapon more powerful than what the Hill People have. And what Nona wants, Nona gets.

Private Little Tropes:

  • All There in the Script: Krell's name is never mentioned but is shown in the script.
  • Attack on the Heart: Spock is shot through the center mass by revolutionaries on planet Neural. He only survived because his Vulcan heart is located where the Human liver is.
  • Attempted Rape: Four villagers try to gang-rape Nona, who...well, kinda fights back (for a loose definition of "fights"). Once Kirk, McCoy, and Tyree show up, however, the villagers simply kill her.
  • The Bro Code: Even Kirk must live by it! At least, he tries to.
  • Captain's Log: Used in every episode, but at one point, the narration switches to the medical log with Bones narrating since Kirk is indisposed.
  • Censor Decoy: There was a scene where Nona showed some skin getting out of the water. A flash of bare breast was there to distract the censors. Sorry boys! It didn't distract the editors for the remastered editions! Another possible example is Spock's gunshot wound. A wound that gory usually wouldn't get past the censors of the time. But, as Spock was given green blood, the censors overlooked it.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Tyree almost shoots Kirk when he sees Nona and a drugged Kirk making out.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Early in the episode, Kirk identifies Mugato tracks. Not long after, he gets attacked by a Mugato.
    • This leads to another one: after McCoy kills the mugato, Tyree tells him its mate will be nearby. Guess what shows up near the end.
    • The love herb that Nona uses on Tyree early in the episode makes an encore appearance, being used on Kirk.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Spock needs to be put in pain to be brought out of his trance. Scotty pulls Chapel away from Spock, thinking she's gone mad, slapping her patient around. Then M'Benga steps in to apply the necessary striking until Spock stops him, saying the pain is sufficient.
  • Description Cut: Kirk describes the planet's inhabitants as simple and peaceful—right before seeing villagers with flintlocks stalking the hill people.
  • Doctor Obvious: At the end, when Kirk calls the Enterprise and a fully-recovered Spock answers.
    Bones: Spock, you're alive?
    Spock: An illogical question, Doctor, since obviously you are hearing my voice.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The episode is an allegory of the then-ongoing Vietnam War.
  • Downer Ending: A vengeful Tyree demands that Kirk supply him with enough weapons to go to war, and Kirk sadly and reluctantly complies to offset the advantage the Klingons gave the other side. The episode ends with the two factions going into all out war and arms race with Kirk ordering up several hundred "serpents for the Garden of Eden", as Kirk poetically refers to the flintlock rifles.
  • Famous, Famous, Fictional: At one point it's noted that if the Klingons weren't taking things slowly they might have equipped their patsies with breech-loading rifles or machine guns or "old-style hand lasers".
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: Bones does this far more than usual during the healing ritual. Then again, with Spock out of action, someone has to pick up the eyebrow slack.
  • Femme Fatale: Nona will do anything and anyone to get what she wants.
  • Firearms Are Revolutionary: Kirk is surprised to find that a planet's people who only had bows and arrows the last time he saw them suddenly have guns. Some of his crew argue that they could've discovered them naturally, but it turns out the Klingons introduced the new tech as part of a plan to take over the planet. Paradise has been destroyed, and all Kirk can do is give them more guns to try to equalize the balance of power.
  • Friendship Moment:
    • Bones shows a lot of concern and care for the wounded Spock and only agrees to leave him with a doctor who has worked extensively with Vulcans. At the end of the episode, they're back to snarking each other.
    • Also, when Kirk tells Scotty to take the conn so that he can go to Sickbay and check on Spock.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Tyree and his hunter-gatherer buddies are blond good guys, while the villagers who kill them are evil brunets. Nona also has dark hair, and has no qualms about betraying Tyree.
  • Healing Factor: Nona cuts her hand to heal Kirk. Once she's done, the cut heals itself instantly.
    • Vulcans have a version of this, which saves Spock's life. With their Mind over Matter powers, Vulcans can go into a healing trance which would focus all their mental and physical resources on repairing injuries (in this case, a bullet wound). Apparently it is a little-known ability, since Nurse Chapel seems clueless about what is happening.
  • Hit Me, Dammit!: Spock tells Chapel to hit him to bring him out of his trance. She gives him a tap that wouldn't hurt a baby. He demands that she hit him harder. She finally nerves herself up to do it, only for Scotty to walk in and stop her. Doctor M'Benga then takes over until Spock finishes pulling himself together.
  • It's Personal: This is more than a random little planet for Kirk, having spent quite some time in the past familiarizing himself with it, and becoming close friends with the tribal leader Tyree. If the Klingons spoiling this "Garden of Eden" was not enough to make it personal, the first encounter with the imported weaponry results in Spock getting shot and nearly killed.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Nona uses a certain plant as an aphrodisiac to make men fall in love with her and do what she wants. Tyree is a sucker for it. Kirk finds it rather difficult to resist.
  • Klingon Scientists Get No Respect: "Research is not the Klingon way."
  • Lady Macbeth: Nona is constantly pushing Tyree to try to gain more power and destroy their enemies.
  • Layman's Terms: A Klingon explains that "rifled barrel" means the weapon will shoot further and more accurately.
  • Low Culture, High Tech: The people of this planet are cave dwellers and early sedentary villagers, now armed with flintlock guns.
  • Love Makes You Stupid: Tyree doesn't even try to resist Nona's charms. Not even when he sees her using them on Kirk behind his back. Not to mention seeing Nona seducing Kirk using the same aphrodisiac that she actually told him about before, and getting jealous of his drugged friend.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Averted in this episode, as Spock's trauma care is being handled by Dr. M'Benga, and Kirk reminds Dr. McCoy of that fact when he orders the doctor to join him in the investigation planetside.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Subverted— Nona, the Femme Fatale, is stabbed to death at the climax of the episode.
  • Nubile Savage: Nona, of the furry bra and leather pants variety. Her clothes look suspiciously new and clean, and she has makeup as well. (Cosmetics go back to prehistoric times, so this isn't too unrealistic.)
  • Organ Dodge: It's a good thing Vulcans have their liver where a human would have their heart.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: The mugato looks like a cross between Godzilla and Snowflake the Albino Gorilla. Oh, and it has a poisonous bite.
  • Palm Bloodletting: Part of Nona's healing ritual. When the ritual is finished, the wound is gone.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: Eat yer heart out, Picard! Kirk beat you to it, pointing out how humanity was once like Tyree's people, and in time they too could emerge as a peace-loving intelligent society.
  • Proxy War: The Klingons supplying increasingly advanced firearms to one tribe of a primitive planet, to install them as a puppet leader of that world. Another tribe, one that Kirk had met years before, begins to demand similar weapons by the end, and Kirk begins arranging a Federation-aligned alliance of tribes to oppose the Klingon-controlled ones. He even references the brush wars of the 20th century as he does so.
  • Pummeling the Corpse: The previously violence-averse Tyree snaps when he sees his wife stabbed to death. In the ensuing climactic battle, Tyree rushes and quickly overpowers the man who stabbed his wife, and caves in his head with a large rock. Tyree's mind, clouded with Unstoppable Rage, does not register that his opponent is dead, so he spends the rest of the battle bashing the corpse's shattered head. Even after the battle ends, Tyree continues to bash the unresisting corpse until Kirk stops him.
  • Schizo Tech: Discussed by the main characters, along with Technology Levels, to the point of Conversational Troping. Upon first discovering that the villagers have flintlock rifles, but not knowing they were provided by Klingon arms-dealers, the crew considers whether the people of this planet might progress differently than the people of Earth. Later, upon their discovery of Klingon intervention, Uhura wonders aloud why the Klingons didn't just give the villagers more advanced weapons like phasers or "old-style hand lasers." The rationale is that the Klingons could teach the villagers how to make their own flintlocks, with the added benefit of making it less obvious that the technology had been supplied by outsiders. See Technology Uplift below.
  • Screaming Woman: Combines with Fight-Scene Failure when Nona is attacked by the mugato. Running is for plebes; Nona falls over and rolls away across the ground, screaming. She doesn't do much better against the villagers.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Kirk was advised to stay out of this private little war, but he didn't like the idea of Klingons instigating a war and making things uneven.
  • Stock Footage: Clips of the White Rabbit's footprints from "Shore Leave" were used for the mugato prints.
  • Technology Uplift: The Klingons drip-feeding weapons technology to one local group, with the intention that they'll take over the planet as Klingon vassals.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Tyree's moral code. Until his wife is killed.
  • Too Clever by Half: Nona uses all her guile to get her hot little hands on a phaser. However, she doesn't know how to use it and is killed by a stab from a simple knife.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: When Kirk and Bones discover that the Klingons have been doing this, Kirk decides to train the other side to maintain the balance.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Bones gives this speech to Kirk when Kirk tells Tyree he will give him weapons to defend himself against his enemies. However, Bones doesn't have any better ideas.
    • Nona chews Kirk and Tyree out for not wanting to obliterate the villagers.
  • Witch Doctor: Nona uses herb lore and a bit of mysticism to heal Kirk.