“A Taste of Armageddon” is one of my favorite episodes of “The Original Series.” This is an episode that explores what it means to tackle the costs of war as well as how a society could buy into constant war for a state of false “peace.” This episode also uses most of the main crew and works fantastically as an ensemble piece. Suffice to say, this is one I highly recommend.
The episode was directed by Joseph Pevney with teleplay by Robert Hamner (who also wrote the story) and Gene L. Coon.
The story involves the Enterprise delivering Ambassador Robert Fox to open up negotiations with the Eminian Union who have been war with another planet in their system Vendikar for generations. All is not as it appears to be though when Kirk and the away team beam down during an attack from Vendikar.
The War – The war with Vendikar is the core part of the episode as it has gone on so long that the way of fighting has been completely taken over by computers and citizens on both sides now sacrifice themselves in areas where the computer says attacks occurred. This is taken as normal because it is all the 2 planets have known and it is the arrival of the Enterprise where the cycle of war is finally broken by bringing back an actual war not the virtual war where people willingly go to their deaths for the “Good of the state.” The war has warped all sense of valueing people as Anan 7 tries multiple times to trick Enterprise in lowering the shields so it can be destroyed as in the virtual war, it was. Though even in this, when the war stops the desire for peace is still strong among those who have been a part of this war for so long.
Mea 3 and Anan 7 – Mea 3 and Anan 7 give us a great glimpse of the mentality that has been built up by war. Anan 7 is doing all he can to kill the Enterprise because he fears the war escalating when the virtual deaths aren’t registered while Mea 3 is a true believer but does nothing to stop Kirk and Spock from breaking all the death machines. In the end they are both flawed and human as in the end Anan 7 does accept Ambassador Fox’s help at negotiating a peace with Vendikar as he doesn’t want a war where he’ll see the bombs dropping and bloodshed. He could fight a sterilized war because that had been the way of things for so long and was willing to talk to make the change needed for the possibility of peace.
Scotty -Scotty is Captain while Kirk and Spock lead the away team on the planet. He does a fantastic job and keeps the ship safe as he figures out that Anan 7 is lying when he calls for them all to come down for shore leave and keeps the shields up even against orders of the Ambassador. This is an amazing Scotty episode and made me wish we saw him in the Captain’s chair more. He is more than qualified for it and will fight for his crew. He also plays of McCoy really well who is extremely anxious through the entire episode.
Spock – Spock calls out the Eminian Union in a great way where he see’s the logic in how they do war but does not see it as moral. We also see how powerful he is psychically when he controls the guards to free them and helps lead the revolution on the planet to stop the machines of death. He plays off Kirk really well too as it is them planning together when they are trapped to get out of each situation.
Captain Kirk – This is a great Captain Kirk episode. We get a Kirk speech that war has to be experienced to truly know how awful it is as he advocates for life and humanity. It is a fantastic Kirk speech and seeing him playoff Spock throughout the episode is handled really well.
Vendikar – We never see the people of Vendikar and that is really the only con I can think of. They are only mentioned when seeing them, even at the end would have shown their humanity as well. I’m honestly surprised the episode never showed us even one.
This is an amazing episode and easily one of the best of “The Original Series.” “The Original Series” was strongest when it worked the ensemble cast and explored deeper ideals tied to one’s humanity or the nature of war and peace. There is so much about this episode that works and it captures so much of what I loved about “The Original Series.”
Final Score: 9.6 / 10