(written from a Production point of view)
On a diplomatic mission, the crew visit a planet that is waging a destructive war fought solely by computer simulation, but the casualties, including the crew of the USS Enterprise, are supposed to be real.
The USS Enterprise is en route to star cluster NGC 321 to open diplomatic relations with the civilization there. After several unacknowledged overtures, a message comes from the planet Eminiar VII, the principal planet of the cluster: code 7-10, stay away at all costs. Ambassador Robert Fox overrides Kirk's wish to honor the request, and forcibly orders him to take the Enterprise into the system.
Act One Edit
Kirk's orders (as he is reminded in no uncertain terms by Ambassador Fox) are clear: establish diplomatic relations at all costs. He, Spock, Yeoman Tamura, and two guards, Lieutenants Galloway and Osborne, beam down; they are met by Mea 3 at the Division of Control, seat of the Eminian Union. There, Kirk learns that he is in grave danger. Mea takes him to the High Council, whose leader, Anan 7, rejects Kirk's diplomatic overture – because of the war. Anan reveals that Eminiar has been fighting a war with the third planet of the system, Vendikar, for almost 500 years. But despite a hit, right in the city, Kirk and his landing party can find no evidence of war. No explosions, no radiation, nothing that would suggest the damage he is assured is occurring.
Spock finally deduces the truth: the war is fought with computers. Casualties are calculated, and the victims have twenty-four hours to report to a disintegration station so their deaths may be recorded. This tidy solution preserves the civilization, despite the cost in lives. Kirk is incredulous that people would simply walk into disintegration machines and never come out; Anan assures him that his people have a high sense of duty. And then Anan tells Kirk that when the Enterprise entered orbit, it became a legitimate target, and it has been destroyed by a tricobalt satellite explosion. Like the victims on the surface, Kirk's crew has twenty-four hours to report for disintegration. Kirk and his party are imprisoned to ensure compliance.
Act Two Edit
Mea, herself declared a casualty, defends the system. She insists that she values her own life, but tells Kirk that if people don't report for disintegration, then Vendikar will be forced to launch real weapons, and Eminiar would be forced to retaliate, and both civilization and the population would die.
The Eminians attempt trickery. Using a voice duplicator to approximate Kirk's voice, Anan 7 tries to lure the crew to the surface. Scotty, suspicious, analyzes the message and discovers the duplicity. Meanwhile, on the surface, Spock employs trickery of his own: using a form of telepathy, he plants a suggestion in their jailer's mind. Thinking the Federation prisoners have escaped, he opens the door, and is quickly overpowered.
Moving about the Division of Control, the party encounters disintegration station 12, and destroys it. In response, Anan 7 institutes a full search, and orders the planetary defense batteries to open fire on the orbiting starship.
Act Three Edit
Scotty's cautious approach to the situation proves most fortunate; the batteries open fire on the Enterprise but the shields are able to turn aside the sneak attack. Without the shields they would have been destroyed. Looking for options to respond to this unprovoked attack, Scotty decides to respond with a barrage of photon torpedoes, but Ambassador Fox halts any attempt at retaliation. Ignoring protests by Scotty and Dr. McCoy, Fox takes command of the situation and opens communications with the planet.
Kirk realizes the only way he can save his ship and his crew is to put a stop to the fighting. To this end, he inveigles help from Mea 3, while at the same time solving their shortage of weapons needed for the task, with an added bonus of two security uniforms commandeered by both Osborne and Galloway. Meanwhile, Ambassador Fox, still unaware of the treachery of Anon 7 and the danger to the lives of the Enterprise crew, attempts to salvage the situation. He contacts the planet, offering to have the ship lower its shields and to beam down personally to discuss the matter; Anan apparently agrees. However, this is a trick to enable the Eminians to destroy the ship and meet the terms of their treaty with Vendikar. Fortunately, Scott, with Dr. McCoy's support, bluntly refuses Fox's order to have the ship stand down. He notes that the landing party is obviously still being held prisoner, and the ship was just fired on without provocation. Fox is furious; he vehemently threatens to have Scott court-martialed for insubordination and proceeds to the planet with his aide alone. Although he's in the hot-seat, Scott stands firm on not lowering his defenses until he knows what has happened to the captain.
Anan retreats to his office to prepare and has a drink of trova. Kirk, hidden there, confronts him, demanding to speak with his ship. Anan is more interested in saving his world, and refuses to yield. But finally, Anan tells Kirk where the communicators can be found; Kirk, correctly suspecting trickery pushes Anan into the corridor ahead of him. But it is no good; the guards overpower him after a brief struggle.
Act Four Edit
Fox beams to the surface with his attaché; they are escorted – but not to the council chamber. Instead, Anan and his guards herd them to a disintegration station. Fortunately for the ambassador, Spock learns he has beamed down, and effects a rescue, with Galloway and Osborne posing as guards; destroying disintegration station 11 in the process. After the rescue, Fox admits that he has been dangerously mistaken about the situation and although has no experience being a soldier, he offers to help in the fight.
With Kirk held in the council chamber, he learns that Eminiar is falling behind its quotas, and Vendikar accuses it of violating the treaty, escalating the tension between them. Anan pleads with Kirk; if his crew doesn't report for disintegration, the civilizations on Eminiar and Vendikar will be destroyed in the very real war that will erupt. Kirk is unmoved. Anan opens a channel to the ship; Kirk takes advantage of the opportunity to order implementation of General Order 24 in two hours, before being restrained. Anan threatens the hostages' lives if the crew does not report immediately. Kirk informs Anan that his threats are academic, since in two hours, the Enterprise will destroy Eminiar. Anan immediately orders the defenses to fire on the Enterprise but the Constitution-class starship has moved out of range.
In a corridor, Spock, Ambassador Fox, the two lieutenants, and the ambassador's aide all come under fire by security. While Spock, Osborne, and Galloway manage to dispatch the two attacking guards, Fox's aide is seriously injured in the firefight, unable to go further.
Anan is at his wits' end; helpless, he faces certain abrogation of his planet's treaty responsibilities. Anan pleads with Kirk to de-escalate the situation, but Kirk is counting on escalation, and has no intention to stop it. The situation goes from bad to worse for Anan as Scotty informs the council that all cities and installations on the planet have been fed into the Enterprise's fire control system, and will destroy the entire planet if they don't release their captives. Realizing that Kirk intends to carry out General Order 24, Anan collapses on the table in agony as he is trapped between the Enterprise and Vendikar. Chance favors Kirk, who manages to overpower the guards and the council. Spock and his party arrives moments later. Kirk hails the Enterprise informing them to standby to transport the party in ten minutes or carry out General Order 24 on schedule. Then, Kirk tells Anan his plan: to save his crew, he plans to end the war. The captain asks Ambassador Fox to hold the people outside while Spock, one other councilman, and Lt. Osborn remain. They retrieve their phasers and communicators and locks the master computer. Spock details that the computers are in constant contact with their Vendikan counterparts. Terminating that contact abrogates the agreement between them, and by destroying the master computer, the others will go. Kirk orders Osborne to escort the councilman out and destroys the master computer with his phaser.
With the machines destroyed, Kirk paints a very frightening image to Anan 7: those on Vendikar will assume Eminiar has broken the treaty, and will plan for real war. The next attacks, by both sides, will be very real. Kirk offers an alternative: they could change five hundred years of theoretical fighting, and make peace instead. Kirk tells Anan that if they contact Vendikar, they will quickly realize that they are just as horrified at the prospect of real war. Anan remembers that the communication link with Vendikar is still in existence, though unused for centuries. There might be a chance to save both planets if they put it to use. Fox offers to serve as a mediator between Eminiar and Vendikar, and Kirk leaves him behind to negotiate the peace.
Memorable quotes Edit
"There is a certain scientific logic about it."
"I'm glad you approve."
"I do not approve; I understand."
- - Spock and Anan 7, on the voluntary disintegration of citizens declared to be casualties of war
"An entrance, captain, but no exit. They go in, but they do not come out."
- - Spock, describing a disintegration station
"Sir, there's a multi-legged creature crawling on your shoulder."
- - Spock, before applying the Vulcan nerve pinch on a guard
"Diplomats! The best diplomat I know is a fully activated phaser bank!"
- - Scott, after Fox leaves the bridge
"Diplomacy, gentlemen, should be a job left to diplomats."
- - Fox, to Scott and McCoy
"Of course I could treat them to a few dozen photon torpedoes. "
- - Scott to McCoy before Fox arrives on the bridge
"The haggis is in the fire for sure."
- - Scott to McCoy, after disobeying Fox's order to lower the ship's defenses
"That popinjay Fox went down a couple of minutes ago."
- - Scott to Spock
"Millions of people horribly killed! Complete destruction of our culture, here yes and the culture on Vendikar. Disaster, disease, starvation! Horrible lingering death! Pain and anguish!"
- - Anan 7, describing how an actual war would devastate his planet
"Are those five hundred people of yours more important than the hundreds of millions of innocent people on Eminiar and Vendikar! What kind of monster are you?!"
"I'm a barbarian. You said so yourself."
- -Anan 7 and James T. Kirk
"A killer first, a builder second. A hunter, a warrior. And let's be honest, a murderer. That is our joint heritage, is it not?"
- - Anan 7, to Kirk
"What are you doing, Mister Spock?"
"Practicing a peculiar variety of diplomacy, sir."
- - Fox and Spock, before Spock destroys a disintegration station
"I've never been a soldier, Mister Spock. But I learn very quickly."
- - Fox
"I didn't start it, Councilman. But I'm liable to finish it."
- - Kirk to Anan 7, on the Eminiar-Vendikar War
"Death, destruction, disease, horror. That's what war is all about, Anan. That's what makes it a thing to be avoided."
- - Kirk
"We can admit that we're killers, but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes."
- - Kirk, persuading Anan 7 to make peace
"Captain, you almost make me believe in luck."
"Why, Mister Spock, you almost make me believe in miracles."
- - Spock and Kirk
"They've also extended an invitation to all personnel to come ashore for shore leave--they've assured me that our people will have a wonderful time."
- - Anan 7 being somewhat repetitive while impersonating Captain Kirk
Background information Edit
- This episode was assigned to be filmed as Production #23, and "Space Seed" as Production #24. However, as problems arose with the script, needed to be solved by further re-writing by Gene Coon, the staff switched productions with "Space Seed", whose script was in a shootable condition. This resulted in "Space Seed" being filmed first, before "A Taste of Armageddon". However, the switch was so quick, they never bothered to change the production numbers, therefore it was believed for decades that this episode was filmed first. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One) Clapperboard images from both episodes also confirm that "Space Seed" was the first to be filmed.
- This episode includes the first use of the name "United Federation of Planets". "The Federation" had previously been mentioned in "Arena", but the organization's full name was first revealed in this episode. Ambassador Fox refers to "Federation Central" when angrily warning Scott he will be reported for not dropping the shields.
- George Takei (Sulu) does not appear in this episode.
- David Opatoshu (Anan 7) was considered by Gene Roddenberry for the role of Doctor Boyce in "The Cage". 
- Bantam Books published a series of novelizations called "foto-novels," which took photographic stills from actual episodes and arranged word balloons and text over them, to create a comic book formatted story. The fourth installment was an adaptation of this episode.
- The computer banks on Eminiar VII are also used in Starbase Operations in "The Menagerie, Part I" and aboard the shuttlecraft in "The Immunity Syndrome". The necked viewscreens used on Eminiar VII are the same ones that appear on the ship in the two pilots and in Mendez's office in "The Menagerie".
- The actor portraying Lieutenant Osborne is not credited in any sources. The Star Trek Concordance incorrectly credits regular extra Frank da Vinci in the role.
- The statue seen in Anan's room can be seen in Sam Kirk's lab in "Operation -- Annihilate!". It is also very similar to the statue on Scalos in "Wink of an Eye".
- Another beautiful matte painting was created for this episode by Albert Whitlock; unfortunately, it is the last painting in the series into which live actors were inserted. This matte of the Eminiar city was re-used as the backdrop of Scalos in the third season episode "Wink of an Eye".
- When Mea 3 escorts the landing party from the beam-down area to the council chamber, the transition of scenes is conveyed not through a cut or a dissolve, but through a wipe – the only time such an effect was used in the original series.
- According to David Gerrold, the computer tallies of war dead in this episode was a statement about Vietnam War deaths that began to be registered on nightly newscasts in 1967.
- The sonic disruptors used in this episode would be slightly modified to become Klingon disruptors in "Errand of Mercy", and in other episodes featuring the Klingons ("Day of the Dove" and "Friday's Child"). The Romulans also used them in "The Enterprise Incident". The props' emitters were reworked for the Klingon/Romulan versions. The original Eminian emitters were reused on the large three-headed scanners used in Engineering, as seen in the episodes "The Doomsday Machine" and "The Ultimate Computer".
- Anan 7's sash seems to be the same material as the Klingon vest. Similarly, Ambassador Fox's aide appears to be wearing the suit later worn by Arne Darvin in "The Trouble with Tribbles".
- The Eminian flip-top communicator was also re-used as a Klingon item. It became a Klingon communicator as seen in the episodes "Errand of Mercy" and "Elaan of Troyius".
- The identity of the actor who played Ambassador Fox's attache is unknown.
- Also unknown is how Fox and his attache beam down to the planet's surface at the beginning of Act IV while the Enterprise is still fully shielded.
- At one point, Scotty states that he cannot fire full phasers with the shields up, but that he could "treat" the Eminians to "a few dozen photon torpedoes." These restrictions and capabilities are mentioned in no other episodes.
- This episode, "The Naked Time", and "This Side of Paradise" begin and end with the same shot of the Enterprise.
- Spock mentions the telepathic capabilities found "among Vulcanians." In "Mudd's Women", Harry Mudd referred to Spock as "part Vulcanian." Spock also uses the term "Vulcanian" in "Court Martial". Later episodes identified them as Vulcans.
- The first woman and man who enter the disintegration machine and die can later be seen standing in the corridor near it as Kirk and Spock blast it with disruptors.
- The actions of the Enterprise crew seem to be violating the Federation's Prime Directive of non-interference in this episode.
- As a lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Artillery, James Doohan was threatened with court martial for real for saying "No sir, I will not," to a visiting colonel when he realized a training exercise order would entail blowing the heads off some of his own men. Fortunately, his immediate superiors backed him up and, like his fictional character, he was eventually promoted to captain.
- In the film Star Trek Generations, though not heard on screen, the name of the Lakul's counterpart was the SS Robert Fox, named for Ambassador Robert Fox from this episode.
Production timeline Edit
- Story outline by Robert Hamner: 12 September 1966
- Revised story outline: 23 September 1966
- Second revised story outline: 26 September 1966
- Third revised story outline: 28 September 1966
- Staff revised story outline: early-October 1966
- First draft teleplay by Hamner: 17 October 1966
- Second draft teleplay: 9 November 1966
- Revised script by Steven W. Carabatsos: 23 November 1966
- Final draft teleplay by Carabatsos: 28 November 1966
- Revised final draft teleplay by Gene L. Coon: 12 December 1966
- Additional revisions: 15 December 1966, 21 December 1966
- Filmed: 27 December 1966 – 4 January 1967
- Original airdate: 23 February 1967
- Rerun airdate: 20 July 1967
- First UK airdate: 2 August 1969
Video and DVD releases Edit
- Original US Betamax release: 1985
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 13, catalog number VHR 2306, release date unknown
- US VHS release: 15 April 1994
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 1.8, 2 December 1996
- Original US DVD release (single-disc): Volume 12, 23 May 2000
- As part of the TOS Season 1 DVD collection
- As part of the TOS Season 1 HD DVD collection
- As part of the TOS Season 1 Blu-ray collection
Links and references Edit
Guest star Edit
- Barbara Babcock as Mea 3
- Miko Mayama as Tamura
- David L. Ross as Galloway
- Nichelle Nichols as Uhura
- Sean Kenney as DePaul
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- Majel Barrett as the computer voice
- William Blackburn as
- John Burnside as Eminiar Guard #5
- Frank da Vinci as
- Walker Edmiston as the Eminiar security (voice)
- Malone as Fox's aide
- Jeannie Malone as
- Eddie Paskey as
- Ron Veto as Harrison
- Unknown actor as Osborne
1 million years ago; 18th century; 2217; 2247; Argona II; barbarian; builder; casualty list; central channel; Code 7-10; decibel; disintegration station; Division of Control; Earth; Eminian; Eminian High Council; Eminian Union; Eminiar-Vendikar War; Eminiar VII; Federation; fusion bomb; General Order 24; haggis; hostage; hunter; instinct; logic; luck; miracle; monkey wrench; murderer; orbital bombardment; Osborne; popinjay; NGC 321; penal colony; phaser bank; phaser gun crew; phaser number 1; Prime Directive; priority one; quota; Scots language; shore leave; sonic disruptor; space detail; standard orbit; star cluster; star cruiser; starvation; subspace transmission unit; suicide; tricobalt satellite; tricorder; treaty port; trova; Unnamed Alpha and Beta Quadrant star systems; Valiant, USS; Vendikar; Vendikar High Council; voice analyzer; voice duplicator; Vulcanian; Vulcan mind meld; Vulcan nerve pinch; warrior; yellow alert
- "A Taste of Armageddon" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "A Taste of Armageddon" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "A Taste of Armageddon" at Wikipedia
- "A Taste of Armageddon" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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