We join the Enterprise as it is en route to star cluster NGC-321 to open relations with the civilizations there, namely, Eminiar VII. As they approached the planet, Uhura picked up a signal from the planet, which forbade all from approaching.
Before Kirk had a moment to react to the Code 7-10 signal, a visitor spoke. It was Ambassador Fox, who ordered Kirk to disregard the message and go to Eminiar VII. His mission was to create a treaty with the planet, which would save many lives.
Kirk agreed but signaled yellow alert first.
Spock reported that the civilization on the planet was advanced, and they have the ability of spaceflight, but they have not ventured beyond their solar system. He also said when they were contacted 50 years ago, the inhabitants of Eminiar VII were at war with a neighboring planet. Spock noted that the U.S.S. Valiant, the ship who reported the war, never returned.
Kirk, Spock and some security officers beamed to the planet, leaving Mr. Scott in charge.
A fair-skinned female with blonde hair, and two human males wearing matching sashes and flowerpots on their heads greeted the away team. They probably were not flowerpots, but that’s what they looked like. The woman introduced herself as Mea 3.
She told Kirk that they should not have come, due to the danger. Kirk said that he saw no threat. She said that while this was true, the danger did exist. She took them to the High Council, which were five bearded men sitting at a table.
Kirk introduced his team and told the councilmen that his mission was to establish diplomatic relations. Their leader, named Anan 7, told Kirk that this request was impossible, because of the war. This war between Eminiar VII and Vendikar had been going on for 500 years.
As Anan 7 spoke, an alert sounded, signifying that Vendikar attacked. Spock heard nothing, and the tricorder detected no radiation. Kirk asked what weapons were in use. Mea 3 said they were “fusion bombs.” Mr. Scott reported that the Enterprise picked up nothing unusual as well.
Kirk demanded to know what was happening. Anan 7 told him that “half a million” people were dead due to this attack.
When Anan 7 ordered a counter-attack, Spock realized that these attacks were merely computer simulations. Anan 7 confirmed this, saying that those who were counted as dead had 24 hours to report to the disintegration machines.
Spock said there was some logic to this system. Anan 7 told him that he was happy to hear Spock agreeing. Spock clarified, saying that he understood, yet did not agree.
Anan 7 told Kirk that the Enterprise was now considered destroyed, and the crew had 24 hours to report to the disintegration machines. Kirk and the away team would be held in custody until the crew complied.
Before Kirk could reach for his phaser, Anan 7’s guards restrained him. They were locked in a room with armed guards at the door.
Later, Mea 3 came to visit Kirk and his team. She asked if they needed anything and Kirk said they needed to see Anan 7 right away. She noted that Anan 7 was too busy and that she also would report to a disintegrator.
Kirk argued with her. She told him if she and others like her did not comply, then Vendikar would launch real weapons.
On the Enterprise, Dr. McCoy badgered Scotty over the lack of contact with the away team. McCoy told Scotty they shouldn’t just “sit there,” and as Scotty started to argue back, Uhura interrupted with news from Kirk.
Kirk told Mr. Scott that diplomatic relations had been started and that ship’s crew needed to beam down for shore leave. Scotty agreed. But it wasn’t really Kirk speaking; it was Anan 7.
Mr. Scott ran the audio of Kirk’s message through the computer, which determined that the voice was not the captain’s. It was a close copy. Scott said: “Well they’ve got them doctor, and they’re trying to get us.”
Meanwhile, Spock told Kirk that “Vulcanians” did have limited telepathic abilities… to which Kirk told him to “do his best.” Spock stood by the wall near the door and grasped it. On the other side, the guard unlocked the door and entered. Kirk and the crew attacked.
NOTE: Could these powers be the same ones that Spock used to detect V’Ger in Star Trek: The Motion Picture? Perhaps…
They took the guard’s weapon and left the cell. As they snuck around the corridors, they witnessed a disintegration machine in action.
Kirk grabbed Mea 3 as she was on her way to the disintegration machine. Kirk would not let her move, as Spock disabled the guy running the device with a Vulcan neck pinch. Kirk shot the disintegration machine with the weapon, causing a massive explosion.
Anan 7 and his councilmen learned that the crew had escaped, and ordered them to be found, and the Enterprise be destroyed with the planet’s disruptor cannons.
In orbit, the ship’s shields were raised allowing the Enterprise to withstand the disruptor attack. As Scotty debated with McCoy on retaliation, Ambassador Fox entered the bridge and ordered no attack. Scott told Fox that he was responsible for the safety of the ship; Fox said he was responsible for the success of the mission. The mission, he said, was more critical than the Enterprise.
Fox ordered Uhura to open a channel to the planet. He told Scotty that his orders had priority, and this was both a misunderstanding and a diplomatic matter.
“Diplomats,” scoffed Mr. Scott. “The best diplomat I know is a fully activated phaser bank.”
On the planet, Kirk and company went back into their original cell, hoping that would be the last place their captors would look. Kirk dragged Mea 3 in with him. Spock reported that they recovered a few more disruptors, and one of their communicators. He’d have to tinker with it to contact the Enterprise.
Kirk asked Mea 3 for a layout of the building complex. He told her they would try to stop the killing.
Soon Fox reached Anan 7, who said the attacks on the Enterprise were a mistake, and that Kirk and the away team were alive and well. Anan 7 told Fox they would love to welcome him in person… he then told his men to attack as soon as the Enterprise dropped shields.
Fox fell for the deception and ordered Scotty to lower the shields (or rather, the screens). Scotty refused. Fox threatened Mr. Scott with a trip to the penal colony. He left the bridge.
McCoy said: “Well Scotty, now you’ve done it!”
Scott said: “Aye. The haggis is in the fire for sure. But I’ll not lower the defenses on the word of that mealy-mouthed gentleman down below… not until I know what happened to the captain.”
Later, as Anan 7 was about to take a sip of wine (or something), Kirk crept up from behind him. Kirk said he was not there to drink, but after some mental scuffling, he decided to have a sip. Anan 7 used this distraction to hit a silent alarm button.
Kirk told Anan 7 that he could destroy the planet without the help of the Enterprise. He told Kirk where the communicators were hidden, which was a trap. As they left the room, Kirk was immediately attacked and subdued.
Fox and his diplomatic assistant beamed to the surface of Eminiar VII, where Anan 7 greeted him. After a brief walk, Anan 7 told Fox that he would be taken to a disintegration station and his death would be recorded. Fox was shocked as he was taken away.
Moments later, Spock got the communicator working and contacted Mr. Scott. Spock ordered than no one beam to the planet, as they would be killed immediately. Scotty told him that Fox just beamed down. Spock ordered the ship to “orbit out to maximum phaser range” and standby.
Spock and the two security officers, now dressed as guards prepared to leave. Before they did, Spock ordered Yeoman Tamula to watch Mea 3, and ensure that she does not try to have herself killed.
Before Fox entered the chamber, Spock and the others rescued him. Spock then destroyed the disintegration machine. Fox realized that he was out of his element, and told Spock that he was not a soldier, but he would help in any way.
While he was in custody, Kirk sat and listened. Anan 7 told him that without this deal with Vendikar, there would be disease, destruction, death, pain, and anguish. He asked is the 500 on the Enterprise are worth more than the hundreds of millions on Eminiar VII.
Anan 7 opened a channel to the Enterprise, but before he could speak to Mr. Scott, Kirk yelled: “General Order 24 in two hours!” The guards wrestled him to the ground. Anan 7 went on and ordered Mr. Scott to begin transporting the crew to the planet, or the captain and Fox would be killed.
Kirk said that in 24 hours, the Enterprise would destroy the planet. Anan 7 ordered his defenses to fire on the Enterprise, but they could not, as the ship moved out of disruptor range.
In the corridors, Spock and his men lurked through, firing on guards at will. At one point, when Spock fired his disruptor, Fox’s assistant slumped over, apparently hit by enemy fire.
Anan 7 heard that Vendikar was angry as the people who were scheduled to die had not been disintegrated. His men reported that more disintegration chambers had been destroyed, and Spock’s team had been seen in various corridors.
Scotty hailed Eminiar VII, warning that all major cities on the planet were targeted. He said that in one hour and forty-five minutes, “the entire inhabited surface of your planet will be destroyed.”
Kirk used this moment to attack, disabling one of the guards and grabbing his weapon. He rounded up all of them at gunpoint, but as soon as he did, Spock and the others burst in.
Spock went into Eminiar VII’s main war room. Kirk called the Enterprise to tell them that all was well and to beam them up in 10 minutes, but to continue to carry out General Order 24 as scheduled.
“Aye. The haggis is in the fire for sure. But I’ll not lower the defenses on the word of that mealy-mouthed gentleman down below… not until I know what happened to the captain.”
As they stood, surrounded by Enterprise crewmen, Kirk lectured Anan 7 about war, saying that they made combat simple and painless, which is why it had been going on for so long. Kirk said he was going to end it one way or another.
Kirk ordered Fox to hold the Eminians in the hall, and he chose one of them to assist in the war room. Kirk recovered their communicators and weapons. Spock figured out how to destroy the whole defense system, and Kirk shot the computers with his phaser.
Anan 7 was enraged, and Kirk said that the Vendikans would assume that they were now fighting a real war, with real weapons. Kirk told Anan 7 that they can fight this “real war” or negotiate a peace.
Fox stepped up and offered to help negotiate a peace treaty with both peoples, as a neutral third party. Anan 7 accepted Fox’s help. They left to contact Vendikar and begin peace negotiations.
Kirk canceled General Order 24 and ordered the Enterprise to head next to Organa 2. Spock told Kirk that he took a big chance, but Kirk said that 3 million people died a year for 500 years. Kirk said that a real attack would kill the same amount of people, but eventually, they’d stop fighting. Kirk said that he had a feeling that it would all work.
Spock said that Kirk made him “almost” believe in luck, while Kirk said Spock made him “almost” believe in miracles.
TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:
This was a pretty good episode. Aside from the fact that the crew encountered a people whose only difference was their dress (they were humans who spoke perfect English), this episode had an interesting premise.
Not unlike today, where hackers get into computer systems and bring companies and municipalities to a halt, this episode foreshadowed our present.
I guess the Prime Directive did not play a part in this meeting of new cultures, since they had been contacted before, and were probably warp-capable. I would have liked it if the “disruptors” used a beam and not just a hokie sound effect.
RATING: 3 out of 5