#45: A Taste of Armageddon
In case you forgot: Starfleet wants to establish diplomatic relations with Eminiar, a planet that is in the midst of a war with neighboring planet Vendikar. Despite being warned away, a pompous diplomat insists the Enterprise beam down and help him establish normal diplomatic relations. Turns out the war is being fought by computers (cool!) but people still die (...what?). In a wacky turn of events, the entire crew of the Enterprise has been determined to be among the casualties of the latest attack and the leader of Eminiar seems pretty hellbent on sending them all to the disintegration chamber. Kirk and Spock destroy the computers and leave the diplomat behind to negotiate peace between the two planets.
The base idea behind this one—fighting a war that exists only on a computer but still taking it deadly seriously—isn't a bad one. It's one of the more interesting conceits that's cropped up in the galaxy. I feel like I'm going to be saying that a lot over the course of this series: "It was an interesting idea...
...but the execution is awful." If Eminiar and Vendikar are so "civilized," they would surely understand that an outside party not part of their agreement to a permanent WarGames state of affairs wouldn't be beholden to its rules. Anan's obsession with disintegrating the crew of the Enterprise is, quite frankly, pretty stupid. It feels very shoehorned in there. Boderline backassing.
Anan also talks a big game about preserving "civilization," but losing three million people a year would do a lot to disrupt civilization and whatever kind of "development" you care to count. I guess they're spared the agony of a slow death, or a life permanently disabled by some devastating injury, but that's a tiny silver lining on a very big, bleak black cloud.
Also, those hats.