Star Trek: TOS – S02E19, A Private Little War

privatelittlewarnonaA Private Little War deals with an interesting topic which was relevant at the time it was conceived (but in reality even now, if you think about it), but I didn’t find it a fully satisfactory episode. The theme is the arms race, and it’s set in a world in which primitive humanoids face their rivals who suddenly come into possession of an infinitely more advanced technology than theirs. The final solution implemented by Captain Kirk, however, is unsatisfactory to say the least, since it basically fosters the arms race itself, giving up any other potential, and more peaceful, solution.

The story is so dense and full of elements that it’s difficult to recall them all. Of course there’s another old friend of Kirk, Tyree (Michael Witney); there’s a femme fatale who only craves for power (Nancy Kovack, who’s in a scene which is the closest thing possible to a gang rape ever seen in Star Trek); there’s a magnificent monster suit with adorable horns on the back (the monster is called Mugato); there are mean-spirited Klingons (represented here by Krell, Ned Romero – and so this becomes the fourth episode with our favorite villains after Errand of Mercy, Friday’s Child and The Trouble with Tribbles!); and, and this is actually something new, Spock voluntarily gets slapped in the face.

As it often happens in these second season’s episodes, there are many ideas but perhaps a lack of a clear direction. The story follows many characters and spends little time building their motivations, and it appears that all it takes to make a good episode are brawls between actors with ridiculous blonde wigs and one plot twist after another. However, I’ll admit that the episode has a certain entertainment value.

I suppose that my veiled criticisms only want to highlight the half-missed opportunity to come up with a stronger message given the subject matter (and this is surprising given that the screenplay in this case was written by Gene Roddenberry!). If you want, the entire episode is also a reinterpretation of the legend of the Garden of Eden, with even a tempting woman in it… In any case, this is another classic Star Trek episode with all the elements that made it the cultural phenomenon it is nowadays. Ciao!


Previous episode: The Immunity Syndrome

Next episode: Return to Tomorrow


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