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(written from a Production point of view)

For the fotonovelization of this episode, please see A Taste of Armageddon (fotonovel).

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 710 – 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. Kirk orders that the Enterprise go to yellow alert and in an intercom message to the crew of his ship, Kirk announces: "We're going in, gentlemen. Peacefully, I hope, but peacefully or not… we're going in."

Act One[]

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 security officers, 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.

Eminian guards surround Kirk

Eminiar guards hold Kirk

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[]

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, contacting the Enterprise through Kirk's communicator. Montgomery Scott, suspicious, analyzes the message at Spock's science station 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 through a wall. 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[]

Scott'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, Scott decides to respond with a barrage of photon torpedoes, but Ambassador Fox halts any attempt at retaliation. Ignoring protests by Scott and 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 Eminian security uniforms commandeered by both Osborne and Galloway. Meanwhile, Ambassador Fox, still unaware of the treachery of Anan 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 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; in the war room. 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[]

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 humbly 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. Spock replies that they will need all the help they can get.

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 Scott to implement 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 hit and wounded in the firefight, unable to press on.

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 Scott 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 does indeed intend 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 all of the armed 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 Lieutenant Osborne remain. They retrieve their phasers and communicators and lock 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, Sar 6, 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 a real bloody war. Anan remembers that the communication link with Vendikar is still in existence, though it has been 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.

Later, on the bridge of the Enterprise, Lt. Uhura reports that the peace talks are looking hopeful. Spock remarks on the big chance Kirk took in destroying the computers running the war between Eminiar and Vendikar, risking real war. Kirk disputes that, noting that a real attack would not have killed as many as the computer simulation, but it would have ended both planets' ability to make war – permanently. Kirk, however, acknowledges that it was a calculated risk, but had a feeling that an orderly society such as the Eminians would not have risked war, since it is a very messy business and they would have done anything to avoid that. Spock tells Kirk that a feeling is not much to go on and Kirk replies that feeling is sometimes all Humans have to go on. Spock tells his captain that he makes him almost believe in luck. "Why, Mr. Spock, you almost make me believe in miracles," Kirk retorts.

Log entries[]

Memorable quotes[]

"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

Background information[]

Production timeline[]

Script and story[]

  • Script consultant Steven W. Carabatsos and Robert Hamner are credited with writing the first-draft script. (The Star Trek Compendium, p. 56)
  • 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 World of Star Trek, 1984 ed., p. 156).
  • Scotty's refusal to lower the shields against orders is based on an actual story from James Doohan's military service. As a lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Artillery, he 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. (citation needededit)


  • 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, 1st ed. p. 460) Clapperboard images from both episodes also confirm that "Space Seed" was the first to be filmed. (citation needededit)
  • 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.
  • This episode, "The Naked Time", and "This Side of Paradise" begin and end with the same shot of the Enterprise.


Sets and props[]


  • This episode includes the first use of the full name "United Federation of Planets"; whereas previously, "The Federation" had been mentioned in "Arena". Ambassador Fox refers to the "Federation Central" when angrily warning Scott he will be reported for not dropping the shields.
  • At one point, Scott 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. Notably, Ambassador Fox and his attaché are able to transport down to the planet's surface without having to lower the shields.
  • 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.
  • In the film Star Trek Generations, though not heard on screen, the name of the SS Lakul's counterpart was the SS Robert Fox, named for Ambassador Robert Fox from this episode.
  • The events of this episode have significance for the Prime Directive, though the directive is never actually discussed in the episode.
    • Ambassador Fox orders that Kirk ignore a request from the alien civilization to avoid contact with them. It's unclear if the Prime Directive grants uncontacted civilizations the right to refuse contact.
    • Kirk clearly states his intention to end the state of affairs on the planet, and with the help of other Enterprise crew destroys the computers that facilitate it, causing the society to breach its treaty with its enemy planet.
    • Kirk invokes General Order 24, which if carried out would have destroyed the entire planet's population. It's unclear if this invocation was a bluff or not. It is also unclear if the order is permitted as a retaliatory action (as the Enterprise was attacked first), and if so, there's no indication that the disproportionate nature of the retaliation (which would have resulted in many millions of casualties and genocide of an entire culture) was ever discussed by the Enterprise crew.

Media releases[]

Related literature[]

Video and DVD releases[]

Links and references[]


Guest star[]




Uncredited co-stars[]


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Unreferenced material[]

Dia; gunboat diplomacy; Ripoma

External links[]

Previous episode produced:
"The Return of the Archons"
Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 1
Next episode produced:
"Space Seed"
Previous episode aired:
"Space Seed"
Next episode aired:
"This Side of Paradise"
Previous remastered episode aired:
"The Return of the Archons"
TOS Remastered Next remastered episode aired:
"Day of the Dove"