Friday, February 27, 2015


Spock has gone to join Bones and Scottie. Star Trek premiered in 1966 and one episode still stands out as the most frightening idea anyone ever came up with.

I don’t even remember the name of the episode.. The Enterprise is on a double mission escort diplomats to Emianar 7 and find out what happened to the last ship that visited that system. When they arrive the government informs them that they are at war with a former colony, Vendikar. In fact, an attack is happening as they speak. But, there is nothing but silence. It turns out the war is being fought by computer.

Here’s where the terrifying part comes in. When a district is declared destroyed by the battle computer the people who live there have one day to report to suicide stations so that the deaths of the “casualties” can be recorded. When the Enterprise is declared “destroyed” Kirk ups the ante. He orders the ship to move out of range and to implement general order 24, total destruction of the planet. Then at the first opportunity destroys the battle computer.

The whole idea behind the virtual reality warfare was that the people might die but the civilization would survive. “We’ve admitted we’re killers” Kirk’s reply, “OK we’re killers, but we don’t have to kill anyone today, that’s where it starts. We aren’t going to kill anyone, today!”

It was the compliance of entire civilization,  being willing to commit suicide. Terrifying. Totally terrifying. But then, remember that this as the Cold War and the era of M(utaully) A(ssured) D(estruction).

As usual this is heading in a different direction than when I started. What is crazier a society that is willing to commit suicide so that the culture as a whole survives or generals who were willing to use weapons that could destroy everything. That’s what we faced for decades. As if our “way of life” would survive the detonation of nearly fifty thousand fission and fusion bombs. Is the TV episode more terrifying or the reality we faced for decades. At least Emeniar & survied the five hundred years of war. The birds, the butterflies, the fish the trees survived even as the people died. Food for thought. 


Lisa :-] said...

My favorite line from that one is where Kirk says something about the death, horror and destruction of actual war being the things that make war a "thing to be avoided." Can you imagine ANYONE writing this episode now?

JACKIE said...

No, I can't. In fact there were a lot of programs from the late sixties, early seventies that tackled problems such as pollution, civil rights, women's rights, the war in Viet Nam. Series like The Name of the Game, The Bold Ones, Lou Grant. Heck, I first learned about the ban on Chinese immigrants owning land in California from s The Big Valley episode. Ditto for the Molly McGuires and potential union busting from another episode.

I don't remember the exact quote from the matriarch of the family when Heath reports that he got out of town by the skin of his teeth. It has to do with a legacy of wealth. power and promises to be kept. The current head of the mining company is forcing a confrontation in hopes of bringing in cheaper labor.

Her answer? "Jarrod" "Yes" "Fight Sam Hummel with everything we've got." what are the chances of THAT being written today.