Episode 48 – TOS 2×19: “A Private Little War”

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Pro tip #1: guns are bad.

Pro tip #2: the Non-Intereference Directive is there for a fucking reason.

So this episode? Was actually sort of well-delivered? In a way? I mean, if you ignore that it was originally supposed to be a Vietnam metaphor and actually ended up being about disarmament and mutually assured destruction and how there often is no “good” answer to a conflict so much as there is the possibility of balance.

Also on this planet: random space yeti called Mugato. The gift that keeps on giving.

the Space Yeti
The Mugato was played by our favourite Terrifyingly Intense Method Actor, Janos Prohaska.












Ostensibly, the Enterprise is on the planet of the week to follow up on Kirk’s 12-year-ago survey which declared the planet to be, basically, lousy with medicinal herbs, and home to two cultures: the Hill People, AKA: Definitely Not A Native American Stereotype, and the Villagers. Both are discussed in ultra-naive infantilizing Deep Green Ecology terms, and supposedly live in harmony with nature and each other

During his first visit, Kirk also made friends with one of the two indigenous cultures through the Hill People’s new leader, Tyree. Apparently this planet has no conflict and no weapons, though a secondary purpose for the visit is to make sure the Klingons aren’t violating their treaty with the Federation by interfering with the natives’ cultural development.

Guess what happens. Yeah, you guessed it: the dark-haired Villagers have been getting weapons upgrades from those jerks the Klingons, who helped them fast-forward their weapons technology 1,200 years from bows and arrows to flintlock projectile weapons, not to mention playing the snake to the Villagers’ Adam. Apparently merely suggesting that war and killing might be super-fun was enough to turn the once-peaceful Villagers into landed Saxon raiders, and they’re frankly slaughtering the Hill People.

Kirk hides as the Klingon and a Villager talk
You were right, New Klingon Friend! Killing is AWESOME!











Setting aside the (pretty gross) Temptress/Eve treatment Tyree’s witch-wife, Nona, gets, this is a rare episode where the biblical analogy is pretty well carried-out, if you substitute “gun” for “apple,” but it (perhaps wisely) doesn’t attempt to give a definitive answer to the question it poses. It’s all very well to talk about throwing away our gatling guns and our nuclear bombs – a noble goal, certainly – but the knowledge of how to build more is out there, and it is, despite the hardcore cliche status of this phrase, very hard to kill an idea. So what do you do?

Kirk teaches Tyree and his men how to use a gun
I admit this is a terrible idea but I have literally not a single better one.










According to James Kirk, the provisional answer is “I don’t know, but it’s probably better if more than one guy has the bomb.”

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