Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Original Series

"A Private Little War"


Air date: 2/2/1968
Teleplay by Gene Roddenberry
Story by Jud Crucis
Directed by Marc Daniels

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

A lot of good work is evident in "A Private Little War," in which a primitive world on which Kirk once studied has experienced a sudden, unnatural advancement in technology. One side has received firearms which they can't possibly have built. A closer survey reveals that the Klingons have delivered weapons to a set of villagers who have opened attack on their neighbors. Kirk comes to the conclusion that arming the other side with equal weaponry may be the only choice to save them from annihilation. Meanwhile, Kirk finds himself under the spell of Nona (Nancy Kovak), who saved Kirk's life and now hopes he will repay her by arming the village with superior weapons.

This episode sometimes serves as an explicit Vietnam commentary, going so far as to mention the war specifically when Kirk and McCoy discuss the morality of Kirk's plan for armament. Meanwhile, Spock's life hangs in the balance aboard the Enterprise after having been shot on the planet surface. There are a lot of pieces to this episode—perhaps too many (Nona's bizarre spell coming across as the most unnecessary). The episode sometimes lacks focus, but the implications of the ending are too interesting to be ignored. The eruption of violence provides an indictment of an entire situation that has lost control, where placing blame is merely pointless. Even so, Kirk's actions lack personal consequences and the ending wraps too quickly. The underlying meaning contains intelligence, but the story's pursuit of its questions is shaky.

Previous episode: The Immunity Syndrome
Next episode: Return to Tomorrow

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2 comments on this review

Destructor - Wed, May 16, 2012 - 12:23am (USA Central)
I love this episode- it has so many great elements:

1. The 'slapping of Spock' scene- hilarious!
2. A great 'Trekkian dilemma' with no 'good choice' at the end.
3. A heartfelt and reasonable explanation of the Price Directive from Kirk.
4. A sexy lady.
5. An awesome alien monster- plus two fight scenes with said monster!
6. The classic fight music and a big brawl.
7. McCoy saying: "She's dead."

I really loved this episode.
DutchStudent82 - Wed, Apr 30, 2014 - 6:43pm (USA Central)
Am I the only one that found there would be a second solution?

*totally eliminate the village (and with them remove all knowledge of making guns)

*this needs to be done by cover up, so they use the enterprise to cause a MASSIVE disaster that looks like a natural disaster that wipes out the village.

*the woman needs to die too (her idea of "war and killing" even without the tools to do that, is contamination, she has to be eliminated.

*capture and kill all klingons, near (and if neccecairy go to war over this, but hope they back off)

*place a permament space station in orbit of this planet to monitor it's progress and to quarentine it (nobody will land on it ever again) -> while no issue for the foreseable future their technological progress makes it neccecairy, replace the space station with more stealthed observation methods.

But my line of thinking is clearly not the "cold war era" thinking when this was made.

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