A Private Little War


A Private Little War

What do you get when you add the hill people + the Enterprise + Klingons + the Village People? It is a complicated equation. Work through it with us as we put A Private Little War in the Mission Log.

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  1. Rebecca says:

    Awesome commentary for a super important episode. A note on the sexism, Ken touched on this being possibly a indictment of female power (it certainly will be when we get to Janice Lester!), and/or just “woman=bad or weak”. However, I see it as more of a statement about the dangers of female sexuality, particularly within the context of Star Trek. In TOS, any time a woman is the subject of her own sexuality, either she is evil or the nature of her sexuality is dangerous (think Nona, Marta, “Catspaw”, “Wink of an Eye”, Elaan of Troyius” …there are others). Women in TOS are only good as love interests, if they are the object of Kirk or another man’s sexual desires, but not the subject of their own. While this iteration of Star Trek is lacking overall in strong female characters, the ones that are there (Areel Shaw, T’Pring, Edith Keeler, both characters played by Diana Muldar) express very little sexual desire, even if they are a love interest. I wish I’d discovered this podcast earlier and could have been listening/participating at the appropriate time!

    • Very interesting take on it, Rebecca – thanks for that! Maybe well worth a later recap (oh, sometime in 2027 or so?) to look back on those female characters vis a vis their sexuality. Had not looked at it quite like that before.

  2. Low Mileage Pit Woofie says:

    Excellent commentary for an episode I used to dismiss when I was younger, and less able to grasp the subtle points. It did turn out to be a more realistic dilemma for Kirk; either allow his allies to be eventually overwhelmed by the Villagers, and maybe eventually the whole planet to the Klingons, or arm them and watch them lose their innocence.
    Although the Klingons’ plan seems like quite a long-term one (how many decades or more will they wait before their primitive allies take over the rest of the planet and invite their friends to move in and set up base?)

    Oh, and Dr M’Benga: I bet you had a good idea of what Spock would need when he snapped out of his coma. You could have been more specific to Chapel instead of getting her all flustered as to what Spock might have asked her to do, instead of leaving it as an ambiguous, “Anything”

    And funny thing: the tracks of the Mugato (as played by former Horta Janos Prohaska) are identical to the White Rabbit’s on the Shore Leave planet. Awww….

    • Well said – yeah, it’s the conundrum that’s so interesting in this one, and sharply relevant to the contemporary politics when it aired.

  3. jayoungr . says:

    Re Doctor Mbenga–how radical must it have been to see a black man slapping around a white man (okay, an alien, but played by a white actor) on television in the 1960s?

    And as for Nona, I’m surprised nobody picked up on the Lady Macbeth parallel. It was so close that I wouldn’t be surprised if Nona was consciously based on Lady M.

  4. Jeff D says:

    @ jayoungr – Great catch on the Nona/Lady Macbeth parallel! Now that you point it out, it does look like it might have been deliberate.

    Overall, it was a good commentary, though I think I have to disagree with Ken’s argument about why did Nona’s character have to be a woman, instead of Tyree’s right hand man? I think it had to be a woman – or, more specifically, it had to be his wife – so her death could act as a catalyst strong enough to turn Tyree from pacifist to warmonger. I don’t think we would buy him going suddenly all medieval on the villagers just because his lieutenant was killed. Nor would it carry as much emotional punch. Perhaps they might have separated her character into two, where the lieutenant is the power mad one, and she remains more of just an innocent bystander, but that would probably overload the episode with one too many characters, and might even make her just another pretty female hanging around while the men do all the heavy lifting in the story.

    Going back to the Lady Macbeth analogy – Shakespeare is not being sexist because she was an evil character – he needed someone who could manipulate Macbeth to do terrible things, and the clearest option for that role is someone who is more intimate and knows his trigger points better than anyone else. Who better qualified than his wife? If Lady Macbeth (read: Nona) is the product of sexism, then that same logic applies to Iago (read:Tyree’s imaginary lieutenant), and he is a sexist statement against men. I don’t see any inherent sexism here. Nona is just who she is to best drive the story forward.

    About the end – watching this episode multiple times growing up, I always wondered if Kirk changed his mind about supplying the weapons when he clarifies Scotty’s “a hundred what??” not by repeating himself, but by saying ‘serpents for the garden of Eden.”
    I’m not convinced that is the case, as that ominous, haunting music as the ship leaves orbit certainly evokes the idea that that planet is f***d, but I’m just throwing it out there…..