|Posted on June 20, 2012 at 8:05 AM|
It’s funny how Earth-like planets never seem to have names of their own. Funnier still how many planets in the Trek universe are described as “gardens of Eden,” despite that realistically, several qualities about them had come after the real garden was closed.
Both are the case in original Star Trek’s “A Private Little War.” Kirk had been here as an ensign, so he already knows something about the culture, from the white simian mugatos to the customs of the native people. Spock notes the planet is “Class M in all respects, quite Earth-like.”
Kirk says, “These people stayed in their garden of Eden. Bows and arrows for hunting, but absolutely no fighting among themselves. Remarkably peaceful and tranquil.” Immediately they hear a distant voice: “Ho! Take cover here.” A confrontation between hill people and villagers ensues among the rocks.
When Roddenberry’s people latch onto a faulty concept, they homily about it throughout the episode. Based on Kirk’s statement alone, we already see several logical flaws. Humans and animals did coexist in the real Garden, but there was no hunting at all. They didn’t have to. As it turns out, these people are already fighting each other each other as well. Both of these activities came later, after Adam and Eve’s expulsion.
Then there are the attacking mugatos, whose bite is poisonous; and a witch doctor from the Kah-nutu tribe. Yet Kirk continues to call it a “garden of Eden”? Illogical! The First Couple knew nothing about any of these. What’s more, at the end when Kirk orders more flintlocks to be replicated and beamed down, he calls them “serpents … for the garden of Eden.” Yet all the evidence points to the Devil having already arrived, long ago.
But it’s the witch doctor I’m focusing on here, not because I like her. Far from it. She represents another faulty concept, that some women can be irresistible in some way. It’s a man’s puerile fantasy, for the theme keeps cropping up, time after time.
Nona is married to Kirk’s native friend Tyree, but it’s clear from later dialogue she had practically hexed him into it. She’s a lot like Gomer in Hosea 1, and like Jezebel who co-ruled Israel with King Ahab. The biblical examples leave no doubt how God feels about such women. Proverbs contains several homilies of its own, explaining how a prostitute will pull naïve young men into Hell with her. Yet here Nona is glorified as someone to be desired, using native potions and plants to control more than heal.
I’ve heard a lot of confusion about how witch doctors worked. Most will point to the various plants they’ve studied—which is true, as far as it goes. Often a combination of plants can be more effective than one, crushed into a pasty substance called a poultice. Scientifically this is accurate, but there’s another aspect that is either unknown or ignored.
Witch doctors earned the name because they were also in league with Satan. Along with the healing plants and other elements, they’d perform rituals that introduced the patients to the Occult. To the naïve natives, it appeared the ritual, not the plants, healed them, so they revered the witch as well as the Devil he or she served. Ironically, this very thing is demonstrated in “A Private Little War,” though it is mixed with myth.
As Kirk languishes after the mugato attack, Dr. McCoy witnesses the ritual Nona and Tyree perform. Did the original natives cooperate with the witch doctor? Since this would expose their methods, dispelling the mystery like a magician explaining how he performs his tricks, probably not. Nona holds a mako root, which seems alive in her hand. When McCoy asks about it, she says, “[It moves] for those who know where to find it, how to use it, how to pick it.” This is part of the mythology that surrounds witch doctoring.
Tyree slices her palm with a knife, and she presses it on the root at Kirk’s shoulder. While Tyree softly beats a bongo, she gyrates in some lithe, worshipful manner, chanting things like “your soul is mine … your pain is mine.” She collapses, and Kirk immediately recovers. From this time on, as Tyree says, “When a man and a woman are joined in this manner, he can refuse her no wish. But it is only legend.”
Yet she manipulates and controls not only Tyree and Kirk, but the hill people as well. Since Klingons have already armed the villagers, in the name of balancing power Kirk introduces them to flintlocks. This is also the first Prime Directive episode, a budding version compared with the full bloom in The Next Generation.
Even if one race will die out without advanced tools, the Prime Directive forbids them, even causes them to take an aloof posture that shows no compassion. I have called it xenophobia, because it rises from a phobia of strange worlds advancing faster than “they were meant to.” Yet the fact is, God is in charge of cultural evolution, not man.
Despite that they’re from vastly different planets and cultures, Nona and Elaan of Troyius have much in common. Both are supposed to be overwhelmingly beautiful, but all I see in either of them is an egotistical, bratty, manipulative woman who deserves any trouble she gets into. There is no spark, no free-spirit feel, not even much smiling, especially from Elaan.
From the moment she boards in the episode bearing her name, Elaan is perpetually—and impertinently—impossible to please. She’s a dohlman from Elas, another planet in the same system, and she’s supposed to marry a prince of Troyius. Surely this prince had far more compassionate brides to choose from! She looks like an Egyptian princess and talks like a British monarch, speaking of herself in the plural. And she eats like Henry VIII; it’s a wonder decapitation never enters her mind.
The Elasian ambassador Petri, with blue skin and blond coif, tries very hard to make Elaan comfortable, but she continues to be dissatisfied with everything, even her wedding clothes. One wonders what she does like. If she hates the people she is about to co-rule, how can she rule fairly? The whole situation is so unworkable, it could touch off an interplanetary war.
“The man whose flesh is touched by the tears of a woman of Elas,” says Petri, “his heart is enslaved forever.” Sound familiar?
So when Elaan feigns crying and Kirk touches her tears, he “can refuse her no wish.” Even Spock is not immune, finding it hard to concentrate after exposure. Some fans have called “Elaan of Troyius” the Star Trek version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. But Kirk falling under the shrew’s spell does not match how Petruchio dealt with Kate.
What is it about bad girls that appeals to people? What is so attractive about them?
Jezebel in the Bible must’ve been a lot like Elaan. She was a Sidonian princess, married to an Israelite king. Like Elaan, her marriage to Ahab was meant as a step toward peace between nations, same purpose as stated on the show. But Elaan and Jezebel’s personalities only made things worse. King Ahab could refuse her no wish.
Because Jezebel was used to worshipping idols like Baal, she tried to implement his worship in Yahweh’s territory. When a vineyard owner named Naboth refused to sell his land to Ahab, he went crying to Jezebel and she had Naboth murdered. Ahab may have fallen under her spell, but others did not, such as Elijah. He became an enemy of the state after the contest between Baal and Yahweh on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 19), an affront to Jezebel’s pagan god.
Nor was King Jehu taken in. He campaigned against paganism in the land, executing Jezebel’s sons and being instrumental in her plummeting out of her palace tower. 2 Kings 9:30-37 reports that by the time “dogs” (wolves) finished with her, only her skull, hands, and feet were left. An ignoble death in payment for an ignoble life.
As Elijah and Jehu prove, “irresistible” women are resistible when men’s hearts are attuned to God. No wonder Proverbs 2:18-19 says, “For [the prostitute’s] house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.”
Not only can we resist a voluptuous woman, we must resist them. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have [it] more abundantly” (John 10:10b NKJV).
By contrast, immoral behavior oppresses everybody it touches. There is no freedom in this lifestyle, but there is abundant freedom in obeying Christ.
Next week, the baddest bad girl of all: Lwaxana Troi.
MAY THEME: “NURTURE”
JUNE THEME: “PURSUIT”
JUNE THEME: “PURSUIT”
June 20: Carol Peterson at Carol’s Magic Quill
June 21: Sandi Grace at Heart Gazer
June 22: Edward Lewis at Sowing the Seeds
June 23: Traci Bonney at Tracings
June 24: Noel Kline at A Clean Heart and Cozy Home
June 25: Pegg Thomas at The Sheepish Scribe
June 26: Marilyn McKay at Life 101: Understanding It All
June 27: Joseph Lalonde at Joseph Lalonde