So this is a War Is Bad episode. Perhaps you might have heard this philosophy. It's also a Cold War episode. It's also a Klingon episode.
But at its core, "A Private Little War" might best be considered a Kirk episode. In a later era, maybe that might have been executed more clearly, left an actual impact on our captain. As such, it's another conflict-of-the-week story and so I won't stress it's importance too much, but that's still the best way to view it from a later perspective.
|via Trek Caps|
Kirk previously visited this particular world earlier in his career, and so developed a friendship with one of the locals. It's unfortunate, but emblematic of what Starfleet is supposed to be about, that this encounter was with someone who can be described as comparatively primitive (which also helped with the costume budget), a world that is not part of the Federation but capable of dealing openly with it. (I think a real case could be made for a series that approaches this from in a much more direct way, sort of like Deep Space Nine but as a ship-based adventure, digging in deeply with every mission).
Anyway, Kirk comes back to discover that things have not improved in his absence. It's a "revisit" story that's arguably better than Wrath of Khan. At least Kirk knows where he's going and who he's going to meet!
Oh, and there's an alien who looks like an alien! The Mugato!
|via The Viewscreen|
Among minor episodes, you could easily sample this one and get a good sense of what generally makes the series interesting.
four quarter analysis