Star Trek (1966–1969)
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Balance of Terror 

The Enterprise must decide on its response when a Romulan ship makes a destructively hostile armed probe of Federation territory.

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Barbara Baldavin ...
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Storyline

The Enterprise answers a distress call from Federation Outpost #4, a monitoring station on the Federation side of the neutral zone with the Romulan Empire. The outposts were established over a century ago and no one has actually seen a Romulan. The Romulan vessel seems to have some type of high energy explosive device as well as a cloaking device to make the ship invisible. When it appears that Romulans bear a strong resemblance to Vulcans, Kirk must deal with a rebellious crew member. He must also engage in a dangerous cat and mouse game with a very intelligent Romulan commander. Written by garykmcd

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15 December 1966 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

At the 50th anniversary "Star Trek" convention in Las Vegas in August 2016, fans voted this the eighth best episode of the "Star Trek" franchise. See more »

Goofs

The Romulan captain should have realized that his weapon is designed to destroy the stationary outposts, and, as such, would be worthless against a highly mobile enemy ship. The enemy ship would simply have flown out of the way. Thus, he would never have wasted the energy required to fire the weapon on a worthless attempt to destroy the Enterprise. See more »

Quotes

Captain James T. Kirk: Go to full magnification.
Sulu: Screen is on full mag, sir.
Captain James T. Kirk: I don't see anything. Can't understand it.
Mr. Spock: Invisibility is theoretically possible, Captain - selective bending of light - but the power cost is enormous. They may have solved that problem.
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Connections

Featured in Pioneers of Television: Science Fiction (2011) See more »

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Theme From Star Trek
Written by Alexander Courage
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User Reviews

 
The Face of War - and it's Romulan!
1 July 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

When the Romulans come, they will not be bearing gifts; no, they bring with them war - war and conquest. As any familiar with this episode know, it is a redux of the war film "The Enemy Below" from the fifties. The obvious difference is that instead of a battleship and a submarine (or an American Destroyer & German U-boat) engaged in lethal war games, it is two starships in outer space. In Trek history, about 100 years before the events here, according to this episode, Earth fought the Romulan Wars. After about 5 years of conflict, a stalemate brought about a treaty and the institution of the Neutral Zone, a boundary between us and the Romulan Empire. Now, on this stardate, the treaty appears to be broken, as our outposts are being attacked and destroyed by some weapon of immense power. Yes, the Romulans are back, testing their new war toy, and Kirk must now earn his pay: he must make decisions that would affect this sector of the galaxy, such as figuring out how to avoid a...oh, I dunno - an interstellar war, maybe?

I think what makes this episode so effective is that it doesn't shy away from the grim aspects of war, as one would expect of a mere TV episode from the sixties - especially an episode from a science fiction show. It's all very tense and gripping, like the best war films, such as when Kirk sits down with his key officers for what amounts to a war council. The writers and the actors aren't kidding around here: this is all preparation for a ghastly conflict, potentially the beginning of another years-long battleground. In the final analysis, Kirk's aim is to keep this battleground to just the two ships - but even then it's an endeavor fraught with peril and probable casualties. In fact, I believe this episode holds the record for ship casualties by the end of it. Right at the start of the episode, we see the devastation such battle can produce, in that supposedly well-protected outpost. Then begin the cat-and-mouse war games between the Enterprise and the Romulan ship - it's as exciting as any conflict we've seen on the big screen. Of course, if you're not into war films, you'd have to look for other things to admire in this episode.

What elevates this episode even further is the revelation of just what and who the Romulans are - it's an electric shock of a sort. Now we have even further inter-crew conflict on the bridge of the Enterprise - war does tend to bring out the worst in some people. Due to still nasty attitudes about race in this future, the tension is ratcheted up even further - Kirk has his hands full in this one. I suppose the one weakness in the story is the convenient relenting of the bigotry issue by the conclusion. On the Romulan side, actor Lenard makes his first appearance in the Trek universe as the Romulan commander; he's terrific in the role, the flip side of Capt. Kirk or Capt. Pike, take your pick, done up to resemble Spock more than a little. Surprisingly, his character is not war hungry as we would expect, another eye-opener for this episode. The actor would next return to this universe as Sarek, Spock's father, so he's nothing if not versatile. It's also telling how the first appearance of such characters as the Romulans is usually their best shot, as it is here. They showed up in "The Enterprise Incident" next.


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