Star Trek: Season 1, Episode 14

Balance of Terror (15 Dec. 1966)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
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Ratings: 8.9/10 from 1,378 users  
Reviews: 16 user | 10 critic

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



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Title: Balance of Terror (15 Dec 1966)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Paul Comi ...
Lt. Robert Tomlinson
Barbara Baldavin ...
Garry Walberg ...
Commander Hansen
John Warburton ...
The Centurion


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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

15 December 1966 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Budgetary and time constraints prevented the make-up and costuming departments from dressing up each Romulan in Vulcan ears as it was such a lengthy process applying them. So they hit on the idea of giving the lesser Romulans helmets, which were actually redressed Roman helmets from some of the studio's Biblical epics of the 1950s. See more »


When Spock first opens the vent under his science station, flames and smoke come out. These disappear between shots even though no one takes any measures to eliminate them. See more »


Captain James T. Kirk: After a whole century, what will a Romulan ship look like, Mr. Stiles? I doubt if they'll radio and identify themselves.
Stiles: You'll know, sir. They're painted like a giant bird of prey.
Captain James T. Kirk: I had no idea that history was your specialty.
Stiles: Family history. There was a Captain Stiles in space service then; two commanders; several junior officers. All lost in that war, sir.
Captain James T. Kirk: THEIR war, Mr. Stiles. Not yours.
See more »


References The Enemy Below (1957) See more »

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User Reviews

Enter the Romulans
6 May 2009 | by (Italy) – See all my reviews

Undoubtedly one of the best episodes ever, Balance of Terror is 45 minutes of well executed suspense, with intelligent real-world parallels (the title refers to a situation very similar to what was going on between the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War), spot-on characterizations and the introduction of Star Trek's second most important hostile alien race after the Klingons: the Romulans.

After receiving a distress call from a Federation outpost, the Enterprise is dangerously close to the Neutral Zone which, if crossed, would lead to open conflict with the Romulans, although no one has ever actually seen them in the flesh. Soon enough, a Romulan vessel appears, carrying a new weapon and a cloaking device which makes it nearly impossible to defeat. Facing the threat of imminent annihilation, Kirk must engage in a battle of wits with the Romulan Commander (Mark Lenard) to ensure the survival of his crew. Unfortunately, the task is made more difficult when one of the men accuses Spock of being in league with the enemy, due to the physical resemblance between Romulans and Vulcans, two races that are, in fact, distantly related (a fact that is quite ironic with hindsight, given Lenard went on to play Spock's father Sarek starting with Season 2).

Always very critical when it came to the subject of war, Star Trek enjoys one of its finest hours with its most gripping and tense take on the topic. Although the Romulans aren't actually based on the Soviets (the name is actually taken from Romulus, the founder of Rome), the scenario is quite obviously inspired by the very vivid fear American and Russian citizens had at the time that either nation might be able to destroy the other with nuclear weapons (that fear gave birth to the titular concept of "balance of terror"). But even without the subtext, this remains an essential episode, due for the most part to the intellectual battle between the two adversaries, which translates into a thesping duel between Shatner and Lenard. No need to say who wins...

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