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"Star Trek" Balance of Terror (TV Episode 1966) Poster

(TV Series)

(1966)

Trivia

Jump to: Spoilers (5)
Mark Lenard plays the Romulan Commander, an apparent enemy of the Enterprise and its crew, however later in his career he played the famed role of Spock's father Sarek, and also played a Klingon in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), making him the first actor to portray the three major alien races (Vulcan, Romulan, Klingon) in the Star Trek franchise.
First appearance in the series of the Romulans.
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.
Two actors who played Romulans in this episode returned in later episodes as Vulcans: Mark Lenard, the Romulan Commander, played Spock's father, Sarek, in Star Trek: Journey to Babel (1967) (and several return appearances) and Lawrence Montaigne, Decius, played Spock's rival, Stonn, in Star Trek: Amok Time (1967).
The plot of this episode is based on The Enemy Below (1957), with the Enterprise taking the part of the American destroyer and the Bird-of-Prey with its cloaking device taking the part of the submarine. The episode was also partly inspired another World War II Submarine Drama Run Silent Run Deep (1958), which was directed by Robert Wise, who would later direct Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).
Network restrictions at the time forbade the tackling of any contentious subjects such as the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement and the rise of feminism. "Star Trek," under the guise of science fiction, boldly flouted these rules. This story, for example, openly deals with the subject of racism as reflected through Lieutenant Stiles' opposition to Mr Spock.
The only time in which the Enterprise Chapel is seen, also marking a rare symbol of real life secular Earth religions depicted in the Trek franchise.
The music featured during the opening scenes of the wedding ceremony is the 19th century English tune "Long, Long Ago."
Mark Lenard said, "The Romulan Commander was one of the best roles I ever had on TV". Comparing the part with that of Sarek, Lenard elaborated, "In many ways, I did enjoy that role [Sarek], but I think the more demanding role and the better acting role was the Romulan Commander".
The first time in Star Trek lore to have the ship's captain perform a marriage ceremony for his crew. Although 20th century naval captains were prohibited from doing this, the writers may have gotten this idea from The African Queen (1951). (see the Goofs section and Star Trek: The Next Generation: Data's Day (1991))
Although phasers are used throughout the episode, the visual effect seen is that which later became used for photon torpedo launches, probably because the term "photon torpedo" was not invented until later in the season, in "Arena". Kirk orders the phasers to be "set for proximity blast"; each phaser blast acts like a Navy depth charge.
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The rarely seen Command work utility jumpsuit is worn by several crew members in this episode.
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Stiles' outward hostility toward Spock is borderline insubordinate.
It would appear that Starfleet regulations do not prohibit romantic relationships between superior and subordinate officers as the relationship between Tomlinson and Martine is portrayed as such.
An almost unnoticed bit of staging might indicate that Angela Martine was Catholic, as she is seen genuflecting before the altar in the ship's chapel during her aborted wedding ceremony. While hardly controversial today, for the 1960s it was a fairly bold thing to show, considering the prejudice against Catholics that was still common in the United States in those days. (Note, however, that this is not exclusively a Roman Catholic practice. Some Episcopalians, for example, also genuflect in front of the altar.)
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The Romulan helmets shown aboard the Romulan bridge were designed to cover the ears of the actors. This saved the additional cost of creating prosthetic ear-points for each of the supporting actors. They were reused in Star Trek: Amok Time (1967) (on Vulcans) and Star Trek: The Enterprise Incident (1968) for the same reason.
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The title is based upon the concept of balance of power when there is parity or stability between competing forces.
This takes place in 2266.
This is the only time in which the ship's weaponry is fired through a chain of commands (Kirk, to Stiles, to phaser room), although Star Trek: The Corbomite Maneuver (1966) comes close with Bailey's phaser drills. This gives the episode more of its "submarine versus destroyer" feel.
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Dialogue in the episode establishes that there are multiple weapons batteries on board, with "helm" and "starboard" weapons being specifically mentioned.
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In the James Blish adaptation of this story, presumably based on an earlier draft of the script, Stiles dies. In addition, Robert Tomlinson and Angela Martine actually marry, in a second ceremony late in the story. When the Enterprise fires on the Romulan ship for the final time, the latter explodes immediately, with the conversation between Kirk and the Romulan commander being omitted.
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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.
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The viewscreen display shown as the Enterprise approaches the Neutral Zone shows Earth Outposts 1-7 in "Sector Z-6".
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The Romulan Empire is noticeably modelled after the Roman Empire. The terms Centurion and Praetor are borrowed from Ancient Rome. The only named Romulan in this story introduced himself as Decius, which is a Latin name used in Ancient Rome. Despite the heavy Roman theme, he is the only Romulan character throughout the entire run of the original franchise (1966-2002) to have a Latin or Roman name. This would not happen again until Star Trek (2009) with the Romulan character Nero.
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The trailer includes footage of the Enterprise firing its phasers from Star Trek: The Corbomite Maneuver (1966) instead of the "blast-like" phaser effect seen in the actual episode.
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According to Harlan Ellison, when Paul Schneider told him he had adapted The Enemy Below (1957) for television, Ellison then refused to speak to him
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47 reference: Kirk states that the Enterprise has been waiting motionless for 9 hours 47 minutes.
Regular first-season extra Ron Veto gets his only close-up in TOS, when he replaces Stiles at the navigation console.
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The preview trailer gives the stardate for this episode as 1710.0.
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The Romulan weapon is described by Spock as an "enveloping energy plasma".
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Several sources state that the ship's chapel was a redress of the transporter room. Yet in this episode, and the other episode the chapel is seen (Star Trek: The Tholian Web (1968)) the chapel is an obvious redress of the briefing room.
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The story of the events on Romulus leading up to this episode are told in the comic book "Alien Spotlight: Romulans".
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

In the original script, Hansen warns before he dies that the Romulans used stolen starship designs to build their ship. This is why Stiles believes there are spies on the Enterprise. The part was deleted from the final print.
In a deleted scene, before the Romulan Commander destroys his own ship, Kirk salutes him and the Commander responds with a small bow.
The Centurion's death scene was originally longer with more dialogue between the Romulan Commander and himself, but it was trimmed for time.
Kirk and the Romulan Commander share only one scene together and even then they only communicate over the viewscreen.
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In the William Shatner novel The Return, where Kirk is resurrected by a Borg/Romulan alliance to kill Captain Jean-Luc Picard, the Romulan alliance is arranged by the granddaughter of the Romulan commander of this mission, convinced that Starfleet are brutal murderers and seeking revenge for her grandfather's death at Kirk's hands.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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