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

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  • 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.

  • Outposts along the neutral zone abutting Romulan space have been vanishing. When Outpost #4 next falls under attack, it becomes clear that a Romulan ship is testing new weapons against the Federation. No human's ever seen a Romulan before, and the first sight of one, bearing a strong resemblance to Vulcans, has some worried that there are traitors already within the Federation (namely Mr. Spock). Kirk must deal with these divisive suspicions amongst the crew as the Enterprise fully engages the Romulans and its seasoned commander in a battle of wits and tactics that could leave one or the other or both ships' crews dead.

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


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • This episode begins with a wedding between Lt. Tomlinson and Lt. Angela Martine. They are at the chapel standing side by side, Tomlinson in his uniform, and Angela in her nice uniform with black leggings and boots. Kirk is performing the ceremony. (This is what you have to do on active duty, because chaplains are not permitted on war vessels. The Captain must preside). They are coming to the part where they both are supposed to say "I do," but WAIT!!

    The ship is under attack. "Back to your posts!! We will finish the wedding later."

    Who do you think is attacking the Enterprise? It is the 'Romulan Empire' (who resemble Vulcans, like Mr Spock). So now it is warfare!! Who is smarter, Kirk or the Romulan Commander?

    Aboard the Romulan ship, which possesses a 'cloaking device' to make it invisible, the men tell their Commander "We must go for the kill! A Federation starship is a great prize. We will be honored when we return."

    But the Commander knows they are low on fuel, and weary from battles. He wants to bring his ship and crew home safely. But the men keep saying "We must destroy the Enterprise." (Also, there are no women on the Romulan vessel, as there are on the Enterprise).

    Meanwhile, Kirk's ship is badly damaged, and Kirk decides to keep the power low, to pretend to be "dead in the water" to bait the Romulans. The end is near. Suddenly there is an explosion in auxiliary control, where Mr Stiles has been working with another crewman. Mr Stiles is a very prejudiced man. He has been making accusations about Mr Spock, because he looks just like the enemy, because of his ears. He accuses Spock of being a spy. That is why Kirk sent him on the repair mission. After the explosion, there is smoke pouring out of the auxiliary control room.

    Mr Spock is passing by and sees the smoke. He runs in and is choking, and pulls one of the men out safely, but the other chokes to death.

    On the bridge, Kirk's plan is working. The Romulan commander is baited, and Kirk waits for him to bring his ship close and for him to turn off the cloaking shield, so to be able to fire torpedoes.

    Kirk waits till the last second, and commands "Fire!!" The Enterprise phasers cripple the Romulan ship. He radios the Commander, who he sees on the viewscreen, standing, near death, among his dying crew.

    "Beam your survivors here," says Kirk. "We are merciful to prisoners". Kirk was not lying.

    But the Commander is a good soldier and says "It is not our way." Then he detonates his own ship with all of the remaining crew on board.

    McCoy reports in from Sickbay on the intercom. "Spock and Mr. Stiles are recovering," McCoy says. "But we have one casualty from the explosion in the control room."

    "Who?" says Kirk.

    McCoy pauses.

    "Lt. Tomlinson" he says, and Kirk is shocked.

    The groom at the wedding.

    Kirk is devastated. He goes to see Angela in the wedding chapel. She is crying. He tells her things to make her feel better. There will be no wedding, only mourning.

    Luckily, in the next episode,"Shore Leave", Angela has a new boyfriend named Esteban, so all is resolved.

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