Alien deception and a little familiar friend. Originally broadcast on November 10, 1966 this is The Corbomite Maneuver.
Captain’s Log Stardate 1512.2
Enterprise encounters a strange object in space that traps the ship forcing Enterprise to destroy it. Soon another alien vessel arrives revealing this was all a trap set by an alien named Balok who uses it to capture and destroy ships. After suspecting that this Balok is not who he appears to be, Kirk, taking the advice of Spock, plays a ‘game of poker’ with the Alien threat. Claiming that the ship is shielded with a material called Corbomite, Kirk explains that any attack on Enterprise will in fact destroy the alien ship instead. This results in the Enterprise not being destroyed but instead being captured by a tractor beam with Balok informing them that they will be going to see The First Federation where the crew will be placed in custody. Kirk soon takes a landing part to the Aliens ship where he discovers that Balok is nothing more than a rouse, and the real Balok is really a lonely alien who has found himself board and only wanted some entertainment. One of the crew agree to remain with Balok as a Human representative for a few days and Balok offers them a tour of his ship.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
The first thing you may notice is that not only the Uniforms are closer to what we have come to recognize in this series. Along with the uniforms, the crew is finally mostly fleshed out with Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Sulu and of course Scotty. (Chekov would not arrive for another season) The first thing you notice is, for a series made in the late 60’s, the crew is tremendously diverse. Not only do we have people of color on the ship itself, but there are offices of every race serving throughout the ship, as well as on the Bridge itself. This in and of itself is a monumental moment in television history as it shows a much more unified future for mankind. In fact, these people are not just working together, they are relying on one another and listening to one another as a team. Something that frankly was unheard of at the time. Now, as a modern viewer, this kind of thing can be easily missed or even dismissed, but considering the time period, this in and of itself was monumental.
With that, there is a LOT of depth in this episode. Not only do we have the traditional Alien threat that turns out to be something more, we also get a great view into the training and life aboard a ship with Kirk insisting that his crew be at ‘tip top shape’. This expectation is challenged by McCoy who notes the exhaustion in the crew, but Kirk is, at this point, a perfectionist and maintains that Enterprise can never operate at less that peak efficiency.
This push for perfection of course causes some issues with some of the crew as they are stretched thin, but Kirks resolve does not bend giving the Enterprise the solid backbone it needs to survive even the greatest of threats. One thing I love about this episode is how Kirk makes sure that his immediate response to an alien threat is not to fire upon it, but to learn about it or simply leave in peace. While Kirk somehow gets the reputation of being a warrior over time, this Kirk is very much a thinker and a tactician first and foremost and one that actually listens to his fellow bridge officers even when their advice isn’t exactly what he was wanting.
As for the story, it’s a pretty basic bluff of its own with the Alien threat being more akin to The Wizard of Oz and his giant head than an actual destructive being. Now, why the alien didnt just reach out and say ‘hey how’re you folks doing?’ I really dont know but, Balok is a pretty unique individual. Also, as a note, the ‘True form’ of Balok is played by none other than a VERY YOUNG Clint Howard, who would come back a few more times as various characters across the franchise.
Overall, The Corbomite Maneuver is a fun episode that, if it is your first time watching it, the twist is one of the coolest there is and is somewhat of an origin to it’s own kind of trope. That being said, the first time realizing that Balok is nothing more than a lonely bored trickster is a bit of an shock and, even though I knew what was going on, I still thought it was a solid and well plotted story.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- We never see or hear from Balok’s species again and never learn what the First Federation is exactly.
- This episode features Lt Bailey who will return again.
- The Phaser seen in this episode is a Type 1 hand phaser and would later be revealed that it could be attached to the Type II which is more commonly known.
- Uhura is wearing a gold uniform as opposed to her traditional Red Uniform.
- Redshirts Killed: 0:0
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Mudd’s Women
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Late To The Game 12/6/2021
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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