Enter The Romulans.  Originally broadcast on December 15, 1966 this is Balance of Terror.

The Episode:

Captain’s Log Stardate 1709.1

While officiating a wedding, Captain Kirk learns that several of Earths outposts along the neutral zone have been attacked by an unknown assailant.  They soon learn that it is the Romulans responsible and, after catching up to the Romulan vessel undetected, discover that the alien crew look very similar to Vulcans.  Spock surmises that they could be a related species and, if they are, they could also be highly dangerous.  Kirk attacks forcing Enterprise to enter the Neutral Zone in pursuit.  After an intense battle between the ships, the Romulan Commander contacts Kirk to inform him that Enterprise has won and Kirk himself has the Romulan Commander’s respect.  Setting their self destruct, the Romulan ship explodes.  In the end Kirk learns that the groom in the interrupted wedding died during the attack and consoles the late officers fiancé. 

Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:

This is certainly one of the more intense episodes so far.   In it, we finally see a truly threatening situation for Kirk and his crew as they face an enemy that no one has seen in many years. This is by far the most serious episode in the series thus far with hardly a moment of levity.  In fact, the only positive moment, a wedding, is quickly interrupted in the opening moments showing us that, there will be very little to celebrate in this battle with the Romulan Star Empire.  The tension in this episode is almost palpable with elements not unlike that of a submarine battle.  In many ways I get the sense that films such as Das Boot and Hunt for Red October took note of this story, using it as somewhat of a guide for what a ship battle should be like.  

It is worth noting that this is the first appearance of the Romulans in Star Trek history giving the Federation a foe that would continue through most of the franchise.  I really love the fact that the lore is so well established even at the outset that even their relationship to Vulcans is there causing friction between Spock and members of the crew.  There are even moments where it seems that Spock could in fact be a Romulan spy but, of course, we know that to be untrue.  However, back when this first aired, there was no way anyone could know what they had planned for the future of this series and how the Romulans would help shape the Star Trek universe from that day forward.

Overall, this is one of the most well written and plotted episodes of the series, one that has stood the test of time and begs for a true followup in the future of Star Trek. 

Gleanings and Cool Bits:

  • The Romulan Commander is played by none other than Mark Lenard who would later appear as Spock’s father, Serek of Vulcan.
  • We never find out what happens to Angela Martine, the bride-to-be who lost her fiancé in the attack. 
  • This would mark the first official violation of the Romulan Neutral Zone on the Star Trek series, as well as the first use of a cloaking device.
  • Uhura takes the Conn in this episode showing that she is a truly versatile officer and can also access Communications from that station. 
  • 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: What Are Little Girls Made Of?

For more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.

Spock would remember to never attempt to tell a Vulcan joke on the bridge again.

As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!

Late To The Game 12/20/2021

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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