Trek Review: “Balance of Terror”

Before I begin my thoughts, watch this trailer for the 1957 20th Century-Fox film, “The Enemy Below”…

Now, imagine some of that out in deep space.  That in a nutshell is the episode “Balance of Terror.”

This show introduces one of the hallmark alien races of the Trek universe… the Romulans.

You have to imagine what it was like for 1966 viewers to see that this new war like race looked the same as Spock.  I surely would have thought about all of the plot possibilities that the writers could go with in future episodes with this new race being unveiled.

This story itself is very enthralling.  However, one or two minor things that I love to nitpick about.  This is assuming, of course, that you have already seen the episode (which I assume in all of these posts as a standard, by the way.)

First of all is the Stiles character itself.  I find it hard to believe exclusively that anyone in a bright future that this 23rd Century entails could hold any kind of bigotry towards someone like Spock.  Anyone on the Enterprise should full well know that if it’s First Officer is anything but loyal, he wouldn’t be in that position.  I have to take exception with that characterization.  It’s OK to certainly have some misgivings, but I think they went a little heavy-handed with it.  If they had toned it back a bit, I wouldn’t have such a problem with it.  Then again, there is no motivation left for having that in the story if you dial it back.  So, I guess it has to stay, right?  (I realize that I’ve just talked myself into a corner.)

The other thing is the safety of working in the phaser room.  If you know the phasers are damaged, shouldn’t you be taking proper precautions.  Check this out…

I mean, shouldn’t Tomlinson and Stiles have known that could possibly happen?  Of course, they didn’t.  But still, why is something like that so exposed to anyone working in that room?  It probably would have worked better had the room exploded.  (OK, now I’m overthinking it a bit.)

Don’t get me wrong, this little nit-picky behavior on my part doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of this episode.  Paul Schneider wrote a great script, and it was masterfully directed by Vincent McEveety.   This one is still highly recommended.

Next week, Star Trek took a week off and showed a repeat of “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” (which aired back on October 20th.)   Here is the trailer that presumably aired during that repeat telecast, for “Shore Leave”.