9 "Balance of Terror"

(airdate: December 15, 1966)

Writer: Paul Schneider
Director: Vincent McEveety

Romulan Commander: Mark Lenard
The Centurion: John Warburton
Robert Tomlinson: Stephen Mines

Stiles: Paul Comi
Decius: Lawrence Montaigne
Angela Martine: Barbara Baldavin

Stardate: 1709.2

Captain's Log: The Enterprise is investigating the disappearance of two Earth outposts near the Neutral Zone between Earth and the Romulan Star Empire when they receive a distress call from a third: an unidentified vessel has attacked them with an incredibly powerful weapon. The vessel cannot be traced, as they have apparently developed a method of becoming invisible. This is a Romulan vessel, with a crew that look like Vulcans. The Enterprise and the Romulan vessel engage in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, each attempting to outmaneuver the other, and while both sides sustain casualties, ultimately the Enterprise is triumphant. The Romulan commander sets his vessel to self-destruct, definitively ending the skirmish.

Whoops!: The dialogue refers to the planets Romulus and Remus, but the diagram on the viewscreen shows Romulus and Romii. [To be fair, there's nothing to say that Romii isn't some additional planet or moon nearby and that Remus just isn't shown, but that doesn't seem to be the intended meaning.
    [One possibility might be that Romii is intended to be the Romulan sun, but without a better idea of the scales involved it's difficult to know for certain. There is a scale provided on the diagram (a line indicating 5000, which seems to scale in such a way that each grid section measures 2000 across), but no units are provided, so we don't know if it's meant to be light years, astronomical units, gigameters, or something else. (Although the Enterprise can scan the former locations of both Outposts 2 and 3 from the same position, which appear to be 3000 units apart, so light years is unlikely unless the sensors are really powerful.) On the other hand, Romii appears to be smaller than Romulus, which may be significant. Perhaps unsurprisingly, fandom hasn't really come to a firm consensus regarding Romii.]
    The shots of the Enterprise from underneath (usually phaser shots) are all slightly blurry, like there's a double exposure of the ship that's not quite lined up.
    There's also an odd moment where Lt. Stiles is suddenly worried about Romulan spies aboard the Enterprise (and this is before we see that they look like Spock), with no clear reason why he should be - and just as bafflingly, Sulu agrees with him. [This is because there was a cut scene with Commander Hansen where he brings up the idea of espionage with regards to the design of the Romulan ship, which leads to Stiles' suspicions. This was possibly cut because the final design of the Bird-of-Prey doesn't really look like a Starfleet design, but it leads to the draft artifact about spies.] And we could probably query the "running silent" part of the episode, since sound doesn't travel in a vacuum, but given that the Romulan ship does pick up the noise Spock accidentally makes, it may be the case that sensors can pick up loud sounds from inside a ship.

Classic Lines: McCoy: "In this galaxy, there's a mathematical probability of three million Earth-type planets. And in all of the universe, three million million galaxies like this. And in all of that, and perhaps more, only one of each of us. Don't destroy the one named Kirk."
    Romulan commander to Kirk: "I regret that we meet in this way. You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you friend."

Don't Wear a Red Shirt: The Enterprise reports 22 non-fatal casualties after the Romulans' nuclear weapon explodes, mainly radiation burns from the outer parts of the ship. Lt. Tomlinson dies in phaser control, overcome by toxic phaser coolant fumes.

Library Computer: The Earth-Romulan War was a century ago. It was fought using primitive atomic weapons and in primitive space vessels. No captives were ever taken by either side, and no visual contact was established; thus, up to this point, no human, Romulan, or ally had [officially] seen the other side. [Star Trek: Enterprise will show that that's not quite true.] The conflict ended with a treaty (negotiated via subspace radio) that established the Neutral Zone that ran through Sector Z-6 [which is probably in Galaxy Quadrant YX-12-114, based on the book in the Enterprise briefing room]. Entry of one side into the other's territory would constitute an act of war. At least eight Earth outposts were set up along the Earth's side of the Neutral Zone, and up to this point the treaty had remained unbroken. [Starfleet]'s current orders are that no provocation is considered sufficient reason to violate the Neutral Zone, and that the Enterprise and the Earth outposts are considered expendable. Lt. Stiles had several family members, including a Captain Stiles, who fought and died in the war. Romulan ships at the time had a bird-of-prey painted on them.
     The Romulan Star Empire was the area controlled by the Romulans, which included the planets Romulus and Remus. [The initial Captain's Log implies that it's really only the immediate area surrounding these planets that is part of the Romulan Empire, rather than a larger swath of territory, but subsequent episodes will cast doubt on that conclusion.] Earth believed the Romulans to be warlike, cruel, and treacherous. This is born out somewhat by what we see here, although they seem to have a sense of duty and honor as well. The Romulans look like Vulcans, and Spock theorizes that the Romulans are an off-shoot of the Vulcan race. [This will be confirmed by the Romulans in "The Enterprise Incident".] They are incredibly militaristic (the Romulan centurion speaks of having seen "a hundred campaigns" with the Romulan commander - that said, the commander is noticeably war-weary, so it's not that they all thrive on war), and they are ruled by a praetor. Their uniforms consist of a loose-knit beige tunic over a black shirt, with a thick black belt. Their pants have a pattern of small black-and-colored triangles (the color matching the sash they wear over their right shoulder), and they wear tall black boots and black gloves. [The color of the sash/pants may indicate rank or position: the commander and the centurion are both in red/dark magenta, while the other crewmen are wearing blue.] Some of the Romulans are wearing tight-fitting gold helmets that reach down to their jawline and around their chin. They salute by placing their right fist over their left breast, with the arm parallel to the ground.
     The Romulan vessel is grey, consisting of a central section shaped like a semicircle attached to a trapezoid (with the larger base attached to the semicircle), with a wing stretching out in either direction, more or less in the same plane as the main section. Each wing ends in a long cylinder [presumably the ship's engines], and there is a fin sticking up from the midsection of the center section to the back. A smaller raised portion is on top of the center part. The underside is painted with a large bird of prey in orange and black. [This vessel is generally referred to as a Romulan Bird-of-Prey, but that name never actually appears on screen as a name during the original series, but simply as a description of the design; in fact, its first on-screen use as a name is describing a Klingon vessel, in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.] This particular vessel is the praetor's "finest and proudest" flagship. It is equipped with a powerful weapon that fires a red ball of high-energy plasma; this weapon can pulverize asteroids and make cast rodinium - the hardest material known to [Federation] science - as brittle as an eggshell. Deflector screens are largely useless against it, and it is superior to the Enterprise's weapons; however, it does have a limited range, after which the ball of plasma begins to dissipate. The ship is also equipped with a practical invisibility screen - the Romulans refer to it as a "cloaking system" - that makes the ship fade from view; nevertheless, it can be detected with motion sensors, albeit not accurately. The power cost of the cloaking system is enormous, draining much of the ship's fuel supply. [Spock notes that the theoretical power cost of an invisibility screen is high, and his comment that "they may have solved that problem" suggests that there's been no practical ship-sized cloaking device before this.] Scotty remarks that the Romulan vessel's power is "simple impulse", which means that the Enterprise can outrun them. [The clear implication is that the Romulan vessel doesn't have warp capability, despite the appearance of what looks like warp nacelles on the wings. This makes a bit more sense if the Romulan Star Empire really is just the immediate area surrounding Romulus and Remus, although even then that's a long journey. It might make more sense, though, if the Romulan ship can only run on impulse power while cloaked, and that it's subsequently used up too much fuel to go to warp.] Their bridge consists of a small room with a central four-sided control console, each side of which is manned by a crewman. The ship is fitted with a self-destruct system that includes old-style nuclear warheads.
     The Earth outposts set up along the Neutral Zone appear to have been constructed on asteroids. [Well, Outposts 2, 3, and 4 have, at least.] Outpost 4 is described as a mile deep on an asteroid through almost solid iron. They have deflector shields. Commander Hansen was in charge of Outpost 4. He wore a gold uniform with a patch that looked like a shallow semicircle attached to a rounded triangle, with the triangle pointing to the wearer's left. (It's a lot like a shield or egg shape turned on its side.) Outposts 2, 3, and 4 were destroyed by the Romulan vessel.
     The Enterprise has a chapel, where the captain can perform ship-based weddings, and a phaser control room, where the weapons are actually fired. The control room is manned by at least four crewmembers, including Lieutenant Robert Tomlinson and Ensign Angela Martine. This room also includes a [coolant] box marked "UV5" next to a warning ("Phaser Coolant Seal DANGER"). When coolant begins leaking, it appears to be a pink gas. There is also a control circuit for the phasers on the bridge, the transfer coil for which is located beneath the science station. The phasers themselves can be set for a proximity blast [which looks more like photon torpedoes than standard phasers] that can be detonated a certain distance from the ship. In addition, the Enterprise also has a space recorder that can be jettisoned with relevant information (presumably for others to find in the event of the destruction of the ship).
    Vulcan had an aggressive colonizing period, which according to Spock was savage "even by Earth standards".
    Comet Icarus IV is an ordinary magnitude 7 comet, containing an ionized mass and a trail of frozen vapor particles. These particles can obscure anything inside from the Enterprise's sensors.
    The Enterprise has a book labeled "Table of Comets" and subtitled "Galaxy Quadrant YX-12-114" [the subtitle is barely legible on-screen, but is confirmed by the script].

Final Analysis: "Do we violate the treaty, Captain? ... Once inside, they can claim we did. A setup. They want war, we furnish the provocation." The show's take on submarine films like The Enemy Below and Run Silent, Run Deep is a triumph. The palpable sense of tension throughout the episode makes for a gripping drama, and Mark Lenard excels as the Romulan commander. And it's an inspired idea, making the Romulans an off-shoot of the Vulcans but not having the crew turn against Spock; only Stiles does, and he's clearly shown to be in the wrong, neatly underlining the anti-bigotry message. Paul Schneider creates a powerful and memorable adversary in the Romulans, with a culture and philosophy deftly outlined in a few broad strokes - it's little wonder that they stuck around.

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