59 "The Enterprise Incident"

(airdate: September 27, 1968)

Writer: D.C. Fontana
Director: John Meredyth Lucas

Romulan Commander: Joanne Linville

Tal: Jack Donner

Stardate: 5027.3

Captain's Log: Captain Kirk is behaving increasingly erratically, snapping at people and making questionable decisions. This culminates in his ordering the Enterprise into Romulan space, where it is soon surrounded by three Romulan vessels. Kirk and Spock go to the Romulan flagship to explain their presence to the Romulan commander, and Spock lets slip that Kirk has been under increased strain. Kirk attacks Spock and Spock kills him. While the Romulan commander tempts Spock with promises of a command in the Romulan fleet, Kirk's body is beamed back to the Enterprise, where it's revealed that he's not dead; this was all a ruse to gain access to the new Romulan cloaking device. While Spock distracts the commander, Kirk, disguised as a Romulan, beams to the flagship and steals their cloaking device. Beaming back to the Enterprise, Scotty installs it to use it to escape the Romulans and to head back into Federation space.

Whoops!: It's a little odd how it's the Romulan commander who declares that Kirk is unfit to command and that Spock must therefore take over; you'd think McCoy would raise an objection about proper procedure, at least - even if he is in on the plan at that point. There's also the matter of how trusting she is that Spock would betray the Federation so easily, without seeming to be the least bit suspicious of his motives. Love really does blind people to one's intentions.
     Why on Earth [should that be in the galaxy?] is Kirk the one disguised as a Romulan in order to steal the cloaking device? He's the one person the Romulans are likely to recognize on sight, what with his public display of defiance and being a prisoner on their ship and everything. Why not send Sulu or Chekov over instead? [The one possible explanation is that he's seen some of the layout of the ship, so he'll know where to go. But this is never brought up in the dialogue, and it still seems like a huge risk.] Then there's the Romulan officer who immediately encounters the disguised Kirk after he beams over to the flagship. Does this stalwart officer report Kirk for being in a restricted area, or question his story that he escaped the Enterprise and beamed over? No, he happily accepts Kirk at face value and sends him on his way, without even letting Subcommander Tal know that a former Federation captive has escaped and is coming to see him. [And incidentally, why don't the respective ships have their shields up, precisely to stop people from beaming back and forth between the ships, stealing cloaking devices and causing havoc?]
     The big one: Kirk is seen by the Romulans not only alive after his apparent death, but also still in Romulan makeup. So not only is it clear that there was a conspiracy at work to make Kirk seem dead, but it's also obvious how the theft of the cloaking device was accomplished. It therefore seems clear that this wasn't a work of a lone, crazed starship captain acting without authorization. So how is this not a massive diplomatic incident? It's bad enough when it's Kirk going rogue, but this is state-sanctioned espionage, which even ends with the Enterprise departing with three Romulan captives aboard. This, quite frankly, seems like enough of a reason to go to actual war, yet everyone acts like everything's back to normal at the end of the episode and they can lark about with transplanted tribes next week worry-free.
     An incredibly minor nitpick, but near the end of the episode Spock doesn't grab the handle in the turbolift to tell it where he wants to go.

Classic Lines: Spock after the Romulan commander invites him to dinner: "I am honored, Commander. Are the guards also invited?"

Alien Love: The Romulan commander seems to fall pretty hard for Spock, and Spock does his best to sustain her interest, going as far as to gently stroke her upraised fingers with his own and even to touch her face and to let her touch his. [Hot and heavy stuff for a Vulcan.] The ending leaves it somewhat ambiguous as to how much Spock was taken with the commander, although the answer is clearly more than "not at all".

Library Computer: The Romulans are now using ships of Klingon design. These ships consist of a vaguely trapezoidal shape with a rectangular raised section on the back, an engine nacelle on either side of the trapezoid, and a long neck emerging from the center, ending in a rounded "head" topped with a smaller flat trapezoid. [This is the first appearance by airdate of the Klingon battlecruiser, although it had also been used in "Elaan of Troyius", which was filmed prior but aired later. It's not immediately obvious why the Romulan Bird-of-Prey from "Balance of Terror" doesn't show up; one theory is that the shooting model had been destroyed by the time of "The Enterprise Incident".] There is a symbol aboard the ship above the commander's quarters, consisting of a yellow hexagon with a smaller black hexagon inside, with a blue elongated hexagon emerging from the top of the black one, a red one from the lower left, and a green one from the lower right. [This is intended to be the symbol of the Romulan Empire, although you can't tell that from how it's used.]
     A Federation ship entering Romulan space is in violation of treaties and consequently of galactic import. It's standard Romulan procedure to destroy an invading ship, unless the ship is something they think would be a great prize, such as the Enterprise. The flagship seen here is led by a female Romulan commander, who wears a slightly different uniform from the other Romulans: instead of pants she wears a skirt (or possibly a short dress, given that the material is the same as the tunic), but instead of just the colored sash, the right side of her uniform, including the sleeve, is a reddish-magenta color. The back part of the sash is still attached to her uniform. The Romulan uniform includes sleeves with holes that loop over the thumb. The commander has a first name which, according to Spock, is rare and beautiful. Serving under her is Subcommander Tal, who seems more involved with the day-to-day operations of the ship. The Romulans have methods that can make humans speak, although they are ineffective against Vulcans. They use communication devices which are kept on top of consoles and in alcoves throughout the ship; these devices are inserted into the ear when in use. The Romulans are related to the Vulcans [as assumed, but not confirmed, in "Balance of Terror"], with their forebears having the "same roots and origins." They consider Vulcans to be distant brothers, and the Enterprise's sensors reads the two races as almost exactly the same, with only a slight difference between the two. The Romulans know enough about Vulcan to prepare special Vulcan cuisine, although they were not aware that Spock was aboard the Enterprise. They also provide a blue liquid that Spock and the commander imbibe. [It's tempting to call this Romulan ale, as first referenced in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but the color's not quite right.] Romulan women are, according to the commander, different from Vulcan women in that they are not dedicated to logic and the supression of emotion. She describes the Romulans as warriors, "often savage", but also capable of "many other pleasant things". State criminals are executed in a painful and unpleasant manner. Romulans give the accused the right of statement, allowing them to record a statement before they're executed. They carry sidearms that look rather like large, silver, futuristic flintlock pistols.
     The Romulans have developed a new cloaking device that makes their ships completely undetectable, either visually or with sensors - not even the Romulans themselves can detect a cloaked vessel. The device itself is roughly a meter in height, consisting of a large white globe topped with a metal cylinder running through a wider grey cylinder [which is actually Nomad's head, from "The Changeling"]. The device is located in a guarded room near the commander's quarters. It can be removed without too much difficulty. It can also be connected to a Starfleet starship's deflector shield control, although it's not a straightforward job to do so.
     Kirk and Spock were under orders to steal the new cloaking device for the Federation. They established Kirk as acting irrationally, thus making his incursion into Romulan territory the act of an unhinged, lone captain rather than a state-sanctioned espionage mission. This gave the Federation distance from the affair in case anything went wrong and giving both the Federation and the other people aboard the Enterprise plausible deniability.
     A Romulan guard identifies the disguised Kirk as a centurion. [It's not remotely obvious what makes him a centurion. The best guess is the blue sash he's wearing, as none of the guards seem to be wearing a sash of any kind. The problem with that is that the centurion in "Balance of Terror" was wearing a magenta sash like the commander was.]
     A subspace message sent to Starfleet Command from the Enterprise's position in Romulan territory will take three weeks to arrive.
     Kirk states that the Enterprise is two months overdue for an overhaul. [This is said to the Romulan commander, so it may not be true. On the other hand, it could be true, to give Kirk's story a veneer of truth - and McCoy does note that they've been on patrol too long "without relief or diversion".]
     Vulcans are apparently incapable of lying. There is no such thing as a Vulcan death grip, but the Romulans don't know that. Spock pretends there is such a thing by grabbing Kirk's face and surreptitiously administering a nerve pinch to simulate death. [This nerve pinch is different from normal in that Spock doesn't grab Kirk's shoulder, like he typically would; instead one hand is on Kirk's face while the other is placed against his chest.]
     The Enterprise can travel at warp 9.
     Spock has been a Starfleet officer for eighteen years.
     Chekov is left-handed.

Final Analysis: "I say now and for the record that Captain Kirk ordered the Enterprise across the Neutral Zone on his own initiative and his craving for glory." A reasonably intriguing first half gives way to a somewhat slower second half: once it's revealed what's actually going on, it feels like it takes slightly too long to get to the resolution. Joanne Linville does a fine job as the Romulan commander, although it's a bit disappointing how easily she's taken in by Spock's traitor act. Not exactly an outstanding episode so much as a solid one.

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