TOS 1x02 The Corbomite Maneuver
The more I see this episode, the better it gets. When writing, I was just about to call it "mildly entertaining"
, but after giving it even another try, "mildly"
really doesn't seem to do it justice after all. It's definitely a tad more than just that.
The episode has its lengths. Most obvious is this in the last third, when Balok's pilot vessel is "guiding" Kirk, who in turn tries breaking free from Balok's grip. Although I do understand that stakes are being raised in their little game of poker, I still feel that some things could have been done in far less screen time. But as it is, the episode keeps growing on me.
You just gotta love how Kirk is playing poker with Balok, not knowing that he's the one being played. Even more so: by a "child", because Balok himself is the big bluff. Vintage Star Trek.
In that regard, "Maneuver" is an interesting character study complete with important message and "Wizard of Oz"-like twist at the end.
"Maneuver" marks the first appearance of Uhura and Yeoman Rand, who gets told to stop hovering. First thing Kirk says to her. This is in essence just a variation of last episode's "Get out of here!" Kirk's really not having his best day, so even McCoy gets an angry reminder in mid-episode.
One possible in-universe explanation for this? Erratic costume changes. Starfleet is a little slow delivering the right uniforms, so everyone's wearing whatever's available. You sure can't blame Kirk for getting agitated fast with all this confusion.
But not just Kirk, no; McCoy and Spock too seem to suffer under the circumstances.
McCOY: I'm a doctor, not a moon shuttle conductor.
Oh my, what a start! Did the person responsible for this inspired example of screenwriting actually try speaking this? What is a "moon shuttle conductor" anyway?
Also: Spock tells Bailey it is (quote) "not necessary to raise your voice". The last two episodes render this somehow unintentionally funny.
We are only at day #3 of our marathon, but I'm pretty convinced that "glowing orange cubicle mystery theme"
(TM) might just be the single most iconic and/or memorable tune in the franchise. Only thing is it tends to get old a little fast.
Every time we the audience are supposed to be on the edge of our seats, we are told so by a sudden flare of "cubicle mystery theme".
KIRK: Kirk here. What's going on?
SPOCK: Have a look at this, captain.
Spock pushes button.
DA-DA DA-DA-DA-DA DA-DA, DO-DO DO-DO-DO-DO DO-DO!!
In any case, I really like this one. In the key moments, it's Kirk as we know and love him: full of optimism, willing to take risks and absolutely sure of himself. Through his actions and passionate assertion near the end of the episode, he reminds us that the Enterprise and her voyages are ultimately about just the ideals that we got (today for the first time) introduced to in the opening narration.
On a sidenote: Even though we don't see Chekov until Season Two, it is goodbye to Bailey at this stage. So for how long did Bailey stay with Balok (played by the then seven year-old brother of film director Ron Howard)?
Well, for quite a considerable amount of time, it seems. The Voyager short story "Ambassador at Large"
(published as part of the anthology "Strange New Worlds I"
) mentions a century of exploring the Alpha and Delta Quadrant alongside Balok before running into Captain Janeway's crew at the dawn of the Dominion War.
- BAILEY: We've only got eight minutes left!
SULU: Seven minutes and forty-five seconds.
BAILEY: He's doin' a countdown!!
- BAILEY: Raising my voice back there doesn't mean I was scared or couldn't do my job. It means I happen to have a human thing called an adrenaline gland.
SPOCK: It does sound most inconvenient, however. Have you considered having it removed?
- "I know, I know. A thousand questions. But first, the tranya" (Balok)