Robert Comsol wrote:
But then again, the cube could have been pre-programmed to have a mechanical failure before radiation levels really became lethal...
I'm thinking the First Federation has a tremendous technical advantage over the UFP. Balok (and company) probably knew far in advance that the Enterprise
was coming and already knew a great deal about the lifeforms aboard, that the Enterprise
was armed, etc.
Another recent thread examines alien "points of view." Actions speak louder than words. I imagine the First Federation had been watching the UFP for a long time, listening to its transmissions. Every test in the encounter with the Enterprise
was designed to provoke an extreme response (e.g. calling the UFP primitive, shaking them up and threatening them). It's easy to walk up to people who look friendly and "think the way you do." But how do you deal with people who are truly different?
Considering the way the Fesarius
effortlessly shut down selected
systems aboard the Enterprise
, I doubt the UFP is any threat to the First Federation. However, they'd want to evaluate the UFP before merely accepting them at face value. What if the Enterprise
had failed to past muster, as representatives of the UFP? Perhaps the First Federation would have isolated the UFP into its own volume of space, discreetly or not, to await further evaluation, or even destruction if deemed too dangerous.
A worthy adversary would have said "No, I won't take such a risk" (i.e. by drinking the Tranya Kirk and Co. revealed that they are not that "worthy" and far too trusting).
"Adversary" shows the mindset that Balok was trying to evaluate. The Fesarius
was in control of the entire encounter. That much should have been evident to Kirk the moment he beamed aboard the small ship. Accepting the tranya showed that he was not hell-bent on being an "adversary."
In the pilot episode of KUNG FU we see the young Caine waiting patiently outside the Shaolin temple, while others run for cover from the rain, amuse themselves with games—for which they are sent away. When Caine and the few remaining petitioners are led into the temple and offered tea, Caine waits. Was he worried about being poisoned? No, he had the manners to wait for the master to go first.
While it is obvious that poisoning was a consideration with the tranya, Kirk would have known that such a tactic was trivial for people who could do what he'd already seen them do. The Corbomite maneuver was a brilliant bluff, and no doubt Balok knew it was a bluff. Accepting the tranya was Kirk's acknowledgment that Balok knew about the bluff from the outset and that it was time to drop the bravado.
"A thousand questions, but first the tranya." The final test. "Let's break out some of your drinking stuff and celebrate the syndicate."
By the way, I still cringe at the way Kirk whips out his phaser the moment he finds the Franken-Balok doll. He continues to point the weapon at Balok (in violation of the first rule of gun safety) until he sits down.