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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old October 23 2013, 08:59 PM   #1
Crazy Eddie
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THIS IS BALOK!

Corbomite Maneuver is easily one of my top five trek episodes of all time (all series, even) for a lot of reasons, right up through a relatively satisfiying ending. I had the pleasure of watching that episode again last night right after my son went to bed, and I was on in the middle of nuking cup-a-noodles when suddenly it hit me:

What would Balok have done if Kirk hadn't bluffed him? Which leads to the real question of just how exactly Balok's "test" was originally supposed to play out, and more importantly, what was the real aim of it anyway.

Think about this: Balok had to discover Kirk's real intentions. He hadn't counted on Kirk bluffing about the Corbomite thing. So what exactly would be the endgame when the timer ticked to zero and it was destruction time? Would Balok suddenly say "I changed my mind, I will tow you away now" anyway? Or would he have faked a sudden mechanical failure on the Fesarius?

Considering this, I think we should consider a rather scary alternative: Balok didn't decide to test them until AFTER the Corbomite Bluff. He didn't want to risk that maybe Kirk was telling the truth, so he decided to test their intentions to see if their claimed "respect for intelligent life" really held up to scrutiny. IOW: Balok really WOULD have destroyed the Enterprise if not for his curiosity/uncertainty about the Corbomite Device. That has some interesting implications for Balok's character IMO: he's presented, in the end, as a sympathetic little guy with only the best of intentions, but he is in fact kind of a hardass who just happens to respect a worthy adversary.

Thoughts?
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Old October 23 2013, 09:25 PM   #2
Mr. Laser Beam
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Re: THIS IS BALOK!

Before I clicked on the thread I thought it was going to be another Leonidas threadbomb.
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Old October 23 2013, 09:26 PM   #3
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Re: THIS IS BALOK!

Quite possibly. I've always seen the First Federation as being very defensive and wary of outside threats due to their smallness, and thus putting on a big, scary show to protect their territory. So their "tests" of the intentions of alien interlopers might well have ended with the destruction of anyone they feared might pose a threat. And they might have been inclined to err on the side of caution.
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Old October 23 2013, 10:14 PM   #4
Melakon
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Re: THIS IS BALOK!

The First Federation is one race I wish had made a return appearance in the later series. If nothing else, we could have found out what happened to Dave Bailey.
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Old October 23 2013, 10:50 PM   #5
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Re: THIS IS BALOK!

I've been wanting to write The Definitive First Federation Novel for years, but the circumstances haven't come together yet.
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Old October 23 2013, 11:31 PM   #6
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Re: THIS IS BALOK!

Melakon wrote: View Post
The First Federation is one race I wish had made a return appearance in the later series. If nothing else, we could have found out what happened to Dave Bailey.
The late Balok and First Federation pop up in the Shatnerverse novels, especially "Preserver," which I enjoy tremendously. The lit board kind of sneers at the Shatnerverse stories, but to me they're the absolute best. (After Christopher's books, of course )
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Old October 23 2013, 11:44 PM   #7
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Re: THIS IS BALOK!

Christopher wrote: View Post
I've been wanting to write The Definitive First Federation Novel for years, but the circumstances haven't come together yet.
I have three words for you, Christopher:

Make it so.
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Old October 24 2013, 12:02 AM   #8
Melakon
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Re: THIS IS BALOK!

Maybe Clint Howard has had a chance to think about it over the years.
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Old October 24 2013, 12:17 AM   #9
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Re: THIS IS BALOK!

Melakon wrote: View Post
If nothing else, we could have found out what happened to Dave Bailey.
I suspect Bailey "snapped" from Balok's annoying laughter day after day.

Here are a couple of links where I described slight variations upon a twisted "what if" scenario.

http://www.trekbbs.com/showpost.php?...95&postcount=7

http://www.trekbbs.com/showpost.php?...5&postcount=29

Sincerely,

Bill
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Old October 24 2013, 12:23 AM   #10
Melakon
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Re: THIS IS BALOK!

Redfern wrote: View Post
Melakon wrote: View Post
If nothing else, we could have found out what happened to Dave Bailey.
I suspect Bailey "snapped" from Balok's annoying laughter day after day.
Good theories in those other posts. Dave Bailey, locked in a cell with Lon Suder and Norman Bates.
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Old October 24 2013, 08:22 AM   #11
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Re: THIS IS BALOK!

One of those giant First Federation golfball ships up against a Borg cube would have been an interesting battle.
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Old October 24 2013, 12:04 PM   #12
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Re: THIS IS BALOK!

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
I had the pleasure of watching that episode again last night right after my son went to bed.
I hope your son is still too young to watch Star Trek, otherwise I would have to wonder what kind of Dad you are...

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
So what exactly would be the endgame when the timer ticked to zero and it was destruction time? Would Balok suddenly say "I changed my mind, I will tow you away now" anyway? Or would he have faked a sudden mechanical failure on the Fesarius?
I assume that he would have been somewhat impressed how Kirk and crew faced death and didn't beg for mercy. That could have been the mind changer to explain that they are kept alive for further examination and during the towing of the Enterprise he would have conducted the second character test (we saw in the episode).

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
IMO: he's presented, in the end, as a sympathetic little guy with only the best of intentions, but he is in fact kind of a hardass who just happens to respect a worthy adversary.
I don't think so. He could have poisoned Kirk and company with his Tranya (and apparently they considered this possibility). 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).

The cube at the beginning of the episode is a different thing. The crew of an unarmed space vessel could have been killed because of the increasing radiation. But then again, the cube could have been pre-programmed to have a mechanical failure before radiation levels really became lethal...

Bob
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Old October 24 2013, 02:07 PM   #13
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Re: THIS IS BALOK!

Robert Comsol wrote: View Post
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.
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Old October 24 2013, 02:39 PM   #14
Richard Baker
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Re: THIS IS BALOK!

Tranya could have been poisonous to humans not Balok's race, just like Wolf could drink Klingon Tea that Pulaski had to drink an antidote before consuming.
I do think it was a final test of trust though- friendly diplomatic relations require a leap of faith, you must accept the fact the other person is not going to try and destroy you.
What I love about the Corbomite bluff is that it was a defensive weapon- it would only work if the vessel was destroyed by a hostile force.

In the fan film 'Of Gods and Men' you see a First Federation Ball ship in the final battle- it is damaged but it was so nice to see it on screen again...
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Old October 24 2013, 04:26 PM   #15
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Re: THIS IS BALOK!

Richard Baker wrote: View Post
Tranya could have been poisonous to humans not Balok's race
I considered that, though did not mention it specifically. It was covered in the general idea that the First Federation knows a lot about the UFP. In the same way that Balok is a token shorthand for an alien, the offering of a drink is a gesture of protocol that would be understood by the audience. After scanning the Enterprise's data banks, Balok would know what he could safely offer the humans.

(Consider the task of digesting that much information in the time indicated by the story. If Balok himself did not have that capacity, then the Fesarius must have an amazing cybernet system. How about the sparkly cloth band he wears on his head—is that an interface that allows him to use the Fesarius and its systems as an extension of himself? How much more is there to the First Federation than meets the eye?)
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