Balance of Terror

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Coloratura, Mar 4, 2009.

  1. Coloratura

    Coloratura Snuggle Princess Premium Member

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    Balance of Terror is what I consider, without a doubt, one of the best Star Trek episodes, and in that I include every series, ever put on celluloid. The strategy, the action, the tension, the character interaction, coupled with Mark Lenard's impeccable performance, all of this comes together so flawlessly in this episode.

    I do have a question.

    In the scene near the end when they're waiting one another out and running "silent", why are they whispering? Now, running silent I can understand. Shut down and try to eliminate all energy signatures, but the whispering I just don't get. Does it add to the suspense?

    J.
     
  2. Alyssa

    Alyssa Commander Red Shirt

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    I always (over)thought that they might be doing it becouse loud voices or shouting would cause vibrations in the hull of the ship that the enemy could detect, but when I think about that TOO much it just seems like a desperate attempt an fanwanking so I just assume that is was more to build tension than anything else. :D
     
  3. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Yup.

    Water carries voices and other vibrations very well, so it makes sense to whisper in a submarine or a ship to avoid detection by passive sonar. Which is why they do it in old and new naval war movies alike, rather realistically - and why it was considered dramatically right to do it here, too.

    However, the only way the Romulans could hope to observe the vibrations of the starship's hull is if they could observe the hull (say, by a ranging laser or somesuch) - at which point there would be no reason to run silent any more, as the Romulans would already have Kirk's ship at their crosshairs.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  4. erastus25

    erastus25 Commodore Commodore

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    I think it does do an excellent job of building tension even though it's not necessary. And I always figured it was some kind of human instinct to talk quieter when in "stealth" mode or when in the dark. I know I probably would too, in the same situation.
     
  5. Vance

    Vance Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's a technical screwup, due to the episode being based on submarine warfare. You could potentially argue that the sensors on each ship could detect the sound affecting the ships themselves, I suppose (they would have to be insanely good sensors)... but, really, best to chalk this one up to 'Hollywoodism' and roll.
     
  6. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    I don't know why they whisper, its not really a sub.

    I did finally have the pleasure of watching the uncut hd-dvd version, and although I wish they had done more to the episdoe, the remastering is now the official version in my book.

    RAMA
     
  7. Cakes488

    Cakes488 Commodore Commodore

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    This HD-DVD version...that's different than the remastered version...right?

    All these versions are starting to get me confused...and I'm starting to feel a little old. Soon I won't be able to work the VCR ;)
     
  8. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Vibrations on the hull would need to have gas/fluid molecules around it for there to be anything really detectable, like a submarine in water. In space, it's a vacuum--the absence of matter. Thus, no vibration issue there whatsoever.

    Certainly, as Timo pointed out, submarine warfare was rather keen in the minds of people back in the day of TOS and the whole "silent running" idea was carried over as a result. It's difficult to find any plausibility in it...

    As a totally out of the blue guess, I'd say that it's to avoid any possible electronic emanations. With everyone being vocally silent, they're also more careful about not touching anything that might give off a signal. Of course, somebody does end up making a mistake and accidentally touches one of those loud feedback jelly bean controls on the console. ;)
     
  9. Coloratura

    Coloratura Snuggle Princess Premium Member

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    It looks like the general consensus is that it was more to ratchet up the tension, then. Because even a basic understanding of how sound travels would negate the need for silence in space. That being said, the tension works. :D

    This particular episode was one of the remastered ones, and I had watched it last night on Netflix. Not only did it look great, but it reminded me of how well developed the show was becoming at this point.

    Plus, I just wanted to beat Styles in the back of the head.

    J.
     
  10. Outpost4

    Outpost4 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They're whispering because THERE COULD BE A ROMULAN SPY ON BOARD!

    See, now everyone knows.
     
  11. Coloratura

    Coloratura Snuggle Princess Premium Member

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    Ah, excellent point. I forgot to bring this up in the first post. Who got the idea there was a Romulan spy aboard? No one had yet seen what a Romulan looked like, so how would they have known?


    J.
     
  12. darkshadow0001

    darkshadow0001 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Not sure. But this is an upcoming episode for me to watch on Netflix, so I might be able to give you my two-cents worth if you want it :)
     
  13. Coloratura

    Coloratura Snuggle Princess Premium Member

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    ^ Certainly. All viewpoints welcome!


    J.
     
  14. hofner

    hofner Commodore Commodore

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    Psychology. They're supposed to be running silent so they just naturally start whispering even though it doesn't matter.

    Spock: Pssst, Captain?
    Kirk: Yes?
    Spock: Why are we whispering? Sound doesn't travel through space.
    Kirk: I don't know. Quit asking so many questions; get back to your station quietly.
    Spock: Yes sir.

    Robert
     
  15. AJBryant

    AJBryant Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Two thoughts:

    (1) they overdid it. "BoT" was, after all, lifted point-for-point from the film "Enemy Below," so I think they overplayed the "silent running" aspect. (If you've never seen that movie, get it and watch it. It's a kick-ass film, and one of my favorite pieces of music of all time -- "Der Alte Dessauer" -- is turned into a drinking song.)

    (2) possibly psychological. Heck, when I'm driving in my car into an underground parking garage, half the time I find myself "ducking" a bit in my seat. Ridiculous, but I do it.
     
  16. darkshadow0001

    darkshadow0001 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Are you talking about the incendent when the Romulans were in discussion with each other?
     
  17. Vance

    Vance Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The original script had the base commander describe the Bird of Prey as having component designs obviously stolen from Star Fleet. I guess this was dropped since the model wasn't close enough.

    Second, with the realization that Romulans were Vulcan descendant, a second realization that they could have infiltrated Star Fleet quite easily as Vulcans. (And a somewhat veiled concern that the had done so in the previous war, and that Vulcan may have known about it.) The 'fear' is mostly in Styles dialog, though the original script had it a bit more spread out.
     
  18. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The fine line between continuity and fanwank.
    I had always chalked up the whispering to in-universe psychology, but of course in the real world it was the source material.

    I wish that had been a greater part of the plot, frankly, And also, I think the BoP looked very reminiscent of the Enterprise. It could have easily been based on a Starfleet light cruiser design.
     
  19. AJBryant

    AJBryant Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    And given basic hull configurations, the Romulan BOP isn't that different than the hull of the Miranda (which in an earlier form must have been around in the TOS years) -- with the nacelles on wings rather than pylons. Yeah. I could see that.
     
  20. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The fine line between continuity and fanwank.
    ^Or with the pylons just 'bent' up. ;)