Episode of the Week : Balance of Terror

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Botany Bay, Mar 8, 2014.

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Rate "Balance of Terror"

Poll closed Mar 15, 2014.
  1. 1

    1 vote(s)
    2.1%
  2. 2

    1 vote(s)
    2.1%
  3. 3

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. 4

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. 5

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  6. 6

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  7. 7

    1 vote(s)
    2.1%
  8. 8

    4 vote(s)
    8.3%
  9. 9

    18 vote(s)
    37.5%
  10. 10

    23 vote(s)
    47.9%
  1. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    I've always liked this episode. It's very good for the main characters, especially Kirk and McCoy. Kirk striding confidently through the corridors as the alert rings and people run to their battle stations is one of the most powerful images for the character in the whole series. As Harvey said, the whole crew seems more purposeful in a way that was rarely achieved in other episodes.

    I like the way the battle was presented as happening way, way beyond visual range as you would expect in a space battle, though that did seem at odds with Mr. Stiles advice that the way to tell a Romulan ship is by the paint job. I liked the Bird of Prey model a lot.

    When I was a kid I always thought the round flashes when they fired their weapons were a representation of phaser fire seen "end-on," flashing through black space toward the viewer, which I liked, but I guess they were really supposed to be depth charge-style explosions.

    I have to knock off a point because it was such a wholesale lift of The Enemy Below; not only the battle but the character interactions too. I felt like they could have Star-Trek-ized it a little more; it seemed like they just went down a list, "Substitute 'cloaked' for 'submerged,' 'impulse' for 'electric drive,' 'Praetor' for 'Fuehrer'..."

    I'll say 8.5, rounds to 9.
     
  2. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The impression I got was that the Enterprise and the outpost only could determine generally where the cloaked ship was, but couldn't pinpoint it.

    Some of us believe the Romulan ship had a warp drive powered by fusion reactors / impulse power. The behavior of the "fireball" shot at the Enterprise requires the Romulans to have some knowledge of high speed warp drive.

    :)
     
  3. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It and Doomsday Machine are my two favorites.
     
  4. mach7

    mach7 Commander Red Shirt

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  5. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    They used to always tie for me too, and then years went by and I realized I had never seen THE EMPATH, even though I'd probably seen ARENA 30 times by then. EMPATH is the third leg for me, and the oddest one, since it has nearly zero action.

    I always thought that if they rebooted TREK that they could just do an expansion of BoT, perhaps making it the ship's first mission under Kirk, so nobody knows Spock and that gives a LITTLE credence to the spy thing. I actually posted a summary here (probably 12 or 14 years ago), and I remember my expansion got them off the ship briefly, rescuing survivors trapped inside one of the asteroid-stations, and that the decision to attempt the rescue, which was seriously foolhardy Kirk, is what leads to a discovery that gives them an edge later with the BoP, but it is an edge it takes Spock to implement -- idea being that neither of them alone would have been able to make this happen, but together ... (also figured that if we included McCoy in this aspect, it would be too much too soon.)
     
  6. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Auld Lang Mod Moderator

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    My take on the impulse-only thing was that in this prototype, they could only travel impulse while cloaked...the episode made a big deal out of what a power drain the cloak would be. They only could have warped out by dropping the cloak, which would have negated their advantage over the Enterprise.
     
  7. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Unfortunately, not even this (quite reasonable) theory stands up to the actual dialog in the episode. At first the Romulan ship is trying to escape while not under cloak. If she had been going at warp, Scott's dialog later that all the ship has is simple impulse power wouldn't make sense.

    In my opinion, this is an example of when canon can't sustain a literal interpretation. The journeys to the galactic edge and the center of the galaxy made by Kirk's Enterprise and/or Enterprise-A probably fall into this category of glitch also, but that's really especially apparent only when you try to reconcile with later canon. Arguably that's the fault of later writers for not sticking to the foundation (wibbly-wobbly as it is) laid by TOS/TAS/movie-era writers, but I think the larger problem is the earlier writers making the galaxy seem too small. The fundamental problem is that it's just hard to tell good stories in interstellar space when it's anywhere near as hard to get around the galaxy as it is in real life.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014
  8. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    I explain it as an example of complicated vocabulary. The word impulse has more than one meaning in Scotty's technical world.

    Like the shuttlecraft in "Metamorphosis" and "The Galileo Seven," the Romulan ship simply must have warp drive. The word "impulse" used to describe it is coincidental to the better-known but unrelated sublight engine.
     
  9. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Ugh.
     
  10. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    And yet it happened. :)
     
  11. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Yes. Plenty of other mistakes were made by the writers, too.
     
  12. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    9

    Great episode.

    Who gave it a '1'? :eek:
     
  13. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Damned fine episode, one of the best in the series. Amazing music, performances and effects of the day. The comet was a really nice piece of SFX work. Kirk'stalk with Bones was a really good example of the flawed, self-doubting commander Roddenberry wanted Kirk to be.

    The whole "submarine" conceit stands out because it was hardly ever used again. The only real remnants of it would have to do with phaser control. Here it was very literal: "Phaser one....FIRE!" "Phaser one, fire!" Later, Sulu would bark a fire order, but then push the button himself.

    Hardly a misstep taken, this is classic Trek. Solid.
     
  14. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I too ding the episode for being too close a knockoff of The Enemy Below in its particulars. If any Trek episode teeters on the verge of plagiarism it's this one. Excellent otherwise, despite the dumb "science".
     
  15. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    This episode can capture and hold my attention for the full hour or so even today. I agree about the dumb science and the continuity problems, but the story is so good I don't even notice.
     
  16. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    ^^ What continuity problems?

    If you're referring to ENT, uh remember TOS was made forty years before ENT. So if there is a continuity problem it's with ENT and not "Balance Of Terror."
     
  17. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    Regarding Kirk's "weary Captain" scenes with Rand and then McCoy, I like the way the set was lit. Jerry Finnerman painted the foyer of Kirk's quarters with red light. It didn't just look great on color TV. It created a darker, moody ambiance that fit the dialog perfectly. :bolian:
     
  18. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm referring to nit picky stuff like the phaser sfx and the inconsistency of the descriptions of the Romulan drive system. Stuff like that. Nothing at all in reference to Enterprise.
     
  19. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    There's only one moment that bothers me in 'Balance of Terror', and it's bothered me ever since reading the grandaddy reference book The Making of Star Trek, back in the 1960s.

    In the sections reprinting bits from the original Writers' Guide, a hypothetical scene is presented to illustrate the kind of realism the show was aiming for. In the example, with the ship crippled and another attack sure to destroy it, the Guide points out that Kirk would not hug a comely yeoman on the bridge as that final salvo heads for them.

    But in 'Balance of Terror', when the Romulans fire the plasma torpedo right at Enterprise, just before it hits, Kirk grabs hold of Rand, holding her tight as they wait for the inevitable. I never understood how that moment made it into the script, when the Guide said that was exactly the kind of stuff they would not do.
     
  20. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    The thing that bothered me was Kirk handing Spock a physical book during the briefing room scene. :lol: