Stiles in Balance of Terror

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by t_smitts, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. t_smitts

    t_smitts Captain Captain

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    The whole backstory of Stiles' bitterness towards the Romulans (which later transfers to Spock) doesn't really work if the war was supposed to have taken place a century before the episode.

    He's clearly nowhere near old enough to have felt any of his family losses personally. It's like a present-day twentysomething hating Germans because he had relatives killed in action in World War I.

    If they'd set the war only, say TWENTY years prior (as they later did in "The Wounded"), that might've made it work. Maybe Stiles could've lost a father when he was a teen or a child. That would've made his hatred make sense. As it stands, his bitterness is over the deaths of distant relatives he couldn't possibly have known.

    And of course and later shows and films confirmed that humans and Vulcans had been hanging around each other for a couple of centuries, which makes his abrupt suspicion of Spock as some type of Romulan spy that much more ridiculous.
     
  2. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's totally irrational, of course, but people can hold grudges for reasons that have nothing to do with them personally, over events that happened years or even decades ago. Ever hear of the Hatfields and McCoys -- or the Capulets and Montagues?

    STILES: We know Outpost four has been attacked, sir, so if we intercept Romulans now . . .
    KIRK: After a whole century, what will a Romulan ship look like, Mr. Stiles? I doubt they'll radio and identify themselves.
    STILES: You'll know, sir. They're painted like a giant bird of prey.
    KIRK: I had no idea that history was your specialty.
    STILES: Family history. There was a Captain Stiles in the space service then. Two Commanders and several junior officers. All lost in that war, sir.
    KIRK: Their war, Mr. Stiles. Not yours. Don't forget it.
    STILES: Yes, sir.

    Stiles' suspicion that there may be Romulan spies aboard, and especially his sudden distrust of Spock, does seem to come out of left field. It feels like a writer's excuse to throw in a comment about bigotry.
     
  3. t_smitts

    t_smitts Captain Captain

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    The Hatfield-McCoy was a series of conflicts and murders over not quite thirty years. There's certainly no hostility at that kind of level between them today, over 120 years later. (Members of each family competed on "Family Feud" in the 70's and thousands of descendants socialized at a massive reunion in 2000).

    The Montagues and Capulets, of course, were fictional. We never learn what caused their conflict or how long it had been going on anyway.
     
  4. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    So is Star Trek! :p
     
  5. t_smitts

    t_smitts Captain Captain

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    Cute.:rolleyes:

    I was just pointing that out since you cited a real-life feud and a fictional one.
     
  6. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    There are plenty of conflicts that have created generations of hostilities. Sometimes the people have even forgotten why they're supposed to hate those other people. After the Civil War you could find the children and grandchildren of Southerners who resented the North's victory. Those children and grandchildren never fought in the war. Then you have conflicts like those between the Irish and British, where Irish-Americans supported the Irish cause even though their families have lived in America for generations and have never set foot in Ireland.
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    A couple of additional points:

    1) Generations in the 23rd century might be much longer than today. Perhaps Stiles' mom had him at fifty-eight?

    2) The Romulan conflict in retrospect seems to be but one of many into which the UFP or its forebears plunged; local conflict is in the nature of the Trek universe. For each local conflict in this diverse universe, then, there would be just one or two actual experts aboard the hero ship. Stiles might hold a grudge for the Romulans, Chekov for the Klingons, but Garrovick might have a bee in his bonnet about the Tzenkethi and Sulu about the Orions. "Bigotry" might be the standard by which the diverse people of Starfleet live - it's merely that it only manifests in specific occasions on specific people. Kirk would not have been exposed to the same environment as Stiles or Chekov or Sulu, simply because he wasn't raised in the same place! (Yeah, later episodes establish that everybody was born in San Francisco and had the same nanny and all, but their formative years could still have taken place at different locations - Sulu at Ganjitsu in the novels etc.)

    3) Stiles' distrust of Spock and his entire species is a very rational concern, really. It's not that there would be something wrong about wanting to throw Spock in the brig and send a message to Earth recommending internment of all Vulcans. It's just that Stiles is being circumspect about it, insinuating rather than accusing. Which I guess is the most he dares do, what with Spock being his superior and all.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. Ian Keldon

    Ian Keldon Fleet Captain

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    You don't know any unReconstructed Southerners, do you?

    Trust me, in some places the Civil War/War between the States/War of Northern Aggression is very much still remembered.

    There is a cut scene in the script (that may or may not have been filmed) where Commander Hanson warns of possible spies, noting that the BoP appeared to be based on stolen Federation technology.

    http://startrekhistory.com/DS3.html
     
  9. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Stiles's reactions are in part related to deleted dialog from the episode (see this article on Orion Press for the full details)

    So, by the time they SEE the Romulans, Stiles has already had suspicions of Romulan spies, and lo and behold, Spock looks just like one.
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    There are also suspicious aspects to the timing. Spock is supposedly a rare example of a Vulcan serving among humans in Starfleet. Now, after a century of supposed inactivity, Romulans make their move - right when this rare starship with the rare Vulcan assumes patrol duty, possibly for the very first time in her service history since Kirk sees the need to have Spock give the primer speech...

    These are things that might go "click" in the mind of a person who already sees spies everywhere - but also a person who has just been shocked into believing in spies for the first time.

    Also, the idea of the totally faceless war is cool and fantastic and all... But difficult to execute in practice. There might well have been rumors during and after the war, rumors that only diehard hatemongers like Stiles would still remember.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. SchwEnt

    SchwEnt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Okay perhaps Stiles is too young to have experienced the loss of family members in a war over a century ago.

    But he certainly could have been raised by family that did experience the loss and he could have been raised by family that very much harbored resentment and distrust and hatred of the Romulans. Stiles could have been raised on the same prejudices of his family, even if he himself never suffered personal losses at the hands of the Romulans. It's not hard to figure out.
     
  12. t_smitts

    t_smitts Captain Captain

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    Now those line would've helped things along a bit, feeding Stiles' paranoia.

    And yes, I've read about unreconstructed Southerners. (There's a really great book called "The Walls of Jericho" about how difficult southerners made passing civil rights legislation in the Senate). I would point out that while the Civil War ended in 1865, Reconstruction existed for nearly a generation after this. (Hence the term "unreconstructed")

    While it temporarily brought great political and economic advancements to many African Americans in the south (amazingly, the first ever African American US senator was from Mississippi in 1870), it was loathed by southern whites.

    Most of the white southerners in positions of authority who resisted civil rights in the mid 20th century (which was about 99% of them) would have either been born during or shortly after Reconstruction, or been the children of those that were.

    And BTW, I've always been puzzled why some southerners found the term "war between the states" more palatable than "civil war", apart from the fact that there's nothing "civil" about any war. (Don't even get me started on the calling it the "war of northern agression").
     
  13. The Squire of Gothos

    The Squire of Gothos Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Something startling like the sight of the hated Romulans onscreen, appearing to be the same species as your shipmate would seem like a more believable stimulus to racism than something like Bele's rabble rousing in the mess hall.
     
  14. Captain Rob

    Captain Rob Commodore Commodore

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    Does anyone know if the Captain Stiles of the USS Excelsior seen in STIV was meant to be the same Stiles from this episode? Or perhaps a relative?
     
  15. Mr_Homn

    Mr_Homn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    According to memory alpha the excelsior captain's name was spelled "styles" and the guy from balance of terror is "stiles"

    Er, what? :vulcan:

    There would definitely be something very wrong about that.
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    That didn't stop the Reeves-Stevenses from treating the two characters as one and the same in the novel Prime Directive. An interesting possibility with interesting possibilities - but the book went the way of displaying continuing and growing friction between Kirk and Stiles/Styles in the TOS era, in order to "excuse" the failure of Styles/Stiles to be Kirk's best friend and staunchest supporter in ST3. A bit unnecessary IMHO.

    I don't think you see the entire picture here. If Vulcans and Romulans are one people with one agenda (a gigantic if, but a natural conclusion to jump to, in the circumstances), then what happens next must logically be that Spock tries to destroy the Enterprise. If he fails, and Kirk manages to report back, Vulcans elsewhere, everywhere, will immediately attack the Federation. The green-blooded enemies have run out of options and out of time, and must proceed or perish. And considering that an attack was launched after a long silence, it must be assumed that the enemies are ready to proceed on all fronts.

    If, on the other hand, Spock is not in cahoots with the presently revealed villains, it might be simply because Spock is an outcast. Internment of those Vulcans responsible for the original conspiracy against the Federation, the one where the identity of the enemy was so cunningly hidden, is still prudent.

    If the connection between the evil elves on the viewscreen and the Vulcanoids back home is as tenuous as the one between the evil human-lookalikes on Eminiar or Gideon and the humans back home, then there is no reason to act against Spock or Vulcans in any way. But can Stiles bet the future of mankind on that? He feels he is uniquely positioned to question the unquestionable thanks to his historical expertise; now, can he ramp up the courage to assault Spock and fulfil his duty as a Starfleet officer?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. Knight Templar

    Knight Templar Commodore

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    Conflicts on Earth can be ended in reconcilliation because there is continued interaction between the two sides after the war over the years afterwards. Like the U.S. civil war.

    But the Romulans were basically "unseen, unheard" for a century. Thus the predominate view of them on Earth was "fixed" at what it had been at the end of the war.
     
  18. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Excellent point.

    Also, Romulans can carry a grudge longer than humans, as they supposedly have longer lifespans (and perhaps also longer generations, although that is neither here nor there). The Commander and Centurion of "Balance of Terror" spoke of serving together in numerous campaigns; since they would be imprisoned inside the Neutral Zone that supposedly separated Romulus and Remus from the rest of the universe, they could only be referring to infighting - or then to the old war with Earth... Perhaps the Commander had once slain a Stiles or two?

    The hundred years of "silence" might in practice consist of a hundred years of subspace dialogue, in which the Romulans sounded like a broken North Korean propaganda record. That'd keep certain humans permanently pissed off, too!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. t_smitts

    t_smitts Captain Captain

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    You're assuming that simply because the Romulans had no contact with the Federation, that they had no contact with other neighboring species.

    The Romulans were pretty supposedly isolated from the Federation again in much of the 24th Century, but still had frequent conflicts with the Klingons (Naredra III, Khitomer Massacre, the attack in which Martok got a battlefield promotion)
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    The thing is, the episode itself is explicit about it: the RNZ completely isolates the Romulans from everybody.

    Of course, all later Trek references to Romulans serve to moderate that initial claim (that is, they establish that Spock told a misleading untruth). So yes, the two villains could certainly have been veterans of fights with Klingons or Kinshaya or whatever.

    Timo Saloniemi
     

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