Episode of the Week : Balance of Terror

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


Rate "Balance of Terror"

Poll closed Mar 15, 2014.
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  1. Botany Bay

    Botany Bay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Aug 23, 2004
    shores of Australia
    Each week we're having a look at a TOS episode, going through the series in production order. Please rate the episode out of ten, and have your say below. As usual, I'll record the scores so we can rank TOS in order of popularity when we finally get through them all.

    This week : Balance of Terror
  2. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

    Jan 7, 2013
    New York State
    One of my favorite things about "Balance of Terror" is that it sticks to a serious plot, with no highly implausible story elements. If you can accept warp drive and so forth, and very-humanoid Romulans and Spock of course, then you need stretch your sci-fi suspension of disbelief no further. It's all meat and potatoes from there on.

    There's no telepathy, alien mind-control illusions, god-like super-beings, time travel, evil look-alikes, or reversible deaths of regulars. These are all fun things, but a straight action episode is a good change of pace.

    In movie terms, "Balance of Terror" is like The Wrath of Khan in that sense, only more so because TWOK falls back on a Vulcan mind meld near the end, and then ST III comes along...
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2014
  3. Runetouch

    Runetouch Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Jan 22, 2014
    9.5. Rounding off, it's 10. One of the best Star Trek episodes of all time.
  4. mach7

    mach7 Commander Red Shirt

    Jan 2, 2012
    Same here, 9.5. Round up to a 10!

    The first real homerun in Star Trek. Just about everything clicks.

    A GREAT episode for Kirk and Spock.

    A solid McCoy episode.

    Stiles Is an annoying character who comes around, but is never really
    likable. I like how Paul Comi played him. Very real world.

    I think that's the key here. The whole episode has a very "real" feel to it. More
    of a classic drama story than science fiction. That was always a strong area in Trek.

    There was real peril for both sides. What finally did in the Romulans was their pride and greed.

    Balance of terror hits all the major emotions. Love, hate, greed, pride, loss, redemption
    and it does all very well in 52 min!

    The direction, acting, music, and writing all are among the best in Trek and in TV.
  5. Push The Button

    Push The Button Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Feb 21, 2013
    Smithfield, Rhode Island USA
    Ten out of ten. Maintains the same level of tension as The Corbomite Maneuver and The Naked Time, and a great performance by Mark Lenard.

    I wish that they had not cut out Kirk saluting the Romulan commander at the end, but other than that, this is Trek at it's best.
  6. 1001001

    1001001 Pull Up a Groove and Get Fabulous! Moderator

    Nov 3, 2001
    In a Bozo Nightmare
    One of the best Star Trek episodes, in any series, of all time.


  7. EnsignHarper

    EnsignHarper Captain Captain

    Nov 6, 2006

    Screw whatever minor problems it might have - including the obvious retelling of The Enemy Below, and a dozen other warship/submarine movies - this is, as all good storytelling is, about the people. And here we have as a balanced view of both sides as you want.

    The characters on both sides are nicely drawn, and the performances top notch. No bullsh*t, no comedy relief, just stark commentary on the cost of war - no matter how 'right' it might be.

    This is the show where McCoy's job as Kirk's counselor and conscience is fully and eloquently solidified, and where Kelley totally made the character HIS. shatner was never better as Kirk - the scene in Kirk's quarters with McCoy, where Kirk unloads the burdens of his future decisions to Bones might be one of the top two or three in the series. And what its even greater is we are shown the almost the EXACT same discussion between the Romulan commander and HIS friend/mentor, the only difference is being that the Romulan commander KNOWS deep down, that unless he can really pull off a miracle. that his mission is most likely doomed. Lenard and Warburton pull this off very well as well. Lenard said a few times that he liked this more tan being Sarek.

    Schneider's script is good, but we now know that almost every great scene in this was written/heavily rewritten by Roddenberry, so kudos to the Great Bird also.

    I am very glad they cut that salute out - I can guarantee that when they saw that in the projection room, they realized it could have possibly broken the mood, and/or dated it. Roddenberry was pretty big on the idea that the yet-unnamed Starfleet was a different kind of service - with no hand salutes. I personally think Kirk had basically showed the commander that he understood what his duty was, and that he respected it. Besides, perhaps that salute would be the Romulan equivalent of giving him the finger! The one cut they SHOULD have kept in, was the the base commanders warning about someone stealing the fleet designs, etc. THAT would have made Stiles' paranoia a bit more understanding...not to mention Sulu agreeing - in a more proper way!

    This is a Classic, and the remastered version makes it better. :techman::techman::techman:
  8. CrazyMatt

    CrazyMatt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Feb 21, 2013
    Sitting in Kirk's command chair
    The best episode aired to that time. #8 on my top 10 list of all TOS episodes.

    Mark Leonard called his role of the Romulan commander one of the very best of his career, and one he even liked better than the role of Sarek.

    Wah Chang's Romulan Bird of Prey ranks up will any of the ships seen in any sci-fi series.
  9. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, United Kingdom
    Yep. Easy 10. My favourite Trek episode.
  10. Saturn0660

    Saturn0660 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 16, 2001
    NE Ohio
    I'll give it a 10. Hell I even own the VHS copy of it. :-)
  11. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer The Mod You've Known for All These Years Moderator

    Good, solid episode, a definite TOS top-10er.
  12. Danny99

    Danny99 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 30, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    The best TOS episode, hands down.
  13. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Apr 19, 2013
    While I agree this is a very good episode I do have a couple of problems with it and thats probably from looking at it in retrospect and with post 60s eyes.
    The good parts:
    Its great to see an enemy in Star Trek with honour and intelligence. I wish the movies would have enemies like this on occasion
    I like that Kirk included opinions from his crew in his decision making - later in the series it really was mostly just Kirk, Spock and McCoy.
    McCoy was fantastic here. Annoying but still a man of integrity unafraid to challenge his Captain's decisions.
    Kirk's questioning to himself of his own actions - wanting some support from his crew while making decisions that may affect the fate of a galaxy. It was all so well done.

    The questionable points IMO:
    I can't understand why the ship had to be silent running. They're in space. Sound doesn't travel in space.How did Spock's actions cause the Romulans to detect them? If its so easy then why can't Federation ships find cloaked ships.
    I think Kirk and Spock tolerated Stiles racism too much. I think Stiles crossed the line.
  14. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

    Aug 3, 2003
    Brockville, Ontario, Canada
    A solid 10.

    This is not only one of the very best episodes of Star Trek it is among the very best examples of science fiction on television or film. And I think it trumps TWOK hands down. Indeed Trek on film never got near this good.
  15. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

    Apr 28, 2007
    Outer Graceland
    Good writing and acting. But it has never thrilled me. It is just a bit dull at times, I think. And the submarine-plot thing detracts a bit. But good overall.
  16. T'Bonz

    T'Bonz Romulan Curmudgeon Administrator

    Apr 1, 2000
    Across the Neutral Zone
    Loved it. But I love the Romulans *and* Mark Lenard, so win-win for me.
  17. Runetouch

    Runetouch Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Jan 22, 2014
    In my opinion, this episode was the best TOS episode.
  18. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, United Kingdom
    I need to watch it again. It does trouble me that they seem to be able to spot and shadow a cloaked vessel with normal equipment although a small vessel with only sub-light engines might not run its cloak all the time if there are no other ships within sensor range.

    I like the fact that everyone understands that sensors are not infallible (a fact that is largely forgotten for plot convenience) and that you get a sense that space is vast,especially at sub-light speeds.

    The sub-light thing doesn't make a whole lot of sense (presumably a cloaked warp-capable vessel was waiting to rendezvous inside the Neutral Zone) but it's no more silly than the shuttle scenario in the Galileo 7.
  19. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Feb 12, 2011
    Gene's office
    Not a perfect episode, but closer than anything so far, and certainly in the top tier of episodes. Clich├ęs such as Spock hitting the wrong button hurt it, though that particular example is more in the execution than anything else.

  20. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

    Oct 8, 2005
    Los Angeles, California
    I like this one very much. The guest performances are all terrific, and the tension builds throughout the hour.

    The episode's depiction of space combat is more naval and less automated than anything else in Trek except, perhaps, Meyer's version. I like that it makes the Enterprise seem bigger, and its massive crew seem more essential. On the other hand, it makes things decidedly less futuristic.

    That embrace between Kirk and Rand, a moment that subsequent versions of the Writer-Director Guide would criticize, is another low point.

    9 out of 10 for me.