Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Original Series

"The Enterprise Incident"


Air date: 9/27/1968
Written by D.C. Fontana
Directed by John Meredyth Lucas

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

An undercover mission to steal a Romulan cloaking device takes the Enterprise into the Romulan neutral zone, upon which Kirk and Spock beam over to a Romulan ship under the guise of Kirk being insane and commanding the Enterprise into the neutral zone on his own personal accord. Subsequently, Kirk is imprisoned while Spock catches the interest of the Romulan commander (Joanne Linville).

Given the broadcast sequence, one wonders how this episode can even be the same series that supplied "Spock's Brain," but never mind. "The Enterprise Incident" is an exceptionally skillfully executed spy mission that manages to keep the audience guessing every bit as much as the enemy. Featuring a tight, compelling plot with adept twists and turns and logical action, the story also pushes Spock's character into new territory.

Spock's manipulative liaison with the Romulan commander benefits from an intriguing eroticism that exists outside the human expectations and instead shows a Vulcan form of subdued, cautious, and very mind-oriented sexuality. The fact that Spock got more than he bargained for brings forth a touch of fascinating sentiment where the emotion behind the encounter is evident but never spelled out in performance. All in all, one of the series' best outings.

Previous episode: Spock's Brain
Next episode: The Paradise Syndrome

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11 comments on this review

JAcob Teetertotter - Fri, Dec 17, 2010 - 2:05am (USA Central)
I love the many layers on ENTERPRISE INCIDENT! Like Mr. Jim Kirks eyes shifting wen he says to the Romulan guard there an itruder abouart we must protect the cloaking device/ showing that he has NO idea what it looks like!

all the Spock Romulan Commader stuff is great, the Kirk acting crazy act. EVerything about the is SUPEr fun!

I like the cloaking SEvice it looks like a foam ball from FRANKS crafts! LOL Laughin on Line YO!
NCC-1701-Z - Sun, Apr 1, 2012 - 4:37pm (USA Central)
Wow...I just rewatched this episode, and it just blew me away. So many potential layers, and such good utilization of all the characters, especially Spock. And may I say, the Romulan commander just made the episode. If her acting had failed, it would have taken down the entire episode with it. But it was top-notch, and the guy playing the Romulan subcommander Tal was pitch-perfect too. The evolution of the Spock-Romulan commander reationship was very well played, very subtle.

And of course, who could forget the classic moment when Kirk disguises himself as a Romulan? Truly classic.

And of course, the show is written in such a way that we can sympathize with the Romulans as well. I mean, you could view either the Romulans or the Enterprise as the bad guys, and both views hold merit. Of course, we instinctively root for the Enterprise crew, but we can see the Romulans' point of view too. Very interesting, very intelligent, and very well done.

I also love the use of colored lights on the Romulan ship. Very cheap, but still convincing-looking and alien. They did so much on a shoe-string budget, while many sci-fi shows nowdays have elaborate CGI effects that only succeed in looking cheap.

All in all, very well done. 4 stars, easy.
Paul - Mon, Apr 16, 2012 - 10:44am (USA Central)
I watched this one again over the weekend. Not only is it a great episde, it's one of the episodes that is foundational for the series. The dialog between the Romulan commander and Kirk really puts a lot of pieces in place for subsequent episodes (of all the series).

D.C. Fontana wrote about a half-dozen episodes, but four were incredibly key in setting up the foundation for Star Trek for decades to come.

"Tomorrow is Yesterday" -- Key in establishing the size of Starfleet (the turbolift scene with Kirk and Christopher) and some other details.

"Friday's Child" -- Not a great episode. But it brought the Klingons back for the first time since "Errand of Mercy" and arguably cemented them along with the Romulans as the standard TOS villains.

"Journey to Babel" -- No other episode of TOS really goes into who is already part of the Federation (other than humans and Vulcans). By simply introducing Andorians and Tellarites, this episode set much of "Enterprise" into motion.

"The Enterprise Incident" -- the dialog between Kirk and the Romulan commander and the commander and Spock is key in understanding the known galaxy at the time.
Ben - Tue, Apr 9, 2013 - 7:06am (USA Central)
I love the scene between Spock, Kirk and the Romulan commander. Shatner simply machineguns his angry lines out in that scene:

"Let her rant, there's nothing to say"
"Shut up Spock!"
"You filthy liar!"

One of my favourite scenes.
SpyTV - Thu, Nov 28, 2013 - 1:00am (USA Central)
I completely agree. Not only is this a 4 star TOS episode, I think it is easily one of the best of any of the Star Trek series episodes.
Jamie Stearns - Sun, Mar 23, 2014 - 10:22pm (USA Central)
Ben: Kirk was really just mad that Spock got the girl this time instead of him.

On a more serious note, this episode started the tradition of the Romulans having strong and influential female characters. Interestingly, Joanne Linville's character from this episode was originally going to reappear in "Face of the Enemy" until it turned out the actress was unavailable and Carolyn Seymour's Commander Toreth was used instead.
mephyve - Sat, Mar 29, 2014 - 8:54pm (USA Central)
Wow! Nice stuff! Given the small budget and limited tech of the time, the story had to sell the show. This one did it in spades.
Given Scotty's future revelations to Geordi, I wonder how much grandstanding he was doing in regards to making the cloaking device work on the Enterprise.
dgalvan - Fri, May 16, 2014 - 4:31pm (USA Central)
Great episode.

One point of confusion: Why did one of the roman ships look like a klingon ship in this episode? There is that brief line at the beginning where spock says "The Romulans are now using Klingon ship designs." And that's it.

I am guessing this has got to be production-driven. Maybe they didn't have enough model-footage of the romulan ship, but they did have special effects footage of klingon ships, and they were pressed for budget/time so they just used the existing footage of a klingon ship from a previous episode?

Funny because in the remastered version available on Netflix streaming the special effects are pretty good and they show two Romulan birds of prey and the Klingon battle cruiser in these scenes.
Paul - Mon, May 19, 2014 - 10:45am (USA Central)
@dgalvan: What's interesting about the Klingon/Romulan ship thing is that the model in question first appeared in this episode, as far as original broadcast order.

"The Enterprise Incident" was the second episode of the third season to be broadcast, but it was the fourth episode to be produced. The Klingon ship first appeared in "Elaan of Troyius", which was the second episode produced in the third season but didn't air until later.

Klingon ships in the first two seasons were just points of light, really or "Just out of visual range." The remastered versions have inserted the D7 cruiser into a bunch of episodes, notably "Errand of Mercy."

The Romulan Bird of Prey had appeared in several episodes starting in the first season. But a key part of this episode's plot was that the Romulan ship pursued the Enterprise at warp. The Bird of Prey was not warp-capable.

So, either the creators decided to use the D7 model for the Romulans because they thought it was cooler looking (it is) or because they needed the Romulans to pursue the Enterprise at warp.

BTW, the Klingons and the Romulans apparently forged an alliance around this time, though this is the only TOS episode where it's hinted at. I believe there's a TAS episode where it's mentioned, and it was mentioned in the Star Trek Encyclopedia (at least, in the first edition).

I've always found that interesting considering how much the Klingon/Romulan hatred is played up in TNG and DS9.
Dom - Sat, Jun 14, 2014 - 1:21am (USA Central)
"logical action"

Just rewatched this episode. It has some fun moments, but logic has nothing to do with it. This episode is riddled with plot holes. Given that Vulcans look just like Romulans - and can apparently seduce Romulans with alarming ease - any Federation spy service in its right mind would just smuggle a few Vulcans into the Empire to spy and steal a cloaking device.

At least when TNG pulled this sort of gag of sending key Enterprise crew on a spy mission, the show bothered to come up with an excuse. In Chain of Command, Picard has a specific skill set that's needed for the mission. Contrived, yes, but I at least appreciate the attempt.
Jeff - Mon, Aug 11, 2014 - 12:04pm (USA Central)
Just watched this episode again this morning. After doing so I'm wondering if this is the catalyst for Spock wanting to explore the possibility of Vulcan/Romulan reunification. As he talks with the Romulan Commander he shows a lot of interest in Romulan belief and culture. Part of me thinks that the seed for reunification was planted here. He just had to wait until he was an ambassador before he could start doing anything about it.

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