Star Trek: The Original Series

“Balance of Terror”

2.5 stars.

Air date: 12/13/1966
Written by Paul Schneider
Directed by Vincent McEveety

Review Text

After a century of silence, the Romulans, a race with whom humans had a war long ago, appear to be on the move again—apparently testing their new cloaking technology—and the Enterprise may be the only ship to stop them from starting another conflict.

The episode is in the tradition of submarine thrillers like Run Silent, Run Deep (or The Hunt for Red October as a more current comparison), but like "The Corbomite Maneuver," it has a tendency to get too wound up in its tactical moments and special effects, which can be confusing and sometimes go on for too long. And, I'm sorry, the set design on the Romulan ship is just not convincing; unlike the Enterprise, it feels too much like a cheap set and little more. And what's with those corny helmets the Romulan officers wear? There are, of course, many strengths here; the episode takes some stabs at relevant issues, especially when the crew discovers the Romulans may be related to Vulcans and a bridge officer's bigoted aggression (aimed here at Spock) emerges.

The Cold War allegory was certainly timely, and the idea of each captains' respect for their counterpart makes for a nice theme, but I wish it had been taken a bit farther. Mark Lenard is good as a Romulan commander who begins to doubt his military's usefulness, but his thoughtfulness isn't utilized nearly as much as it could've been.

The episode's unevenness is its drawback, and it's too bad; there's the potential for greatness here that goes unrealized. Each little theme would've been more effective if given more focus. "Balance" needed more balance.

Previous episode: The Conscience of the King
Next episode: Shore Leave

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128 comments on this post

    i agree with you on most of your reviews, however, i MUST disagree with you on "balance of terror" i thought it developed it's themes well, and was perfectly "balanced"

    I've never been a huge fan of "City On The Edge Of Forever" and while it's not bad, I actually prefer "Balance Of Terror" because not only is a good old fashioned submarine story, it's also one of those could easily have been told in any of the recent Star Trek series with out losing a beat.

    In fact DS9 had a similar episode "Starship Down" but to do to budgetary reasons, it didn't quite live up to the original idea. That being said, I think you should have given "Balance Of Terror" at least 3 stars.

    Love your website and your reviews are consistently solid and insightful. In this case, however, I have to disagree with your review! In this episode, we see Kirk at his tactical and command best, revealing why he is a legendary Star Fleet officer. The cat and mouse drama and tesion is superb, with or without a high budget set. The intro to the Romulans sets a foundation for their race that has endured across the Star Trek universe. This episode was, is, and remains CLASSIC Star Trek. Should be at LEAST 3 to 3.5 stars.

    Strangely, as deeply as I respect Mark Lenard as an actor, I thought he was missing a bit of an edge that I would have expected from a Romulan on such a war-provoking mission. He was so angsty. Not that Romulans don't think deeply about their missions, but they're also decisive officers and ruthless combatants. Lenard really displays more of that do-what's-necessary edge as Sarek.

    I'm a big fan of your reviews (I started reading with your early DS9 reviews). I disagree with this one. I started watching TOS in the 70's when it was in syndication. This is easily one of my top ten Star Trek (any series) of all time. I completely agree with the Hunt for Red October analogy. Easily 4 stars for me.

    Sorry, but this is just one review where you're WAY off base. Balance of Terror is essential Star Trek. Worthy of 4 stars, or at least 3.5

    I completely disagree with your assessment of this episode. First off, who cares that the Romulan bridge was cheap looking? We all know they were on a shoe-string budget, and the helmets were obviously to save on the cost of having to put pointed ears on the entire Romulan bridge crew. Star Trek has always been about the story, and this was a damn good one. Yes, the mutual respect theme was great, but they did as much with it as they could have, especially when you have to fit a lot into a 45 minute episode... No question, this was a 4-star episode!

    Wow Jammer. I can't believe this earned such a low rating from you. Easy 4 star episode for me.

    Jammer, I've got the join the chorus on this one. I usually concur with you, but not this time.

    To me, this is classic and essential "Trek." It's one of the best episodes to me off any of the five series. It stands on its own, plus it gives us the Romulans. For that alone, it gets two of its four stars.

    If you like this episode I would recommend "The Enemy below"

    It illustrates the hide and seek game against submarines, and respecting the enemy and their skill.

    2.5 stars again? (After the last ep.) Jammer, you're a tough customer sometimes. ;)

    I didn't even notice the cheap-looking Romulan bridge - I was more focused on the characters and what the Romulans were doing and thinking.

    And yeah the helmets are funny looking, and obviously a cost-saving measure - but Romulan wardrobe has always been funny-looking, even when TNG got a much bigger budget than TOS ever had. Perhaps alien sensibilities cannot be expected to match ours? Perhaps to Romulans, those helmets and, later on, the (to us rather goofy-looking) giant grey quilted shirts with giant shoulder pads look the epitome strength and power. They are a warlike people, after all, plus they are also rigidly heirarchical, so it makes sense that they would value a show of strength and status in their dress. Klingons were never fashion plates either, although their Japanese-inspired uniforms look more badass to our human eyes. And Cardassian fashion is no fashion at all - purely utilitarian and, to us, very ugly. A reflection of their highly militarized, and by human standards, oppressively fascistic culture.

    Also: Something in the traditional robes of Vulcan culture harkens back to a common culture with the Romulans. Such clothing is also kind of funny-looking to us, and seems to be very concerned (against the logic of modern Vulcan culture) with a display of status and power (esp. in the resplendent robes T'Pau is wearing, compared with the Vulcan guards around her in "Amok Time"). Romulan culture retained some of that, but their clothing perhaps isn't as strangely beautiful as Vulcan traditional clothing because in leaving Vulcan, as much as they did take the violence and obsession with duty and power, they had no room on their ships for beauty and softness and colourful fabrics, not when riding off to conquer a new home and a new empire for themselves.

    Anyway, this episode rates as a 4/4 for me. This calibre of a cat-and-mouse space battle is partly what made "The Wrath of Khan" great some 16 years later, and it makes this episode shine too. The acting on all fronts is spot-on. (And I believe much of the "angst" of the Romulan commander is due to him losing his best and oldest friend so rapidly in battle. And even before that, it might reflect a weariness of not knowing whether he can fulfill his duty while also ferrying him and his crew back to home, alive. Maybe he knows, on some level, that his end is near, and his despair shows). I also thought the b-plot of the never-to-be-married Tomlinson and Martin to be tragic, but also helpful as a window to what operations are like in the lower decks. When Kirk yells "Fire!" on the bridge, what actually has to happen to fire that torpedo? It's evidently not like it is in TNG, when presumably the computer does the firing, and more like a submarine in action. (Which helps with the submarine battle theme).

    Anyway, I could go on about this episode, but for me, it's one of the best of Trek, and a real gem of Season 1.

    P.S. It just boggled my mind a bit that there's less distance in time between first season TOS and The Wrath of Khan than there is between the final season of TNG and now. O_O

    This episode was almost directly lifted from The Enemy Below; watch the back to back and you can almost make a drinking game out of the similarities.

    Concur with the chorus of people that say Jammer had underrated this episode. This is classic Trek and Kirk right here, in fact I'm pretty sure BoT makes the essential ten episodes list for TOS.

    I just watched this episode again after many years, and was glued to the edge of my chair even though I knew what was going to happen. This is a top Trek episode, and deserves at least 3.5 stars…probably 4 stars. The cat-and-mouse game was gripping, and Kirk was at his best as the legendary starship captain in battle. Mark Lenard was warlike but gave a richly-layered performance. Just the fact that this episode introduced the Romulans made it important. Who cares if their helmets looked stupid and their bridge cheesy. The love story with the tragic ending gave some depth and meaning to what the casualties of battle really felt like for the crew. (No disposable red-shirt death of the week this time!) Classic, top-notch Trek. Jammer, I usually agree with your reviews pretty closely, but not this time.

    Very well done episode. Thrilling and captivating. Banter between captains was a highlight. Also Spock's alien ethnicity and the Vulcan connection to Romulans provided added thematic complexity.

    I have to agree with everyone else here. I just watched this episode for about the 10 time and still love it. It's epic Trek, along the lines of The Wrath of Khan and worthy of 4 stars. The sets are cheesy but who cares, the plot and acting are great. The is definitely among the top 5 of my favorite Trek episodes period.

    Yep, 4 stars for me. I give it that for all the little things, too, like after the briefing the way Sulu tracks just behind Kirk, both faces grim set in determination--it lasts only a few seconds by I found it captivating both in its effortlessness and its portrayal of a war-time commander with his tactical officer on their way to battle. Or McCoy's counsel to Kirk in his quarters, even as he enters the room maintaining a smile in the midst of the possible horror about to unfold. I guess I was more focused on those aspects than on what hats the Romulans were wearing.

    I watch war movies and so I've seen Run Silent Run Deep and The Enemy Below. And I liked the homage paid to them in this episode.

    Lots of action, drama and suspense. This is classic Star Trek and is what makes Wrath of Khan a favorite.

    4 stars for this episode my friend

    I agree with your comment: "The Cold War allegory was certainly timely." The Romulans represent the Soviet Union in this episode; however, "Balance of Terror" has more parallels with The Enemy Below (1957) than Run Silent Run Deep (1958). I read somewhere that the script was loosely based on the Robert Mitchum film. I wrote a short essay on Balance of Terror called "The Doctrine of Proportional Response." If you would like to read it, here is the link.

    This was a great episode of Star Trek - I have just watched TNG, V, DS9 and Enterprise in that order and this is top 10 material across all ST versions. Taken in the timeframe it was made it ranks even higher, Kirks acting range and way his line 'There's no room for bigotry here' was delivered were compelling viewing. Sometimes less is indeed more - I suspect if that episode were made now we would have had endless drawn out special effects battle scenes - as the technology of the time forces the acting and script to the fore it forces them to be very good to carry an episode. And the final shot of Kirk walking haunt consoled the widow speaks volumes - I'm sure that Patrick Stewart took inspiration from it.

    Who cares about how many stars? This ep is so outstanding it stands alone in a class of its own. Understated, naturally acted even by the hammy Mr Shatner, and Mark Lenard just lights up the screen...much better here than the sulky and stilted Sarek elsewhere. Who cares about the silly sets? That's not what eps like this one are about. The depth of characterisation and the dramatic tension are top notch. Better than some of the feature length movies. ST GLORIOUS ST.


    I'm with you. Top 10 Star Trek episode for me too.

    Agree Luke, nothing really to nit-pick here. Outstanding trek!!

    Without a doubt, a 4 star episode. Watched it with my kids the other night and they were all set to leave when I said I was going to watch "classic Trek". 45 minutes later they were still there and commented that that was an amazing episode as it concluded. No one cared about cheesy Romulan sets, they were all captivated by the Romulan commander.

    BOT is among the best Trek episodes ever of any of the series.

    Everyone has an episode that they are in complete opposite opinion of the vast majority. Apparently, for Jammer, it's Balance of Terror. Seriously, this is one of the best TOS episodes there is, and certainly the best so far in the series.

    Part of it is that this is the first time we see an alien species on par with The Enterprise. Sure, there were the all powerful Talosians and Bartok, also the all powerful, but this is the first real ship to ship battle. This is the first peer to peer battle, not humans justifying themselves against someone more powerful. So it expands the scope of the Trek universe, and does so admirably. We now know what the Enterprise is capable of against an equal crew, and we see how Kirk and company react. Sure, by the time we get to Voyager, this is just standard background stuff they throw in every episode, but for now it feels very fresh.

    Part of it is, of course, the performance of Mark Lenard and the Romulan presence. They could have remained enigmas, they could have just been generic villains. But instead, we spent a fair amount of time with them, getting to see different personalities. Sure, they were fairly standard - the eager and blind patriot lieutenant, the aged yet wisened adviser, and the thoughtful, philosophical captain - but Lenard's performance was masterful. He helped to clarify the episode and give depth to the Romulan empire. Watching him doing his duty even when he knew it was wrong, swearing loyalty to leaders he didn't believe in, was immensely satisfying. Even though the morality of the Romulans may be different, you can tell that these are a thoughtful, intellectual people.

    As an aside, I'm curious as to the reason why they are a Vulcan offshoot. Trek never did do too much with that relationship (except perhaps the Unification story), and it doesn't add too much to the Romulan people. It seems to exist only as a reason to get Stiles even more riled up against Spock. On the other hand, perhaps it's also there to immediately show that these people are a force to be reckoned with. By now, we know Spock is very intelligent and highly analytical, so presumably it's an immediate hint that the Romulans will be similar.

    Meanwhile, I like that there is more going on than just the battle. We see how it affects everyone. We see Stiles still burning with anger. We see Martine struggling with the loss of her fiancee. We see Kirk having to work his hardest to come up with the proper strategies. And we see Spock having virtually no reaction to discovering the Romulans. It focuses the episode rightly on the characters (on both ships), rather than the technical details of the battle itself.

    Not that the battle itself was bad, far from it! There was a ton of tension there, particularly when the Romulans fired their weapon on the Enterprise. I like that the two ships were evenly matched, but with different advantages for each. Made the battle more of a battle of wits than just a slug fest. Yes, it was blatantly taken from submarine battles, and that got a bit silly at times (especially the "everyone must be quiet" part), but I think the tension was still there. It's very reminiscent of Wrath of Khan's final battle as well. And really, the mental battle between Kirk and the Romulan matched up fairly well to that between Kirk and Khan, even if the characters have an actual history in the movie.

    Enh, I don't have too much more to say. It's just a great episode, y'know?

    @ Skeptical,

    I must agree about this episode; it's not just great, it's superb. The entire thing is riveting, and the tension is really there. The characters the pacing, everything, as well as meeting a new foe that seemed almost stronger than the Federation ships.

    Not that much is done about the Vulcan offshoot thing, but it subtly tell us that these people are as super-intelligent and even strong as Vulcans, but that unlike Vulcans are also wild and prone to temper and deception. In other words, they're pre-Surak Vulcans who are pretty much out of control. I like that tone a lot, because it does put the spotlight on Spock regarding this, and actually even a threat contained within, since in principle if Spock and other Vulcans dropped the logic lifestyle they could have turned out just like the warlike Romulans.

    Mark Lenard as well - brilliant. I give this one 4 stars outright, and it's in my top 20 list for all Trek series combined. Top 2 for TOS (along with The Enterprise Incident). I might have to think about that some more but I think it's those two.

    "Everyone has an episode that they are in complete opposite opinion of the vast majority. "

    That would make a fun chat topic. Pick the most beloved episode that you hate and the most hated episode that you love.

    I'd definitely pick "Genesis" for the second category. I don't know if I hate any beloved episodes, I'll have to think about it.

    Challenge accepted.

    Most beloved episode that I hate:
    Hmmm...that's a surprisingly tough one. I'd probably have to go with TNG's "Conspiracy"; a surprising number of people seem to like it, but I don't.

    Most hated episode that I love:
    Definitely TNG's "Genesis" for me too. I enjoyed it despite the many scientific implausibilities.

    I think Conspiracy gets graded on a curve. It was really decent for S1.

    For Robert's challenge:

    Beloved episode that I hate: Nothing satisfies this exact category but a beloved episode that I think is middling, at any rate, is "The City on the Edge of Forever." It's decent, a bit dated, and certainly has its oddities that don't quite work (such as Bones and Kirk ending up in the exact same building by coincidence). The message is classic sci-fi, but also not even as visionary as a lot of TOS episodes that take their premise in stride rather than announcing it through a proxy. One or two great scenes with Kirk and Spock but otherwise I think a lot of this was overtrumped on account of getting a name actress involved.

    Most hated that I love: DS9's "Fascination." Call me crazy but I think it's a lot of fun and gave the actors a chance to goof off in a good way. A few classic moments from Sisko (when Bareil tries to hit him) and Odo (deadpan look when Lwaxana 'dances' with him), and otherwise has such a strange energy from Brook's direction that I can see how it would be off-putting for those who prefer the more standard DS9 tone. This is DS9's version of "The Naked Time/Now", I guess, but where it's about sex for everyone.

    I could do a beloved episode I find middling. I don' t think I hate any beloved episodes.

    I find some of the fanatical love for Frame of Mind to be baffling. The direction/atmosphere/music/acting are all amazing, but I think the episode fails to be more than the sum of it's parts. It's a really well presented, but ultimately unsatisfying dish.


    "Everyone has an episode that they are in complete opposite opinion of the vast majority."

    Worst: VOY: 'Threshold'. Universally hated, despised, spat upon.... I graded it a 2.5 on Jammer's scale. Only the ending was bad, that episode actually got an award! :-)

    Best: I haven't reviewed everything yet, but DS9: 'Rapture' comes to mind. for Jammer this is a 4-star episode. for me, 1 star. (and I was nice)

    @Yanks - Bold choices! I still hate Threshold, but I'm sorry I do because RDM does amazing character work.

    Let's not overhype Threshold's award here. It was for make-up, not storytelling. No one is complaining about the makeup. :)

    Most hated episode I love: I've talked before about how I am very attached to parts of Descent, though I'm aware of its serious flaws. There are some other eps I feel could have been fixed with a few small rewrites.

    Most loved episode I hate: uh. Yeah, I don't think I hate any beloved episodes, but some leave me somewhat cold. I'll have to think what the best example probably is. Homefront didn't do that much for me this rewatch (Paradise Lost flowed much better for me).

    I actually like TNG's "Genesis" despite the science being awfully flawed. It's still a good hour-long horror show, and at least there's fun Sci-Fi "what-if" type concepts with various animal-human combinations floating around.

    As for dislikes of loved episodes? DS9's finale is probably near the top of that list. Hugely disappointing on so many fronts. It's actually not a bad episode per se, it's just that it falls short of potential so many times that I wish they'd just scrapped it and rewrote the ending. Like, the war ends in a 20 second conversation the audience CAN'T hear. Sisko did not deserve to die, or is he in purgatory? Who knows? Oh, and finally, why was Bajor's Federation question never brought up?

    I wonder whether What You Leave Behind counts as a "most beloved" episode -- not to dispute you, Chrome, because certainly a lot of people love it. But it does seem to me to be pretty controversial, and, indeed, maybe even viewed more negatively in the current thread than positively. I can kind of see both takes on it -- while I was in the middle of DS9, I was pretty convinced I would dislike the finale from what I remembered, but it ended up working okay for me, though not great.

    @William B

    Well, I was looking more at the Jammer scale (since people on this site tend to agree with Jammer) and he gave it a nice 3.5 stars.

    If had to pick a runner up, I'd go with DS9's "The Children of Time" from recent memory. It's a cool sci-fi time concept, but I think the crew is way too easily convinced to side with the temporal civilization. A lot of commenters go on about the "6000 lives" figure which justify them staying, but all of those lives are there *by mistake* to begin with, and there's no way to calculate how many more thousands of lives were lost by the DS9 crew not returning. It's a safe bet that in fair conditions with access to the Federation that crew will naturally live on to create 10 to 100s of thousands of people through their families over a couple centuries.

    So even using Spock "needs of the many" logic, the crew was doing the right thing by trying to get off the planet.

    Enough of the fan base considers DS9's finale to be as good as All Good Things as far as I can tell. For me, even though I'm a Niner, I'll admit to liking AGT more, but WYLB is really perfect to me.

    I love Vic's song, I love Odo/Kira's ending, I love Jake staring out the wormhole, I love Bashir/O'Brien, I love Garak/Bashir, I love Damar's end...

    I really get why some people don't like the end to the war. It's a bit rushed, but ok for me. In the end the conversation basically amounted to "Your people will go extinct if you don't end this." And I could see almost anyone agreeing to that.

    Dukat is the weak point for me, and I usually am a fan of the Prophets and such. I even loved Kai Winn's arc. Although it's not AGT fault, I think DS9 ends better than any other Trek except TOS. TNG ends with Nemesis, ENT with the Pegasus retcon, VOY with Endgame and TOS with "second star on the right and all til morning". 2nd place isn't so bad.

    You can count me in amongst those who find WYLB to be "perfect" as Robert said. In that light, I'm happy for it to be categorized as "beloved" :)

    (I think it and "All Good Things..." are equal to each other in quality)

    Well certainly WYLB is *beloved*. This is undeniable. "Most beloved" has a certain something else. I think it lacks the near-universality acclaim among fans that, say, AGT has. OTOH, if we consider "most beloved" by how intensely it is loved and by how many, WYLB would certainly qualify, even if (using this site as guide) it has a higher proportion of detractors than AGT or Balance of Terror or something like In the Pale Moonlight (which of course has detractors too, just at a lower rate).

    Heh, actually Peter, while I agree 100% on the fact that the Romulans being a Vulcan offshoot means they're highly intelligent, the fact that they AREN'T prone to emotional outbursts is one of the things I was thinking about when I mentioned that Trek never did much with this relationship. I'd consider the Klingons (even pre-Viking TOS Klingons) more of an emotional race than the Romulans. They seem to be fairly measured in their actions in practically every engagement we've seen.

    This, to me, seems to suggest that the Vulcan claim that only pure suppression of emotion can control their emotions is wrong. The Romulans can clearly do it without resorting to pure logic. So how do they do it? I think there might be some external suppression from the government that acts as a substitute for the Vulcan's internal suppression. By keeping society rigid, the Romulans impose a sense of order on the people and tell them where their place is. The lack of freedom combined with a strong patriotic fervor towards that system leaves the Romulans with less of an outlet for their emotions. As such, they remain placated. Even the upper class can keep emotions in control by being loyal to the state, so even though they may have more freedoms than the lower classes they also end up with more of a reason to maintain the desired order. An unwillingness of anyone to upset the Romulan State is enough to keep everyone in line. This even seems to be the case with Mark Lenard here. He clearly hates his mission and could fly off the handle because of it, but his sworn sense of duty prevents it.

    Of course, this is only a hypothesis on my part, as it is never mentioned in the various series. That's one thing I would have liked to have seen explored.

    As for the other topic:

    While I have issues with Tapestry and Chain of Command, two beloved classics, I still like both of them. So instead, I think the one I disagree with the most is DS9's The Visitor. Maybe it was a deep and emotional story, but the framing narrative (It was a dark and stormy night. Inside was the wizened old brilliant author who only published one story, because that's totally how authors work. He is visited by a young, attractive, wide eyed novice writer on accident who just so happens to be his biggest fan! And on the night when the wizened old author is planning to meet his destiny, no less) made my eyes roll so fast I simply couldn't concentrate on the rest. The fact that I was never a big fan of Jake probably didn't help either.

    On the flip side, I will go with TNG's Emergence. Sure, it's dumb, but I was just happy to spend some time with the crew working out a very silly problem. Also, while I do think Threshold is downright awful, I don't think it is its own special category of atrociousness that a lot of fans seem to put it in. Not that that's saying much...

    @ Skeptical,

    I've thought about the Romulan/Vulcan thing from time to time, and I like your theory. I wonder, though, whether people wouldn't boil over frequently if they really were that emotional, fear or no fear. Creating a contained, boiling cauldron seems like a recipe for chaos. But on the other hand, the Romulan commanders we see do appear to be extremely measured, beginning with Mark Lenard and the commander in "The Enterprise Incident", who are both passionate but in control, and ending in DS9 where the Romulans are downright stonefaces who reveal almost no emotion at all other than disdain. So I'm not that inclined to believe either one of two things: 1) That the Vulcans are telling the whole truth about how emotional they are without logic, or 2) That the Romulans are at present identical to the Vulcans. I prefer (2), and my suggested explanation for this is that while the Romulans left to avoid being forced to adopts the teachings of Surak, they still experienced the old emotional problems upon reaching Romulus. Since they have no problems with violence, I would expect they massacred every Romulan who was overly emotional, in a long term eugenics plan to weed out the most emotional of them and breed calmer people. The Romulans we know may be passionate, but barely more so than Humans, and hardly the maniacs we see during the Pon Farr.

    Regarding your other point about "The Visitor":

    "Inside was the wizened old brilliant author who only published one story, because that's totally how authors work."

    Jake in the episode is a deliberate reference to J.D. Salinger, who shares exactly the features you just described; was famous for exactly one book, which was a classic, went into seclusion for unspecified reasons, and wouldn't allow interviews once he did. This episode is a kind of "what if" nifty sci-fi explanation for why such an acclaimed author would quit writing. To study subspace physics and save his father, of course :)

    @William B

    You're right, WYLB is definitely not as beloved by fans as "Duet", "Improbable Cause" or even "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges". But it's really hard for me to complain about classics like those. I feel like I'm nitpicking shows that don't deserve it when there are *really* bad ones out there that do.

    Ooooh, best/worst debates! I'm always up for those!

    Worst episode I love (or at least enjoy): Genesis of course! It's so corny, silly, stupid, and outrageous that it's actually phenomenally fun. For the same reason I have a soft spot for a lot of TNG Season 1 episodes. They are generally so goofy that I can't help but be entertained.

    Most beloved episode that I hate (or am cold towards): First Contact (TNG episode). I dunno, its clinical and dry hand-wringing morality always leaves me blase and eager to move on. I Borg is another. Very didactic and ponderous. I can't stand all those childlike kindergarten lessons with Hugh.

    When I see 2/5 stars for this episode, most of my respect for Jammer's opinion vanished.

    That's a little harsh, no? Even a good umpire occasionally makes a bad call.

    @Jammer - Agreed! Are you admitting it's a bad call though? I'm curious... considering we were playing our little game above.

    I really like the episode, but if it was only alright for you, I can respect that. I mean... it's not like you gave it a 1.

    In Jammer's defence, while I don't agree at all with the rating, at the same time I think it might be incorrect to construe the rating as an absolute standard on the 'objective' quality of the episode. If there was such a standard, and if Jammer's rating meant that, then perhaps a case could be made that he got it 'wrong.' However I take review ratings to be a combination of personal enjoyment and satisfaction from the episode, as well as some objective criteria as well (design, production values, editing, internal logic, etc.).

    For example, I noticed that Jammer's reviews tend to take the series' strengths and weaknesses into account, which already suggests to me they are not meant to be absolutely objective. There are episodes of Voyager which have the same rating as TNG episodes that are simply far more enjoyable. But when reviewing Voyager it seems that the standard shifted in the direction of "are they trying something new? are they taking a step in the right direction? Is this something that helps the characterizations more than we usually get?" In such cases the rating seems to reflect Jammer's satisfaction that the writers were making strides that he appreciated. Objectively, the episode may still be inferior to a TNG episode of the 'same calibre', but again, the rating isn't an objective scale.

    I'm not at all disturbed that Jammer sometimes likes or dislikes episodes that I don't. Although to be fair in this case I disagree strongly, but hey man, to each their own.

    @Peter G: I would say that there really is no such thing as an "objective" review. My reviews are all probably subjective. I try to be "fair" to the degree that I can, but it's all ultimately a sum of my overall feelings.

    @Robert: I haven't seen this episode in many years, but I can't shake the feeling that I might have gotten this one wrong and that I might have a different reaction today. I am certainly willing to go against the general consensus, but I don't know that this would still be one of them.

    @Peter G. - I believe part of the reason that the reviews of the different shows seem to be a bit different, and sometimes be very subjective in the context of where they lie in the season/series is because DS9/VOY/ENT were done "live" while the show was running and TOS/TNG wasn't.

    It's really a totally different measure how something affects you on the first run. I can tell you that I'd personally rate both "The Nagus" and "Broken Link" lower now than on the first run. "The Nagus" because Rom's characterization feels so WRONG to someone who's seen the whole show and "Broken Link" because the Odo is human and Gowron is a changeling both felt like such huge OMGWTF!!!! reveals and then neither of them really stuck. Gowron wasn't a changeling, Odo isn't as human as he seemed and the next episode was really good (a personal favorite for me even now) but it didn't seem to pay off "Broken Link" in the way that I was hoping for. I'd still probably give it a 3, but at the time I might have felt like 3.5 or 4. Likewise episodes that I might have rated abysmally like the yawn-fest that is "Storyteller" is worth a drop more now because of the glimmer of the start of the O'Brien/Bashir friendship.

    And as to Balance of Terror... well I agree with Jammer. You can't have totally objective reviews because those would be wrong. I actually think Balance of Terror is not, objectively, as good as people think it is. The individual parts amount to a 3, whereas people rate it 3.5 or 4 regularly. I don't think the individual parts add up to that mathematically. Instead the factor of subjectivity allows acknowledging when an episode somehow adds up to more or less than the sum of it's parts. And I think this episode is one of those. I'd probably boost it from a 3 to a 3.5 for that "je ne sais quoi". As an example of the opposite I've always felt that "Where No One Has Gone Before" had some nice moments but was ultimately less than the sum of it's parts (I'd probably knock it from a 2.5 to a 2).

    I think that if you don't allow for subjectivity in your reviews one would do a disservice to those episodes that have an extra special charm or whatnot, that'd you'd miss if you tried to be totally objective. Obviously subjectivity should be within a range (I'd say a range of about a star). I mean... if Jammers gives something a 1 I think it's fair to interpret that to the fact that he thinks it objectively sucks. Whereas a 2.5 could certainly be objectively decent but not the reviewers cup of tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

    RE “Strangely, as deeply as I respect Mark Lenard as an actor, I thought he was missing a bit of an edge …”

    Strider (yeah I know its an early post, but I don’t see any other responses!), I categorically disagree. Claiming Lenard’s commander –who use more varied types of tactics than any other military commander depicted in Star Trek, jettisoned his friend and ultimately detonated his whole ship and crew- was not a decisive officer or lacked do-whats –necessary is just not justifyable. The one decision change we saw was despite his character, not because of it. That’s the whole point.

    History is replete w/brilliant military commanders who doubted their political leaders’ motives but did their duty as they saw it (Rommel comes to mind) – a weakness not of a person but of a system of thought (the “leader principle” our Starfleet officers referred to in the ep).

    Lenard’s commander was just the sort wily survivor that sometimes makes it to the top in a system fraught with intrigue. A 2-dimensional full-speed-ahead character – like his foolish lieutenant who blackmailed the commander into ordering the final attack that got them all killed in the end – would not have lasted anywhere near as long against Kirk, and the ep would have sucked – both because we ‘d miss a good battle and –more importantly- because we’d miss a good point:

    A flawed system fails because it forces its most brilliant people to do dumb things against their better judgement –with tragic results and tremendous suffering. This ep makes that point eloquently –in Lenard’s hands, it borders on poetry- with a study in contrast between Kirk’s fate and the Romulan’s.

    The irony of a commander sacrificing everything –even desecrating his oldest friend’s corpse- to turn defeat into a measure of victory (bringing his ship and crew home safely after destroying enemy bases, with a report of new military information) …only to be thwarted by an upstart big dumb thug whose only strength is that he has the ear of an even bigger thug back home- was handled with almost Shakespearian subtlety, grace, even poetry in Mark Lenard’s hands.

    ..and its a theme we’d better reacquaint ourselves with in the age of Putin and Trump. This story is just as timely now as it was in 1966.

    Jammer, I agree with most of your criticisms but categorically disagree with your conclusions. Sure, the sets and props reflect the limits of the art at that time – what of it? It was by far the best of its era (1966, remember? It came on between Gomer Pyle and McHale’s Navy…) and in fact a lot of gee-whiz-effects on their bridge would only have distracted from the story, which was not about technology, or even mainly about introducing the Romulans or the tragedy of war or racism (tho it juggled all those subplots quite adroitly in the time frame allowed).

    I don’t think his thoughtfulness was under-utilized so much as it was easy to miss subtle points. I’ve been watching this ep periodically for 40 years and I’m still seeing details I missed before.

    He wasn’t doubting his service’s usefulness, he was hinting at doubts about the uses to which it was being put by leaders more interested in their own glory than the well-being of their people.
    The limited nature of the picture they had of each other was not an oversight, it was part of the point. (side points: limits on communication is counterproductive… and great minds will overcome barriers).
    These two men never knew each others’ name, yet knew each other more intimately than a lover. “He’s a sorcerer, that one. He reads my thoughts”. I don’t think the potential for greatness was unrealized. I think it was quite realized – its just a bit too subtle for TV – a line Star Trek was famous for flirting with, from the first moment.

    The stress on the battle (which was quite sparing on special effects shots, compared to modern fare– conveying the necessary points with great economy) was not only entertaining but necessary to make the point that, over and over in a game of military chess, these commanders were evenly matched … that one of them lost everything not because he was out-thought but because he was trapped in a dysfunctional system – one talented man prospered under a good system, another equally talented man was destroyed by a bad one.

    This story (and its multiple complementary sub-stories so smoothly interwoven that its easy to miss just how much was comfortably fit into 45 minutes.. even ten second ones like between Rand and the Captain, or our favorite black woman officer taking the helm with authority in the midst of battle –aired in 1966! when there were still "colored" signs on bathrooms!) was so strong that, even with some production flaws, it was not only one of the best of TOS and all Star Trek, it was one of the best in the history of TV. It deserves all 4 stars, or at the very least 3.5 … and another look from you, Jammer.

    I see to fall somewhere between Jammer and then the rest of you guys because I don't think it's as mediocre as Jammer does but I don't think it is as outstanding as the rest. I'd give it 3 stars--it's a good but not great hour. I actually appreciate it more thanks to Star Trek Enterprise's prequel Romulan and Vulcan threads from its fourth season. The episode takes on more significance as a piece in the bigger Trek tapestry. As far as the episode on its own it does tend to drag in spots and loses some of its tension and urgency. But overall it's a pretty entertaining hour but I wouldn't consider it a classic hour.

    Let me add my voice to the consensus that Jammer "called this one wrong" and should re-review or re-review it, as he's done on other Trek series reviews and could easily do here. I happen to agree with him that this one is a bit overrated. But if you take Jammer's comment that reviews are relative to a given Trek series at face value, how does "Wink of an Eye" get the same rating as "Balance of Terror" in any universe? Seriously, Jammer, let's get on it: Time for you to re-rate this one.

    Personally, I agree with the substance of Jammer's review outside of the star rating, but I would give this one 3 or maybe even 3 1/2 stars. Yes, it's a bit slow and talky, but it's also a tightly wound story that unfolds perfectly on its own terms. The message about prejudice and respecting one's enemy remains strong. BoT is an antiwar allegory with cold war overtones, not unlike many of the self-serious DS9 "war episodes" that Jammer goes ape over.

    To my mind, all Trek "war episodes" in this style are of a piece: Slightly derivative message shows which revel in war movie cliches. Qualitatively, they're all the same thing, more or less, with varying levels of success. And "Balance," I think, handles ethics of war themes better than DS9 episodes like the Siege of AR-whatever and that episode where Jake is a hospital orderly on a battlefield of Klingons. Those shows put me to sleep; "Balance," while not as exciting a "TOS tactical action show with moral message" as "Doomsday Machine," presents Mark Lenard in a riveting turn and features a powerful B-story with the doomed Tomlinson couple and bigoted Styles. Also, the amount of universe building with the introduction of the Romulans and cloaking device is noteworthy, as well as the addition to Spock's Vulcan back story. Yet the main theme is really what people find compelling: This is adult stuff here, portrayed sincerely in classic Trek fashion -- and even though I agree with Jammer that BoT isn't a four-star classic, primarily because it gets lost in its own battle tactics, I think it deserves more stars than this piddling rating, which equals what Jammer gave to several middling 3rd Season outings.

    To paraphrase Spock, the reviews of the many outweigh the reviews of the one!

    Several contributors pointed out correctly that more advanced effects would have detracted from the plot. One of the wonderful things about the original series is that the writing and directing were often so good, that years later you can watch an episode like Balance of Terror and think "this time they may not get out of it" even though you have seen the show countless times before

    Definitely one of the best Trek episodes. It's riveting and there's not much one can shake a stick at.
    A number of themes at play -- it's interesting Star Trek introduces the Romulans before the Klingons as it seemed to me the latter would turn out to be the primary ongoing threat to the Federation.
    In any case, so much to like about this episode that clearly served as a model for parts of Wrath of Khan, the best ST movie ever.
    Kirk's handling of Stiles' bigotry is excellent, his admission to McCoy of the pressure of command in their heart-to-heart adds a human dimension to the battle, Lenard as Romulan commander ultimately showing respect for his adversary and the conflicts between his philosophy and the Romulan Empire's, so much to love about this episode.
    I guess the Enterprise is quite lucky with firing phasers (though they came out as photon torpedoes) and getting away from the Romulan plasma torpedo. But what's interesting about the battle is each starship has its strengths and weaknesses.
    The side story of the wedding and Spock saving Stiles' life is weaved in perfectly.
    No question one of the best Trek episodes. For me 4/4 stars.

    I have been reading your comments for a long time now, Jammer. Whenever I watched an episode of TNG/DS9/VOY/TOS on various rewatch-sessions, I always came to your site to read the reviews and the comments.
    And on various occasions I found myself in disagreement. But it's always great to read other opinions.
    So, thank you for this site!

    I just couldn't restrain myself, when I saw the Best/MostHated thread, even if I'm a bit late...

    So Loved-by-all-and-hated-by-me: Definitely "The Magnificent Ferengi"- I really hate that episode. It's disguisting that our heroes humiliate a corpse and play around with it. Just think how it would feel, if the Dominion would use Siskos body in such a way! I know it's played for laughs, but for me it's not funny in any way...
    Just sick!

    In the Hated-and-loved-by-me-category: Many Voy-episodes, as I love that series and also its serial character. Love many of the crew and also many of the themes. One of my favourite episodes is "Virtuoso", which is IMHO funny and deeply sad at the same time.

    Regarding BoT: just watched it now in a personal rerun: I like the almost poetic moments of both the romulan commander and Kirk. I have my problems with TOS in general, as its sexism is really bothering me. But there are some episodes, which I can enjoy.

    "Balance of Terror" is one of the few episodes where we really get the sense that Enterprise is a deep-space battle cruiser with a complement of 430 well-trained, highly-motivated men and women, each of whom comes with his or her backstory. All too often we were left with the impression the ship was being run solely by Kirk and his command staff.

    Favorite moments: Kirk turning to Scotty on the bridge, the latter anticipating his captain's wish for better than flank speed and assuring him "I've already spoken with my engine room, sir." How characteristic of Mr. Scott to take a proprietary attitude toward "his" engine room.

    The interplay between Angela and the coverall-clad gunnery techs on the phaser deck as they bring the weapons on-line. I especially like the one with the creased face and sparse hair; he looks the part of a lowly but indispensable noncom serving his third hitch in Starfleet. Can't help but wish Classic Trek had depicted women entrusted with Fire Control and other critical assignments more frequently. Speaking of which...there's the moment when Uhura leaves her console to pinch-hit for Stiles, the clear implication being she's cross-trained in Navigation and is more than a glorified switchboard operator. Here again, too bad we didn't see more of that.

    The dialogue between the Romulan CO and his exec, both war-weary and cynical, both rightly wary of the strutting Decius and his bloodlust. (Side note: Lawrence Montaigne, who played Decius, died yesterday at age 86. RIP) These scenes evoke the byplay between Curt Jurgens and Theodore Bikel in "The Enemy Below," just as Kirk seeking reassurance from McCoy echoes Robert Mitchum confiding in his medical officer. Paul Schneider obviously sat through this movie more than once.

    Stiles undergoing his Road to Damascus moment as he realizes Spock saved his life, a scene rescued from bathos by Spock's bland explanation he acted not out of sentiment but to spare himself the trouble of finding a replacement navigator. Kirk's rueful glance at Spock and McCoy after Yeoman Rand brings word Starfleet will back any command decision he makes.

    There are one or two roll-your-eyes moments (Kirk embracing Rand as the plasma bolt bears down on them? No one suggesting they dodge it by going into warp?)
    But on the whole a superior episode, ranking among the best of Season One.

    I have to join the chorus, and feel that Jammer underrated this episode. (I do enjoy Jammer's reviews, and it is interesting to see comments from other people giving their opinions on various episodes.)

    I think this is one of the best Star Trek TOS episodes. A lot of drama, and excellent acting from Mark Lenard. I would give it 4 stars.

    Re the question about beloved episodes that you hate and hated episodes that you loved.

    I can't think of any beloved episodes that I hate. I do think "Mirror, Mirror" and "The City on the Edge of Forever" are slightly overrated, but still very good episodes.

    Two episodes that most people think are really bad are "Spock's Brain" and "Move Along Home". I don't love these episodes, but I do think they are better than most people give them credit for.

    I agree with a lot of the comments made, and won't belabor than by repeating them. This is indeed one of the best Star Trek episodes and rewatching it recently confirmed my opinion.

    Some comments have been made about the style of helmets. Other than the obvious, which somebody already mentioned, was that the helmets were to prevent the expense of making everyone with ears. Aside from that, references to the founders of Rome by naming the planets Romulus and Remus, it is clear that someone based the Romulans on the Roman Empire. The references to Centurion, Decius, Centurion, etc make it clear. If you look back at history you'll see Romans wore this type of helmet at one point.

    On the other topic, I think the episode The City on the Edge of Forever is overrated. It's not that it's a bad episode, but to state it is the best Star Trek episode of all time is going too far, in my opinion. I think it gains its reputation because it was written by Harlan Ellison. Even though a lot of it was rewritten after his original draft, I think a lot of people elevated to the best because of his reputation.

    As an episode I don't particularly care for, the one I would nominate is Shore Leave . When I was a kid I really enjoyed this episode, but when I watch it as an adult it just seems a little bit silly. And Kirk's fight with Finnegan went on way too long and was just boring. I think probably Shatner pushed this idea to celebrate his machismo. I think that the idea was interesting, but it wasn't executed very well.

    One of my all-time favorite episodes of all the series. Definitely a 4 out of 4 for me.

    The only plot hole in this episode is that the Romulan ship supposedly only has impulse engines. How would it traverse the entire distance from Romulus to the edge of the Neutral Zone w/o warp? Chalk it up to 'early Trek problems'.

    I'm immensely entertained by "The Way to Eden." I groove on the music, especially the songs by Charles Napier (lead singer and driver of the Winnebago). I also laugh at how Kirk and Scott, despite being on a mission to seek out new life, display nothing but revulsion for a bunch of space hippies. And Kirk sulks at being called Herbert. Spock, meanwhile, is down with the scene entirely. I also find Spock's acknowledgment of his mixed background to be so poignant: "They regard themselves as aliens in their own worlds – a condition with which I am somewhat familiar."

    As I rewatch all of the TOS episodes in order on DVD for the first time, I realize that I underrated this episode in my January comments here. It's easily 3 1/2 or 4 stars. There is just so much going on this episode that is effortlessly blended together in a tense space battle thriller: Debates about preemptive war, bigotry, personal loss, heroism, resentment, war weariness, the hope of peace, Cold War, demilitarized zones, Roman-style aliens related to Vulcans, marriage, funerals, deception, friendship, submarine warfare, history, and so on find their way into the script. And yet all of the world-building feels effortless as the cat-and-mouse battle with the Romulan ship gradually escalates into something tense and thrilling.

    When I first saw this episode as a kid, I thought it was one of the greatest TV episodes I ever saw. I was especially struck by Mark Lenard's angst as a military commander with doubts about the justness of his cause, a classic theme for late 1960s America, and by Kirk's similar doubts about the effects that retaliating against the Romulans will have. Say what you will about TOS, but there was a genuine desire for peace and distaste of war on this show that was lost in Trek sometime after TNG, to the point where the Star Trek Discovery main character (mild spoiler) is urging her captain to shoot first and ask questions later on last night's pilot premiere. Unfortunately, this episode was also the the only one I owned (on VHS!) for many years, and I rewatched it so many times that I lost my taste for it. But seeing it again in order makes me realize it's really, really good in all respects.

    What more can I say? Balance of Terror is a multi-layered allegory about war, bigotry, revenge, and the sneaky use of barely-legal weapons (invisibility screen for ships) in covert operations. We pick up the vibe of the Romulan culture in their shipboard scenes in this first episode, but we also learn about their relationship to Vulcans and many other key things in the Star Trek universe. This is really the first tactical ship battle episode in Star Trek history, giving us a nautical flavor right from the opening speech by Kirk about wooden ship captains -- comparisons to Wrath of Khan feel right to me -- and is the only episode thus far outside of "Corbomite" to feature a shipbound space adventure with an alien ship threat. It's the first episode where we see the ship fire phasers, this time in proximity bursts which feel more like the gunshot-style phasers we see in JJ Abrams reboot Trek. And this one gives all the regulars (except for Chekhov, who won't join us until Season Two) some nice things to do in the ensemble, while also leaving room for touching moments with the guest stars (Tomlinson, Styles, and Tomlinson's fiancée) and a minor bit for Rand. McCoy's scene with Kirk, paralleling the Romulan commander and centurion, shows how both commanders desire peace but are locked into a death struggle that may promote war if they're to do their job right -- very tragic and sad. The final speech by the Romulan commander before he ends the battle remains eloquent and moving in its simplicity and directness.

    PS -- To correct myself, I know the Enterprise fired phasers in Corbomite to destroy the warning buoy, but Balance is the first time we really see them in action extensively. It's also the first time we see them fired in short bursts with detonation power. And we get the Neutral Zone and cloaking devices here, even though Enterprise and Discovery will later contradict this episode by saying the Klingons (who never had it in the TOS era until Star Trek III) and Romulans had invisibility long before the original series.

    guilty pleasure: 1st season of TNG. Yes, the storytelling is bad. But the concepts are bold and the whole is just a fun mess, opposed to more than often well crated, but boring quadrant diplomacy / new age touchy-feely narratives of later seasons. Especially the first season feels like a crossover between TOS and 90s star trek. And if I have to choose, I side with bold sci fi concepts and melodrama rather than space diplomacy and character development.

    overrated: agree with TCONTEOF, but also TNG The best of both worlds. It is fine, and the first part is thrilling, but depends too much on the cliffhanger, after which it rapidly loses dynamics. It also marks a change in the storytelling as described above

    Tense, fast-paced and featuring a great villain, Balance of Terror is for me the greatest Trek "ship combat episode". The remastered cut in particular is excellent, with its gorgeous comet effects and CGI ship models.

    You know what I love in this episode? The exchange between Kirk and Commander Hansen on Outpost 5. I don't know who the actor was who played Hansen, but I think he was great! I also loved the technical detail. "We're a mile deep, on an asteroid of almost solid iron, and even through our deflectors it did this!" It takes vivid imagination, and an attention to detail to write dialogue like that. "And then it fired something at us, some form of high energy plasma. Fantastic power." I just loved that scene, just seems so authentic.

    The acting in the original Star Trek was fantastic, as was the music. The music was amazing too, still the best in the history of television in my opinion. Thanks Jammer for providing this forum.

    Interesting that Spock is so quick to slander the romulans. His suggestion that they might be "savages" because (apparently) his ancestor were like that a very long time ago makes about as much sense as trying to make predictions about the behavior of modern day italians on the basis of ancient roman history.

    I also didn't buy the manufactured tension between Spock and that silly crewman. In a universe with so many aliens outwardly identical to humans why would the notion of vulcan- looking aliens be so shocking?

    Well, at least we got to see a duel between two "brilliant" starship commanders trying to outmanoeuvre each other with dazzling tactics such as: "playing dead", "hiding behind asteroids", "shooting at random and actually hitting something in space"etc.

    Having seen this episode for the first time today, my jaw dropped when I saw Sarek as a Romulan commander! I wonder if people were similarly shocked and reminded of this episode when seeing the actual Sarek character for the first time.

    Great episode. My favorite so far. There's so many interesting facets.
    Spock and Sulu are superlative in this one.

    I enjoyed the Romulan commander's ordeal. Watching him be outmanoevered yet still show his respect for his adversary was great. I do regret the writer's decision to kill the character though. I get the sentiment behind the choice, but there was the potential for a great rivalry here in future episodes, had they given the character a name and a means of escape.

    Decent episode. Why were they behaving as if sound could propegate across space while both waiting for the other to make a move.

    Hello Everyone!

    @Peter Swinkels

    I have wondered that as well. It struck me as a submarine theme, where any sound is transported through the water. I think they could have had a big, loud party and no-one would have known. Heh, as long as Spock doesn't crawl out and blindly put his hand on the console, hitting multiple buttons, making them go "beep beep beep" and sending a signal. :)

    I just realized I'd never left a comment on this episode, and thought I'd rectify that after my comment toward Peter.

    This was one of my favorite episodes when I was a kid, and it still is. My Father used to watch Star Trek during its initial run, but I was unable to appreciate it as I was one year old and had more important diaper things to think about. But after Star Wars came out in '77, the old Star Trek episodes started to come on in the afternoon, and I was psyched (Star Wars got me into Star Trek). I would record them on cassette and listen to them over and over, and I believe this was one of the ones I heard the most. It was tense, fun, and while I knew the "good guys" were going to win, I didn't know how, or if there would be major damage, etc. It was spectacular. If I'd had a rating system back then, it'd have been four stars, and it still is today. Sure, I can pick the nits (Spock's hand comes to mind), but it made me feel like their space was truly dangerous, and they were out on the edge of it.

    Heh, but even at the age of 12 or so, when the weapon was coming at them (limited range...), I wondered why they just didn't go up/down or left/right. But I can forgive this episode that foible.

    Regards and enjoy the day... RT

    Knowing the reputation of this episode probably harmed my experience of watching it for the first time, as I have just done (yes I grew up a TNG kid). I realize it is regarded as a classic but I didn't find it as compelling as a whole as many have enthusiastically outlined here. There were many masterful moments. But as a whole it didn't impress me as much as I was expecting it to. (Pesky expectations) Spock saving Stiles for instance - too tidy for my liking. One of the young couple being the only casualties - eminently predictable. But it's easy to criticize with hindsight and I wish I could have seen this as people viewed it in the 60s. Loved Kirk and McCoy performances though. outstanding.

    An outstanding episode, four stars for sure.

    I am watching the first season of TOS (for the first time) alongside the second season of DS9 (for the first time) and the superiority of TOS is astonishing. Most glaringly, TOS weaves in multiple storylines seamlessly whilst DS9 episodes have obvious and clunky A/B plot lines with a crashing gear change every time the focus switches from one to the other.

    The differing approaches to lighting, mood, and music haven't been kind to DS9 either. In TOS we have a sense of urgency and tension throughout. The 'flat' 90s-TV look of DS9 (and TNG) drain episodes of tension. Curiously, this flat presentation seems to have been deliberate - the TNG alternative timeline of 'Yesterday's Enterprise' apes much more closely the look and feel of TOS and makes the TNG Enterprise a much more exciting place to be (and raises that episode to classic status).

    This is the episode that I point to as evidence of Shatner's acting chops. He totally inhabits Kirk in "Balance", possibly because there's little of his smarminess when chatting up the women or his attempts at humour. This is Kirk the Submarine Commander on the razor's edge. My favourite scene? When he walks in front of the helm and quietly but insistently taps his finger on the console in a blink-and-you-miss-it silent admonition to Stiles to STFU and get on with his job.

    Re-watching TOS, and I got to this episode and it stood head and shoulders above all previous episodes. Probably the best serious episode of TOS ("City on the Edge of Forever" is lighthearted affair). The pacing is so perfect compare to other TOS, and this feels like the only TOS episode where someone's death really matters and makes you sad, unlike the typical TOS episode "Oh some red-shirt guy died, what's his name? Oh well, let's carry on, no big deal."

    Yes, the Romulan bridge looked like it was made from styrofoam and I noticed, but this episode transcended low-budget effects and the typical science that doesn't make any sense.

    I gave up on DS9. I gave it a fair shake--through most of Season 3-- but I just could not get to identify with any of the characters like I do in other series. So I am resuming my re-watch of the entire original series that I halted two years ago to try DS9. Such a relief to start the video and see people I love!

    This one starts out so cute with Kirk saying the same basic lines Picard did before Miles and Keiko's wedding! Well, obviously, Kirk said it first, but still cool continuity! But the bride putting a white bit of fluff on her head while in uniform is not a good fashion choice! It was pretty cruel to kill her groom, though I think they were going for the "senseless death" kind of angle.

    Overall I think this episode was excellent, although I was a little confused when Spock's Dad turned out to be on the warbird! But a quick google cleared that up. After that, I liked it just fine. They did a good job creating tension, and I really like the lighting. The Romulan Captain's final speech was very moving.

    Brilliant, suspenseful, excellently acted. I was particularly enthralled by Mark Lenard's portrayal of the Romulan commander---here was someone who commanded a Romulan bird of prey but who was seriously doubtful about his role and who exhibited thoughtfulness, a sense of the strategic aspects of the situation. His subordinates wanted to go to war and annihilate the enemy once and for all, but he exerised caution---he said that the starship commander would not make that mistake again, he evidenced respect and admiration for Captain Kirk's maneuvers, and he said at the end "In another reality I could have called you friend." And he did perform that one more duty, blowing himself and his warship to bits. One of his greatest roles, and I knew that we would see him again---on our side of the fence, as Ambassador Sarek. Four stars all the way, at least.


    You gave up the episode before "Improbable Cause"? Ouch.

    A few thoughts:

    * Highlighting bigotry like this would be dismissed as "Leftie SJW DiversityTrek" nowadays. History repeats itself

    * Discovery did the "Vulcan Hello" (Spock suggests they attack rather than showing weakness) and look how that turned out. This being set later, were no lessons learned?

    * Of the about-to-marry couple, it was overly obvious from the start that one of them would die. Though I never expected it to be so pointless and without context.

    * Really weird to see Sarek as a Romulan. I bet this episode spawned a few theories.

    Two and a half stars for this episode, one of the best in the entire Trek canon? Yikes. Time for a rewatch for you.

    A good one and a nice intro for the Romulans.

    This episode managed without the addition of a sexy siren twinkling at Kirk! YAY!

    I always enjoy seeing Mark L and had forgotten his turn in this.

    I liked the parallels between the two commanders even if it was heavy handed. Vaguely Khan-like.

    A classic for its introduction of many things - Romulans, the NZ, cloaking, some Federation history.

    Ha ha you all got baited...The only reason for the star rating listed in this entry is to drive initial traffic to the site by getting you all worked up and writing comments. No one in their right mind sees this as anything less than 4/4 stars

    I'm in my right mind and to this day I think that this ep is kind of overrated.

    My introduction to Star Trek was as a very young kid watching Dad's old VHS recordings of TOS. He would often suggest episodes to put on, and the one that I would disagree with most often was "Balance of Terror"*. It has its moments, but it can be absolutely plodding at times, and even to my very innocent eyes at the time the Romulan bridge looked kinda rubbish. (Dust falling from the ceiling. On a spaceship. C'mon!)

    It's got a great concept and some great moments - some all-time classic moments, in fact! - but the execution is flawed. It ain't perfect.

    *To my eternal shame, my favourite for years was "The Apple". Children are cretins.

    It's very difficult to consider, but while watching this I try to imagine a time when children were huddled into bomb shelters for drills on a routine basis. The thought that much of Earth could become dangerously radioactive and unsuitable for life was a real proposition. When a Western country deployed a missile defense system, a Soviet country opened up a new base out of that system's range. That's the world this episode was aired in.

    It may seem like the metaphor is heavy-handed, and admittedly the dialogue is more on the nose than say "The Hunter for the Red October":

    Romulan Commander: I regret that we meet in this way. You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you friend.

    But I think this might be the visceral punch we need to see that at any time we as a people, we as a nation, are capable of barbarism like the Romulans. What's clever here is that the "enemy is us" story plays on two levels, with Kirk obviously juxtaposed to the Romulan commander but also Spock being juxtaposed against Stiles.

    Spock is identified early as the possible traitor. His species is similar to Romulan, he understands their language, and he's obviously visually very different. But the story flips the tables on us. While Stiles constantly barrages Spock with hatred and suspicion, Spock acts humanely by shrugging off the chance to reciprocate and ultimately saving Stiles' life (for logical reasons). Thus, this isn't just a story about two military powers, but also about bigotry at home. The heat of tension between races can lead to us to stupid decisions that hurt ourselves.

    I also really like how Bones was played in this one. He doesn't want any part of this conflict and reminds Kirk that he should temper his actions despite his orders because he could lose himself in the wrong decision. In the end, it seems like Kirk made the right decision militarily, but it cost him something at home.

    KIRK: Since the days of the first wooden vessels, all shipmasters have had one happy privilege. That of uniting two people in the bonds of matrimony.

    This happy privilege lost turns into a price Kirk pays for playing into war. Kirk manages this after finding out the groom he was to unite with his bride died due to his actions:

    KIRK: It never makes any sense. We both have to know that there was a reason.

    Indeed? Well maybe Kirk did the best he could with a difficult situation and I think Angela understands *that*. I kind of wish she'd followed up with more of a "Was there really a reason, sir?" which could have humbled Kirk in future Romulan encounters. Still, it was great that Bones was there to make that argument throughout the show.

    Another thing that jumped out at me the while watching this is that TNG (affected by the writers' strike) accepted a fan script for "The Neural Zone" which was basically a bad copy of this episode but with funny 20th century people. So maybe it was "Balance of Terror" meets "The Way to Eden"? The missing outposts were similar as was the "We're back!" proclamation by the Romulans. The interesting twist in TNG was that the outposts were *not* destroyed by Romulans.

    @ Iceman

    "You gave up the episode before "Improbable Cause"? Ouch. "

    Okay, I'll give it another shot. But if they go back to that damn pointless mirror universe, I am going to be pissed.

    Prepare to live up to your name, grumpy. Who knows, maybe you’ll like it? :-)

    I'll echo the crowd who thinks this review is way off. Not sure what Jammer wanted as far as more exploration of themes - Kirk tells the bigot officer that he needs to forget about the century-old war, and Spock being the one who saves said officer provides a classic Trekkian ending.

    I remember the "Sci-Fi channel special edition" airings when these reviews were written. The episodes were aired Monday through Friday, so Jammer probably didn't have too much time to devote to each episode. I suspect this is why this review seems kind of tossed off, and the Conscience of the King review seems to misrepresent the ending.

    I'm revisiting TOS since there's little to do in the evenings now other than watch TV. I'd love to see Jammer revisit it as well, but would rather he tackle a new series.

    You can watch "The Enemy Below" (on which BOT is based) at:

    A great movie. I recommend it highly.

    Thanks for posting the link to "The Enemy Below" SouthofNorth -- it is a terrific movie and clearly BoT borrows a great deal from it, but I think the Trek writing team (mainly Paul Schneider) deserves a fair bit of credit for taking the best elements of the movie and augmenting them into just an exceptional episode.

    The premise of 2 evenly matched ships (with different strengths/weaknesses) led by 2 captains who develop a unique respect for each other is a an awesome basis for a story. But BoT has a few more layers to it with Stiles' bigotry toward Spock, the marriage with the groom dying and Kirk having to comfort Martine "it never makes any sense", Romulans/Vulcans, etc.

    It's interesting just how far BoT went with the naval analogy as we get into a great bit of detail of what it takes to go to battle, firing phasers -- aspects which are glossed over in other episodes. We see the technicians in their suits that I don't think we ever see in any other episodes. The movie focuses on how commands get relayed from the captain and to some extent that also happens in BoT, which is a bit un-Trek-like to me as it doesn't happen in any other episode that I can think of.

    Wasn't a huge fan of how the movie left things with the 2 captains sharing a smoke on the American ship, but I rather like the BoT ending with the Romulan captain acknowledging Kirk "you and I are of a kind" but then blowing up his ship.

    It turns out the intense Stiles was terrifically played by an actor named Paul Comi. He received a Purple Heart three times in Korea, which he must have been able to draw on for this performance. One quote is "You just gotta hang in there and survive. (on sustaining a successful acting career over a long period of time)". He died on 8/26/2016, not all that long ago from this date. Too bad he wasn't around more. Rest in Peace.

    I can't believe I didn't comment on this earlier! Well, I am rewatching some of my Star Trek episodes, and this was always my absolute favourite of the original series! I like everything about it. You can see subtle indications that Spock is bothered by the racism towards him, and yet he stays stoic. Also, the tension!!! I do remember watching this as a kid and my brother had to explain to me that Spock's father wasn't a bad guy and that it is just the same actor (I caught it on reruns in the late 70s/early 80s, so I saw them out of order) I also like how the Romulans-especially the Commander and the Centurion aren't cardboard villains but they have feelings and aren't just EVIL mustache twirling villains. I never noticed the special effects as a kid, but I grew up on classic Dr Who and Godzilla movies, so the effects weren't something I let stand in the way.

    A good story with no negatives from me!

    Spock has a fascinating relationship with the Romulans, starting with the first Romulan he ever sees, who looks exactly like his father (“Balance of Terror”), and ending with Spock going to Romulas to work on reunification with the Romulan people (“Unification part 2”). He is so invested in the Romulans, that he meets his ultimate end in our space-time continuum in an attempt to save the Romulan home-world (“Star Trek 2009”), and he is thrown into a parallel universe in which he ultimately dies. In that parallel universe, the Romulans destroy Vulcan.

    The fact that Romulans and Vulcans are cousins must have hit Spock very deeply when he saw a man on that screen with the face of his father. @Marcus, I think that similarity really triggered Spock’s strong reaction.

    When I watch Star Trek, especially Enterprise (the episode where Trip goes with T’Pol to her home and T’Pol gets married) I often think of Vulcans as a stand in for the Japanese. T’Pol’s mom’s house reminded me of some of the Japanese homes I visited a few years ago. Now with Balance of Terror, I think maybe the Romulans would be the Chinese.

    In line with @Skeptical and @Peter G.’s discussion above, @Skeptical could be on to something: the success of the Romulan Star Empire shows that maybe the Vulcan logical way is not exactly the only answer.

    [For the record, @Skeptical, I feel the same way about "The Visitor". But I try not to make a big deal about it. People love it so much. And love isn’t rational. Frankly I feel the same way about “Duet” and I am happy to see I have company with @Robert, @Startrekwatcher, @Paulus Marius, and @Tim C, regarding “Balance of Terror” too. But I agree with @Rahul that the wedding elevates this episode quite a bit, and @Beth is spot on, it is a pleasure to see what is happening below decks. And @Phillip, I agree 100%, Uhura is infinitely more valuable than Troi. So not all bad, just not the Jesus candy people seem to make it out to be.]

    Last week in “Conscious of the King,” McCoy has a telling throw-away line:

    MCCOY: Now I know why they were conquered.

    The Vulcans were conquered.

    Of course, the Japanese did lose the war. The actor playing Sulu spent time in a war-time internment camp as a child. These were memories very much alive at the time that BoT aired.

    Compare that to the Chinese.

    For all their problems - and they had so many, not the least of which were the intolerable treaties at the end of the Opium Wars, the Chinese weren’t really occupied by the western powers. They retreated into their forbidden cities. Even today, so much is a mystery about the Chinese. And yet, if anyone is the equal of the US, economically, militarily, it is the Chinese. You can feel it when you drive on their roads, visit their cities, ride on their trains. So while the Vulcans were cool and logical, they were conquered like the Japanese. And while the Romulans might be far more emotional, they are at least are their own people.

    That’s a message very uncharacteristic of Star Trek. But then, Balance of Terror is an episode very out of the ordinary - no 1960’s space hippies here!

    P.S. @Trek fan, I love that story! God, VHS tapes. Those were the days :)

    A truly great episode. Yes, it had weaknesses but mostly reflective of the time and production values. (For me, the silliest moment was when the Enterprise “played dead “ with the lights out, as if that would make any difference!)

    There are great moments here, but the best was the interplay and respect between the two starship captains, bringing the best out of each in their game of cat and mouse. The second episode- following The Corbomite Maneuver - which was a real template for TOS.

    3.5 or even 4

    This isn’t just like a submarine story, it’s practically plagiarized.

    However, this episode is brilliant, and depicts something closer to what space battles would really be like.

    It could have done without the super racist guy, and especially without the very tired cliché even at the time dead groomsman.

    More specifically, if the racist guy’s story had been done better. Without some explanation, it’s hard to see how he got his rank and position with that much attitude on his sleeve. Racism or xenophobia would be an extreme problem for a ship seeing out new life, and all that.

    His backstory is fairly well drawn though.

    But the real annoyance is him becoming a trumpeting convert because Spock saved his life. Cheesy and silly. Most likely the guy would quickly rationalize away what happened and revert to his previous behavior.

    I loved this episode. This was the original series at it’s very best. Yeah, the special effects were subpar but they were extremely limited at that time. This had all the suspense of an old submarine movie. That the Romulans had this incredibly powerful weapon and cloaking device, but that these things drained their energy and that they had such slow ships was really intriguing. That the Enterprise while fast but was unable to cloak was equally a nice counterbalance. Throwing in the previous war and that neither side had ever seen each other added nicely to a well conceived story. The hatred the officer directed toward the Romulans and the disdain he had for Spock was understandable given his family’s losses during the war. I give this a sold A. Then the refusal of the Romulan commander to surrender his ship and destroy it was a great touch.

    While the effects of this episode have dated, by no way is this episode mediocre. This episode shown brightly and is one that I still to this day enjoy for its content and well done chess match. Four star classic in my opinion.

    Even umpires have instant replay to overturn bad calls. Perhaps Jammer would be willing to re-view TOS in the special edition remastered versions?

    The only parts of the episode I didn't like were the bridge officer's constant, almost laughable, sledge-hammer-like bigotry...

    I'm fine with depicting all forms of prejudice etc, but typical of Star Trek of this era (i.e the injection for plot purposes of overly emotional 'one time' crew members) there's no realistic subtly to it. Nor a satisfying final confrontation/challenge of those beliefs (think Picard's speech to O'brien regarding the Cardassians in TNG, or Worf on the verge of being ordered to give blood to a dying Romulan).

    Instead a Starfleet professional begins immediately acting like a complete moron, toward Spock especially, the moment he discovers the Romulans have pointy ears.

    Otherwise I really quite enjoy this one - even if a blatant spin on the whole WW2 Uboat theme. The tactics side of trying to feel out and guess what the other captain is thinking and planning was really well done. As were the overarching stakes of trying to avoid an all out war. Mark Lenard as always is a joy to watch, and a small but simply brilliant speech by McCoy are added highlights.

    There’s plenty of tension, conflict and submarine action here, but what’s missing is any subtlety and thoughtfulness. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Romulans brought this entirely on themselves. They’re rampaging along our border, destroying Earth outposts one by one, and there’s never any reason or explanation given except for, “We are evil and you suck, bwahahahahah!” I mean, sure, this was the 1960’s and we were deep into the Cold War. No matter what side you were on, it was crystal clear who the enemy was. But at least the writers could have bothered with some substance here: maybe the Romulans thought that a Starfleet attack was imminent because of some misunderstanding, or maybe a rogue vessel wandered into the Neutral Zone--something, anything!

    Kirk didn’t need to wring his hands in that scene with McCoy for any reason; he was absolutely in the right the whole time. For God’s sake, Kirk even later offers to let the wounded Romulans come aboard the Enterprise after finally kicking their asses, and the Commander refuses because “it’s not our way, and you’re a piece of shit.” Good riddance to that bastard. Seriously, all the points about mutual respect between the two vessels’ Captains and the overall tragedy of war/military confrontations are absolutely moot and wasted in this lazy story.

    Stiles’ bigotry was black-hat blatant but also understandable, I suppose. People forget that it’s easy to decry prejudice when one is sitting comfortably in their armchair or university office, but it’s quite different when you’re face to face with an enemy that’s an imminent threat to your life and those around you. Stiles' point about "Romulan spies on board" was an interesting point for about 30 seconds, after it became clear that the episode had no intention of going there. I think Kirk’s verbal swipe of Stiles was absolutely warranted though, and of course Stiles ends up apologizing to Spock in the end (again, no nuance to be found here, folks).

    I did love the last few moments -- Janice comes in within a report from Base that states they’ll support any decision Kirk makes. Nice to know, but a little late! This was clearly to demonstrate that high-ranking desk pushers often have no real clue, or ability to authorize or affect, what often happens on the front lines when seconds count (although this has improved considerably with technological advances between the 1960’s, when this was filmed, and now). And the D-story about Tomlinson and his bride was fleeting and trite, but I got the message.

    Best Line:

    Spock: “I saved a train navigator so that he could return to duty. I am capable of no other feelings in such matters.”

    (Spock’s way of telling Stiles off)

    My Grade: D+

    @ PCP,

    "They’re rampaging along our border, destroying Earth outposts one by one, and there’s never any reason or explanation given except for, “We are evil and you suck, bwahahahahah!”"

    It seems the reason is that the Romulans are testing out their new weapons technology in the cloak and the torpedo. They presumably originally agreed to the truce because neither side could win (or because they were losing), but if the balance of power shifted in their favor we assume they would dispense with the treaty and attack. Kirk destroying their (prototype?) ship deprives them not only of the weapons reports but also of the surety that the Federation would be an easy target. Hence the title: the treaty hinges only on the balance of terror (i.e. how much each side fears the other) being at parity.

    @ Peter G

    Fair point. I suppose at the time this was produced, something had to be said about the real dangers and ugly realities when one side starts testing the limits of that balance of terror.

    I would go 3.5 stars partly because of the racist guy just isn't drawn plausibly and the so obvious "groom is going to die" cliche.

    But also the Romulans are so blatantly Roman, coming from literally Romulus and Remus. It's so on the nose, it should have been mentioned in dialog.

    this probably is one of the best-aged episodes of the entire franchise

    absolutely top-notch thriller from top to bottom, excellent lighting, camerawork, and sound design especially for its time

    Watched this episode after seeing A Quality of Mercy!

    Recently watched this after SNW Quality of Mercy, and found two surprises: 1) I actually agree with Jammer’s rating on this, and 2) Quality of Mercy was such a line for line ripoff that it lowered my opinion of that episode.

    My intent was to re-watch some TOS classics - “Changeling”, “City on Edge”, “Doomsday Device”, and “Balance”. All lived up to billing and memory except for “Balance”, which immediately had pacing issues out of the gate. The setup to the Romulan situation is rushed, and must have been baffling to anyone not familiar with Trek.

    If asked by non-Trek fans to name an episode or two to watch to justify or enter fanhood, i would reply, with a somewhat sexist bias:

    TO females -- CIty on the Edge of Forever
    TO males -- Balance of Terror

    I never understood the phasers in this episode.

    1. Externally, they look like photon torpedoes (which have been rationalized by people here already).

    2. They have to be fired in a phaser room instead of by someone on the bridge. That seems to be highly inefficient. For drama's sake, I guess it's similar to launching torpedoes in submarines.

    3. If they are firing them in a phaser room elsewhere, why are there "phaser circuits" on the bridge? And conveniently under Spock's station no less.

    4. When they fire phasers, all the lights dim and the ship lurches. That's pretty serious for an energy beam.

    5. I just noticed that they used the photo torpedo sound effect when Spock fired the phasers.

    Really disagree. This is the 2nd best episode after Doomsday Machine. Definitely 4+ stars.

    Indeed a great episode. But I agree totally with Jammer on one point - those Romulan helmets are ridiculous.

    I don’t want to beat the dead horse that is jammer’s review here, but, well, I’m going to anyway. This is definitely an episode that deserves better than 2.5 stars. By a lot. Not only is this one of the best Star Trek episodes of all time, across all series, it’s one of the best pieces of television of all time.

    Balance of Terror is a remarkable achievement in storytelling through the medium of teevee. The pacing is excellent, the tension is palpable, the character interplay is outstanding, the excitement is visceral, and the pathos is affecting, it is as close to a perfect episode of Trek as one can find, definitely top 5 territory for me.

    The obvious parallels to submarine warfare stories are definitely there, The Enemy Below comes to mind, but I don’t find BoT derivative, rather given the intrinsic similarities between subs and starships I’d say a story like this one was an inevitability. It would be weird if Trek had never done this kind of starship duel. I’d argue further that, of all Trek outings, BoT comes closest to a “realistic” depiction of space combat, with ships locked in a positioning battle well out of visual range of one another. Later ship battles that have the various ships often right on top each other, while dramatically effective in a visual storytelling capacity, is fundamentally unlikely, you’d want to take advantage of the *space* part of space warfare as much as possible.

    Anyway, I never like to say that someone’s opinion is “wrong”, what with subjectivity and feelings and blah blah, but insofar as the universe has provided us with physical constants that form a rough basis by which to measure the human condition and thus has given us a framework for things to be “good” in a qualitative sense, this episode is fucking good, so I’d have to say jammer was indeed wrong on this one;)


    I too have had a problem with later Treks and big battle scenes where starships appear to basically be on top of each other. Obviously this has some purposes for TV -- to show how massive a space force can be and the enormity of the battle to ensue. But it also neglects the vastness of space and, for me, just comes across looking totally unrealistic. I have commented before about how DS9's big space battles never seemed to do it for me. But here the submarine analogy and the vastness of space actually make this space battle feel far more realistic.

    And I agree wholeheartedly with this very strong statement:

    "Not only is this one of the best Star Trek episodes of all time, across all series, it’s one of the best pieces of television of all time."

    "Balance of Terror" is a top-5 Trek episode of all time for me as well, and as I said in a prior post, it extends wonderfully "The Enemy Below".


    To be fair, the lack of realism in space combat isn’t just a trek thing, Star Wars made similar choices for example, and I get why, it’d be much less exciting to have ships bombarding each other from vast distances rather than engaging in fast moving dog fights. The fact that BoT is one of the only takes on a ship to ship battle that leaned into tension and strategy rather than pure aggression just makes the episode more admirable for me.

    I think The Expanse and to a lesser extent The Wrath of Khan are other strong examples of how to “realistically” depict space warfare, in so far as that’s possible.

    Ah, to me this was the good ol' days and clearly deserves 4/4. Never really minded the helmets since they visually supported the original concept that Romulans were space Romans. No question that personal honor mattered to these people. In TNG, this got badly watered down and we were left with a much diminished species constantly conniving, and far harder to respect.

    just rewatched for the umpteenth time after watching SNW A Quality of Mercy.

    Still a 4 star episode and one of my all-time favorite Treks.

    Here's something to ponder... Spock "accidentally" hitting the button that gives away the Enterprise's position.

    What's noteworthy is that Spock becomes as much a war hawk as Styles when he realizes the Romulans are a Vulcan offshoot. Note also that this occurs immediately after Kirk was in his quarters expressing misgivings.

    It's entirely possible that Spock sensed Kirk's uneasiness and triggered the signal to force the battle to continue.


    Yeah the elaborate DS9 battle scenes went hilariously over the top. Galaxy Class and other capital ships packed tighter than naval modern ships today.

    I get it doesn't look as good, but in many ways I love TOS battles the most because it would happen like here. Just a distant blip on a screen.

    And yes, one of the best things of The Expanse is the realistic depiction of space battles. A missile is headed toward your ship and you have hours before it even gets to you. And you still may not be able to evade it.

    (Though, that does present other questions... counter measures should be extremely effective in that scenario.)

    But also, The Expanse does a great job depicting realistic artificial gravity. The ship is either spinning or accelerating/decelerating, otherwise no gravity for you.


    Your theory that Spock really did give away their position "accidentally on purpose," but out of loyalty rather than disloyalty, is very interesting.

    I wonder, do Vulcans have what we would call "subconscious" motives?

    Or is it just the "logical" thing to do?

    On my most recent viewing of this episode, I happened to be struck by the fact that Stiles' suggestion, backed up by Sulu, that there may be spies aboard, comes before any specific focus on Spock, because they have not yet seen the Romulans. Whether one perceives that idea as paranoid or prudent, it is not in itself racist (speciesist?).

    But even prudent suspicion can be a slippery slope. Trek was filmed not all that many years after the Nazis ran their death camps, and after George Takei himself was in an internment camp because of his ancestry.

    Romulans: *cross the neutral zone, invade Federation space, destroy numberous Starfleet bases and massacre their personnel*
    Bones: "Jim, there is no basis for us to shoot them"

    The Federation in both TOS and TNG need to get new diplomats. Their treaties allow the Romulans to commit incredibly aggressive provocation, trespassing and acts of espionage, while Starfleet is scared to fire back in case it provokes someone.

    I'm sorry writers, the Romulans frequently commit acts of war on both shows. Only the blindest, or most staunch anti-Federation/pro-Romulan factions, would think the Romulans had any claim of being harassed by the Federation.

    Look at that Russian chap who was openly laughed at during a meeting of world powers for claiming that Ukraine started the recent war by attacking Russia - and his viewpoint hasn't been endorsed by Russia's closest allies.

    Another issue with this episode is the scene at the end where the Romulan leader and Kirk have a heart to heart. Kirk, you are talking to a mass murderer of innocents who killed and injured members of your own crew, and put such strain on everyone that you had to go to Wonderland to get over it.

    "Evolved sensibilities" seem to make humans daft.

    In addition to my comment: if anyone is scared of cloaked, ruthless ships with devastating weapons destroying the Federation, there are several key points.

    1) Romulan ships are far from superior and are actively inferior in many respects to the Constitution class. Who knows how they compare to other ship clssses considering we never saw them, but the Warbirds are all about the cloak and are frequently defeated in TOS and TNG without them.

    2) The Enterprise crew was able to determine, with high accuracy, where the cloaked Romulan ship was and what it was doing.

    3) The Romulan military and political structures are far harsher than that of Starfleet and breed discontent, backstabbing and executions. If the wrong guy gets in due to his boss accidentally falling out of an airlock, that would weaken the Romulan cause.

    4) Earth defeated the Romulans with NX class starships. Let that sink in a moment.

    Definitely enjoyed this one even though it’s not my type of ST episode. It’s funny how the Romulan ship is made of brick and mortar, judging by the type of dust and debris falling on the crew every time they get hit. I actually prefer this look for Romulans over the huge shoulder pads they get on TNG. The helmet also hides the goofy haircut that I feel should be reserved for Vulcans, so that’s good.

    Yeoman is so out of place during this episode. She’s shoehorned in several scenes for awkward and pointless interactions, I didn’t quite get any of her scenes on this one. Like others mentioned, McCoy is put to good use here though some of his lines are out of place with the situation.

    I also felt the whole “we have a spy among us” coming from Stiles and Sulu agreeing immediately was a tad odd and rushed to support the B plot with Spock. All in all a very nice episode.

    "That would make a fun chat topic. Pick the most beloved episode that you hate and the most hated episode that you love."

    Sorry for the double post, I forgot to include this part.

    Pick the most beloved episode that you hate:
    Darmok. I was utterly bothered by this one. I was surprised to know it's a fan favorite.

    Most hated episode that you love:
    Aquiel. It's fun to see the writers grasping at straws trying to make a Geordi show.

    That said, I don't actually hate any of episodes. I would rewatch any TNG episode (except Shades of Gray) over anything on TV right now.

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