Star Trek: The Original Series

"The Enterprise Incident"

4 stars

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

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

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

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

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

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

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35 comments on this review

JAcob Teetertotter
Fri, Dec 17, 2010, 2:05am (UTC -5)
I love the many layers on ENTERPRISE INCIDENT! Like Mr. Jim Kirks eyes shifting wen he says to the Romulan guard there an itruder abouart we must protect the cloaking device/ showing that he has NO idea what it looks like!

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

I like the cloaking SEvice it looks like a foam ball from FRANKS crafts! LOL Laughin on Line YO!
Sun, Apr 1, 2012, 4:37pm (UTC -5)
Wow...I just rewatched this episode, and it just blew me away. So many potential layers, and such good utilization of all the characters, especially Spock. And may I say, the Romulan commander just made the episode. If her acting had failed, it would have taken down the entire episode with it. But it was top-notch, and the guy playing the Romulan subcommander Tal was pitch-perfect too. The evolution of the Spock-Romulan commander reationship was very well played, very subtle.

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

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

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

All in all, very well done. 4 stars, easy.
Mon, Apr 16, 2012, 10:44am (UTC -5)
I watched this one again over the weekend. Not only is it a great episde, it's one of the episodes that is foundational for the series. The dialog between the Romulan commander and Kirk really puts a lot of pieces in place for subsequent episodes (of all the series).

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

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

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

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

"The Enterprise Incident" -- the dialog between Kirk and the Romulan commander and the commander and Spock is key in understanding the known galaxy at the time.
Tue, Apr 9, 2013, 7:06am (UTC -5)
I love the scene between Spock, Kirk and the Romulan commander. Shatner simply machineguns his angry lines out in that scene:

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

One of my favourite scenes.
Thu, Nov 28, 2013, 1:00am (UTC -5)
I completely agree. Not only is this a 4 star TOS episode, I think it is easily one of the best of any of the Star Trek series episodes.
Jamie Stearns
Sun, Mar 23, 2014, 10:22pm (UTC -5)
Ben: Kirk was really just mad that Spock got the girl this time instead of him.

On a more serious note, this episode started the tradition of the Romulans having strong and influential female characters. Interestingly, Joanne Linville's character from this episode was originally going to reappear in "Face of the Enemy" until it turned out the actress was unavailable and Carolyn Seymour's Commander Toreth was used instead.
Sat, Mar 29, 2014, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
Wow! Nice stuff! Given the small budget and limited tech of the time, the story had to sell the show. This one did it in spades.
Given Scotty's future revelations to Geordi, I wonder how much grandstanding he was doing in regards to making the cloaking device work on the Enterprise.
Fri, May 16, 2014, 4:31pm (UTC -5)
Great episode.

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

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

Funny because in the remastered version available on Netflix streaming the special effects are pretty good and they show two Romulan birds of prey and the Klingon battle cruiser in these scenes.
Mon, May 19, 2014, 10:45am (UTC -5)
@dgalvan: What's interesting about the Klingon/Romulan ship thing is that the model in question first appeared in this episode, as far as original broadcast order.

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

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

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

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

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

I've always found that interesting considering how much the Klingon/Romulan hatred is played up in TNG and DS9.
Sat, Jun 14, 2014, 1:21am (UTC -5)
"logical action"

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

At least when TNG pulled this sort of gag of sending key Enterprise crew on a spy mission, the show bothered to come up with an excuse. In Chain of Command, Picard has a specific skill set that's needed for the mission. Contrived, yes, but I at least appreciate the attempt.
Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 12:04pm (UTC -5)
Just watched this episode again this morning. After doing so I'm wondering if this is the catalyst for Spock wanting to explore the possibility of Vulcan/Romulan reunification. As he talks with the Romulan Commander he shows a lot of interest in Romulan belief and culture. Part of me thinks that the seed for reunification was planted here. He just had to wait until he was an ambassador before he could start doing anything about it.
William B
Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 9:31am (UTC -5)
This is a lot of fun. It seems to follow the James Bond spy template -- but it splits the Bond role into Kirk and Spock, where Kirk does the action hero material and Spock, for once, is the one to seduce and "use" the attractive enemy woman. It also shows the advantages of working in genre -- because Kirk's transformation, being surgically altered to look Romulan, may in fact be based on Bond having makeup to make him "look Asian" in "You Only Live Twice," which, for obvious reasons, has aged very poorly.

In all seriousness though, this episode seems like there's an inversion built into the script from an early stage. I can't help but thinking that if this were a more conventional TOS episode, Kirk and Spock's roles would have been switched. Spock doesn't have to be surgically altered to pass as Romulan, and so he's the more logical choice from a plot perspective to pretend to be a Romulan. And Kirk had several episodes in season two of seducing women to get what he wants; this would rather obviously be in Kirk's wheelhouse. To be clear, I'm talking not about the plan of the Enterprise crew, but the plan of the writers making the episode. Whether this was considered or not, the inversion -- with Spock getting the girl and Kirk doing the plot gruntwork -- I think enhances the overall feeling that something is unusual and off in this episode, underlining the plans-within-plans aspect of the show. It also means that Spock has the emotional core of the episode, as well as the "romantic lead" aspect usually given to Kirk, which contributes to the feeling that Kirk and Spock's roles (as captain and first officer) have switched, which runs parallel to the Commander's offer to Spock of his own command.

I was trying, while watching this time, to figure out whether it was possible that first-time viewers would believe that Kirk had actually gone insane from being out in space too long, and whether Spock would actually be tempted by his own command and by a relationship with an attractive Romulan Commander. Ultimately I don't think so, and I don't think that's necessarily the episode's intention. I think the audience is meant to intuit that there is some missing information that will explain Kirk and Spock's behaviour, and that all will be revealed at the end. Still, the ruse works by playing up aspects of the characters already present. Kirk's longing for adventure and his edge-of-the-seat intuitive style of leadership is twisted into pure reckless glory-hunting. Spock's rejection of his human half in favour of his Vulcan half and smug sense of his own intellectual, physical and spiritual superiority is twisted into a longing to be rid of humans altogether. And more to the point, the episode also functions by revealing that while Kirk and Spock were indeed playing roles, there was some truth in this. In the Kirk plot, Kirk's motivation was not individual glory-hunting, and he was operating on Starfleet orders; but the morality of stealing the Romulan tech through espionage is actually a little questionable -- insane personal glory hunting is replaced by a minor form of institutional adventurism. And Spock develops real feelings for the Romulan commander, which he admits at the end. The early themes of betrayal -- Kirk betraying everyone for his own ego, Spock betraying Kirk and the rest at the sign of the possibility of advancement with people in some senses more like him -- comes to be twisted at the very end, where the big betrayal of the episode turns out to be Spock's betrayal of the Romulan commander. Vulcans can lie.

D.C. Fontana (from Memory Alpha), wrote this of the episode:

"Overall it was not a bad episode, but I did have a lot of complaints about it and things that weren't approached or handled right...Let's face it, the romantic scene between the Romulan Commander and Spock was totally out of context. Any Romulan worth her salt would have instantly suspected Spock because they are related races. That was wrong. Kirk's attitudes were wrong. A simple thing–the cloaking device was supposed to be a very small thing, about the size of a watch, for instance, and it could be easily hidden. Here's Kirk running around with this thing that looks like a lamp. You know, highly visible. This is stupidity as well as illogical thinking. Visually it was stupid, conceptually it was very bad. There were a lot of things, little things, that were changed, but my biggest objection is the scene between Spock and the woman, because I really did not believe it. And I did not believe that the Romulan did not suspect Spock of something underhanded. She does know enough about Vulcan and Vulcans to know that something's afoot."

I see her point with these criticisms in general. I'm not that bothered about Kirk running around with the big cloaking device, because it's not the type of detail that normally bothers me. I was finding the Romulan commander's credulity with Spock a little hard to swallow, though, and thinking on it. I do think she should have maintained her distrust of Spock all the way through; to give a comparison, check out Janeway in Voyager's "Counterpoint." That said, I think it does work to some degree. She doesn't "trust" Spock immediately; she believes him, to a degree, because it makes sense that humans would be as foolhardy as Kirk is, and Kirk's reputation (from "The Trouble with Tribbles": "an arrogant, tin-plated dictator with delusions of godhood") makes sense of it; and she thinks that she can use Kirk's madness as the occasion to turn Spock to their side, with the possibility of a real emotional connection, impossible with humans, to sweeten the deal. She starts by playing him, and is played on the long run, because she is unprepared for the emotional connection that they share. And here, I think that the episode relies a little on the mysteries of the Vulcan touch. Had they slept together explicitly, this would not work. But Spock and the Commander touching fingers gently to each other is another story. We don't know what intimacy lies in that touch, and on some level neither does she. More to the point, she is a *soldier* and a *warrior*, and while she's practiced in deceit and seduction, I don't think she's prepared for someone with as much mental control as Spock -- so able, and so *willing*, to betray her while also sharing sincere feelings through touch.

That the small touch of fingers that Spock and the Commander share has an emotional import we in the audience can't fully understand -- can only speculate about -- both helps to solidify why she is so taken in by Spock, and reminds us of Spock's fundamental alien-ness. Spock is half-human, but he identifies with Vulcan, and in that sense he may have a closer kinship with Romulans. In case we didn't get it, Kirk's parading around in Romulan(/Vulcan) garb is the subject of a few less-than-generous jokes: Scotty telling Kirk he looks like "the devil himself," McCoy joking at the very end that Kirk should get back into surgery unless he wants to look like his first officer. The Enterprise crew respects and adores Spock, and Kirk and McCoy even love him (though it's a tempestuous kind of brotherly love in McCoy's case), but they are different, and Kirk's putting on Vulcan/Romulan features is just for show; the Vulcan side of Spock remains isolated because the humans can't quite understand it, and the human side of Spock remains isolated because Spock suppresses it. Spock is isolated from Vulcans because of his difficult relationship with his father, because his betrothed betrayed him, and because Spock senses that he is not whole as a Vulcan the way he wishes to be. It is strange to think that he could have a place among Romulans, but Romulans can understand the unbridled power of the emotions that Spock keeps locked down deep within him in a way that humans can't, and Spock's feelings of inadequacy that he is not a complete Vulcan carry less weight among the Romulans who have spurned logic alone. Spock's "choice" is between Kirk, who can only put on a Vulcan-like face for show in a moment, who can only very briefly step into Spock's world, and the Romulan Commander, who does seem to understand Spock's dilemma in a more fundamental way than anyone else, either human or Vulcan. But Spock is loyal. Spock is logical. Spock will not be swayed by what is good for him, because to do so would be betraying himself. He is never tempted -- he develops real emotions, and in a rare moment, perhaps because he is able to let his guard down talking about these things with the Commander who will not judge him for his Vulcanness as a human does or judge him for his humanity as a Vulcan might, he talks about them. But it is certainly not enough to betray the Federation.

In some senses, Kirk and Spock are the villains of this episode: they break into Romulan territory with a complicated deceit in order to steal Romulan technology. In the process, Spock seduces the Commander into believing him. The explanation given is, essentially, that they are under orders; that the new Romulan cloak will be very dangerous for the Federation. Spock admits at the very end that military secrets are the most fleeting of all, and there is a real sadness there: Spock's betrayal of the Commander is not even for any great, long-term victory, but the nature of the conflict between the Federation and the Romulan Empire means that both must stoop to spying, treachery and deceit even just to keep up with one another.

This episode really is very good. I think the Romulan Commander's credulity with Spock still strains credulity a bit, but it doesn't break it, and overall the Spock/Commander material is one of the series' very best, most effective romances. I don't know whether I'd go for 3.5 or 4 stars -- but, well, keeping in mind the season it's in, I don't mind giving this a full 4.
William B
Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 9:32am (UTC -5)
I also *really* like the idea, from Jeff, that this is what plants the seed for Spock to become interested in Vulcan/Romulan reunification. I have problems with the "Unification" two-parter, but the basic idea of it -- that Spock's big final project is to reunite the Vulcan and Romulan peoples -- is a good one and I think a fitting way to close out that character's story. (A better way than "and then his attempts to save Romulus from total destruction send him BACK IN TIME where he's being attacked by vengeful Romulan miners," obviously.)
Fri, Mar 27, 2015, 12:05pm (UTC -5)
I hear ya, Jammer, and the only thing I can think of is that this episode, given the special effects, just wasn't ready yet. Given that, the producers should have aired a rerun the first week! But agreed, this episode was excellent.
Mon, Mar 30, 2015, 3:45am (UTC -5)
A fabulous episode showing the best of ST and among the best TV episodes of any series ever. A kickass female Romulan commander, played pitch perfect by Joanne, provides a splendid counterbalance to one of Leonard's best renderings of Spock ever. Kirk comes off as second best despite an awesome performance too by William. That's what an episode should be, so much excellence all round you don't know where to focus as a viewer. The complexity and dramatic and sexual tension in the Spock-Romulan commander relationship sizzles all round and is electric till the end, especially at the end, episode endings being so often rushed and problematic in ST. My single favourite episode of all time of any series.I watch and rewatch it forever. BRAVO!
Walter Dunsel
Tue, May 26, 2015, 12:34am (UTC -5)
Couple of points from a long time listener

- we do not know if Klingon ships are bought or stolen by the Romulans. Kirk's statement that the ships were "of identical design" could mean they were stolen designs

- It is perhaps less important if long time viewers had their credulity strained; it would be less likely the Commander would be aware of the unique relationship between K&S

- They want to keep Kirk alive to test their truth beams on; this they have time for

- Why would the Commander wish to go back ? I suspect her fate was known to her and would find a "scandal " to be a difficult time (although of Romulans had Americans' taste for celebrity rehabilitation, she may have indeed preserved)

Fri, Jul 10, 2015, 12:24pm (UTC -5)
Loved this episode as a kid and, I'll admit, the commander's description of their ways to extract enemy information as being "both painful and unpleasant" escaped my young mind at the time. As a child, I necessarily linked anything painful as universally being unpleasant. All I'll say now, as an adult having lived a long life, and because this is a PG blog, that I do understand the distinction. ;) Which is to the episode's credit, much like how Pixar creates for both children and adults in the same movie, or how Philip Glass composed for both human hearing and dogs' (much higher registers, undetectable by us) in the same musical piece.
Sat, Nov 28, 2015, 11:50pm (UTC -5)
Did I miss something? When Kirk and Spock were aboard the Romulan ship, why didn't the Romulans put up their shields? Or at least, once they picked up the alien transmission, why didn't they put them up? Or after the cloaking device was stolen? Surely they would have thought the Enterprise would beam out Spock. I always thought the Romulans were more clever.
Tue, Sep 20, 2016, 3:14pm (UTC -5)
If we're talking about making sense, it would have made more sense for the Enterprise to have disguised someone else other than Kirk as a Romulan. The Romulans had already seen his face and could recognize him, even if they thought he was dead and he was disguised, it was still risky. It would have made more sense to use another character (Sulu, anyone?) but since Kirk is the star I see why they did it, and he did look pretty cool.

I understood the seduction of the Romulan commander to not be part of the original plan, but something that Spock was more than ok with going along with. This interaction lays groundwork for later developments in the canon and seemed to be the first love interest the series gave him that he was genuinely interested in.

The weird two-finger touching was a nice callback to "Journey to Babel", where Amanda and Sarek(sp?) were constantly doing it to show affection (albeit, theirs was a more appropriate hand holding version, and not the more reminiscent of groping touching Spock indulges in with the commander), and Spock's frequently seen steepling his hands with only the first two fingers when he's thinking in other episodes, implying it has something to do with their mental abilities as well.

My first time viewing, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. No, I wasn't buying that Kirk would do this unless he was possessed by some space alien or an imposter, and the sudden "it was our plan all along, here are your ears" wasn't too unexpected, though I was surprised that it was the real Kirk who had been acting that way earlier, even if it was for espionage purposes. Although later he admits to the commander that it was a Federation plan all along and not just him going off the deep end, so I guess they plan to keep her a Federation prisoner forever? Or don't care that the Romulans find out, as long as they were initially tricked? Sorry, I didn't pay attention very well.
Mads Leonard Holvik
Thu, Dec 8, 2016, 3:03pm (UTC -5)
Smug imperialism.
Sun, Mar 5, 2017, 10:11pm (UTC -5)
Finally, a truly great TOS episode. It's been a while. I shouldn't be surprised that it's a Romulan one; it just seems that they have a way of elevating any episode they're in. Unlike the Klingons, they're smart, and tend to always be portrayed as smart. It usually means the plot is more complex than usual and our characters need to be more clever than usual.

Not that the plot didn't have its problems. After all, it seems that Starfleet planned out its operation with all the skill of the Underpants Gnomes. Step 1: head into Romulan territory. Step 2: ??? Step 3: Profit! I mean seriously, how did that plan actually work? Talk about luck! But I think we're able to suspend our disbelief, because the suspense was high and the characters interesting.

Like others, I do think this was partly what impacted Unification in Spock's mind. It did seem pretty clear that he did actually care for the Romulan, and did wish that there was some alternative other than betraying her. Likewise, I think he recognized that the Romulan did care for him too. There must have been some respect for each other deep down, which would translate, at least to some extent, to a respect for each other's culture. That must have given Spock some inkling that a reunification could be successful, even if he would have known that the odds were microscopic. I think the scene with them touching each other with their fingers extended (reminiscent of Sarek and Amanda) was probably the best scene to reinforce this. It may be alien to us, but it was perfectly natural to BOTH of them. It really reinforced the idea that this was, at one time, a single culture, and that they could relate to each other better than perhaps either of them could relate to humans. Perhaps it was that memory that kept Spock's hopes alive?

Of course, there was also the betrayal. Spock said, clearly, that he was a Starfleet officer, and that he had to do his duty. One questions whether he agreed with the theft and agreed with the deception, given that it seems a bit out of the norm for Starfleet operations and given the whole "Vulcans don't lie!" thing. We know in Unification that he stated he wanted to keep Starfleet out of the loop on this one, in part due to the mixup that happened in ST6. Now, obviously Spock chose a lengthy career in Starfleet even after this episode; even after dying. So it's not like this event made him resign in a huff or anything like that, but it does make it clear that Spock doesn't want to be put in that position again with the Romulans. He knows that, with Starfleet, the political angle will always be there. He knows that working directly through official Romulan channels means the political angle is definitely going to be there from that side. That's why he worked the way he did, away from the official channels. Just going directly to the people. Seeking that connection that he would have had with the Commander if their duty (on both sides) didn't get in the way.

But anyway, back to the episode. Like I said, the pacing, suspense, and character stuff just worked, and worked well. The fact that you couldn't really tell the moment that either the Commander started legitimately caring for Spock or vice versa, rather than just using the other for their own gain, is what made it work. That and the poignancy at the end, when both of their plans were laid clear. Neither of them regretted their choices that kept them apart, but neither of them were really happy about it either. And given the emotionless state of Spock and the reservedness of the Commander, the fact that they were able to show it in their words and actions was really quite impressive. Definitely a true classic.
Fri, Jun 16, 2017, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
A terrific episode after the dreadful "Spock's Brain" and the end of Season 2 seeming to run out of ideas.
"The Enterprise Incident" is creative and brilliant with the tables turned as to who are the "bad guys vs. the good guys". Almost wind up feeling bad for the Romulans and their cute commander.
Great scenes with Spock playing the Romulan commander. Linville does a great job - getting a good (non-wooden) guest actor is a huge benefit for this episode.
But this is an episode where everything has to go perfectly right for the Enterprise to pull off their secret mission -- and it does without a hitch.
McCoy being allowed to beam over to the Romulan flagship instead of having a Romulan doctor treat Kirk again makes the Romulans look like idiots. Romulan doctors probably aren't too good at their jobs - being fooled by Kirk's "death".
How does Kirk even know what the cloaking device looks like? And how does Scotty hook it in just in time? And Spock allowed to give his statement and buy the Enterprise time (20 minutes!). The Romulan commander is willing to give Spock his rights that she loses sight of the greater espionage situation.
Unfortunately this episode doesn't jive with "Balance of Terror" in that they should have remembered about the Romulan cloaking device.
Easily 3.5 stars - the female Romulan commander is the star of this episode - her dialogue with Spock is great. A highly enjoyable hour of Trek .
Mon, Oct 16, 2017, 7:36pm (UTC -5)
A good episode, but I have never thought quite as highly of it as most of the rest of you. There are many aspects i really like: Kirk faking like he's lost it, the scene when Scotty finds Kirk made up like a Romulan, the dialogue between Kirk and the Romulan commander. What i didn't like was how incredibly easily the Romulan commander was duped, the incredibly awkward and uncomfortably drawn out "romance," how ridiculously easy it was to steal (and install--in 15 minutes no less!) the cloaking device, the fact that the Romulans didn't have their shields up in the middle of a confrontation with the Enterprise and let them beam back so easily. 2 1/2 stars.
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
Regarding the Romulans using Klingon ships, IDW comics offered an explanation.
In the episode Balance of Terror the ROmulans are shown to have plasma weapons and impulse ships putting them at a disadvantage until they developed the cloaking device, we can infer from TNG dylithium crystals are extremely scarce in the Romulan Star Empire so warp drive may have been reserved for fewer ships until they used quantum singularities. The episode Errand of Mercy which introduced the Klingons, shown them as going to war with the Federation but their war was ended by the Organians and the Organian peace treaty was mentioned a few times afterwards. In the IDW comics, the Klingons provided the Romulans with battleships and weapons in exchange for the cloaking device, they hoped to use them as pawns in a renewed war with the Federation. It all fell apart when the Romulans realised their treachery.
Trek fan
Tue, Nov 21, 2017, 5:28pm (UTC -5)
Here we have a great espionage-realpolitik Star Trek episode of the type that utopian TNG will later flirt at doing and DS9 will excel at pulling off. What's not to love? "The Enterprise Incident" has great pacing, suspense, and a terrific guest star as the central Romulan antagonist. I give it 3 1/2 or 4 stars.

The Spock stuff works well here, with the Pon Farr finger-touching a nice bit of continuity from Journey to Babel (we'll see it again on Star Trek III with young Spock and Saavik) and the Vulcan-Romulan relationship an ongoing source of fascination carrying over from Balance of Terror way back in Season One. Yes, "Incident" is a linchpin Trek in many ways, tying together many threads of TOS and establishing many things that will carry over into later series.

Following on the same in Spock's Brain, we also see what will become a distinctive strength of Season Three here: Women in the main guest star roles. Joanna Lumley is great in her interrogation scenes with Kirk and seduction scenes with Spock that later turn out to be not quite what she thinks. Shatner's overacting in yelling "I'll kill you" at Spock in front of the Romulan Commander teeters on the brink of "too much" for me, but gets a pass because Kirk is *supposed* to be insane here, meaning we can allow it even as we give Shatner a bit of side eye for quite how far he goes in the scene.

Another thing I love about Enterprise Incident is the way it develops the ensemble feel of TOS that really started gelling on Season Two: Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov, and Chapel are the main focus in this episode. (And yes, the ubiquitous Lt. Leslie is in this one too, but he's mainly a stand-in like Billy Bones's helmsman/navigator character.) It's nice to see the show coalescing in these last two seasons around its best characters, increasingly abandoning the bland "Yeoman of the Week" and "female lieutenant of the week" approach. And yet Season Three will also give us some classic Kirk-Spock-McCoy shows, another successful formula.

If Season Three suffered from budget cuts in its day, I'm not sure that's a valid critique anymore, as the remastered special effects and picture-sound of the latest Netflix/CBS Video releases negate these issues. Season Three now looks as great as the rest of the show in the remastered episodes. Granted, it looks a bit more pulpy than the earlier two seasons, with more vivid colors (someone said the uniforms switched from velour to polyester?) and a more daringly creative style in the camerawork and angles. And the writers have changed: On balance, we're going more for "fun" than Big Sci-Fi Ideas in this season, although there are still some strong shows of the latter kind and some great episodes that mix the two. Not too many Godlike Aliens or Earthlike Planets in this season, as seemed to be the case in 90% of Season Two, and that's a good thing.

In fact, Season Three gives us some truly new stuff, mixing truly alien-looking aliens (Medusans, etc.) with more human-based DS9-style universe-building dramas (this one, Cloud Minders, Elaan of Troyius, etc.) about interplanetary disputes and politics. And you know what? I like it! I think Season Three is actually really underrated. It's not as deep as Season One, it doesn't have as many ensemble classics as Season Two, but it's consistently daring and fresh as we see in "The Enterprise Incident."
Fri, Oct 5, 2018, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
Whoever said that Season 3 stank in comparison to the other two has to be, to put it in Vulcan, "kae-amp"---out of his or her mind---and this episode demonstrates it fully. "The Enterprise Incident" is a top-notch spy thriller from the word go, and I just love the way Captain Kirk pretends to be nuts to get on board the Romulan ship---this guy can act! And Spock---I could listen to him talk for hours; the way he gets under the Romulan commander's skin is incredible, nothing short of hypnotic. Not to mention Scotty and company and their frantic efforts to get the cloaking device properly installed and working, and when I saw it in action I let out a yell of "Go Scotty!" In all, this episode deserves 5 stars at least--and it's joined by some six or seven others every bit as enthralling. I say, "Vaskurik"---Vulcan for "beautiful".
Debra Petersen
Tue, Oct 30, 2018, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
I've often wondered what happened to the Romulan Commander after this. The cloaking device was a major advantage for the Romulans against their enemies, and the theft of it, on her watch, would have been a BIG deal. If she were returned to the custody of the Romulans I can't imagine that she wouldn't have the least...stripped of all rank and position and permanently exiled. She could have easily faced execution. It would have been especially bad for her if it came out that she had been "fraternizing" with a Starfleet officer (as her Subcommander could have testified) and that contributed to what happened. Knowing what could be in store for her, I'm guessing she would do everything in her power to avoid being sent back. So would the Federation have continued to detain her? For how long, and under what conditions? (I have actually seen fanfic where she somehow had worked her way back into a position of command...which I really can't buy.) I'm very curious to see others' thoughts about this.
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 8:37am (UTC -5)
@Debra Petersen: As far as official canon goes we'll probably never know. However the Star Trek Continues fan series (basically a continuation of TOS if you're not in the know) brought the Romulan commander character back in their finale episode - they even got the original actress's daughter to play the part!
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 9:24am (UTC -5)
@ Debra Petersen,

In "Balance of Terror" the Romulan commander says Romulans are creatures of duty. So I would expect the Romulan commander in this episode to accept her fate at the hands of the Romulan Senate (or whatever governing body). She knows she's a goner and is programmed to accept it. And her punishment would likely be execution. That to me is the most realistic and consistent outcome. I too can't buy that nonsense fanfic about her being given a chance to work her way back to a command position. Her errors in judgment were far too grave.
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
@ Debra Petersen

You might be interested in reading 'Vulcan's Heart' by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz. They're two of the better-known Trek novelists and this is part of a series focusing on Spock/Saavik/Vulcan stuff, but can also be read as a standalone. The Romulan Commander features prominently and they do her character and storyline justice, I think. It's about as close to a canon continuation as we're likely to get.

There's even a brief glimpse of what happened to Tasha Yar after she went back in time, showing how she ended up with Sela's father.

The only real criticism I have of this book and others in the series is the excess of Star Trek continuity it suffers from. There are too many familiar characters making cameos for the sake of it and too many shoehorned-in references to Trek history and lore, and it soon gets a little tiresome. To be fair though, this is a common problem in Trek novels when the writers' fannish enthusiasm perhaps inevitably gets the better of them.
Sean Hagins
Thu, Nov 1, 2018, 3:26am (UTC -5)
@Debra Petersen

In the Shatnerverse (the series of Star Trek books written (well, co-written) by William Shatner, she has this elaborate plan of teaming up with the Borg to take down the Federation using a brainwashed, revived Kirk after the events of Star Trek-Generations. (As convoluted as that sounds, it was actually a really good book! In fact, I personally really like the William Shatner Star Trek novels, although he does lay on the "Kirk is wonderful, and everyone else is there just to tell him how great he is" routine)
Sat, May 18, 2019, 12:10am (UTC -5)
Solid hour of entertainment.

A lot of things don't stand much scrutiny . . . The whole plan to begin with (the Enterprise could easily have been blown to bits immediately), The Romulan commander's unlikely outfit, the dependence on The Romulans somehow taking a liking to Spock, the Commander's amazing gullibility, Kirk so easily overpowering all Romulan guards, Scotty getting brand new technology installed and working perfectly in 15 mins . . .

Average to slightly above.
Sarjenka's Brother
Wed, Jul 24, 2019, 2:56pm (UTC -5)
An excellent episode. Even better than I remembered.

Given the show's financial limitations in the third season, I wonder whether anyone said or even thought:

"Hey, let's take our limited budget and do four or five Romulan episodes so we can recycle sets and parts. Plus, these Romulan episodes are good!"

Vs. reinventing the wheel every single week.
Tue, Sep 10, 2019, 11:30am (UTC -5)
Wow, what a treat! I don't know if it's because the actors started to really be close by the time this was produced, but I start to feel as if we're getting a glimpse of Feature Film TOS out of this episode. Although Kirk and Spock are in admittedly switched positions, much of the episode still feels right as we have the sly winking and good rapport between Kirk and Spock. It's as if their facial expressions and hand gestures are enough to communicate to each other what the plan *really* is. I also loved the bluster from Scotty in this episode, and it was fun seeing him go toe-to-toe with the Romulans in a combat situation.

William B wrote an exceptionally good review here, and I took from his snippet by DC Fontana that she was not happy with many of the things that came out of this. I suppose all great writers are perfectionists, but I don't think she's giving the final product enough credit. I'm not sure I agree that the Romulan Commander shouldn't be fooled by Spock. The Romulans are such a stubbornly prideful race and I can see them blindly thinking that they could get Vulcans to buy into their racial pride using power as a currency. It seems so alien to us, but to the Romulans, political power is everything, so it stands to reason that the Romulan Commander would think her offer to Spock was irresistible.

At any rate, I loved the conclusion of the story with the couple maintaining a relationship despite Spock's betrayal. It's as if why the Commander is mad at Spock for betraying her, yet she still respects a good political gambit. One might wonder if she ends up becoming a Federation citizen thanks to Spock's charismatic love for the Federation shown in this episode.
Sat, May 30, 2020, 3:34am (UTC -5)
There seem to be a few different stories and it’s been a while since I read it, but two reasons for them using the Klingon battlecruiser model for the Romulans:

- One story was that the original Bird of Prey model was lost when a building or garage burned down (!)

- The other is that the Bird of Prey designer, Wah Chang, was not fairly paid for his work for Balance of Terror, and decided to destroy the model as retribution.

It’s curious enough I’ll have to see if I can find more! But at least this gave us the most detailed interior we’d ever see in an alien ship in TOS.

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