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Star Trek TOS - Season 1 - Episode 10

Star Trek TOS - 1x10 - The Corbomite Maneuver

Originally Aired: 1966-11-10

Kirk bluffs his way past what appears to be a powerful alien. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 4.39

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Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 85 24 29 17 12 88 30 39 33 23 22

Filler Quotient: 3, bad filler, totally skippable.
- Pretty lame episode with no significant long term continuity. The factoid about Spock's parents is nonessential and can be gotten in context in later episodes when it becomes relevant.

- Visual continuity is a bit off in this episode because it was one of the earliest episodes to be produced despite it being aired so much later. As such, it's easy to notice some obvious out of place details, such as Uhura's uniform being the wrong color.
- Why did Scotty tell the away team to bend down to accommodate the low ceiling when the next room over was tall enough? Why not just beam them into that room instead?

- This episode establishes that the Enterprise can fly at warp speed in reverse.
- This episode was nominated for the 1967 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Remarkable Scenes
- McCoy purposely ignoring the red alert to make Kirk finish his physical...
- McCoy: "What am I, a doctor or a moon shuttle conductor?" (Count #1 for "I'm a doctor, not a [blah]" style lines McCoy is famous for.)
- McCoy, talking to himself: "If i jumped every time the light came on around here I'd end up talking to myself."
- The Enterprise's attempts to escape the cube and eventually destroying the cube.
- Kirk complaining about having a female yeoman.
- Sulu very quickly compensating for Bailey's delinquencies.
- Kirk determined to help the enemy in need.

My Review
An episode with a terrific theme and a terrible execution. The spirit of Star Trek and the mission of the Enterprise, to peacefully seek out new life and new civilizations, is demonstrated to its fullest effect here. Despite what easily could have been an armed conflict with what appeared to be a hostile alien species, Kirk's actions prevail in cultivating a peaceful ending, complete with establishing diplomatic relations and a cultural exchange. That all sounds great until you start to examine the details of the plot more closely, at which point unless you're willing to put up with a lot of stylistic oddness, the episode comes off as largely a dramatic failure due to its overwhelming awkwardness.

There are three details of the plot which render the episode difficult to watch. The first and most obvious detail is the incredibly slow pace. I bet I could find over ten minutes of unnecessary material to cut from the episode just from the various scenes where dramatic music plays while the crew stares anxiously at the viewscreen awaiting their impending doom. It's completely unnecessary for us to spend so much time taking in closeups of each individual character's reaction to each individual plot development several times in a row. Camera focuses on viewscreen, camera focuses on crew, camera focuses on viewscreen, camera focuses on other crew... gets old fast.

But even editorial cuts to speed up the pacing wouldn't save us from the insufferable behavior of Bailey and Balok. Bailey's oft-recurring incompetence and emotional outbursts happened so frequently that I found myself largely agreeing with McCoy's flagrant questioning of why Kirk ever promoted the guy to a bridge officer in the first place. Likewise, Balok's overwrought and intensely awkward proclamations of doom and gloom at various points throughout the episode were reminiscent of the sort of bad acting you'd expect to find listening to a cheesy sci fi radio show from the 1950s. Granted, the acting on this show is not typically stellar, but Balok's was bad even for this show's standards. As for the "real" Balok revealed at the end, the less said about that aesthetic choice, the better...

The final difficult detail to deal with is Balok's shoddy reasoning for his stated motives for his actions, something which is becoming all too common on this show for antagonists. Throughout the episode, everything Kirk does just seems to irritate Balok more and more for no particular reason. Every time Kirk offers Balok the hand of truce and friendship, Balok slaps it away. He claimed he did this to rule out deception in Kirk's statements, but in so doing he gave Kirk plenty of reasons to flee and leave Balok's ship disabled in order to ensure a safe escape. Had Kirk chosen to do that, Balok never would have gotten a chance to participate in the peaceful cultural exchange he desired. As such, his tactics were flawed and worked only because of Kirk's innate desire to take questionable, unreasonable risks in the spirit of fulfilling his mission.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From John Bernhardt on 2010-01-12 at 5:44pm:
    This was the first episode produced after the two pilots.
  • From Paul Loudon on 2010-10-01 at 2:22pm:
    Uhura is in a yellow uniform because it is only the third episode ever filmed, her first appearance and hence they were still working these finer points out.
  • From CAlexander on 2011-04-11 at 4:13pm:
    I thought this was a solid episode, though certainly not perfect.

    - I thought Balok's behavior was strange too, but I interpret it differently. His ship was never really disabled. He was essentially a superbeing who was testing the crew. Superior races in Star Trek consistently have very picky opinions about what makes a lesser race worthy of contact. So I believe he was testing them to see if they "had evolved to a point" where they were worthy of a cultural exchange.
    - I agree that Balok's acting is way over the top. But I don't mind, it is part of the charm. Except that his repetitiousness gets monotonous after a while.
    - I agree that some of the scenes are stretched too long. On the other hand, it can be nice to see a show with a slower pace once in a while. After all, it is still a lot faster paced than real life.
    - My main complaint has always been that I was quite unimpressed with Kirk's bluff. Everyone acts like it is this daring poker bluff, but to me it sounds more like a caricature of a bluff. It is the sort of bluff I might create if I was writing a story about how great Kirk is at bluffing, but had no creativity myself to come up with a clever bluff, so instead I just write that Kirk says something ridiculous and the enemy believes it, "proving" that Kirk is a great bluffer. The bluff is ridiculous; his delivery is good, but not that good. Fortunately, the story doesn't depend on Balok believing the bluff; I assume he didn't, but just pretended that he did as part of the test.
    - I like the bantering between Kirk and McCoy. Except for the complaints about having a female yeoman – what is that all about?
    - Science Note: The cube is 107 meters on a side and 11000 metric tons. But Scotty says the cube is solid. That would make the density of the cube extremely low, around 1% of the density of water, so it is made of something very lightweight.
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-02-26 at 3:03am:
    I thought this was a great episode! Maybe not perfect but is anything really perfect? I thought the Corbomite Maneuver was one of the best episodes from the first year!

    And considering it was only the third episode filmed in the series the execution was pretty darn good.

    What I thought was flawed was Kethinov’s review.

    The Corbomite Maneuver was taut, tense and dramatic and it keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time. What Kethinov calls the “incredibly slow pace” was actually what I loved most about this episode. You can almost feel the tension the crew is feeling as you are watching it. I always enjoyed it when Kirk and McCoy butted heads and their heated exchange in this episode is really good. You can even see the sweat on the crew’s faces which made it all the more realistic.

    When Kethinov complains about the pacing I can almost hear Bailey saying, “I don’t understand this. Spock’s wasting time. Everybody else just sitting around. Somebody’s got to do something!” The feeling Kethinov gets from watching the episode is exactly what the crew is feeling. And that is what good drama is all about.

    Granted the corny figure of Balok leaves a lot to be desired, but look at the shoestring budget the network had them on. Cut them some slack please. A chessy sci-fi radio show from the 50’s probably had a bigger budget.

    And as for Balok’s motives I totally agree with Calexander here. Balok was from an advanced race and the whole thing was a test to see how the Enterprise would respond. Did we really believe that Balok would destroy the Enterprise at the end of the ten minutes? I thought so at the time but looking back I can now see he had no intention of ever doing that. When he allowed the Enterprise to “supposedly” disable his ship this again was another test. If the Enterprise left him to die on his own then he knew this was not a race Balok’s people wanted to have any contact with.

    Fortunately, the writers had the Enterprise, or more correctly James Kirk, make the right choice. That of placing the safety of alien life above the safety of his own life. This kind of moral is what DID SET ( past tense!!!! ) Star Trek above all other science fiction films and TV. And why I enjoyed the first two seasons of Star Trek ( and a couple of the Star Trek movies )so much.

    As for the bluff, I loved it. I still do. I still crack up every time I hear Spock say, “A very interesting game, this poker.”

    And I always wondered if McCoy ever did teach Spock to play poker? LOL.

    As for Kirk’s complains about the female yeoman, I think he was just venting to McCoy about Rand “hovering” over him like a mother. Which brings me to my only complaint of this episode, and really it is a complaint of the series as a whole. And that is the role of the yeoman was always played by a woman. I felt this was sexiest. I think you will find in the U.S Navy over half the yeomen are exactly that MEN! Nowhere that I have ever seen has there ever been a male yeoman in Star Trek and I think it is a weakness of the series as a whole.

    All in all a thoroughly enjoyable episode and one I would highly recommend to anyone starting out watching Star Trek!
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-09-23 at 6:17pm:
    The Corbomite Maneuver

    Terrible story, but with some fun moments here and there.

    In short, the main problem with this episode is that Balok is incredibly cruel and unreasonable -- and that this is somehow justified by the claim that he was only "testing" the Enterprise crew, albeit with faulty logic, to determine their "true intentions".

    Re Kethinov's review: I mostly agree with it, but I think that his final paragraph goes too easy on the episode.


    On to the story:

    The Enterprise is minding its own business when a "space buoy" chases our heroes down and holds them trapped for what will be 18 hours. (What did they do during that 18 hours?)

    OK, they convene in the briefing room. Uhura looks like she's sitting through a long, really boring class. And Sulu has his head down on the table! Were they in that briefing room the entire 18 hours?

    I like this dialogue:

    [In the briefing room]

    KIRK: Anything further, gentlemen?
    SPOCK: I believe it adds up to either one of two possibilities. First, a space buoy of some kind.
    KIRK: Second?
    SPOCK: Flypaper.
    KIRK: And you don't recommend sticking around.
    SPOCK: Negative. It would make us appear too weak.
    KIRK: It's time for action, gentlemen. Mister Bailey . . .

    So it took 18 hours to get to this point?

    OK. Kirk finally decides it's time for action. He decides to try to get away from the thing in a spiral course. So Balok tightens his grip on the ship and then has his "space buoy" bombard the Enterprise with deadly radiation. Kirk recklessly waits until near-lethal levels are reached and then finally fires phasers to destroy it. (Just what exactly was he waiting for? I found myself screaming at him, "Fire the phasers already!") And then Balok has the chutzpah to complain!

    "Having ignored a warning buoy, and having then destroyed it, has demonstrated your intention is not peaceful."

    What? Acting in self-preservation somehow demonstrates hostility?

    OK, after destroying the cube, the Enterprise goes forward.

    Then the giant flagship Fesarius puts a tractor beam on them, takes control of the ship, gives them 10 minutes to pray or what, after which they will be destroyed. The Enterprise ejects a recorder marker but Balok destroys it. Bailey loses it. Then the bluff trick. But what if Kirk hadn't made the bluff? What would Balok have done? Destroy them? Probably not. But the Enterprise crew didn't know that! That leaves, "Ha ha, just joking!" Seems pretty damn cruel to me. And couldn't they have dispatched a "subspace" message instead?

    Then more crap from Balok with the small tow ship and such. And Kirk nearly ruins his ship to pull free. This scene goes on for too long. And somehow the Captain knows the "maximum temperature" is way off. OK, maybe there is a huge safety factor implicit in the "maximum temperature. Nonetheless, we have Kirk being totally reckless again.

    Now, after all this crap Balok put them through, Kirk is supposed to respond favorably to a distress call? This is all some kind of test? Test of what? To see how much crap they'll put up with and still respond to a distress call?

    It's like you and your comrades are POW's of a ruthless enemy. You've been horribly mistreated. Then you are forced at gunpoint to line up against a wall, face the wall, after which you are told you are to be shot. Then the soldiers lay down their guns, pick up some cameras, and shoot photos of them. This is effectively what Balok did to the crew of the Enterprise. Would you want friends like this?

    And how about testing Balok? Is his behavior somehow acceptable? NO! It's cruel. Pure and simple. I mean, why can't we test _him_ for _his_ intentions? What would _you_ conclude from his behavior? Granted, it was the Enterprise that was trespassing, but the crew had no reason to believe that. And once Balok confronted them with the spinning cube, he proved that _he_ was the one who had hostile intentions and was being totally unreasonable, to boot!

    There's too quick a resolution too late in the show. It feels like a cheat. Similar to a "deus ex machina", though I'm not sure whether this is really the same thing or not. Regardless -- I mean, really: Balok: "It was a pleasure testing you." . . . Kirk: "I see." That's it? And that, all of a sudden, makes everything hunky-dory? Couldn't Balok at least have apologized: "Sorry, gentlemen, for scaring you half to death and nearly destroying you and your ship, but it was 'only a test', and I got a real kick out of it." Yeah.

    It's annoying enough having a sudden last-minute out-of-nowhere save like this, but to help someone who put you through such hell for no good reason? Hell, on that note I'd think an alien with this much power need not fear the Enterprise in the first place.

    And then they leave Bailey behind! Who's to say Balok won't put him through hell just like he did the Enterprise and crew? How do they know that Balok will ever let Bailey return? And what about the cuisine?!

    Would _you_ want to hang out with this Balok dude?


    A few short points:

    Bailey reports that the buoy is 1593 meters distant. That's about a mile! It's clearly a lot closer than that. (I only have the re-mastered version, unfortunately. So I don't know if it's the same in the original.) And based on the ship being 289 m long and the spinning cube being 107 m on a side, the scale of everything is _way off_ anyway.

    It's funny when Janice places the napkin on Kirk's lap. How could Grace Lee Whitney do that with a straight face? Now that's acting!

    Spock says that Balok is "in some manner reminiscent of [his] father". Say what? Totally absurd. Please. This must have been some desperate "filler" material.

    Uhura says "hailing frequencies open" some seven times, and practically nothing else until the end when she tells us about Balok's "distress signal".

    About that shot of Sulu turning around at about 7m20s: Is this the same shot seen in many other episodes?

    Rand with the coffee: Nice random element to throw in. Nice contrast to the gravity of the situation.

    This Balok dude is really into curtains, no? His "ship" doesn't look much like a ship. It looks like a curtain store. Must be a budget-saving device.

    Which ship was which? When I first saw this episode literally decades ago I thought the small ship was not manned by Balok. Balok stayed on the big ship, safe from any possible Corbomite device and thereby thwarting Kirk's bluff! But as I watch it now it looks like he _was_ on the little tow ship. So what was the point of that? And why does he have the big ship?

    Memory Alpha has a page about the Fesarius: Among other things, it explains that the special effects to make the large ship was so difficult that it held up the episode, resulting in it being the tenth to be shown.

    Balok says he thought his distress signal was "quite clever". In isolation it _was_ clever, as the distress call was aimed at "the mother ship", and likely not strong enough to be heard (though I'm not sure how you could determine these things). But this is not a dude deserving rescue.

    Spock was clearly unhappy about not finding a solution to the problem. Is this not emotion?

    Boy, it didn't take long for Scotty to evaluate the engines!


    On the bright side:

    o Yeoman Rand serving greens to Kirk.
    o The look of evil Balok.
    o Spock, Bailey, and Sulu in the adrenaline-gland scene.
    o The hilarity of the briefing-room scene.
    o The chess and poker bit. Spock: "A very interesting game, this poker."
    o Yeoman Rand serving coffee.


    On readers' comments:

    John Bernhardt pointed out that this was the 1st post-pilot production. Quite believable, as Spock is still using his "loud voice" from time to time (and complains about Bailey raising his!). He clearly still has at least some of the mannerisms of "early Spock" from the pilot episodes, though to a lesser degree.

    I agree with CAlexander about Kirk's bluff being not that good and such.

    A similar Corbomite bluff was used in "The Deadly Years", but was better-played and more believable as a severe-overkill self-destruct mechanism, as opposed to the "reverse reaction" mechanism we see here.

    Re Mike Meares' comments:

    There's "keeping you on the edge of your seat", and there's "let's get on with it already". I found this episode to be more of the latter.

    Why should one place the safety of alien life above one's own? (And this goes double for such a cruel alien.) Behavior like that would quickly doom a species to extinction.

  • From Strider on 2012-10-06 at 6:01am:
    This is one of my favorite episodes, and I watch it frequently, all the way up to the last segment with Balok. I always turn it off when they're going into the transporter. I actually love Clint Howard as an actor, but I hate that last segment.

    But up to that, I think it's one of the best episodes in the series. Kirk completely owns this episode. He's human enough to be anxious about the fate of his ship and crew, but he's the one that comes up with all the solutions. Even Spock is ashamed that he can't come up with any logical solutions. And for once, they get out not because some all-powerful entity decides to let them go, but because Kirk is ingenious and courageous. The crew is in awe of him; you can see it on the faces of everyone on the bridge from Spock to Sulu.

    I never found the pacing slow. I, too, found that it built tension throughout the episode. When they counted down the 10 minutes and then they didn't die, that was a huge moment! You can't create moments like that without investing some time in it.
  • From Dos Flores on 2012-12-28 at 5:36am:
    Oh dear. I was nodding along with each of your episodes reviews and ratings, right up to this one - one of my favorite!
    I thought the pacing, really quite different from typical original series fare, was one of its selling points. Was Balok's behavior and response over-the-top theatrical in its Booming Menace and Evil? Well, yes! Because it *was* an act, one-dimensional and heavy-handed, designed precisely to be unreasonable, in order to put them through a dramatic wringer, psychologically, and see how they'd react under duress. And the disabled ship may have been, as someone suggested, a poor way to test their altruism, considering what he had just put them through, but it was a great way to test their level of aggression or vindictiveness, precisely BECAUSE of what he had just put them through. There was a third option, after all, besides either aiding or not aiding a helpless and disabled enemy vessel... what would a Klingon commander have done in that exact situation, for example?
    This episode was also some of Shatner's most restrained acting, and it's a nice reminder of the fact that, when ego and diet pills weren't making him, well, Shatner, he really *could* act. I liked this completely grown-up Captain Kirk, and can actually see him with some emotional weight on him in that command chair. His interactions with McCoy, including quietly snarling at him under pressure, feel real, as do his frustrated attempts to get through to an obviously overmatched bridge crew member. ("Promoted too fast"... uhm, ya think?) He certainly would have made my short list of people to maroon with a strange alien...

    And more! The scenes between Spock and Kirk this early in the series are a huge selling point for the episode, laying such fine groundwork for what is already being shaded as a deep connection. When Kirk, stressed out by the unreasonable countdown to destruction, verbally cuts at Spock for not having a magic-bullet solution, Nimoy just nails the response. You can see his sense of having personally failed the Captain, and it hurts. Plot holes? For sure. But no more than I think are typical for the series overall, and with some nice tension and pacing for distraction!
  • From Schreck on 2013-05-23 at 9:08pm:
    A very early episode that is very slow moving, but offers a few nice moments that clearly show where the crew and Kirk will be going in the future…plus we get Clint Howard!!! I give it a 7 and my brother a 6.25
  • From CAlexander on 2013-09-03 at 10:07pm:
    There has been some discussion about whether Balok’s behavior is reasonable or unreasonable, but I would like to point out that our judgment of Balok’s behavior makes no difference to the episode. We have to keep in mind what Kirk’s mission is. Kirk’s mission is to establish peaceful relations with Balok’s people. If Balok’s culture considers it appropriate to put strangers in mortal danger as a test of character, it isn’t Kirk’s job to tell them that their cultural customs suck. How does it benefit the Federation to needlessly antagonize foreign cultures by denigrating their value systems as inferior to that of the Federation? Kirk’s job is to suck it up, smile, and make good relations with the strange representative of an extremely powerful and dangerous foreign government.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-11-17 at 2:42am:
    To Dos Flores:

    Regardless of whether this was a great way to test Kirk and crew (and I claim it wasn't), how can you possibly justify such cruelty? You seem to have absolutely no concern for the well being of our heroes. Take the radiation attack, for example. Even though it did not kill them then right there and then, it must have surely caused numerous cases of radiation sickness. (Realistically, it would have. Well, I suppose it turns on just what Spock meant by "tolerance level" and "lethal zone". It's not like everyone would instantaneously drop dead at any point, but having entered the "lethal zone" it seems to me that many should have gotten radiation sickness and cancer and what not. Hey, just for the test, right?) And the Enterprise might have easily been destroyed at some point. A lot of wear and tear, at least. These things are somehow insignificant and justified?

    To Dos Flores and CAlexander:

    What would you have thought if Captain Kirk and crew did all this to a technologically inferior culture who were just minding their own business, just like the Enterprise was? What if either of them did it to you? And if you have children, them? Your kids getting radiation sickness? Just for the test, eh?

    This was like an elephant testing the intentions of a mouse.

    To CAlexander:

    Balok was way beyond unreasonable. He was evil, pure and simple. And he deserved zero good will, irrespective of anything else. Severe punishment would be appropriate. He bombarded the Enterprise with lethal radiation for crying out loud! That's pretty damn hostile, if you ask me.

    What about the Axis powers? Would you have tried to establish peaceful relations with them? Hmmm. Someone tried with one of them. It didn't turn out too well. So you would say that maybe they were just testing us? That our job was to suck it up and let the Axis powers have their way?

    Kirk frequently denigrated alien cultures' customs. He also did something about it! Here's a list.

    Romulans and Klingons in any episode they appear in.

    Balance of Terror
    The Return of the Archons
    Space Seed (well, the culture of Kahn and his crew)
    A Taste of Armageddon
    Who Mourns for Adonais?
    The Apple
    I, Mudd (the androids' culture)
    The Gamesters of Triskelion
    A Piece of the Action
    Patterns of Force
    By Any Other Name
    The Omega Glory
    Spock's Brain
    For the World Is Hollow
    Plato's Stepchildren
    Wink of an Eye
    The Empath
    The Cloud Minders
    The Savage Curtain

    In all these episodes he not only judged and disapproved of the alien cultures; when he could, he put things right, as he should have. And the Federation had no problem with it, to boot.

    AEF, a.k.a. betaneptune
  • From Rick on 2014-08-26 at 5:03pm:
    At Alan Feldman:

    I dont think you understand the way that "superior" beings are portrayed on Star Trek. From the view of the inferior beings (in this case humans) their actions may seem cruel but that does not make them cruel by their standards (presumably because we cannot understand their standards). Q is a great example of this. Heck, the Federation is a great example of this! Dont you think the prime directive seems extremely cruel to the inferior beings that it negatively affects?

    Anyway, Balok's portrayal is very consistent with the portrayal of superior beings on Star Trek, and therefore shouldnt be considered a negative to this episode in particular.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2014-09-14 at 9:50pm:
    At Rick:

    "I dont think you understand the way that "superior" beings are portrayed on Star Trek. From the view of the inferior beings (in this case humans) their actions may seem cruel but that does not make them cruel by their standards (presumably because we cannot understand their standards)."

    Sorry, I don't buy your explanation. It's a cop-out. Cruel is cruel.

    I think you used the last occurrence of the word _cruel_ above to mean immoral. Regardless, I find Balok to be both cruel and immoral.

    Now, morality is a slippery term, and I don't want to get into an extended philosophical discussion here, but I think the following is beyond question:

    Balok was cruel, hostile, highly unreasonable, and hypocritical.

    So what bothers me so much is how all this was just hunky dory in the end, and how this testing was somehow legitimate and justifiable. Imagine if our heroes did the same to some inferior race or species.

    What Balok did was awful and he deserves jail, not friends. And why should we go by his standards, anyway? Criminals and psychopaths have their own standards. Would you give _them_ a pass? What's not to understand?

    "Q is a great example of this."

    I know next to nothing about Q. I have seen probably not more than one or two episodes of each of the spin-offs. I care primarily about Star Trek TOS. The rest is of little or no interest to me. Even the Star Trek TOS movies don't interest me as much as the TOS TV show. Q and such is not Star Trek to me.

    As far as being inferior: In this case it's just a matter of technology. It's not like a human compared to a worm or a single-cell organism.

    "Heck, the Federation is a great example of this! Dont you think the prime directive seems extremely cruel to the inferior beings that it negatively affects?"

    Re the Prime Directive:

    Even D.C. Fontana, when asked about it said, "You mean the one Kirk violated all the time?" [Ref. starting at 2:34.]

    There are approximately 11 episodes where the Prime Directive might apply. In only eight of them is it mentioned explicitly (Archons, Apple, Piece of Action, Private Little War, Patterns, Omega, Bread, and Hollow). In almost all of them, Kirk interferes. In fact, Spock asks Kirk in many of these episodes if they had violated (or should violate) the Prime Directive, with Kirk always making up some answer that may or may not pass muster. In a few he tried to undo damage that was already done by others. The Directive was taken most seriously, regardless of consequences to our heroes, in "A Private Little War," and most especially in "Bread and Circuses."

    So where's the damage? [Perhaps you're thinking of the one TNG episode I actually saw in its entirety, in which Picard refuses to interfere, even though the civilization in question was doomed to extinction without some outside help. But this is the TOS forum.]

    "Anyway, Balok's portrayal is very consistent with the portrayal of superior beings on Star Trek, and therefore shouldnt be considered a negative to this episode in particular."

    The closest I can see to Balok in TOS are the Melkotians and the Vians. But the Melkotians had some justification because they made it crystal clear to Kirk right at the outset that the Enterprise was trespassing and should promptly go away. Balok had no justification whatsoever. He was hostile from the outset. The Vians were also pretty bad, but at least they weren't rescued or befriended in the end. Oh, the Metrons also did some testing -- a rather complicated morality case I choose not analyze at this time.

    In TOS, each case of "superior beings" is different. I don't see how you can classify them so narrowly. Trelane was immature, a hypocrite and a psychopath. Gorgan was power-hungry. Apollo was overly egotistical and selfish. The Salt Monster, the fog creature in "Obsession," the huge "cell" in "The Immunity Syndrome," and the ravioli monsters were basically just dangerous animals. The Organians were peaceful and super powerful. The entity in "Day of the Dove" was pretty much evil, don't you think? Sargon was good, Felicia teetered, and Hannock was evil. Jack the Ripper in "Wolf in the Fold" was pure psychopath. I'll skip the rest. All the evil beings were either destroyed, incapacitated, or taken away by others, the exception being Balok.

    What bothers me the most in this episode is Kirk's rescue attempt and befriending of such a contemptible person. That is contrary to what he did with every other evil entity in the show.
  • From Rick on 2015-02-27 at 7:41pm:
    " [Perhaps you're thinking of the one TNG episode I actually saw in its entirety, in which Picard refuses to interfere, even though the civilization in question was doomed to extinction without some outside help. But this is the TOS forum.]"

    Actually there are multiple episodes in TNG where the Enterprise lets a species go extinct. Additionally, in "The Last Outpost" Riker specifically states that the Federation has let numerous races go extinct even though they could have intervened to save them. I imagine if those people that were needlessly killed knew the Federation couldve saved them they mightve thought it was a tad cruel.
  • From thaibites on 2015-09-30 at 8:08pm:
    The best thing about this episode is creepy, little Clint Howard. If you didn't grow up with this episode, you will never understand. I love when he laughs and drinks Tranya - it's so fake, it's awesome! Clint should've gotten and Emmy for this. Love those wacky teeth, too.

    I need some Tranya...
  • From Alan Feldman on 2015-11-14 at 3:47am:
    Yet more on "The Corbomite Maneuver".

    In reply to Rick on 2015-02-27 at 7:41pm:

    Letting a civilization needlessly go extinct _is_ cruel. And it makes no sense, to boot.

    Yet another strike against TNG.


    On my list of Prime Directive episodes, a few should be removed, like "Space Seed" and "By Any Other Name". Maybe one could make a case for non-interference in a few of them of the ones still on the list. But I think blind unthinking adherence to it, as if it were perfectly constructed by lawmakers of infallible wisdom, is foolhardy.

  • From CAlexander on 2017-04-09 at 3:06pm:
    To Alan: The Klingons (like the Axis, etc.) are a good example. They did far, far, far, far worse things than Balok, but the Federation still made peace with them by TNG, even though they were unrepentent. And it is easy to see why – as per Yesterday’s Enterprise, if they hadn’t, the Federation would have been conquered. The Federation is quite capable of engaging in diplomacy with violent cultures when it is in its own best interests. While Kirk certainly loved interfering with alien cultures when he got a chance, but they were different situations for many reasons I’d love to discuss but don’t want to spend the space on, but generally involving foes either still actively threatening the Federation or actively continuing to engage in reprehensible conduct or Kirk being in a position of power, none of which was the case with Balok.
    However, thinking more on this I believe I may have missed something important here. If I recall, the setup was that the Enterprise was on a mission to invade First Federation space to establish contact, and ignored express warnings to not to enter. If interstellar law works like international law on Earth, the First Federation would be well within its right to destroy the Enterprise (remember the Soviet Union shot down U2 spy planes that weren’t even armed, the Enterprise could have reduced the First Federation planets to radioactive slag if unopposed). The Enterprise must have known they were risking a war by entering, and after discovering Balok incredible power, they must have been overjoyed by the end that he wasn’t going to retaliate and that, in fact, they had succeeded on their mission with far less loss of life than they may have anticipated.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2017-07-08 at 6:41pm:
    To CAlexander:

    Well, the Enterprise did not know it was intruding on anyone's territory. The cube came out of nowhere and held them "still" for 18 hours. The Enterprise was minding its own business -- mapping uncharted regions of the galaxy. Hardly a crime! (I put "still" in quotation marks, as Star Trek's concept of motion is pre-Newtonian physics. I could go on, "but I digress.") As for the U-2 spy plane, they knew they were flying over the Soviet Union. Kirk et al. knew nothing. It's one thing to negotiate. It's another to walk into the lion's den.

    TNG is not TOS. I don't know what "Yesterday's Enterprise" is. I guess that's an episode of TNG. Not relevant in my book.

    And when Balok faked the distress call, what if it were a trap? That's not exactly an invitation for negotiation! Clearly not a good-faith gesture!!!

    C'mon. I seriously doubt the Enterprise was even the slightest threat to the First Foundation. In fact, Balok himself said so! So why bother with the test? Especially given how cruel it was.

    Again, would you sanction the Enterprise doing the same things to an inferior civilization? Really?

    Again, Balok was hypocritical in that it was okay for him to test our heroes, but not the other way around. Why should Kirk and company trust Balok without testing _him_? In fact, it was Balok who was _clearly_ (no test needed!) showing hostile intentions. If anything . . . cripes, we're talking hypocrisy of the first order. Sorry, but this is not a situation amenable to negotiation.

    Retaliate for what? Self-defense?

    I don't think I can explain it any better.
  • From Chris Long on 2018-12-10 at 2:21am:
    Shy does a kid this young with obviously rich parents have so many filling?!?!?

    I guess the 'rich parents' is the key...

    Christ! the boy was messed up before he started and still scores H-Wood roles?
    Please try not to tell me it was because he was "SUPER TALENTED!!!", because he wasn't and I, being much better looking would've been a million more times charming. Just sayin'... and my teeth wouldn't have been an embarrassment in later years!

    ... but I'm not bitter.

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