The Enterprise Incident
After a stumble to start the season, Trek
's third season gets on a bit of a better track with "The Enterprise
The first half in particular is a strong one, especially the first time you see it. You can't ever really replicate the sense of "what the hell is going on here?!?" that you feel the first time you see this one, wondering just what is wrong with Captain Kirk and why exactly Spock would betray his long-time friend to the Romulans.
The story starts with a log entry by Dr. McCoy, stating that Kirk has been acting erratically the past few weeks and speculating it may due to stress and a lack of downtime. We then see Kirk barking at the bridge crew and sending the Enterprise into Romulan space where it's quickly captured. Kirk and Spock go aboard the lead Romulan vessel to meet the female Romulan commander and there Kirk is betrayed by Spock. Spock spills the beans that the Federation had nothing to do with the incursion but it was all Kirk. Kirk seems to go a bit unhinged at this point at William Shatner channels his best "evil Kirk" persona from "The Enemy Within" in season one. Spock and the Romulan commander strike up a bit of a friendship based on their shared heritage and Kirk is injured throwing himself against a force field in the Romulan brig.
McCoy beams over to help him, at which point Kirk attacks Spock and is apparently killed by the Vulcan death grip.
This is the first half of the story and it's quite a head scratcher the first time you see it. You know something is not right, but you can't figure out just what.
Well, it turns out its all an elaborate set-up along the lines of Mission: Impossible
, which appears to be one of the inspirations for the episode. Under orders from Starfleet, Kirk and Spock are on a secret mission to infiltrate the Romulan ship and steal their new cloaking device. Hence why Kirk has gone off the deep end and Spock has betrayed everyone. Spock stalls for time as Kirk disguises himself as a Romulan, beams back on board and gets the device.
Unfortunately, the second half of the episode isn't quite as solid as the first. The Romulan commander seems a bit naive given that she seems to know a lot about the Enterprise
, her crew and Spock in particular, but she never really questions why he's betraying his friends and the crew. If this episode were made today, we might see an episode or two that sewed some kind of a conflict between Kirk and Spock over the course of a couple of stories, building up to this story. Instead, it's a stand-alone and I think the story suffers a bit for it.
Writer D.C. Fontana scripted the story and says it was based on the Pueblo incident.
Fontana says she was unhappy with the apparent love story between the Romulan commander and Spock and she says that the cloaking device itself was too big and amounts to little more than Kirk hauling around a lamp for large portions of the fourth act. I can see her point in both cases, but the show was cutting the budget at this point and recycling Nomad from season two is just part of it.
All of that said, it's one of the more solid third season installments and might have made a better season premiere than "Spock's Brain." The atmosphere of the first half alone, along with the performances by Shatner and Leonard Nimoy make it worth the ride, even if things do get bogged down a bit in act two. (Scotty once again earns his stripes as a miracle worker, connecting the device at the last possible second to save the ship).
It's one of only two time we see the Romulans on-screen in the original show and it does give us the largest glimpse of their culture from classic Trek. One thing I find interesting is that when TNG
rolls around, the Romulans and the Klingons have switched places in terms of how their cultures are portrayed. In TOS,
the Romulans are the culture more driven by honor than that of the Klingons.
The storyline also led to one of the most infamous Trek
novels, "Killing Time." Written by a slash fan-fic writer, someone over at Pocket Books missed large chunks of slash scenes in an alternate universe with Kirk and Spock, as well as the return of the original Romulan commander. They eventually found out and the book was recalled and edited. But there are still copies of the original floating around on e-Bay and the used book market that are, well, interesting.
Also, seeing this one as the re-mastered release, I like how they use at least one original Romulan bird of prey in the space shots.
Labels: retro tv round-up, Star Trek
posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/07/2010 04:00:00 PM