Friday, December 30, 2016

Star Trek: The Enterprise Incident

It has been a very busy fall for me and as a result my blogging has come to a standstill. I'm on winter break now and back in action. Before the year is done I should be posting my thoughts on the books I read in 2016, but now its time to visit another episode of the original series of Star Trek.

The Enterprise Incident is considered by many to be the best episode of Trek's otherwise disappointing third season and for good reason, as it is a standout.

The premise is that Kirk and Spock are acting under secret orders to try to steal a Romulan cloaking device. Kirk violates treaty by bringing the Enterprise into the Romulan Neutral Zone and quickly finds that his starship is surrounded by Romulan ships that suddenly appeared out of nowhere.

On the bridge, Kirk asks Spock about what happened:
Kirk: "Mister Spock, you said you had a theory on why your sensors didn't pick up the new ships until they were upon us."
Spock: "I believe the Romulans have developed a cloaking device which renders our tracking sensors useless."
Kirk: "If so, Romulans could attack in Federation territory before we knew they were there, before a vessel or planet could get even begin to get their defenses up."
This of course should be no surprise to anyone, as the Romulans already had a cloaking device in season one's Balance of Terror. Yes, most episodes from this era of Trek don't refer to any of the previous episodes, but this one really should have done so.
Kirk and Spock beam over to one of the Romulan ships and find that the Romulan fleet is commanded by a woman (Joanne Linville), which was wonderfully progressive for the time. Even more so when you consider that there was no comment about it.

The Romulan commander attempts to find out what the Enterprise is doing in their space and Spock describes it as being all Kirk's fault.
Spock: The strain of command has worn heavily upon him. He's not been himself for several weeks.
Kirk: That's a lie!
Spock: As you can see, Captain Kirk is a highly sensitive and emotional person. I believe he has lost the capacity for rational decision.

Kirk: Shut up, Spock!
Spock: I'm betraying no secrets. The commander's suspicion that Starfleet ordered the Enterprise into the Neutral Zone is unacceptable. Our rapid capture demonstrates its foolhardiness.

Kirk: You filthy liar!
Spock: I am speaking the truth for the benefit of the Enterprise and the Federation. I say now and for the record, that Captain Kirk ordered the Enterprise across the Neutral Zone on his own initiative and his craving for glory.
Kirk: I'll kill you, you filthy traitor! I'll kill you! I'll kill you!
Spock: He is not sane.
A seemingly despondent and exhausted Kirk is incarcerated and McCoy is brought over treat him.
When Spock enters his cell, Kirk attacks him and Spock responds in kind:
Spock: I was unprepared for his attack. I instinctively used the Vulcan Death Grip.
McCoy: Your instincts are still good, Mister Spock. The captain is dead.
Yes, Kirk is dead. Only he's not. There's no such thing as a Vulcan Death Grip and it's all part of the plan (though McCoy didn't know it at the time). That way the blame can be put on Kirk and not the Federation.
Scotty: "You look like the Devil himself."


To distract her from their real mission Spock romances the Romulan commander (where they drink Tang together, because that's what you drink in space) as "Romulan" Kirk beams aboard in an attempt to steal the cloaking device.

Naturally, Kirk find and steals the cloaking device, which looks like a cross between Nomad and Sargon's glowing receptacle. He beams back with it and tells Scotty that he's got just fifteen minutes (!) for him to successfully integrate this piece of alien technology into the Enterprise's systems. 15! Yeah, that's crazy. This is how Scotty got his reputation as a miracle worker.

Naturally, it worked. They manage to beam Spock back aboard (complete with the Romulan commander), saving him from execution and successfully make their escape. It's all exciting and fun.

Alexander Courage wrote about 38 minutes of music for the episode with themes for the dramatic action, Spock's romantic encounters with the Romulan commander and more.

The Enterprise Incident is top-notch Trek and easily the best episode of season three. Next up, one of the worst: And the Children Shall Lead.

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