Thu
May 7 2009 5:52pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Corbomite Maneuver”

“The Corbomite Maneuver”
Written by Jerry Sohl
Directed by Joseph Sargent

Season 1, Episode 109
Production episode: 1x02
Original air date: November 10, 1966
Star date: 1512.2

Mission Summary
The Enterprise, gloriously star-mapping previously uncharted space, is approached by a strange object: a cube. The mysterious cube blocks the Enterprise’s path, and Spock, currently in command, tries to out-maneuver it (to no avail). He alerts Kirk, who had been otherwise gratuitously shirtless for a physical exam, back to the bridge.

Unable to hail it, communicate with it, or dodge it, the Enterprise remains stuck for eighteen hours. Kirk convenes a meeting of the bridge crew but they are unable to determine its nature or intent. Spock guesses that the cube is one of two things: some kind of space buoy, or flypaper.

They decide to try and escape. Kirk orders the ship to plot its course forward and engage—but they don’t budge, and the cube begins releasing deadly radiation. The more they struggle the more the radiation increases until it finally reaches lethal levels. Kirk, in the interest of protecting his ship and crew, fires the main phasers and destroys the cube.

The navigator, Bailey, had been unusually nervous, scared, and lacking in confidence during the previous showdown—a liability—so Kirk orders him to practice some maneuvers. Dr. McCoy astutely points out that Kirk is protecting Bailey, who is not ready to be a navigator, because he reminds Kirk of himself as a young man.

Kirk decides to continue into this uncharted territory, despite the possibility inevitability of further hostile contact. It doesn’t take long, either. The next geometric object to assault them is an enormous sphere, so big it dwarfs the Enterprise. They receive a message from this sphere:

This is Balok, Commander of the flagship Fesarius of the First Federation. Your vessel, obviously the product of a primitive and savage civilization, having ignored a warning buoy and having then destroyed it, has demonstrated your intention is not peaceful. We are now considering the disposition of your ship and the life aboard.

Kirk tries to explain that they are on a mission of peace, the buoy tried to destroy them, and they had no idea it was meant to be a warning. But Balok of the Great Sphere is unsympathetic (and unintentionally hilarious):

Your ship must be destroyed. We make assumption you have a deity or deities or some such beliefs which comfort you. We therefore grant you ten Earth time periods known as minutes to make preparations.

With only ten minutes to live, Spock explains that they’ve been caught in a game of chess and Balok has just checkmated them. This of course gives Kirk an idea: poker! (What?) Kirk tells Balok that actually, secretly, every Earth vessel has a material called corbomite—something so deadly that if the Enterprise is attacked the corbomite will react with equal force against the attacker, destroying that ship and all its crew.

The final few moments pass. Nothing happens. Balok relented.

Balok finally gets back in contact with them. He says that instead, they will be towed to an internment planet capable of sustaining human life and their ship will be destroyed. The enormous sphere then disappears, replaced by a very small piloting ship that catches them in a powerful tractor beam.

Kirk assumes that the tractor beam is an incredible strain on that ship’s resources and formulates an escape plan: they will rev up the engines to full power at a 90-degree angle away from Balok and break free from the tractor beam. The Enterprise’s engines nearly overheat in the process, but it works! Just as they regain their bearings they discover that the small ship has issued a weak distress signal. Kirk’s actions have crippled the alien ship and its crew, and their signal is so weak that there is no hope it will reach the mothership. Acting as Kirk always does, with empathy and generosity, they pull around to the ship to give it assistance.

Kirk, Bones, and Bailey beam aboard to help the injured crew—to discover no crew, but a single child-like humanoid. The face they had seen on the viewscreen was merely a puppet. Balok laughs, clearly pleased with himself, and reveals that this entire thing was merely a test to discover the Enterprise’s true intentions, and gauge its real commitment to peace. He admits that he is the only one onboard, but that:

I miss company, conversation. Even an alien would be welcome. Perhaps one of your men for some period of time. An exchange of information, cultures.

Bailey volunteers for the job. Balok explains to Kirk how alike they are, and gives the three men a tour of his own ship.

 

Analysis
I will say this: the dialogue in this episode is phenomenal. I was chuckling from start to finish. The back and forth was not only clever, but a really great look at each of the characters. McCoy relishes every chance to tease Kirk, and even Scotty gets a good joke in:

SCOTT: Motive power? Beats me what makes it go.
KIRK: I’ll buy speculation.
SCOTT: I’d sell it if I had any.

Even Bailey, who I initially found irritating, grew on me, if only because it left little gateways open for zingers from Spock:

BAILEY: The cube’s range and position. I’ll have it by then. Raising my voice back there doesn’t mean I was scared or couldn’t do my job. It means I happen to have a human thing called an adrenaline gland.
SPOCK: It does sound most inconvenient, however. Have you considered having it removed?
BAILEY: Very funny.
SULU: You try to cross brains with Spock, he’ll cut you to pieces every time.

Aside from the banter, though, I found this episode to be unusually tedious and bland. The countdown lacked tension for me, because no one behaved as if they actually believed it to be their last ten minutes. At no point did Kirk or anyone else on the crew appear to be genuinely concerned about dying. They just kind of waited around, and sort of ticked off the minutes until the countdown was over. I didn’t get a sense of urgency or fear, and no one looked defeated. So little actually happened in this episode, and all of the waiting around moments struck me as odd, boring, and tedious. I actually checked my own watch to see the if the ten minutes were up.

You can tell it’s an early episode, though: Spock comes off as kind of a jerk, and Kirk is worse, repeatedly shutting down Bailey in a way I thought was unnecessarily gruff. Sulu was very staid and calm, but Bones was unusually detached, acting more like a therapist than a medical doctor. I’m glad they grew into their characters more—if I had to see an entire series in which Uhura’s only line is “Hailing frequencies open, sir” and Janice acts like a hotel maid I might need to claw my eyes out. Allan Asherman in The Star Trek Compedium notes that during the meeting Kirk convenes, Uhura just sits there, never asked for advice or contributing anything meaningful. She’s a switchboard operator. And can you believe that with only a few minutes to live they had Janice heat up a pot of coffee with her phaser to give Kirk? They ultimately cut a shot of her laying out Kirk’s freshly cleaned uniform on the bed. Really guys?

What bothered me more, though, was the way in which the central premise of episode—Kirk’s clever bluff—was supposed to somehow demonstrate what a great captain and peacemaker he was. He gives empty threats to a lifeform he does not understand, and that makes him a strong leader? It felt like a machismo display, empty bravado meant to scare the opponent despite an empty holster. Why on earth was that kind of behavior rewarded and held up as exemplary? How does that demonstrate to Balok that they are committed to peace? Lying and using threats did not strike me at all as something either indicative of peaceful intentions or worth emulating as an example. I liked that Kirk maintained his commitment to seeking out new life even in the face of danger, but I was disappointed that he was praised for his “leadership,” which here translates as a Western bravado that I didn’t feel meshed with the sentiment of the show.

Torie’s Rating: Warp Factor 2 (on a scale of 1-6)

Eugene Myers: I think I can sum up this episode with just one word: Awesome. But I do have some additional words in praise of it...

This is one of my favorite episodes, and I was glad to see it was even better than I remembered. “The Corbomite Maneuver” is obviously an early episode, since those old uniforms are back and Kirk complains about having a female yeoman, but the characterizations of the captain, Spock, and Dr. McCoy are nearly pitch perfect and the dialogue is fantastic. There are so many delightful exchanges between them, it’s hard to choose the best lines. This episode establishes/reinforces their friendship and history together and even when they’re at odds, they still take the time to listen to each other and apologize (even Spock almost says “I’m sorry”). I believe this episode is also the first to feature McCoy’s signature, “Am I a doctor or a (fill-in-the-blank),” though the “moon shuttle conductor” punchline here is a little weak.

As for the plot itself, it’s almost pure suspense, literally a ticking clock story, but even on this simple level, it’s fairly nuanced. I’m very impressed that given the ultimatum, Kirk doesn’t attempt to fight his way out of the situation, but he bluffs his way out. The titular corbomite maneuver ranks with fizzbin as one of the best Kirk ploys ever. It’s an incredible moment when Kirk comes up with his plan at their moment of defeat and says, with a gleam in his eyes, “Not chess, Mr. Spock. Poker.” This is the man who doesn’t believe in the no-win scenario, changing the rules of the game to suit him. It may not always be the logical solution, but it works.

Kirk truly shows his mettle as a captain in this episode. He obviously likes Bailey, even when he’s pushing him harder than perhaps he should, which as McCoy points out may be because the young crewman reminds Kirk of himself at that age. (I guess we’ll see in the new movie, right?) No wonder the captain seems so disappointed when Bailey breaks down; he actually seems more devastated by dismissing the navigator than he is by Balok’s threats.

Kirk’s encouraging pep talk to the crew as they face imminent destruction is every bit as inspiring as intended: “You know the greatest danger facing us is ourselves, an irrational fear of the unknown. But there’s no such thing as the unknown, only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood.” This is the lesson that Bailey learns by the end of the episode, when we all discover that Balok and his threats are not what they seem, in one of the most effective surprise endings in Star Trek.

It’s remarkable that after barely surviving their encounter, Kirk would turn around and offer help to the alien who moments before was their mortal enemy. Kirk strongly believes in their mission “to seek out new life” and upholds it, even in the face of danger. That’s why he gets to sit in that chair. Time and time again in the series, Kirk maintains the Federation’s moral high ground, holding it to arguably impossible standards—not just speaking the words but acting on them to the best of his abilities.

It’s also a treat to see the Enterprise engage in an actual space battle (more or less—firing the phaser banks counts in my book) for the first time in the series, and against what is still a pretty impressive-looking ship even without the aid of CGI. And in the same episode, we see both the ship’s most exciting duties as well as its most boring: photographing space for Federation star charts, the unsung burden of going where no one has gone before.

In retrospect, “The Corbomite Maneuver” reminded me a bit of the Star Trek: The Next Generation pilot episode, “Encounter at Farpoint,” which begins in much the same way: an unknown barrier blocks the ship, heralding contact with an alien being of immense power who tests the crew’s intentions. Balok turns out to be a bit more reasonable than Q, and easier to fool. I wonder: did Kirk ever admit to Balok that there’s no such thing as corbomite? Later on Kirk will use the same bluff on the Romulans.

On a different note, for some reason the print on the non-remastered DVD seems dirtier than those for other episodes, which have all been cleaned up. And though we haven’t commented on the episode previews before, I watched the one for “The Corbomite Maneuver” and thought it was interesting how blatantly it misrepresents the episode. Balok’s time limit is given as one minute, and following the countdown an explosion appears on the viewscreen. This sort of creative editing is still being done today in TV and film trailers, of course.

Eugene’s Rating: Warp Factor 6 (on a scale of 1-6)

Best Line:
KIRK: What the devil is this? Green leaves?
RAND: It’s dietary salad, sir. Doctor McCoy ordered your diet card changed. I thought you knew.
MCCOY: Your weight was up a couple of pounds...

Lines Kirk Misattributes to McCoy: “A little suffering is good for the soul” and “Man is ultimately superior to any mechanical device.”

Syndication Edits: Much of the initial cube encounter and the Enterprise’s evasive maneuvers; Kirk phoning the bridge from the turbolift and deciding there that he has time to change into his uniform; some reaction shots; and a line by Sulu that “I knew he would” (referring to a Balok voice part that the sound editors forgot to dub in!).

Trivia: The tranya was actually grapefruit juice, which Clint Howard (Balok) had to pretend very hard he liked—he actually found it disgusting.

Other Notes: This episode was actually nominated for a Hugo in 1967 for “Best Dramatic Presentation,” along with “The Naked Time” and the following two episodes, “The Menagerie - Part I” and “The Menagerie - Part II.” The Menagerie episodes won.


Next episode: Season 1, Episode 11 - “The Menagerie - Part I” US residents can watch it for free at the CBS website.
Check the Star Trek Re-Watch Index for a complete list of posts in this series.

25 comments
Eugene Myers
1. ecmyers
It's great that we had such diverging opinions on this one, Torie. You make a lot of good points, but I just enjoyed this episode too much.

As for poker, I thought it was McCoy's comment on bluffing that gave Kirk the idea. And while Kirk was definitely harsh on Bailey, he always had a little smile when the poor navigator wasn't looking, which shows he's perfectly aware of what he's doing but thinks it's for the guy's benefit. Even captains can be wrong sometimes.

I didn't think the crew acted unnaturally when facing their death, considering they're Starfleet officers and should maintain their composure. Bailey's breakdown showed cracks in his training, but overall they handled the situation like soldiers who know their lives could be cut short in the line of duty. They also all dealt with it differently: Kirk and McCoy argued, Rand kept herself busy trying to make coffee (which, as demeaning as it might be, it was her job and she found a smart way to accomplish it), and Sulu counted down the minutes.
Kurt Lorey
2. Shimrod
I remember liking this episode a lot (for the big idea of bluff vs counter bluff), but it is very interesting to see the different details that you both pull from the script.

Clint Howard hasn't really changed all that much either. Maybe a little taller.
Church Tucker
3. Church
This is one of my favorite episodes (as my avatar should indicate.)

I think Torie is missing the point. Kirk's a great captain because he's able to bluff his way out of an impossible situation. He's a great peacemaker because he returns to aid his enemy.

I always wondered what Balok would have done if Kirk hadn't come up with that bluff. He sort of painted himself into a corner there.
rick gregory
4. rickg
What I found interesting here was that Balok thought it was just fine to irradiate the Enterprise as a test, but then took exception to them destroying the thing that was killing them. Oh and when they did, Balok's response was... I"m gonna kill you. Er... Not exactly coming from high moral ground there are you little guy?

As with a few other episodes, this introduces a powerful alien civilization that's never heard from in the series again. Oh well...
j p
5. sps49
I agree with Eugene much more, here. Torie has some points, but they must've distracted her from the good.

I think Balok wanted to see 1) were they peaceful, and 2) would they be fun/ interesting. They could've stuck around, they could have opened fire on the Fesarius in desperation, they could have not gone back to help.

And, yes, rickg, how many omnipotent one-shots populate this Universe, anyway?
Torie Atkinson
6. Torie
@ 3

Impossible? Really? I guess I just don't see how it's that clever. I'm not convinced that bluff would have worked on an entity that actually wanted to harm the Enterprise, and if we're talking about an entity that didn't actually want to harm the Enterprise, then they weren't in any danger anyway, right? The test is to make the people on the ship think they're all going to die. What constitutes success? If they don't fight back? Are they hostile and primitive if they do? What happens when you lose? Would he have killed them? It just doesn't make sense to me. I can see how aiding a presumed enemy is a clear sign of peaceful intentions, but they didn't get to that point until *after* the bluff and the end of the countdown...

@ 5

That's just it--I don't see how the Enterprise opening fire in desperation would have proven that they weren't peaceful. Is self defense really an indication of hostility and war? That seems unfair to say the least. As rickg says, Balok nearly kills them with radiation!

I do like your suggestion that he also wanted to see if they were fun/interesting. That's what I loved about Q in TNG and onward. Omnipotent being? Probably looking for someone to surprise him, or at least give him a good challenge.
DemetriosX
7. DemetriosX
I'm with Torie on this one. Apart from some OK dialog, the episode is lame. The tension never really materializes for me and the plot tends to go from A to B without ever really thinking about how it is supposed to get there (a bit like Balok's scheme, really). The least believable thing for me is Bailey's very sudden transition from nervous Nellie with a fear of the unknown that ought to have psychologically disqualified him from Starfleet to this guy willing to leave the familiarity of the ship and all the people he knows and go off with the weird little alien dude. There's no real motivation, it just happens because it resolves his bit of the story.
Paul Weimer
8. PrinceJvstin
In retrospect, “The Corbomite Maneuver” reminded me a bit of the Star Trek: The Next Generation pilot episode, “Encounter at Farpoint,” which begins in much the same way: an unknown barrier blocks the ship, heralding contact with an alien being of immense power who tests the crew’s intentions.

This is what I thought when I first watched Encounter at Farpoint, having seen Corbomite long before.

"Oh, its like the Corbomite Maneuver", I thought.

I think I need to rewatch these on DVD, since I am clearly missing stuff from the syndicated versions of the episodes.
DemetriosX
9. Liddle-Oldman
I always thought Balok was a trifle sanguine for a being who has A) a crippled ship (captain's pinnace?) and B) several guys on board that he was just threatening with death. I've imagined that he was bluffing himself -- heh heh, all a test, congratulations, oh, look, drinks!
DemetriosX
10. DemetriosX
Another problem with this episode is that is the first in a VERY long line of Star Trek episodes for every series that pays off with "it was all a test/game, no one was ever in any danger." This is bad plotting and bad dramaturgy. It invalidates everything that has happened up to that point in the episode. Meh.
j p
11. sps49
They were in danger, though. I'm used to radiation (heck, almost everything) being portrayed incorrectly by the industry, so it doesn't take me outside of the story when it happens, but the radiation emitted by the cube should get worse as the intensity x time rises, not something that is OK up to a certain point at which lethal levels are reached.

Maybe the handwave is that the shields protect until a breakdown intensity is reached, I dunno. Maybe the cube kept itself from emitting dangerous amount based on it's target.

@9 Liddle-Oldman- I'm certain that Balok was just fine. If the Enterprise hadn't come back, he was able to recall the Fesarius or rejoin it on his own. Whether he would pursue Enterprise and blow them up is the question.
Mitch Wagner
12. MitchWagner
I remember Balok was supposed to be part of an advanced race -- but his little maneuver didn't seem very advanced at all. It seemed childish, petty, and sadistic, and Kirk and the Enterprise were fools to think he was a great guy after all and trustworthy too.

No, Balok was a Space Douche, and Kirk should've slipped a Mickey Finn in Balok's Tranya and then put as many lightyears between the Enterprise and Fesarius as he could.
Church Tucker
13. Church
@Torie Yes, impossible. Really. How else would you have gotten out of that situation? (Assuming you don't know it's rigged.)

As I said, the reveal that Balok wasn't actually (we presume) out to destroy the Enterprise leaves open the question as to what he would have done had Kirk not come up with that gambit, but it doesn't really make the bluff any less effective whatever Balok's true intention was. He might have actually believed it in either case.

@Liddle-Oldman I don't think Balok's ship was actually crippled. He was just seeing what Kirk would do if it had been. That's the test.
Richard Fife
14. R.Fife
I'm siding with Torie on this one. The tension was forced, and I found myself distracted by shiney objects that weren't Balok's ship during all the "Oh no, is something going to happen?" I think a lot of it was almost put in to just fill in the minutes of the episode.

I'm split on the exemplification of Kirk as a great captain, and part of that is again because I feel he faced an uninspired opponent. As others have said, Balok was childish in his own plans, and there is the huge, wondering plot hole of what he planned to do with the Enterprise if they didn't think up their own way out.

But, on the other hand, I think Kirk did well facing the loony villian he did. Rational discourse was his first attempt, and it fell flat on its face, so trickery and bravado was what he had to resort to, and then the show of mercy/peace at the end was nice.
DemetriosX
15. Mercurio2
Bullseye, Eugene! This is one of my all-time favorite episodes. It establishes the brashness and total cojones of Captain Kirk. He takes a huge gamble with his "corbomite" bluff -- he'll do anything to protect his ship -- and in the end it pays off. This episode literally defines Kirk for the rest of the series.

I've watched and re-watched these episodes dozens of times each over the past 35 years and the final exchange between the two captains "both proud of [their] ships" makes me smile every single time.

Speaking of smiling, Clint Howard reprised his role as a Blalock in the hilarious William Shatner roast on Comedy Central last year. He wore the same outfit and offered Shatner some tranya!
Jeff Soules
16. DeepThought
did Kirk ever admit to Balok that there’s no such thing as corbomite?

Hmm. My take on the episode was that Balok of course knew there wasn't--that Kirk hadn't successfully bluffed his way out of the encounter, so much as acted in a way that let Balok know what he was like, whereupon Balok moved on with the deception. The bluff, after all, was more of a counterbluff to Balok's setup...
Rajan Khanna
17. rajanyk
Just watched this one (I know, I'm far behind), but I guess I'm in the middle of Torie and Eugene. I liked it generally, but I didn't think it was one of my favorite episodes. I did like Kirk's bluff, though. I mean, by today's standards it's pretty weak, but I liked that he did that. Especially as the side in the weaker position (supposedly).

I agree with a lot of Torie's points, though.

This episode also highlighted one of Star Trek's (in all incarnations) weaknesses - highlighting a crew member for the episode, whom we've never seen before, only to have them play an important part and never be seen again. I always wanted, at least in TNG, to have a secondary character that would pop up semi-regularly . I guess that's one reason I liked Barclay, for that reason.

Anyway, on to the next.
Eugene Myers
18. ecmyers
@17 rajanyk

That's definitely a flaw of Trek, but only because up through the early seasons of DS9, the writers weren't allowed to make any permanent changes to the main characters. It's one of the reasons Whedon shows and BSG and Lost stand out, because actions actually have consequences for the show and characters. As for DS9, I think Paramount just wasn't paying attention because they were focused on Voyager and the movies, so eventually Ron Moore and the other writers could get away with pushing the show to darker places.
DemetriosX
19. MarcN
While I didn't expect to see trained professionals freaking out, I would have liked to see some reaction to their impending death from the crew. While Kirk is pacing with Spock on the bridge, in the background we see some bridge officers chatting about the football scores or something.

Bailey should have been relieved of duty after his first faltering. It's one thing to test a crewman, it's another to leave an incompetent in a position of responsibility at a critical moment.

And while McCoy's discussion of Kirk's treatment of Bailey allows the word "bluff" to be introduced, it wasn't necessary to do so. And it was completely inappropriate. They are facing imminent death, there is the very definition of a crisis going on, and McCoy wants to talk about service records and personnel management? Nuts!
DemetriosX
20. Ivan Offalich
I'm definitely siding with Torie on this one. I will say that it's odd to see such a distinctive split on this episode (those of us commenting too). #17 seems to be the only one in the middle.

This episode had a good start for me, but like Torie, I found myself losing interest very quickly. The tension seemed to be absent from what should have been a very tense situation, and the crew going on about their daily routines while they have minutes to live, in a series known for its overacting/overreacting characters, was seriously out of place. They seemed almost oblivious to the fact that they were going to die, almost as if they had read the script and knew it was a test all along. They seemed concerned up until the countdown and then they seemed unconcerned. Very odd.

What I think is the most odd is how the people watching it seem to see it completely differently. On one hand some people think this is one of the best episodes; full of tension, drama, and character defining moments. On the other hand, there are others of us who see it as one of the worst episodes; tensionless, dramaless, and it shows that the characters haven't really figured out who they are yet.

From a psychological standpoint, it would be very interesting to know why it's seen in such an opposite way to different people.
DemetriosX
21. FanFromWayBack
I would suspect that this was an episode which looked really good on paper, but the director didn't quite get it. So he didn't push for the tension that should have been there.
Lee Anderson
22. DSNiner
Impossible? Really? I guess I just don't see how it's that clever. I'm not convinced that bluff would have worked on an entity that actually wanted to harm the Enterprise, and if we're talking about an entity that didn't actually want to harm the Enterprise, then they weren't in any danger anyway, right? The test is to make the people on the ship think they're all going to die. What constitutes success? If they don't fight back? Are they hostile and primitive if they do? What happens when you lose? Would he have killed them? It just doesn't make sense to me. I can see how aiding a presumed enemy is a clear sign of peaceful intentions, but they didn't get to that point until *after* the bluff and the end of the countdown...

Consider the opening moments of TMP, where the Klingon vessels can't make contact with the enormous cloud entity and so decide to open fire on it. Sorry, wrong answer! Hope you enjoy being reduced to digital data patterns.

I believe the test is one of rationality. If your opponent has demonstrated superior capabilities to yours, then trying to fight him is irrational and, ultimately, self-destructive. If, on the other hand, your solution is to bluff the superior force into believing that its own hostile action will result in suicide, and you succeed in this (or the superior force never had any intention of destroying you in the first place -- something no competent captain could ever take for granted), then you've saved the peace without a shot being fired.
DemetriosX
23. Ivan Offalich
I've given some thought to my post during the time since I wrote it and along with some experiences talking with others about TOS, I have a hypothesis that may apply to this episode and TOS in general.

I've noticed that many of the really hardcore TOS fans, the ones who pretty much detest anything ST that isn't TOS are the ones who were around when the series was first aired on TV.

I was just a bit too young for that. I was literally just a baby when the last half of the last season aired, and no, I don't mean that figuratively. ;)

The hardest part of watching TOS is the style in which dramas were done in the 60's. Not being accustomed to it, having most of my drama watching taking place 10+ years after TOS went off the air, it feels forced. It feels heavy handed. It feels over-the-top. To put it into context for those who might not understand, for me, Spock is the most human of all of the characters on the show. He's the one who seems normal, while everyone else seems to overact/overreact to everything. To me, the show lacks serious subtlety.

For those who grew up in the era when TOS aired, I would imagine that it seems pretty normal to them. That was the way it was done back then. People talked big. They made speeches at the drop of a hat. They yelled. They had fire. They had passion. Watching reruns of pretty much any drama from the era will attest to that.

With that said, my hypothesis is that, allowing for some crossover, I could make the assumption that those who love this episode are those who saw it back when it first aired, back when this type of show was the norm for TV. On the flipside, I could assume that those who dislike, or don't feel the tension of it, are probably those who grew up after that time period.

I'm sure that it's not mutally exclusive, but I've noticed that there is some corrolation to when someone was exposed to TOS as to how they feel about it.

I'd be interested to read opinions about this. Please let me know how you feel about this episode and if you saw it back in the day or if you saw it in reruns only. I'm curious.
Shelly wb
24. shellywb
@23, I saw this back in the day when I was really little, with my brother and father. I've seen it several times since.

This isn't one of my favorite episodes, but what I like about doesn't have anything to do with speeches and sets and external tension. Rather it has to do with what made me love Star Trek in the first place, the relationships and chemistry between the characters. Who cared about the alien (though I was thrilled when I saw what was in my eyes a little boy piloting a ship. I wanted one too!)? To me this episode is all about the dialogue and the characters and a captain who decided to try something different rather than just shoot or give up.

Rather than being like TV of the time though, I'd say it was quite different and a standout, and that's why people loved it. We'd never had anything like TOS. Of course now, you've had so many repetitions of the theme and attempts to remake the show in another form that it's no wonder you prefer what you're more familiar with. But to me, no one has come close to that original crew, even with their dumpy sets and speechifying. I have to add that a love for Trek drove me into the early books, which really fleshed the characters out even more. So really they are huge in my mind, quirks and all, and I love little things on the show that hint at who they are to me.

On another note, one of the few things I remember from that first viewing addresses something Torie mentioned, about Janice laying out Kirk's uniform. My Dad (a WW2 Navy vet) said, "You wouldn't have seen a woman doing that in my day!" And it struck me as neat that Star Trek had women serving aboard ship doing a traditionally male job. It never fails to amaze me how people cannot see things like this from the perspective they were meant to be seen in and belittle what really were achievements that meant something to us back then, as small as they may now appear from such a lofty height.
DemetriosX
25. Corylea
I thought this episode was crucial for establishing why Kirk is the captain. Spock has more raw intelligence and knows more about nearly everything. So why isn't HE the captain? What does Kirk bring to the party? One line sums it up: "Not chess, Mr. Spock. POKER!" That inspired flash of intuition that enables the man to pull bizarre strategies out of nowhere, coupled with the refusal to ever admit that he's beaten.

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