Balance of Terror – Episode 15

This week, Rachel and Chris recapture that old, submarine feeling with  Balance of Terror!

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Special thanks to Chad Fifer for our theme tune and to Greig Johnson for his vocal stylings!

Next episode: Shore Leave!

19 thoughts on “Balance of Terror – Episode 15”

  1. I love this episode! I think I remember realizing this was a take-off on “The Enemy Below” when I first saw it. And later when I was in the Navy, we were trained to assess debris from submarines after depth charge attacks (fortunately we never had to put that to the test.)

    The “potential spy on the ship!” subplot makes absolutely no sense. There is nothing to suggest inside information is responsible for anything that has happened, and the only person who looks Romulan is Spock. Ordering a security alert would be pointless. If Spock is the spy, putting him in the brig would be the only useful action, and Kirk isn’t buying that idea. Kudos to Kirk for slapping down Stiles’ racism. (I actually did hear officers saying exactly the same thing at times…”Leave that **** in your quarters, sailor.”)
    Uhura taking the helm was a big deal at the time! And it shows a level of crosstraining that militaries still strive for.

    I think McCoy’s speech was meant to tell Kirk not to torture himself with second-guessing and self-blame, not to be careful in the tactical situation. It seemed a very personal message to Kirk.

    A couple of technical things:
    Apparently the Romulan ships’ short range and lack of power is due to the ship being made of concrete. Hauling all that extra mass takes some grunt. It would also explain the falling dust and heavy structural components directly over the bridge. Once they started using lightweight metals they were much more dangerous.

    As for the “running silent” tactic, there certainly is no sound transmission in space, but they mention “motion detectors”, so maybe loud sounds would make the hull vibrate (which is a small movement) and be detectable by lasers. That kind of technology exists now. A laser aimed at a window can pick up vibrations that can be translated back into sound.

    I definitely agree they were still feeling out exactly what the show would be, which may have contributed to its weak ratings. It was a very different show and people expecting a clear “SF genre” program may have been put off. By the time they got their legs under them it was too late. It took people seeing the shows as a whole to realize their greatness.

    1. We’ve missed your comments Theron! Wow, so you were trained to assess debris and you heard people being told to leave it in their quarters? So much enjoyable and interesting stuff here.

      1. Very basic rules for assessing debris to tell if a sub was really hit. Common sense…oil and air don’t mean much. Insulation, light plastics, clothing or…um, Centurians…means it was destroyed.
        “Leave it in your quarters” could apply to anything that could be distracting to the job; personal arguments, personal problems, too much sports talk, etc.

    2. It didn’t have weak ratings it was a hit. The weak ratings thing is folklore.

      If it had weak ratings it would have been replaced after 13 weeks by a mid-season replacement.

  2. The Centurian is dead. Another senseless artificial gravity death!

    That rafter was looking really fragile. What was it made of… Cast rhodinium?

    Decius is reduced two steps in rank. Now he is Octius?

    They have to whisper on the bridge ’cause Siri might be a Romulan spy! Shhh!
    “DID YOU SAY– CALL THE ROMULANS?” No! Shut up Siri !

    So Romulan spacecraft are painted with giant pictures of birds… Do you get the feeling the Romulan military has a sponsorship deal with the Buzzard Cola company?

    Styles has been holding in that rage for a REALLY long time, or… He says the same damn thing about every non human species he comes across. “Those damn Tellerites! They sold my grandma a defective used car once!” “And don’t even get me started on the Andorians.”

  3. Bob: ” Great news Dave, we won the construction contract for Earth Outpost 4!”

    Dave: ” Awesome! Whoa. Wait a minute. The specs call for Cast Rhodinium in the shielding. That stuff costs way more than we bid!”

    Bob: ” Got that covered. We use plaster and paint it silver. Problem solved”

    Dave: ” uhmmmm… ”

    Bob: ” It’s a mile under ground inside an asteroid made of solid iron. Nobody will ever check.”

    Dave: ” brilliant!”

      1. You’re a good sport Rachel.

        If you think Star Fleet set low standards for construction contracts, you should see what passes for a command grade psych evaluation. Just try to keep count of how many of Kirk’s academy buds turned out to be bat-shit crazy.

        1. Ha – that’s very true Jim, from the number of insane Captains, Commodores and Admirals that appear it’s no wonder Starfleet started having a counselor sat next to the Captain on the bridge by the time we reach TNG. She’s probably got a phaser tucked behind her seat to zap any senior officer who develops a nervous tic or the ‘Gowron Stare’!

  4. I had forgotten how good Mark Lenard was as the Romulan Commander in this episode. I like the episode parallels the Romulan Commander and Kirk ahead of “In a different reality, I could have called you friend,” besde both being brilliant Captains:

    – Both have trusted first officers who don’t quite understand how their Captain thinks
    – Neither really wants to start a war, but have a member if their crew urging them to attack
    – Both have been the victim of shoddy tradesmen (the Romulans have clearly had cowboy builders in with all that plaster falling off the ceiling, and Kirk seems to have dodgy electricians wiring up the phaser control circuits)

    There’s a nice parallel between the shot of Hansen in the burning outpost and the Romulan Commander on the burning bridge at the end too.

    1. I suppose dust and foam panels were cheaper than sparking cables. They had already used up their effects budget on purple smoke and phaser panel flames.

  5. It’s been ages since I watched this episode (which I probably saw several times as a kid in reruns) – but it really stuck with me as a favorite. Loved the duality of the two captains trying to outmaneuver each other. Funny to learn that it “appropriated” the story line from The Enemy Below. I always thought that The Hunt for Red October (awesome cold war era movie involving submarines with Sean Connery and a young Alec Baldwin) totally stole the story line from this Star Trek episode.

    Really enjoying hearing Rachel’s original reactions to her first time viewing of these shows. I can’t imagine being unfamiliar with Star Trek. So many classic tropes and lines. Hope you’re enjoying it Rachel! I tried to get my kids to watch the shows, but they were too weirded out by the salt-sucking creature early on. And shows today are so much more fast-paced then anything I watched as a kid. We’re watching a lot of Avengers movies and Agents of Shield these days.

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