Star Trek Retrospective: Episose 14 Balance of Terror
This is my number one on my list of favorite Star Trek episodes and for good reason. Even now I can watch this episode and feel the tension as Kirk hunts for the Romulan commander. Pretty much Run Silent Run Deep or the Enemy Below in space (and later redone as Das Boot) something about the silent machines hunting for each other is amazing. When I first saw this episode I think I left permanent grip marks on the arm rest of our 70’s floral print sofa.
What I especially like about this one is it not only introduced us to the Romulans and the concept of the Nuetral Zone (Suck it JJ. The zone if for the Romulans, not the Klingons) but it also showed as a bit of what life in the Federation was like in those days. It wasn’t all hippy dippy love for all races that whitewashed all of TNG. There is actual racial distrust and bigotry (although who could be bigoted against the Vulcans? That’s like saying you don’t like bacon. Image courtesy of the funny t shirt category). Also you get to see a wedding in space (although it does end rather tragically and was the only cheesy part of episode).
Most importantly it humanized all the characters and therefore made them much more relatable. Kirk was plagued by doubts and error. Spock screwed up. The Romulan commander had to eject his best friend into space. The bridge crew has a racist. Finally Kirk shows a very human element of mercy only to have the Romulan commander turn it down in favor of one of the coolest death scenes in sci fi history (second only to Roy Batty in Bladerunner I think. Maybe Spock in TWOK).
the Infamous Dave Inman