The Rewatch 11: The Balance of Power

Series: Star Trek (The Original Series)
Episode: 1.14 The Balance of Power (12-15-66)
Rating: 5/5
Redshirt Status: 1/17

Notable Guest Stars:

Mark Lenard – Romulan Commander.  Mark Lenard is more commonly known as Sarak, Spock’s father.  However, in this episode, he is a Romulan.
Lawrence Montaigne– Decius.  Montaigne would return as Stonn, Spock’s romantic rival in Amok Time.
Paul Comi- Lt. Stiles.  He appeared as a guest star on quite a few shows and was also a purple heart recipient.
Barbara Baldavin – Lt. Angela Martine.  She had a reoccurring role on the series.

Review:

This is a important episode in trek lore, as it introduces the Neutral Zone and the Romulans.  Spock gives a short history lesson on the Earth-Romulan war that took place a century before (right after the events of ENT), which somehow little information remains.  Spock blames primitive weaponry and lack of visual communications, but ENT refutes this.  (See interesting notes).

LT. Stiles has some handed down oral history of the wars, thus knows basic Romulan ships. He’s got some pent-up anger about a war that happened 3 or 4 generations ago in his family.  It gets in the way of his thinking at times in this episode, including being bigoted towards Spock.

The whole episode is the Enterprise and the Romulan Ship commanded by ‘Commander’ playing off against each other.  At the end there is an element of respect from the Romulan for Kirk.  However it doesn’t end well for the Romulans, as one would respect.

I would consider this probably one of the more important episodes of TOS, especially for TNG and the Kelvin Timeline. Enterprise of course as well, but as they take place before this it might not be as effective.

Interesting Notes:

  • Directed by Vincent McEveety
  • Written by Paul Schneider
  • First digitally remastered episode of the series in 2006
  • First instance of the cloaking device as well as Romulans as a species.
  • This is an important post-series timeline episode for Star Trek: Enterprise, which ends shortly before the Earth-Romulan war. Enterprise ret-conn’s the idea that there were no visual communications at the time, but a popular theory is that many of the ships logs and information prior to the end of the war were lost in some way.
  • The lighting/cinematography is interesting in this episode.

Pros:

  • Uhura does navigation once again.  Shows that the bridge crew is cross trained for emergency situations
  • Kirk being very straightforward about bigotry

Cons:

  • The Romulan general soldiers are a bit overdoing it I think.
  • The Romulan costumes make no sense.
  • Tomlinson dying.

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