Balance of Terror

Ando: Let me just start by saying this is one of my all-time favorite Star Trek episodes. I’ve loved this one since childhood and seen it many times. Watching it now for this mission, I tried to put aside just plain knowledge of the plot, and tried to enjoy and analyze the elements contained within. While there were certainly some nice homages to WWII submarine movies and some wonderful acting by William Shatner and Mark Lenard as the respective captains, what Katie Mae and I came away with to share with you was some really nice quotes.

Scotty already pushing the limits
Scott: I’ve talked to my engine room, sir. We’ll get more speed out of her.
Ando: This is of course one of the few light-hearted moments in an otherwise-serious episode, as well as being an early example of Scotty already knowing Kirk’s going to ask him to push the Enterprise’s limits, even before the order is issued.

No bigotry on the Bridge
Kirk: Well, here’s one thing you can be sure of, mister: leave any bigotry in your quarters. There’s no room for it on the bridge.

Katie Mae: His stance isn’t really surprising, but I was happy to see Kirk handle this in the very straightforward way he did. To him it was a non-issue.

There's only one Kirk
McCoy: In this galaxy, there’s a mathematical probability of three million Earth-type planets. And in all of the universe, three million million galaxies like this. And in all of that, and perhaps more, only one of each of us. Don’t destroy the one named Kirk.

Ando: I absolutely love this little speech. As we touched on in an earlier episode, Dr. McCoy is probably one of the most shining examples of compassion and humanism on the show. And so every time we get a glimpse of how he thinks, and what drives his decisions and actions, I really enjoy it. This view of the universe and each of us as unique individuals in it is something we could stand to see more of today, even without decisive knowledge of – and exposure to – life from other planets.

The unnamed Romulan Commander
Romulan Commander:  I regret that we meet in this way. You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you friend.

Katie Mae: The episode kept a respectful tone towards the Romulan Commander, and I think that was a wise decision. It would have been easy, in introducing what would soon become known as a recurring villain, to tell a classic “good guy, bad guy” story. Instead, the episode goes to great lengths to draw parallels between Kirk and the Commander. We are given a glimpse of the relationship between the Romulan Commander and the Centurion, which mirrors that of Kirk and McCoy. Both captains see themselves in each other. To me, this quote represents the unique sorrow that can only be felt by opposing commanders with mutual respect and admiration.


2 thoughts on “Balance of Terror

  1. I agree that this is one of the better episodes of Star Trek. The characters are believable and it has just the right amount of tension. Regarding Dr McCoy (my favorite character), DeForest Kelley does a wonderful job in this episode. He has empathy and a commitment to the humans and offworlders in the show.

  2. I agree: “Dr. McCoy is probably one of the most shining examples of compassion and humanism on the show.”

    Balance of Terror has many parallels with The Enemy Below (1957). I’ve read that Balance of Terror was essentially a remake of that movie.

    If you are interested, I wrote a short essay on Balance of Terror called “The Doctrine of Proportional Response.” If you would like to read it, feel free to post a comment:

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