14 – Balance of Terror

Grade: A

 Balance of Terror
(1966) on IMDb


While Captain Kirk prepares to perform a wedding ceremony on the ship, he receives news from Spock that Earth Outpost 2 has not responded, and Outpost 3 has gone silent. As the Enterprise hurries to Outpost 4, they receive a message that it is under attack from an unknown ship. It appears the Romulans have broken the 100 year-old peace treaty.


This one is definitely one of my favorites. We finally get to see Kirk as a military strategist and tactician. We also see that sometimes he can be unsure of himself and his decision-making, but he trusts his instincts and the advice of his capable staff. The Romulan Captain gains a lot of respect for Kirk, and so do I as this story unfolds.

This is the first time we see Romulans in the Star Trek series, and we’re just as shocked as the characters are when it’s revealed that Romulans look like Mr. Spock. This episode is the origin of the concept that Romulans and Vulcans have a common ancestor. Spock will explore this later in an episode of the Next Generation.

The script is excellent – perhaps the best we’ve seen so far. There are a lot of similarities between the Romulans and the Roman Empire, even down to the titles and ranks of the officers. And the script remains consistent and literate throughout the entire episode. Every scene seems to build upon the previous one, and it’s a very interesting story, even though there is a lot of dialogue.

Overall, this is one of the best Star Trek episodes of all time. There’s only one thing I wish we had seen more of. In this episode, the Earth Outposts have been established on asteroids near the Romulan Neutral Zone. I really wish we had seen one of those outposts, but maybe the budget didn’t allow for a set that would only be used once.

Of Note

Kirk says something about the happy privilege of captains to perform weddings on their ships. Captain Picard says the same thing in the episode “Data’s Day” when he married Keiko and Miles O’Brien. I wonder if that’s what they’re all supposed to say.