Boldly Going: “The Enterprise Incident”

Star Trek had low ratings even during its second season. NBC was prepared to cancel the show. Thankfully the budding fandom banded together and saved the show with a letter writing campaign.  However, the budget for the third season was slashed and the show was moved to Friday nights at 10pm.  Star Trek only had 79 episodes as NBC did cancel it after the third season. The show went into syndication soon after and became a cult classic.

“The Enterprise Incident” opens with a log entry from Doctor McCoy. He’s concerned about Kirk, who is in a bad mood on the bridge and snapping at his officers. It seems very out of character for him. Suddenly he orders Sulu to come about and head into Romulan space. The crew question his order but follow it. It doesn’t take long for three Romulan vessels to come out of nowhere and surround the Enterprise. At first they demand Kirk surrenders his ship, but then the Romulans notice Spock on the bridge and invite the captain and the Vulcan aboard. In exchange, two Romulans will beam aboard the Enterprise. 

Surprise, the Romulan Commander is a woman! Joanne Linville guest stars.

Aboard the Romulan ship, Kirk tries to feign ignorance. He blames faulty instruments. But the Romulan Commander isn’t buying it. And more importantly neither is Spock. He tells the commander that Kirk has been feeling the strain of command and hasn’t been himself lately. Kirk becomes angry at his first officer, as Spock calmly states that his captain is insane. The Romulans charge Kirk with espionage and lock him in the brig. The commander asks Scotty, who was left in command of the Enterprise, to take the ship and follow the Romulans to their base where the crew will be processed and released to the Federation.

Scotty refuses to take part, threatening to blow up the Enterprise. Doctor McCoy is called to the Romulan ship to tend to Kirk who injured himself in his cell. Spock and the Romulan Commander arrive and McCoy’s examination of Kirk proves Spock’s testimony that Kirk is not fit for command. Suddenly the captain lunges at Spock who instinctively  holds his hand to the captain’s face. Kirk falls down and McCoy declares him dead. Spock admits he used the Vulcan death grip.

The so called “Vulcan death grip” as ridiculous as it sounds

They take Kirk’s body back to the Enterprise. In sickbay, Nurse Chapel discovers the captain is not dead. McCoy reveals it was a simple nerve pinch meant to simulate death. Once awake, Kirk asks for some surgery to make himself appear Romulan. He doesn’t want to tell the rest of the crew he’s alive except for Scotty, in case things go wrong. The captain beams back aboard the Romulan vessel, now wearing the uniform from one of the Romulans who is on the Enterprise. Kirk manages to sneak into the secure area and knocks out the guard. He steals the cloaking device and returns to his own ship without Spock. Scotty has to install the device in the Enterprise.

Meanwhile Spock has been talking with the Romulan Commander. She tries to win him over to her side. The commander entices Spock with Romulan drinks, promises of Romulan women, who aren’t bound by logic and non-emotion, and most importantly, command of his own ship. At one point she changes out of her uniform and into a dress. They even caress hands, in a way similar to  Spock’s parents. But once the commander discovers Kirk’s true intentions, she feels betrayed by Spock and is willing to execute him. Spock uses the Right of Statement to stall for time and explain Kirk’s actions. On the Enterprise they are searching for Spock’s Vulcan signal among the Romulans – the two species share a common ancestry. When the commander sees Spock dematerializing, she rushes to him and is beamed over as well.

Spock showing affection for the Romulan Commander. Is it just a ruse?

At the last minute, Scotty is able to get the cloaking device working and the Enterprise returns to Federation space. Kirk offers the Romulan Commander quarters and will drop her off at the nearest outpost. She and Spock share a turbolift ride where he regrets their interaction had to come under false pretenses, but hopes the exchange was more permanent than the fleeting military secrets. The episode ends with Doctor McCoy and Spock reminding Kirk to get his Romulan features removed as Spock admits they’re not becoming on a human.

I definitely enjoyed this episode. It was fun to watch not knowing exactly what was going on, finding things out at the same time as the crew. I loved the Romulan Commander and her interactions with Spock. This is the second Romulan episode, the first being “Balance of Terror” from the first season.


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