Star Trek: “Balance of Terror”


This episode is amazing. It’s a story without heroes or villains, just believers in different causes. Kirk is the hero and yet, even the Romulan Commander is an honorable hero as well. The “balance” between the two of them makes this episode watchable on its own. The deadly game of chess between the two commanders, with moves and countermoves – each intelligent and very well written is amazing to watch.

Mark Lenard is perfect as the Romulan commander, one of the few times that a bad guy felt like a true threat to the ship. Even on the ship, Lt. Stiles brings about a large amount of shipboard drama as he accuses Spock of being a spy thanks to the fact that Vulcans and Romulans look alike.

If you’ve never seen Star Trek before, this is the episode I would recommend starting off with. Tension, intelligence, and heartbreak… what an amazing show.


Interesting Fact: This was the last time in the series that Grace Lee Whitney appeared as Yoeman Rand. Unfortunately, her abuse of alcohol and drugs had caused her to become less and less reliable and she wasn’t able to remember lines or show up on time to the set. As a result, her parts in the series were cut back and back until her final appearance was nothing more than entering the bridge, giving something to Kirk, and then leaving. She was fired after her scene was complete. Thankfully, Whitney kicked her habit and made several appearances in later Star Trek movies and one appearance on Star Trek: Voyager.

“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.”
– Romulan Commander

About the author

Jason Donner

Jason Donner devoured the universe and you are all living inside him.
  • Douglas Self

    The show DOES cast the Romulan captain as the ‘worthy adversary’, but the Romulans, having violated the peace treaty, attacked an ‘Earth’ (Federation) colony w/o provocation, and then proceeded to fire upon the Enterprise FIRST, were definitely the aggressors. Their ‘humanity’ (or Romulaness) is well-defined with the limits of a one hour show, so we see that even the ‘bad guys’ are not that much different than us, after all.
    The nature of the battles and how the captains deal with their uncertainties is reminiscent of many a submarine flick.

    This was an example of early ST ‘canon’ painting the franchise into a corner. I recall some clumsy attempts during the ST: Enterprise show to retcon this need to conceal the true nature of the Romulans, often to ridiculous lengths. Since the Vulcans themselves were interstellar travelers at least as early as 2063, they themselves must have figured out what happened to the group of dissidents that wouldn’t accept Surak’s teachings. More could have been made of the Vulcans ‘concealing the dark secret’ aspect.