Director: John Meredyth Lucas
Writer: D.C. Fontana
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Joanne Linville, Jack Donner, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Majel Barrett, Richard Compton, Robert Gentile, Mike Howden, and Gordon Coffey
Composer: Alexander Courage
Air Date: 9/27/1968
Production #: 60043-59
After ordering the Enterprise into enemy territory, Captain Kirk is held accountable by a Romulan commander (Joanne Linville). Fearing that Kirk may be experiencing a nervous breakdown, Spock relays his version of events to the said commander, who then forms a strange affection for the Vulcan first officer. Despite being surrounded by a fleet of Klingon-style Romulan ships equipped with cloaking devices, Kirk offers a revelation that may allow him to turn the tables on his alien adversaries.
A character-driven episode, “The Enterprise Incident” provides tremendous insight into a more private side of Spock. In addition, a riveting climax involving Romulan cruisers and a commandeered cloaking device will appeal to Star Trek enthusiasts for obvious reasons.
Notwithstanding his occasional scenery chewing, William Shatner convincingly depicted the irritability and fatigue that one would expect of a starship captain on the verge of mental collapse, thus lending credibility to Kirk’s ostensible irrationality in the initial sequences. Also worth noting are the Enterprise crew members, whose puzzled reactions to the captain’s behavior should prevent audiences from figuring out D.C. Fontana’s plot twist prematurely (many Star Trek fans will likewise admire the command decisions of Scotty, who remains loyal to Kirk even after Spock’s “betrayal”).
In contrast to Spock’s other love interests, the Romulan commander in “The Enterprise Incident” harbors intimate feelings for the Vulcan science officer due to their common, albeit distant, ancestry. This, of course, allows for a bond to exist between the two characters that would not have been possible had another alien race substituted the Romulans in Fontana’s narrative. Specifically, Joanne Linville portrayed the aforementioned commander with an authoritative but strangely alluring feminine quality, therefore complementing Spock with her passionate inclinations while empathizing with his desire for emotional detachment. By highlighting the above elements during the Romulan female’s interactions with her Vulcan guest, Fontana successfully developed Spock’s personality far beyond the cold exterior that casual viewers have come to associate with the character.
While the Romulans could have easily been rendered a generic villain at this point in the series, “The Enterprise Incident” takes a surprisingly poignant approach to one of Star Trek’s most notorious alien species. A more nuanced examination of Kirk’s decision to steal enemy technology would have been commendable; however, such ethically dubious actions only serve to reinforce the Cold War parallels that can be drawn from the Romulan/Federation rivalry.
Overall Quality: 10/10
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