Star Trek: TOS The Best Episodes

“Space, The final Frontier.  These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise.  It’s five-year mission: To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!”


The Enterprise Incident

Season 3, Episode 2

Original air date:  September 27, 1968

Stardate:  5027.3

Plot Summary:

We open with a McCoy log entry indicating that Kirk seems stressed but won’t let himself be examined.  She snaps at Chekov and Spock on the bridge then orders Sulu to take them into the Neutral Zone between Federation and Romulan space. They then continue into Romulan space itself and are quickly surrounded by three Romulan vessels, two that have the Klingon design, and one Warbird.  They were not on sensors before appearing and Spock speculates, they have a cloaking device. Subcommander Tal demands the Enterprise’s surrender, but Kirk assumes they must want the ship or they would have fired on them already.  They give Kirk an hour and he meets with the Senior officers about what to do, Spock questions Kirk’s unordered decision to enter the Neutral Zone, news that McCoy can’t believe and tells Kirk so – he is thrown out of the meeting by the Captain.

The Romulans re-contact the Enterprise and say their Commander wants to meet Kirk and Spock face to face, they offer to exchange hostages to ensure their safety.  Kirk and Spock beam over as two Romulan crewmen beam to the Enterprise simultaneously. They meet the Commander, a woman, and she asks to speak to Kirk alone.  He claims their violation of the treaty was a navigational error and they were surrounded before they could correct it and get back to Federation space. She claims it was an espionage mission and brings Spock back into the room. Getting acknowledgement from Spock that Vulcans can’t lie she asks him what happened.  He simply refuses to answer.  She is very interested in Spock as Vulcans and Romulans are “distant brothers.”  She threatens Kirk with torture and Spock claims Kirk has been irrational as of late and gave the order to enter Romulan space on his own authority without the knowledge of Starfleet.  Kirk goes immediately mad, threatening to kill Spock as he’s hauled away to the brig.

The Romulan Commander (she later whispers her real name to Spock but we never hear it) opens a channel to the entire Enterprise claiming that Kirk is guilty but as they are not, they will be released as soon as they follow her to a Romulan base with the ship.  Scotty refuses to comply.  Kirk is taken to the brig and runs into the force field door and falls down hurt.  Back in the Commanders office she continues her enrapture with Spock, offering him a Captaincy as a Romulan, something the Federation she claims doesn’t offer Vulcans.   Spock acts intrigued.  Meanwhile, McCoy is summoned to the Romulan ship to treat Captain Kirk for his injuries.  The Commander and Spock head to the brig and along the way she asks him to dinner, an invitation he accepts, after getting her to dismiss her guards when they have the meal together.

In the brig McCoy verifies that Kirk is essentially insane, which the Commander says puts Spock in charge of the Enterprise.  McCoy seems upset that Spock would so quickly take command.  Just at that moment Kirk charges at Spock, Spock stops him by grabbing his face and performing the “Vulcan Death Grip” which he claims was simply instinct.  McCoy says Kirk is dead.  In sickbay, Kirk predictably awakens but in front of Nurse Chapel who wasn’t supposed to be in on this plan.  McCoy reveals that Kirk and Spock were under direct Starfleet orders but they had to make it look like it was all Kirk’s actions in case things went wrong – a truth even McCoy wasn’t privy to until he met Kirk in the Romulan brig.  Scotty reluctantly agrees to go to sickbay, where he sees Kirk, converted to look like a Romulan by McCoy.  Scotty is happy to see Kirk, and goes to the Enterprise’s brig to get him a Romulan uniform from their hostages.

Back on the Romulan flagship, Spock and the Commander have dinner, drink Romulan ale and something that looks like mango juice and flirt with each other.  In the transporter room, Kirk is beamed aboard the Romulan vessel (before Spock has a chance to give him coordinates) and Kirk successfully convinces at least the first Romulan he meets that he’s a Centurion from their ship.  Back at dinner, the Romulan Commander dangles both a high position in the Romulan fleet and herself at Spock.  Spock pretends to have great interest.  She says he must take a Romulan team to the Enterprise and take command, he agrees but asks if they can wait an hour for boom-chicka-wa-wa.  She heartily agrees to the wait and goes to change into something more, comfortable.  When she leaves the room, Spock radios Kirk and directs him where the cloaking device is kept, the Romulans detect the signal.  The Commander comes back into the room as her and Spock engage in the worlds most chaste foreplay.  Kirk has found the restricted area, knocks out a guard and gets the door open.  Spock and the Commander are interrupted by her subcommander who tells her about the transmission and how it came from her quarters.  Spock admits his treachery.  They all head to the cloaking device room, as Kirk tricks another guard into pointing out the cloaking device, knocks him out and beams aboard the Enterprise with the device.  He tells Scotty he has 15 minutes to install and get the device working as Spock will buy them some time.

On the Romulan vessel, the Commander is spurned as Spock is stoic about what he has done.  She slaps him and he asks about the method of his execution.  On the Enterprise everyone on the bridge is excited to see Captain Kirk alive, even as he still looks like a Romulan / Vulcan.  The Commander tells her Subcommander to ready a party to board the Enterprise or to destroy it if they can’t get control.  She says Spock will die after the charges have been read, he invokes the right to make a statement, which under Romulan law she must grant.  Spock begins making a rambling 20-minute statement, long enough for the Enterprise to lock on to his signal and beam him aboard.  The Commander jumps into the transporter beam with him and ends up on the Enterprise.  Kirk orders them to take off at warp 9, but the Romulans follow with weapons at the ready.  Scotty can’t get the device to work but keeps trying.  Spock and the Commander come to the bridge and Kirk opens a channel to Subcommander Tal hoping the Commander’s presence will delay them – but she orders him to destroy the Enterprise.  The Romulans get into firing range just as Scotty gets the cloak working, Kirk orders they come about and the Romulan vessel passes right by them, firing into nothing.

Kirk tells the Commander she’ll be taken to the nearest Federation base and confines her to quarters rather than the brig.  Spock accompanies her and they both indicate that their romantic feelings for each other were real, a secret she promises to keep.  Back on the bridge as they re-enter Federation space, Kirk is called to sickbay to undo the changes.  Spock indicates that the ears don’t look good on him, Kirk reaches to his ears as he leaves and the rest of the bridge get a good chuckle.


Known to Fans As: 

Spock the sex spy


Notable Guest Stars: 


Joanne Linville as The Commander: Linville also appeared in may guest spots, from Alfred Hitchcock Presents to L.A. Law, with a couple multi-year runs on The FBI and Barnaby Jones somewhere in the middle.  Her daughter Amy reprised her role as The Commander in the unauthorized Star Trek Continues, which also had James Doohan’s grandson playing Scotty.  Linville is 92 years old and last did a voice over spot in 2005.


Jack Donner as Subcommander Tal: Donner was another long-term guest spot actor in TV, from Dr. Kildare to The Flying Nun to Fear the Walking Dead.  His reputation as “the new Vincent Price” in many campy and cult favorite horror flicks like Retro Puppet Master and Exorcism gave him a nice late career run.  Donner died last year at the age of 90.

Continuity Issues:

The Romulans are using ships of Klingon design – hello budget.

Once again, they can just beam over to whatever ship – I assume they all had shields.  Why can’t the Romulans beam to the Enterprise to get Kirk back?

We get more confirmation of the genetic similarities between Vulcans and Romulans.

Spock confesses to actual, romantic feelings.

The Vulcan Death Grip – see below.

The Enterprise already knows the Romulans have cloaking technology from Balance of Terror yet Spock introduces it like a newly discovered thing.  Even if he’s just continuing the ruse for the crew – all of them were there except Chekov.


Vulcan Nerve Pinches: Spock does a special nerve pinch that simulates Kirk’s death and does it by touching his face.  The Vulcan Death Grip was part of the ruse.


Damn it Jim: “He’s dead, the Captain is dead!”


Kirk’s Shirt Off:  No


Aged the Best:

The relationship between Romulans and Vulcans continues to pay off, as someone mentioned in the comments a few days ago, Unification is one of the best TNG episodes (both parts) and not just because it brings back Nimoy but that helps.

The Romulan Commander is a woman, while she needs to be for Spock to romance her (once again, they weren’t that progressive) showing a woman in command of a fleet of starships is pretty advanced stuff for 1968.  Phyllis Schlafly must have hated this episode.


Aged the Worst:

So, let me see if I get the details of this plan correct:  They have to go into Romulan Space and not get immediately destroyed.  Kirk and Spock have to be invited over to the Romulan vessel – those two specifically.  When Kirk gets hurt, they have to allow the Enterprise’s Doctor to come see him, even as they planned to torture him anyway.  The Romulan Commander, who let’s say through other espionage they already knew was a woman, has to be so fascinated and taken with Spock that she’ll both try to get him to turn on the Federation and want to sleep with him.  Then Scotty has to be able to get the device working on the Enterprise in about twenty minutes and Spock has to know the intricacies of Romulan law.  Seems like a well thought out plan.

Her changing reminded me so much of Lili Von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles.  Her uniform is a minidress that her butt cheeks hang out of from the back, but she has to get into something sexier for Spock that turns into a full-length dress.  I guess she needed to “look like a woman” which is you know, not aged well.

They couldn’t kiss, or something?  Kirk gets to kiss everybody.


Overall Grade:

A -, a lot of logical inconsistencies even for Star Trek.


Tomorrow’s Episode:  Spectre of the Gun