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Balance Of Terror [Commentary, Humor, K/S] (Ep recap)

Von: ToolPackinMama (philnblanc@comcast.net) [Profil]
Datum: 05.05.2010 06:12
Message-ID: <hrqr78$q75$1@news.eternal-september.org>
Newsgroup: alt.startrek alt.tv.star-trek.tos
Balance Of Terror
by Laura Goodwin

http://allyourtrekarebelongto.us/balance.jpg

This is a significant early episode that introduces us to the mysterious
and very naughty Romulans. Kirk is presented as a strong, clever, and
utterly respectable military leader in this story.

[NOTE: This is back in the day when the theme music was instrumental
only, and the only guys who were noted in the credits were William
Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. The woman's voice "singing" the theme, and
Deforest Kelly's name in the title credits came later... who really
knows why?]

We catch many interesting little details about shipboard life, such as
the utterly blatant ~absence~ of regulations against romance. It is made
totally obvious in this episode (as it is in others, including Dagger Of
The Mind, and Space Seed) that there are NO regulations against officers
dating subordinates aboard ship: there are apparently *no* regulations
which forbid any sort of shipboard romance, as a matter of fact.

Nevertheless, the fabled "ladies-man/playboy Kirk" is completely missing
in action. Kirk does clutch a couple of ladies, briefly, but it's
totally obvious that the contact is superficial, incidental, and totally
non-erotic.

NOTE: Kirk COULD date Yeoman Rand (or any other woman aboard) if he
wanted to. Clearly, the real reason he dates none of the women aboard is
because he simply doesn't want to. Why doesn't he want to? Weeeeellllll....

This is not a strongly slashy episode, but neither Kirk nor Spock show
any active interest in any lady, either (as usual). Kirk and Spock DO
act extra-special chummy with each other, however, as usual. There is
some clear evidence of a deep intimacy between them. In fact, there is
more evidence that they are intimate with each other, than there is
evidence that they are intimate with any women, as per usual.

Kirk's relationship with McCoy also has some very warmly intimate
moments. All of Kirk's truly important emotional moments are with/about
men. Not just in this episode, I mean USUALLY. This episode is just one
more episode that is chockablock full of examples of this
characteristically homophilic attitude/behavior. There is also lots of
oddly cozy body language, particularly between the men, and I do mean
ODD, as I shall explain:



The first thing we see is is Yeoman Rand lighting candles on what looks
like a kind of alter. She's in a room that is apparently the ship's
chapel. A small number of shipmates have assembled, and Scotty assures a
smiling Kirk that the ceremony will be available for the others to view
at their stations via broadcast. It turns out that Kirk is preparing to
officiate at a wedding.

[NOTE: Kirk and all assembled are dressed in their regular duty
uniforms, not full dress uniforms, although it's a solemn occasion. I
assume this is the way the bride and groom want it.]

Before the ceremony begins, Spock (who's got the conn) tells Kirk via
intercom that Earth outposts 2 and 3 do not respond to hails. Kirk tells
Spock to maintain course for outpost four, asks to be kept informed, and
proceeds with the ceremony.

Two comrades-in-arms, Angela Martine (the bride), and Robert Tomlinson
(the groom) approach the alter. Cute couple. Martine kneels before the
altar briefly for a moment of silent prayer, but the groom doesn't.
Everybody is respectfully silent until she stands, then Kirk smiles and
launches into a little speech.

[NOTE: it seems the bride is religious, but the groom isn't. Here's just
one more of TOS's many "mixed" marriages.]

Kirk says, "Since the days of wooden vessels, all shipmasters have had
one happy privilege: that of uniting two people in the bonds of matrimony."

[NOTE: He doesn't call it "Holy Matrimony". Also note: he doesn't say
"uniting a man and a woman"...]

Kirk continues:

"We are gathered here today, with Angela Martine, and you, Robert
Tomlinson, in the sight of your fellows - in accordance with our laws
and our many beliefs - so that you may pledge your..."

(Ship's whistle interrupts...)

The whole ship is suddenly at red alert.

[NOTE: I don't think there is actually any doubt about what Kirk was
going to say next, is there? It's pretty cut and dried. He and everybody
involved is apparently sane and sober. It's nothing like the Naked Time
scene, where Kirk is insanely babbling about how "...the Captain's not
permit..."! You know? The Captain's not permit... WHAT!? LOL! You know!?

"The Captain's not permitted to marry himself! He can marry other
shipmates to each other, but he is not permitted to marry himself! ROFL!]

Well, the crisis du jour has crashed the party. Alas, the wedding is
interrupted by present danger. Spock tells Kirk via intercom that Earth
outpost 4 reports it is under attack by an unknown space vessel.
Everybody ~of course~ rushes to their posts. For example, Kirk ~of
course~ rushes to the bridge.

When Kirk arrives, he reflexively glances at Spock's station, but Spock
is not there, because he's in the Captain's chair. Kirk then goes to the
Captain's chair and stands, places his hands on the arm, and looks
deeply into Spock's eyes in that trademarked manner:

http://allyourtrekarebelongto.us/verified.jpg

Everybody aboard is told by Spock via all-ship broadcast that the Earth
outposts are on asteroids. They were authorized by treaty following the
atomic war with the Romulans more than a century earlier. The combatants
back then never got a look at each other, so Humans and Romulans have
never seen each other.

"Earth believes Romulans to be warlike, cruel, treacherous..." Spock
intones, and adds dryly, "...and only the Romulans know what they think
of Earth."

Spock further explains that the neutral zone has remained unviolated
since that treaty was established. We are all told that a violation of
the neutral zone is considered an act of war.

Navigator Stiles is an uppity guy who immediately starts giving Kirk
unsolicited advice about what to do next. He tells Kirk that Romulan
ships are painted like a giant bird of prey. It turns out he knows so
much and has such strong opinions because one of his ancestors was
killed in the Earth-Romulan war.

[NOTE: So what? That was a century ago, dude. Get over it!]

Spock now reports that they are close enough to determine that outposts
2 and three are gone for good - pulverized.

Kirk tells Sulu to call everybody to battle stations. He tells Stiles to
get all the weapons up to full power.

When Stiles asks the phaser control room to energize and acknowledge,
it's Bride-to-be Martine that responds. Suddenly, her sweetheart leans
on her console, turns off her intercom, and says to her, "Happy wedding
day, almost!"

She smiles confidently up into his eyes. "You won't get off my hook this
easily! I'm going to marry you, mister, battle or phaser weapons
notwithstanding!"

"Well, meanwhile, temporarily at least, I'm still your superior
officer." He playfully retorts. "So get with it, mister!"

[NOTE: I guess after the wedding she becomes the superior officer!]

Interesting scene. Almost immediately after this, we have an interesting
juxtaposition. Spock is at his station doing his thing, and Kirk strolls
over, stands very close to him, and just kind of hangs out there for a
bit... as if he too just needs to be near his special someone, right then.

A frantic guy identified as Commander Hansen of outpost four reports an
attack is underway by an unknown weapon from an invisible spaceship.

[NOTE: During this live report Spock abandons his station, and stands
very close to Kirk, and it seems it's only because he just wants to be
near to Jim. There is no other stated or implied reason for him to be
there.]

Suddenly, the attacking intruder becomes visible, and destroys the
outpost with one godlike blast...then disappears again.

This rattles everybody pretty deeply. It's now obvious that they are up
against an opponent with fantastic destructive power at their command,
and a Biiiiiiiiggg attitude problem.

Spock rushes back to his seat and acts busy.

[NOTE: While Spock is fussing with his controls, Kirk wanders over and
stands near Spock, again for no obvious reason other than, apparently,
because he wants to be near him.]

They figure out a way to track the deadly sneak-attacker, despite his
high tech camouflage, and the Enterprise flies on a parallel course,
shadowing the attacker.

Spock says, "His heading is now 111, mark 14...the exact heading a
Romulan would take, Jim, toward the neutral zone, and home."

[NOTE: Ka-Ching! Hey, look at the cozily familiar use of the Captain's
nickname, right there on the bridge. This shouldn't seem odd: Kirk is
standing so close to Spock right then that Spock can probably feel his
body heat...which he quite obviously doesn't mind.]

Now Stiles questions Kirk's parallel course order. He thinks it's not as
he-mannish as a more obviously aggressive intercept course would be.

Kirk clarifies his command for his confused Navigator:

"You and Mr. Sulu will match course and speed with the object on our
sensors exactly - move for move."

Stiles is now REALLY confused.

Smiling gently, Kirk continues, "If he has sensors, I want him to think
we are a reflection... an echo!"

[NOTE: OK, Jim, maybe that's militarily clever, but is it BUTCH? You
make it sound like a romantical slow-dance, for cryin' out loud.]

Poor Stiles can NOT beee-leeve his ears, but he seems determined to try
to comply. Until Kirk adds, "Cancel battle stations."

"Cancel Battle Stations?" Stiles echoes, incredulously. He can take no
more. "May I respectfully remind the Captain about what has happened!?
(etc.)"

"Mr. Stiles..." Kirk interjects, in a mild tone, "Are you questioning my
orders?"

[NOTE: Well, duh!]

Now Stiles blurts out that there may be Romulan spies aboard.

[NOTE: The way he says it, and when he says it, makes it look to my eyes
as if he is implying that Kirk may be one.]

Sulu, ever the diplomatic soul, respectfully suggests a compromise that
can save face for everybody: he suggests that they maintain security
alert. Kirk easily agrees to this, and it eases the tension for the moment.

Spock is able to lock in to the Romulan's transmissions, and the crew of
the Enterprise finally get to see Romulans. They look like Vulcans!

Everybody reacts with shock, except Spock, who apparently thinks it's
ironically amusing.

Now, as Kirk takes in this astonishing revelation, ~Stiles~ leaps up and
stands just a little too close to Kirk, I guess because he wants to be
the one to catch him in case he faints.

The resemblance of Romulans to Vulcans instantly leads Stiles to give
Spock the hairy eyeball. Spock gives him the evil eye back. Kirk wanders
over and taps Stiles' console as if to respectfully remind him to keep
his eyes on his dials. So far, so good.

Stiles makes a crack about Spock, Kirk calls him on it, and basically,
Kirk stands up for Spock, quite firmly.

Kirk to Stiles: "Leave any bigotry in your quarters: there is no room
for it on the bridge!"

Meanwhile, Romulan commander discusses their progress with his Junior
officer. That guy is uppity and insubordinate, too.

[NOTE: Already it's established that there's this one thing that Kirk
and the Romulan commander have in common!]

[NOTE: Insubordinate underlings are generally very common in TOS. I'm
forced to wonder if Roddenberry ever had anybody in his circle who would
simply do what he asked them to do without pitching a fit.]

The Commander next confides his doubts about the whole messy business to
his Centurion pal. He doesn't like what they have been ordered to do,
and admits he almost wishes they don't make it home...because he feels
guilty, I guess.

Meanwhile, back aboard the Enterprise, everybody except Uhura and some
unnamed substitute navigator leave to go look at debris from outpost 4
that Scotty collected.

[NOTE: I guess this means that Lt. Uhura has the conn? She is the
ranking officer left on the bridge.]

Spock displays a shiny metallic hunk and tells us that it's supposedly
cast roginium, the hardest substance known to science. Next, he breaks
it easily in his hand. Spock surmises that the roginium was rendered so
uncharacteristically fragile by a very unusual plasma blast.

About the Romulans, Kirk asks, "Can we engage them with a reasonable
possibility of victory?".

Scotty seems confident that it's possible. "No question!" He chirps,
"Their power is simple impulse!"

"Meaning we can outrun them?" Kirk asks.

"To be used in chasing them, or in retreating, sir?" Stiles snottily
interjects. He obviously is implying that Kirk might act like a big
girly-man, and run away.

"Go ahead Mr. Stiles," Kirk mildly replies, "I called this session for
opinions."

Stiles, who obviously has been huffing testosterone, forges ahead.

"We have to attack immediately!" Stiles exclaims.

"Explain." Kirk dryly retorts.

[NOTE: Hey, where's pistol-packin' hothead Kirk, Mr.
shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later, the space cowboy of fable and fame?
He ain't here folks! That's just ONE MORE THING that is commonly
believed about Kirk that actually ISN'T TRUE!]

[NOTE: Seriously, why should Kirk be in a rush to fight with those guys?
It's well established that the Enterprise is vastly outgunned, for one
thing. What's Kirk supposed to do... run around and around them until
they get dizzy and give up? Kirk is all, Give us your no-doubt-brilliant
battle plan, Mr. Stiles!]

Stiles uses the spotlight to leap up out of his chair and basically draw
attention to the fact that he is an asshole, by berating Spock. Kirk
orders him to sit down.

Spock next does something rather interesting. He basically agrees with
Stiles, saying that if Romulans are indeed like Vulcans, then they are
savage badasses who will respect no sign of weakness in an opponent.

[NOTE: Delivered while glaring at Stiles rather pointedly.]

McCoy BTW chimes in once or twice to deplore the whole idea of getting
into war, just on general principle.

[NOTE: A blatant, unapologetic peacenik!]

Kirk impulsively calls the bridge, and Uhura answers.

[NOTE: See? Uhura is the one in charge of the conn right now!]

Kirk learns, after questioning both Uhura and Spock, that the Romulan is
heading, oddly, straight for a comet trail, which will render them
easier to track. Kirk decides it's a great time to attack, and off they
eagerly go to make some warfare with their pointy-eared foes.

[NOTE: Kirk hated the idea until Spock said he was in favor of it. No
further explanation was really necessary after that. If it's good enough
for Spock, it's good enough for Jim!]

The Romulans are planning to turn and attack the Enterprise once the
comet rendered its sensors ineffective. Kirk fires phasers at random in
hopes of hitting the Romulan and scores a minor hit. Unfortunately, this
overloads the phasers and renders them temporarily unusable. And so it goes.

The Romulans appear long enough to unleash one of their awesome
plasma-blasts. Kirk reacts by, oddly, ordering the Enterprise to retreat
"full astern!" This means that they are literally flying backwards at
top speed.

[NOTE: Duh. Why don't they just step aside and let it fly past? Whatever
happened to "evasive maneuvers"?]

[NOTE: What is Kirk thinking? Couldn't they fly away even faster if the
ship didn't have to do it while in reverse? I'm not implying that it's
Gay or anything, but I personally feel that a guy should save commands
like "full astern!" for times when the situation is generally much less
critical. Kirk's a wee bit too casual about that "full astern" business.
IMHO, that phrase springs just a leeetle bit too readily to his lips.]

Sulu says if they can just shoot phasers one time, they could detonate it.

Sorry, impossible.

[NOTE: Me, I'm thinking, so shoot a photon torpedo. What are they
waiting for, an engraved invitation? But this is an early episode where
there is no distinction drawn between phasers, and photon torpedoes.
Every time they fire phasers, it looks like photon torpedoes. Oh, my
aching head. ]

Yeoman Rand steps up to Kirk and starts to ask Kirk if she should
continue to log entries. Kirk cuts her off by saying "YEOMAN", in a
manner that she reacts to as if he had screamed "SHUT UP, you silly
cow!". She doesn't seem to interpret it as an adoring pet-name, so I
don't see why any of you should.

After a pause, Kirk says, "Affirmative, continue logging entries."

"Yes sir." she humbly replies.

[NOTE: "So seeing as we are probably going to die any second, do I
really have to keep doing my fucking job?" "Yes, you silly cow, keep
doing your fucking job until I fucking tell you otherwise." "Aye, aye,
CAPTAIN."

It ain't words of love they are tossing around, that is for goddamn sure.]

A moment before impact, horny Yeoman Rand rushes up and leans on Kirk
from behind.

[NOTE: Hmm. I wonder why she thinks he'd like to be approached from behind?]

[NOTE: He did not invite her to approach, but he doesn't call her on it,
because frankly, it's not the most important thing on his mind at that
moment. Truly, it's not.]

Four seconds before impact, Kirk puts a brotherly arm around Rand's
shoulder, and braces for impact. There is not a smidgen of eroticism in
his gesture. None.

[NOTE: behold one of the two times in this episode that Kirk actually is
physically near a woman. It's OBVIOUSLY not his idea. It's certainly
erotic for Rand, but it's OBVIOUSLY not erotic for Kirk.]

Fortunately, the plasma-ball dissipates partially before impacting.
Everybody takes a tumble, but they recover immediately.

Kirk leans against a barrier facing away from Rand. He did NOT hold onto
her through the shake up. Now Rand again comes up real close behind Kirk
and practically leans on him. Kirk ignores her completely.

"Limited range." Kirk says, speaking ostensibly about the Romulan's
badass weapon.

[NOTE: He might as well be speaking about the limited power of Rand's
female allure.]

Meanwhile, Tomlinson shows us all how a heterosexual guy is supposed to
normally act when a woman he cares about gets tossed to the ground by a
violent blow to the ship: he rushes to his sweetheart's side, and shows
active concern about her well-being.

Meanwhile, back on the bridge, Spock finally tells Kirk that he now can
provide the firepower that Kirk has been itching for, thank God!

Kirk, obviously not bruised enough yet, decides they should resume
following the Romulan.

[NOTE: I guess to a masochist, that makes perfect sense!]

"Same as before, Mr. Sulu... stay with him...", Kirk says, making it all
seem like a romantical slow-dance, again.

Moments later, Spock sneaks up behind Stiles, of all people and...

http://allyourtrekarebelongto.us/spockstiles.jpg

...makes Stiles real nervous for a second.

The Enterprise fires again, and again does only minor damage.

[NOTE: Duh. Enterprise weapons have limited range, too. Doesn't
everybody's?]

Next, the Romulans try to fool Kirk into thinking that their ship is
destroyed, by ejecting debris (including the body of the dead
Centurion). Kirk and crew are not deceived.

They now wait, sitting motionless in space for 9 hours, 47 minutes
-hoping all the while that the Romulan ship will do something dumb.

Kirk is lying on his bunk when Rand enters. He looks at her, but doesn't
welcome her. She asks if she can bring him something from the galley. He
sits up, asks for coffee, and asks her to bring it to the bridge. Before
she leaves, McCoy enters. Kirk greets McCoy warmly, with a smile.

[NOTE: Still no sign that Kirk has any interest in Rand. He's not happy
to see her. He doesn't seem to even like her. McCoy, OTOH, he obviously
does like. There's no sign that there is anything erotic between McCoy
and Kirk, but certainly Kirk is friendlier to McCoy than he is to Rand.]

Rand exits, McCoy smiles back at Kirk, enters the room, and makes
himself at home.

Jim waxes sentimental. "I wish I were on a long sea voyage somewhere",
he confides to McCoy.

"I look around that bridge, and I see the men waiting for me to make the
next move..." Jim continues, "and Bones..."

[NOTE: Notice that Kirk doesn't care about the *women* who are waiting
for him to make the next move...]

"...what if I'm wrong?" Jim asks McCoy.

McCoy delivers a touching little monolog about how big the universe is,
and about how special each person is, and concludes:

"Don't destroy the one named Kirk."

[NOTE: This is McCoy's roundabout way of saying that he really thinks
Jim is a special guy, and he hopes that Jim doesn't die, n stuff. This
whole segment pretty much establishes that McCoy and Kirk have fond
feelings for each other.

But Kirk and Rand? NO!]

Next scene, we are on the bridge, still waiting quietly for somebody to
do something. Spock accidentally does something dumb: he clumsily sets
off an alarm while trying do something else.

[NOTE: So what? Sound can't travel through space. Why was everybody
being so quiet, anyway?

IMHO, it's great that Spock did that, because it galvanizes everybody
into action. This *is* supposed to be an action show, technically.
Watching Kirk counting the hairs on the back of his hand has limited
appeal, even though he *is* awful dog-gone ~cute~.]

Realizing that they betrayed their own position, Enterprise quits
waiting and begins maneuvering (finally) and fires off another salvo.
Kirk does a little fancy dancing that includes more lateral maneuvers...

[NOTE: Backwards again? Dancing backwards seems to come a little too
naturally to Kirk.]

The Romulans cannily eject more debris, including an old atom bomb they
just happen to have knocking around.

[NOTE: LOL, the battle at this point IMHO resembles something out of a
Loony-toons cartoon:

Elmer Fudd: "Wee wee? A pwesent for me?"

(he opens the box, it explodes)

Bugs Bunny (cackling maniacally, munching carrot): "What a MAROON!"]

Spock detects the "metal-cased object", warns Kirk, and Kirk reacts
quickly - ordering the ship to avoid it, and shoot at it, simultaneously
- the Enterprise destroys the bomb before running into it, but the blast
was close, so the ship gets rocked, and people get hurt.

Tomlinson is all alone in the phaser control area, and Stiles volunteers
to go help him. Kirk agrees, and orders Lt. Uhura to take over at the
navigation console.

[NOTE: Wow, Uhura is really getting a work-out in this ep! Notice that
she doesn't hesitate or betray any doubt about her own capabilities. She
just smoothly moves to the navigator's seat with her usual aplomb.]

Then Spock comes to Kirk's chair, places his arm on the chair behind
Kirk, and he and Kirk have a cozy little chat, up close and personal...

http://allyourtrekarebelongto.us/ks-chat.jpg

...and Kirk, unlike Stiles, doesn't mind a bit!

Minutes later, Mr. Stiles and Lover-boy Tomlinson are overcome by toxic
fumes in the phaser room. Spock earns his pay and saves the day by
getting his ass in there and firing the phasers for the guys who are
overcome.

Amazingly, this damages the Romulan ship big-time. Kirk asks Uhura to
open a channel to the Romulans, and she does it while still seated at
the navigator's station.

Kirk doesn't gloat or rub it in, at all. He gently and respectfully
tells the Romulans that he intends to beam the survivors aboard, and
that they should to prepare to abandon their wrecked ship. After a
pretty little speech...

"...in a different reality, I might have called you friend."

...the Romulan Commander admits defeat, tips his hat to Kirk, and
destroys his own ship, and self.

Tomlinson (ironically) dies, but Spock (ironically) manages to save Stiles.

At the end, Kirk comforts the bereaved Martine with an utterly platonic
hug of sympathy.

[NOTE: She impulsively hugs him. He tolerates it.]

[NOTE: Behold the second time Kirk laid hands on a woman in this
episode. Once again, there is an obvious lack of any eroticism in the
contact. So where is the fabled heterosexual swordsman of fabled fame?
He ain't here, folks! The search continues!]



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