Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Star Trek 3x2 "The Enterprise Incident"

rating: ****
Memory Alpha summary

It took a long time to revisit the Romulans after their classic debut in the first season episode "Balance of Terror," but it was worth the wait.  This follow-up sees Kirk on a secret mission to steal a cloaking device, and in the process Spock is forced to confront the nature of the Vulcan kinship to Romulans.  It's a rare outright romantic scenario for him, too.  And it's another Spock spotlight, second in a row, two for two, in the third season.  For a series that desperately needed to recalculate, whatever you might have thought of "Spock's Brain," you can't deny that the second time was the charm.
via John Kenneth Muir
While far less subtle than "Balance," "The Enterprise Incident" is a clear evolution from its predecessor, nearly a sequel.  Now that Starfleet knows what Romulans look like, it changes the dynamic entirely.  The same is true for Spock.  In "Balance," you'll remember, he faced immediate bigotry from some of his colleagues once it was clear Romulans were descended from Vulcans.  Do he take the choice to form a new professional association, change his allegiance?

Well, of course not, just as Kirk's part of the story isn't what it seems, either.  Misdirection.  Kirk's arc has parallels in other franchise episodes, such as Next Generation's "Clues," Voyager's "The Omega Directive," Enterprise's "Affliction," instances where an officer is forced to hide crucial information for various reasons from the rest of the crew.

Like a surprising number of episodes from the season, "Incident" laid a lot of foundation for further franchise lore.  Even the title itself calls to mind the later "Andorian Incident" from Enterprise.  Last but certainly not least, the female Romulan commander is the earliest instance of a woman in a leadership role in Star Trek.  That's who you thank, Janeway.

Plenty of reasons to consider it a classic.

four quarter analysis
franchise * series * essential * character

notable guest-stars:
Majel Roddenberry

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