The Corbomite Maneuver
The Enterprise is on its third day of mapping stars and some of the crew are getting sick of it, particularly Lt Dave Bailey, the navigator. As Spock tells him they are the first people to travel out so far so these stars have not been mapped before. Then suddenly they detect a strange object coming towards them.
When it arrives it appears to be a brightly colour cuboid. Nobody is able to explain what the cube is, or how it might work. Dave Bailey says that they could blast it with phasers but Kirk decides to keep their distance from the cube. However when they do this the cube moves closer towards it and starts to emit radiation which soon approaches the tolerances that the crew could cope it. Kirk is left with no option but to destroy the cube before it destroys them.
Soon a new object, far bigger than the cube comes closer to the Enterprise. The new object is so massive that they have to magnify the viewscreen to get it all in view. They try to open hailing frequencies to get the craft to take them on but it stays stubbornly silent.
When they do eventually get a reponse the voice from the craft, who calls himself Commander Balok, tells them that the ship in front of them is the flagship of the first federation and that they will be destroyed for trespassing into their space and also for destroying the cube. Balok gives them ten minutes until their destruction.
Kirk after hearing Spock compare the situation to a game of chess decides to play a little game of Poker with Balok and tells him that they are carrying a substance, Corbomite, which would destroy them if they attacked the Enterprise. Balok seems to accept this but wants to know more about the special substance.
Kirk initially accepts but then refuses Balok’s request. Balok decides that he will use a small ship to tow the Enterprise into first federation space and then let the crew remain on a planet and destroy the ship. Kirk allows them to towed for a while and then orders them to try and break away from the tractor beam. This almost overloads the Enterprise’s engines but they are able to break free from the tractor beam just before the critical moment.
This seems to have an adverse effect on the ship which seems to be drifting away from its mother ship. Kirk decides to lend assistance to the stricken craft despite the possiblity of it being a trap. There they meet Balok who seems to resemble a human child and not the blue skinned alien they assumed him to be when they discover that the face they thought was Balok was an inert dummy.
It turns out that Balok is simpy lonely and was merely testing the Enteprise crew for some amusement and now wants to learn more about them. Bailey is volunteered to remain on Balok’s ship so that two races could get to know more about each other.
The Corbomite Maneuver was the first episode of the show filmed after the second pilot was accepted and has all of the classic crew in place and they all fit seamlessly into the bridge crew like they have always been there and not just replacements of the previous characters they didn’t think were that much cop.
To be honest Uhura doesn’t have a great deal to do in this episode except tell Kirk and hailing frequencies are open and is very much in the background of the episode. There is also a funny bit later on in the episode when they are all in brefing room where she looks like she is about to fall asleep.
McCoy has a bit more of part in this episode and has the first of his many “I’m a Doctor not a…” lines and is quite grumpy but in a nice way. He is a little bit like Boyce from The Cage only a bit younger and has a lot more character and prescence than Piper in the previous episode has. He certainly does make an impression in this episode.
Scotty gets a few more lines but not a great deal more and is probably only noticeable because as a fan of the show I am well aware of who he is. I am not sure if you had never seen the show before if you would come away with much of an opinion about him from this episode.
After Mitchell in the previous episode there is a new navigator in the shape of Dave Bailey who starts of the episode being quite calm and collected before gradually becoming more and more irate until he has a bust up with Kirk on the bridge, where everyone would come second to Kirk, even I would say Spock.
I liked Bailey and did wonder if we might get to seem him again in another episode but I guess after the bust up with Kirk he was bound to be reassinged somewhere soon after this episode and in the end of the episode he got the perfect opportunity to do just that.
The Enterprise is certainly not been very lucky with navigators as there has been three different ones in three episodes so far. It must just be a cursed position or something as we have just to see the same one more than once! I certainly wouldn’t want to be the navigator on this ship at the moment.
It is actually rather suprising that this episode is quite as interesting as it is because so little actually happens in this episode and they spend more time actually waiting for Balok to do something than he actually does anything at all. He seems to threaten them by just looking bigger and more menacing than the enterprise and by their own sense of superiority over the crew of the Enterprise and by doing precisely the opposite of what he has said that he was going to do.
For instance if he was that way inclined he could have blasted the Enterprise out the air at the first opportunity but didn’t so there was certainly something about them that he found interesting. They also assume that there would be a large crew on such a large ship, and that would be the normal thing to assume when you consider the number of people on board the Enterprise and when they discover that there is only one person on board they are to say the least, a little bit shocked.
Not actually knowing what Balok looked like did give him a bit of an air of mystery as you could only imagine what he did look like and when they did get a picture of him he certainly did look suitably alien and threatening. It was therefore quite shocking that when they finally did see his true self he was not in the least bit frightening or threatening at all and actually seemed to be rather benign and friendly towards them, which they certainly weren’t expecting.
I think that the episode handled the tension rather well as for the most part they were just waiting to be blasted out of the sky by Balok and trying to come up with scenarios where they might manage to get away without being killed as that was really all they could do at that time.
Kirk’s use of bluff to try and wrongfoot Balok was an idea worth trying as it had just as much of working as any other idea might of and ultimately worked despite Spock’s reservations and nobody else had a better idea at the moment and as Kirk was in charge he wasn’t going to let himself be killed without making a fight of it, which ultimately shows why Kirk is the Captain of the ship and shows him to be a strong leader.
This is a very strong episode despite the fact that very little actually happens in it.