The Enterprise Incident

The Enterprise Incident

__NOTOC__ST episode
name = The "Enterprise" Incident

Kirk disguised as a Romulan
series = TOS
ep_num = 57
prod_num = 059
remas._num = 64
date = September 27, 1968
writer = D.C. Fontana
director = John Meredyth Lucas
guest = Joanne Linville Jack Donner Richard Compton Robert Gentile Mike Howden Gordon Coffey Eddie Paskey Roger Holloway
stardate = 5027.3
year = 2268
prev = Spock's Brain
next = The Paradise Syndrome

"The "Enterprise" Incident" is a third season episode of "", first broadcast September 27, 1968 and repeated December 27, 1968. It is episode #57, production #59, written by D.C. Fontana and directed by John Meredyth Lucas.

Overview: The crew of the "Enterprise" attempts to steal a Romulan cloaking device.


On stardate 5027.3, Captain James T. Kirk's unusual recent conduct reaches a climax when, without authorization and to his crew’s astonishment, he orders the USS "Enterprise" into the Neutral Zone between Federation and Romulan space. When three decloaked Romulan warbirds surround the ship and Kirk is ordered to surrender, he threatens to destroy the "Enterprise" if the Romulans attempt to board her; invited with First Officer Mr. Spock to parley aboard the lead Romulan vessel, Kirk accepts on condition that the Romulans simultaneously transport two of their officers as hostages.

Once aboard, Kirk and Spock are escorted into the presence of an unnamed female Romulan commander who demands an explanation for the "Enterprise’s" violation of Romulan space. Interviewed alone, Kirk maintains that instrument failure caused his ship to stray into Romulan space; interviewed in Kirk’s presence, and under pressure from the Romulan commander, Spock eventually describes his captain’s order to enter into Romulan space as an initiative born of insanity. Romulan security officers lead a furious Kirk, charged with espionage and railing against the treachery of his First Officer, to the alien vessel’s brig; the Romulan Commander orders Mr. Scott to follow the Romulan vessels to their base. The combative Mr. Scott refuses.

When Kirk injures himself in throwing himself against the force field enclosing the Romulan brig, Dr. McCoy is summoned to attend to him. With Spock in tow, the Romulan commander asks McCoy to confirm the Vulcan’s characterization of the Captain as mentally incompetent; the Medical Officer does so. After listening to the Romulan Commander order Spock to assume command of the "Enterprise", Captain Kirk mutters words of outrage and disgust, then lunges at Mr. Spock; Spock defends himself by using the “Vulcan death grip” (understood to be a variation on the Vulcan nerve pinch) on the Captain, who, his face agonized, slumps to the floor. Dr. McCoy declares him dead.

Alone with Mr. Spock in her quarters, the Romulan Commander continues her attempt to woo him to her people’s cause. She argues that humans show their prejudicial disregard of Vulcan talents and capabilities in failing to have placed him in command of a Starfleet ship, but that, should he switch allegiances, he will learn to enjoy the spiritual society of Romulans as her consort. Through a series of powerfully understated replies, Spock shows himself responsive to the Commander’s offer and womanly charms.

On the "Enterprise" meanwhile, Kirk emerges from the state of merely suspended life functions which Spock’s “death grip” had induced, and orders Dr. McCoy to perform the plastic surgery necessary to give him Romulan features. His features altered, Captain Kirk borrows the uniform of one of the Romulan hostages, and has Mr. Scott transport him once more to the Romulan vessel. While the Romulan Commander is changing into more feminine attire, via communicator Spock directs Kirk to the section of the ship where the cloaking device is located; the Romulan Subcommander Tal discovers and tracks the Federation signal. While Spock and the Romulan Commander commune with one another in a spiritualized erotic exploration of the other’s hand and face, Subcommander Tal interrupts them, and informs his superior of the alien transmission. Spock presents himself to the Romulan officers, affirming the Subcommander’s report—but it is too late: Kirk has disengaged the cloaking device, and returned with it to the Enterprise.

Again in the Commander’s quarters, Spock takes advantage of the traditional Romulan right of statement before his conviction and eventual execution to stall for time; simultaneously, Kirk re-assumes command of the "Enterprise" as Mr. Scott attempts to adjust the alien technical configuration of the cloaking device to the "Enterprise’s" deflectors, and as Ensign Chekov tries to distinguish Vulcan from Romulan life signs so that Spock may be transported to the "Enterprise". Chekov eventually acquires a fix on Mr. Spock; still in the midst of his unnecessarily lengthy statement, Mr. Spock begins to dematerialize—and the Romulan Commander rushes to embrace him as he does. When they materialize on the bridge of the "Enterprise", Kirk gives the order to break free of the three Romulan vessels to return to Federation space; just when the pursuing Romulans are almost ready to fire upon them, Mr. Scott activates the cloak, and the "Enterprise" becomes invisible to Romulan detection. Kirk orders the ship to the nearest starbase, and gallantly invites the Romulan commander to accept Mr. Spock as her escort to quarters which will be personal to her during her stay on the Federation ship. Acknowledging defeat, the Romulan commander, alone this time with Spock in the "Enterprise’s" turbolift, expresses her bitter disappointment at the Vulcan’s betrayal; in answer to her, Spock avers that, although in principle his loyalty to the Federation is complete, she underestimates herself considerably if she believes he was not tempted.

When once more on the bridge, Spock hears Dr. McCoy teasingly ask the Captain whether he wishes to return to Sick Bay for surgery, or whether he wishes to look like his First Officer for the rest of his life; Spock urges the Captain to go, since Romulan (and by implication, Vulcan) features on humans appear distasteful to him. As the Captain disappears into the lift, Uhuru, Sulu, and Chekov exchange knowing smiles.

40th Anniversary remastering

This episode was remastered in 2006 and aired April 5, 2008 as part of the remastered "Original Series". It was preceded a week earlier by the remastered "Elaan of Troyius" and followed a week later by the remastered "Obsession". Aside from remastered video and audio, and the all-CGI animation of the USS "Enterprise" that is standard among the revisions, specific changes to this episode also include:

* The Romulans still use Klingon D7 battle cruisers, although CBS Digital has added the Romulan "Bird of Prey" markings to them. One D7 has been replaced with an actual Romulan Bird of Prey ship like that seen in "Balance of Terror".
* The cloaking effect has been revised.


The Romulan ships

The D7 models for the Romulan warships are actually Klingon ships, used instead of the Romulan Bird-of-Prey model seen in the episode "Balance of Terror". Although in production order the model was first used (as a Klingon ship) in "Elaan of Troyius", in transmission order it is first seen in this episode. It was stated in the first draft of the script that the Romulans and Klingons had an exchange of technology, where Romulans received four Klingon heavy D7 battlecruisers and the Klingons were given Romulan cloaking technology.

There have been two different explanations over the years for this apparent exchange of technology. According to one account, the show's production staff had just finished new Klingon ship models and wanted to show off Matt Jeffries' work and help boost sales on the about-to-be released model kit from AMT. Another report - one considered most likely by Trek historians and somewhat confirmed by model master and sculptor Wah Chang in a 1982 National Public Radio interview - was that the original Bird-of-Prey model was destroyed after its initial use in "Balance of Terror". According to Wah in the interview, there were some issues over payment for the model - which he had designed and built - following a complaint by one of the special effects unions over Wah's non-membership. While Wah's membership was an issue because the union refused to allow him into their guild for the simple reason that his skills were superior to most of the guild's current members, Desilu and the Star Trek production staff used his talents anyway, claiming that the props he made were already made and "bought off the shelf". However, the local guild had evidence that Wah had built the Bird-of-Prey model specifically for the show, and after some negotiation agreed to drop the grievance if Wah received no payment for the model. Desilu capitulated, and returned the model to Wah. In a fit of anger, Wah took the model into his back yard, and proceeded to bash it to bits with a sledge hammer.Fact|date=April 2008

*In this episode, Romulans wear their hair differently from Vulcans, but in the later "Star Trek" series and films Romulans — male and female alike — sport Vulcan-like bangs.
*While this episode was the fourth produced for the third season, it aired second, after "Spock's Brain".
*The actual name of the Romulan commander, and her ultimate fate, are not known for certain. At least three different explanations are given in Trek novels - "The Price of the Phoenix", "" and "Vulcan's Heart" - (in the early days of Trek writing, many novels tended to contradict each other, and so the commander has had many different names and futures). The latest (and most popular) explanation is given in the novel "Vulcan's Heart", by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz, in which her name is given as Liviana Charvanek. Apparently, some time after the events of this episode, Charvanek was returned to Romulus (ch'Rihan) and resumed her military career.
*D. C. Fontana based this story very loosely upon the "Pueblo" Incident, in which members of that Navy vessel were captured in 1968 and held several months after they strayed into North Korean waters.
*The first draft script had Spock "raining kisses on every square inch above the shoulder" of the Romulan Commander, but this was changed, at Nimoy's insistence, to the more demure finger caresses. Fontana has pointed out in recent years that the "raining kisses" scene was actually an embellishment by Gene Roddenberry - one of the few he applied to third season scripts - and that the original script submitted had only an embrace and kiss, with most of the passion being delivered by the Romulan commander.
*Originally, both Kirk and McCoy were disguised as Romulans and went aboard the Romulan ship to steal the cloaking device. This was dropped not only due to cost concerns, but after Robert H. Justman pointed out that having McCoy doing plastic surgery on his own ears would have stretched believability a bit unless another actor was hired - costing more money - to perform the surgery on both Kirk and McCoy.
*At first glance, it seems odd that the "Enterprise" officers discussed the Romulan cloaking technology as if surprised, without reference to the fact that they encountered it directly two years before in the first season episode "Balance of Terror." When Captain Kirk asked Mr. Spock why the "Enterprise"'s sensors had not detected the Romulan ships until they had suddenly appeared, Spock answers in a hypothetical tone: "I believe the Romulans have developed a cloaking device, which renders our tracking sensors useless." However, this seeming lapse in memory is explained by the fact that cloaked Romulan ships could be (to a limited extent) tracked by sensors in the earlier episode, which is in subtle contrast to how they are described here. In fact, the first draft script for "The Enterprise Incident" had dialogue that explicitly described this particular leap forward in Romulan technology.
*This episode is referenced in the video game, "". During a Federation mission the player's ship is equipped with the Romulan cloaking device stolen by Kirk and ordered to launch a sneak attack on a Klingon starbase.
*At the end of the episode, the Enterprise is shown escaping at Warp 9, much faster than its previously established maximum speed. (The pursuing Romulans are apparently traveling even faster, as they are closing with the Enterprise before it cloaks.)

External links

* [ Official site episode entry]
* [ The Enterprise Incident first draft] report and analysis
* [ The Enterprise Incident] at IMDB

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