Thursday, August 23, 2018

Star Trek -- Season 1 Episode 10 (The Corbomite Maneuver)

Space is a dangerous place.  Considering how little we know about the rest of the galaxy, I’m kind of surprised that the Enterprise wasn’t running into all manner of hostile aliens.  Sure, there are bound to be those that are friendly or indifferent, but it’s possible that there are many worlds out there where the native population is more than willing to defend its territory.  Some, like the Klingons and the Borg, were even looking for more territory.

When the Enterprise encounters a strange, glowing, cube-like object, Captain Kirk is ready to take it in stride.  Unfortunately, going around it doesn’t work.  Trying to outrun it doesn’t work, either.  Destroying it would seem to be the only option available.

Then, a giant spherical object shows up.  It’s a ship called the Fesarius and it’s commanded by Balok.  Balok isn’t all that happy about what Kirk did to the cube.  As punishment, The Enterprise is to be destroyed.  The crew is given time to make whatever final arrangements they wish.

During this time, Kirk tries to negotiate with Balok.  The title comes from a substance Kirk uses to bluff Balok.  He says that all Federation ships carry a substance called corbomite.  If the Enterprise is destroyed, the Fesarius will be destroyed, as well.

Being that the episode is so early in the first season, one would think that the Enterprise isn’t blown up.  Thus, we know there will be a peaceful solution.  What’s interesting is that the episode alludes to the movies and Kirk’s unwillingness to accept a no-win situation.  He’s not going to sit back and accept fate, but there doesn’t seem to be much that he can do.  If he can’t think his way out of a bad situation, he can at least bluff his way out.

Unfortunately, we don’t hear anything from Balok again.  I know it’s a big universe and there are a lot of strange, new aliens to get to and everything, but it does start a long tradition of introducing something only to have it forgotten about by the next episode.  When Balok says he’s part of the First Federation, it would imply that there are a great number of worlds.  Rather than set up some sort of diplomatic arrangement, Kirk sends one his officers to stay with Balok.  (Maybe that’s how they do things in the 23rd century.)

One thing of note is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance of Jonathan Goldsmith, The Most Interesting Man in the World.  And yes, he wore a red shirt.  I remember seeing a meme with Goldsmith as The Most Interesting Man in the World, captioned with something like, “I don’t always wear a red shirt, but when I do, I make it all the way to the end of the episode.” 

Like many of the other early Star Trek episodes, The Corbomite Maneuver is more enjoyable if you don’t take it too literally.  It’s more about trying to convey some sort of a message.  I’d say that it’s not one of the best episodes, but it’s on par with the series as a whole.

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