This is one of the best episodes of the original series, in terms of storyline, acting and the visual presentation. Captain Kirk is showing signs of stress and he inexplicably orders the Enterprise into the neutral zone between Federation and Romulan space. Almost immediately, several Romulan ships appear from nowhere and surround the Enterprise. The Romulan commander then makes contact and demands the immediate surrender of the Enterprise. Spock surmises that the Romulans have developed a cloaking device that renders them invisible and notes that they would not be in the situation if captain Kirk had not ordered the Enterprise into the neutral zone. Kirk and Spock beam over to the Romulan command ship and Spock informs the commander that the Enterprise is not on a Federation mission, but entered the neutral zone on the sole basis of Kirk's orders. Spock also says that Kirk has exhibited instability recently and the strain of command has caused him to issue inappropriate orders. Therefore, Kirk alone should be held responsible, the Enterprise crew and Starfleet command are blameless. Kirk responds with anger and attacks Spock. Caught off guard, Spock inadvertently uses the Vulcan death grip to defend himself. Spock then falls in love with the female Romulan commander and McCoy beams over to the Romulan ship to retrieve Kirk's body. It all turns out to be a ruse, Kirk and Spock are under Federation orders to obtain the cloaking device. There is no Vulcan death grip and while Spock occupies the Romulan commander, Kirk beams over to the Romulan ship, retrieves the cloaking device and beams back to the Enterprise. Spock's espionage is discovered and he is scheduled for execution. He is recovered from the Romulan ship and the Enterprise flees. Scotty manages to install the cloaking device on the Enterprise, and this allows the Enterprise to escape. William Shatner is excellent as the stressed out Kirk and Joanne Linville is superb as the Romulan commander. Having a female play the role of the commander was a stroke of genius. Considering that this was the late sixties, a female in charge of anything was a revolutionary concept. It was no surprise to me that the episode was written by Dorothy (D. C.) Fontana. One of the best scenes in the original series is when Scotty stomps into sick bay in response to a summons by McCoy only to encounter Kirk transformed into a Romulan. The only weak spot is how quickly the Romulan commander falls for Spock's apparent defection, as they did not even confiscate his communicator. Nevertheless, this episode is easily placed in the top ten when ranking the episodes of the original series.
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Charles Ashbacher (CharlesAshbacher)
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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An overwrought, highly-stressed Captain Kirk blunders into Romulan space and finds theEnterprisesurrounded by enemy vessels, all equipped with strategically valuable cloaking technology. Along with Spock, Kirk is invited to meet with the Romulan commander (Joanne Linville) to discuss the situation, leading to a crisis when the captain suffers a breakdown following Spock's apparent betrayal. Written by story editor Dorothy Fontana (who was unhappy with the final results) and directed by John Meredyth Lucas (who briefly took the producing reins from Gene L. Coon during season two), the episode has a colorful espionage angle, but depends heavily on an improbable romance between Spock and Linville's character. Still, there are things to savor here, especially Kirk's one-and-only appearance with Vulcan/Romulan pointed ears.--Tom Keogh