Star Trek

Season 1 Episode 10

The Corbomite Maneuver

Aired Unknown Nov 10, 1966 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (12)

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  • A little suffering is good for the soul

    'The Corbomite Manoeuvre' is an unfortunate episode that has its beginning, middle, heart and overall premise in the right place, but unfortunately fails to pay off by the time the credits role. Nevertheless, before I go on about the reason why this episode ended up failing to be what it could have been, let's go over just what makes the majority of it so enticing.

    First of all I have to say that even though it looks pretty dated by today's standards, I love the Balok puppet and regard it as one of the best original Trek prop aliens to be used in the series. Every time I see the thing on the Enterprise viewscreen, I get the creeps. There's just something about it that's always been unsettling for me. In fact, the episode's effects in general are pretty decent overall and as I said, even though they are completely rubbish compared to what we can achieve today, they still do their job well without distracting.

    Joseph Sargent who directs this episode, does a great job for the first two acts: pacing the action and character development; balancing them well to achieve dramatic and cerebral tension. Particularly effective is the scene involving the threat of Enterprise's destruction in which radiation is rapidly being projected at the ship. Not only does he create an atmosphere –with the help of the brilliant performances of cast of course- of immediate panic and fear, but he manages to escalate it to a heart-thumping climax, that pays off excellently. Unfortunately, it's a shame that he couldn't work better with Sohl's script to build this kind of tension throughout the entire episode.

    Nonetheless, what 'The Corbomite Manoeuvre' also gives the Star Trek fan (and this is something I could only really appreciate second time round, having watched the entire series) something to enjoy is the very rare circumstance of all the main cast being aboard the bridge for one very prolonged set of time. Now inherently, this isn't really something to write home about, but thankfully Sohl's script uses this opportunity to create many scenes for characters to establish themselves early on in the series, and to develop themselves and the relationships they have with those around them. This is further exemplified through the entire cast's fantastic performances, giving some of the greatest enthusiasm that they give for the show throughout its entire run. Particularly striking was Nimoy's sometimes aggressive take on Spock, although not in an emotional sense, strictly in a logical command-driven sense of course.

    The main star of this episode however is Kirk. Indeed watching him keeping his cool and dealing with the situation at hand is rather interesting to watch and Shatner does a great job portraying the captain. He nails his personality, even for so very early on in the series. However, aside from all the command and dealing with alien bullies, my favourite scene of the entire episode occurs when Kirk and McCoy take a trip to Kirk's quarters and engage in a conversational scene that really could have been left out for plot purposes, but would have surely damaged the show's sentimental warmth. Both Shatner and Kelley do a brilliant job here, and having just seen Star Trek II, really wish that they could have pulled off something just a little closer to what we have here in 'The Corbomite Manoeuvre'. For an episode so early on, it really feels like these guys have known each other for years upon years, it's amazing and amusing to watch at the same time. Although not fully developed enough for my liking and in the end seeming like such a waste of development, the character of Bailey is an interesting one, often creating some dramatic scenes that show the pressure involved when working aboard a starship; something we rarely see. Indeed, it's not only Bailey who seems to crack under the stress, many of the ships crew begin to act irrationally at times, creating rather striking scenes with conflict between crew members that is so rarely seen in the Enterprise's sterile crew. In the end however, everyone eventually comes together and works to 'defeat' Balok. Unfortunately this is done through a series of rather repetitive and unimaginative scenes that really hinder the preceding acts. Then comes the twist ending that I'm still not so sure about. In one sense it seems like a cop-out, seems like the writer couldn't be bothered with it anymore, and decided to throw in a cheap wrap-up. On the other hand however, it is naturally a fitting ending for a Star Trek episode and suits the show's overall arching message well. Plus, I can't deny that I didn't see it coming; I was genuinely surprised on my first watch, even if I was genuinely aghast at the same time. Overall, a great episode, but it's a shame about the lackluster ending.
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