Star Trek

Season 3 Episode 2

The Enterprise Incident

Aired Unknown Sep 27, 1968 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
186 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Captain Kirk becomes increasingly erratic and orders the Enterprise into Romulan space...where the ship is captured by a beautiful Romulan commander.

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  • The Enterprise is sent on a secret mission and captured by Romulans.

    With a name inspired by the 1968 "Pueblo Incident", where the Navy ship Pueblo strayed too close to North Korea and was seized by its communist government, this espionage episode is like a James Bond story, with action, romance, a disguise, and a twist... but with the pieces assembled in a way that plays against expectations. For once, Nimoy gets to play the romancer while Shatner gets to wear the pointy ears and upswept eyebrows! In fact, this one is really a Spock episode, with Kirk's McGuffin chase clearly secondary.

    Joanne Linville guest stars as the Romulan Commander, bringing a Kate Mulgrew-like sexiness to an older and more commanding female part than TOS usually includes. (Linville was forty when the episode was She and Nimoy (three years her junior) work well together, setting up a chemistry between Spock and the Romulans that works well for nearly fifty more years.

    In fact, everyone seems to have a good time, making it easy to overlook how terrible "the good guys" are acting when you look at it from the perspective of a foreign government. But the joy of this episode isn't in the story but the teleplay, which is packed with emotion and excitement. (There's even a new score by Alexander Courage, the composer of the TOS theme song, to heighten the drama... though he overdoes his staccato hits). And despite being contrary to the usual values of Starfleet and Gene Roddenberry (or maybe because of it), the offbeat episode is a fan favorite that often cracks top ten lists.

    Remastered Verson: CBS greatly improves this episode, with the CGI ships capable of telling the story much better than the original models. This, of course, is the episode that establishes that the Romulans have borrowed (or stolen) Klingon ship designs, which was necessary after the original Romulan model was lost as well as a cost saving decision that allows this episode and "Elaan of Troyius" to share effects. (Interestingly, these two episodes in their original form represent the first time these Klingon ships are seen up close. The remastered project, of course, sprinkles them into the first two seasons). The upgraded version of "Enterprise Incident" not only has the Klingon ships referenced in the dialogue, but throws in some classic Romulan ships as well, giving us the best of both worlds.moreless
  • This is one of those episodes that broke new ground in serialized storytelling.

    This episode has always stood out in my mind-ever since I first saw it way back in the 70's. The opening segment with that image of the Enterprise surrounded by three Romulan bird's of prey (using Klingon design) is so iconic and representative of Star Trek TOS. I'm not quite sure why, in the Remastered and Enhanced version of the episode, the scene has been redone so that there are only two Klingon-design ships-one of them, presumingly the Commander's flagship, is still the old flat iron design reminiscent of a ship from some old Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon serial. I feel prompted to pose the question to the remasterers, "Why do you think the Romulans adopted the Klingon design in the first place?" Because their ships were so stupid-looking, that's why. Also, artistically, the change just spoils the balance, the composition of the image.

    Returning to the episode itself-it's one of those episodes that broke new ground in serialized storytelling. You are gripped from the very beginning by McCoy's voice-over expressing his concerns over Captain Kirk, who's been showing signs of increasing tension and emotional stress. Our hold on familiarity in a strange situation (i.e., the 23rd century)-our unwavering faith and trust in the captain of the Enterprise-is shaken, perhaps for the first time. And for more than twenty minutes or so, we are kept off balance, and left wondering what the hell is going on.

    Forget that the cloaking device generator Kirk steals from the Romulan vessel looks not unlike the V'ger-robot from Season 2, Episode 3, "The Changeling." Remember-it's the 1960's we're talking about. It's called "recycling."moreless
  • A little bit too hard to believe

    I'm going to "dis" this episode much to the chagrin of most Star Trek fans for the following reason. So the cloaking device gives the Romulans an unfair advantage over the Federation of Planets. Shouldn't some other diplomatic option be done before risking war with the Romulans by invading their space and getting involved in some kind of CIA like plot to steal the cloaking device? Isn't faking it by making Captain Kirk into some kind of arrogant maverick risky? For the Romulans to believe that a Vulcan would take sides against Kirk is hard to swallow. Finally, the episode feels forced in that it's only intention is to see how William Shatner looks in Romulan ears. The whole episode feels manipulated only for that purpose. As Spock has once said, military secrets are fleeting and the Federation of Planets would have duplicated the device on their own inventions without coming up with the complicated plot of this episode to acquire it. But no Star Trek is without merit. It's Joanne Linville that saves this episode. A female Romulan commander gives the episode an allure. I enjoy her attraction to Spock and her willingless to drop her military mind just to have Spock as her mate. However, this episode goes against Spock's commitment to "not bluff" and I find it working against his character to go along with the whole charade. That's the problem with the episode...too much of the whole operation being a charade just too get their hands on the device.moreless
  • An erratic acting Captain Kirk orders the Enterprise into the Neutral Zone, where the ship is surrounded by Romulan warbirds. Kirk is charged with espionage - but there is much more to the situation than first appears. One of the season's better offeringsmoreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    After the dire "Spock's Brain", things pick up considerably with this great instalment, which probably stands as one of the third season's best.

    This episode would have made a much better season opener than "Spock's Brain"; it has an infinitely better story, and a strong Spock plot – one of the reason's "Spock's Brain" was selected to air first.

    Anyway, Kirk is acting erratic and tense, but from the outset you know that there's more to the situation than that. As it turns out, it is a case of a Federation plot to steal a Romulan cloaking device. The plot unfolds very well, and has several good twists.

    For a Romulan, the Commander (Joanne Linville) is very appealing, and Linville plays the part both powerful and seductive at the same time.

    This is also a good episode for Mr. Scott, who has several good moments to shine. Scotty is one of my favourite characters, and it's good to see him have his moment in the spotlight.

    As is very often the case, the Enterprise comes across new technology that is never used again; in this case, they secure the Romulan cloaking device, and hook it up to the Enterprise to make their escape, but the technology is not incorporated into subsequent episodes. One must assume that it did not meld well with Federation Starships!

    One thing I will say is that the preview trailer, featured (as with all episodes) on the DVD release, does spoil the story somewhat, and if you are going into the episode without knowing the outcome, I would strongly recommend not viewing the trailer until afterwards, so as not to spoil the story.

    All-in-all, this is a very good episode by third season standards, even if you do have to suspend your belief at a couple of points. It doesn't quite make a perfect 10 for me, as there are a couple of spots where the story sags slightly, but it is still an extremely good episode. It's a shame more of the third season episodes weren't of this standard.moreless
  • Kirk is eratic and depressed. He takes the crew into forbidden space.

    This to me is the best episode I have ever seen. It starts out with Dr. McCoy talking medically about the captain. Then goes to the bridge where he acts erratically. He then sends the ship into Romulan space and gets charged with espionage which he denies. Spock says he had no authority to do this. Bones comes on the ship and they tell him about the Federation going for the device that makes the ship invisible. Spock while on the ship betrays Jim (which makes him very mad not surprisingly). Jim attacks Spock and Spock gives him 'The Vulcan Death Grip' which makes him appear dead. It was actually a nerve pinch to simulate death. He goes back to ship and gets his ears bobbed to make him look like a Romulan. He then goes back to the Romulan ship gets the clocking device and returns to the Enterprise with it. Scotty puts it on their sensors. While all this happening Spock is giving his right to speak speech. He is beamed back to the ship with the Commander. Then as they are about ready to be destroyed they disappear and are safely taken back to their Federation space.moreless
Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy

Mr. Spock

William Shatner

William Shatner

Captain James Tiberius Kirk

DeForest Kelley

DeForest Kelley

Dr. Leonard Horatio "Bones" McCoy

Joanne Linville

Joanne Linville

Romulan Commander

Guest Star

Jack Donner

Jack Donner

Romulan Subcommander Tal

Guest Star

Richard Compton

Richard Compton

Romulan Technical Officer

Guest Star

Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols

Lt. Nyota Uhura

Recurring Role

George Takei

George Takei

Lt. Hikaru Sulu

Recurring Role

Walter Koenig

Walter Koenig

Ensign Pavel Chekov

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (14)

    • Somehow, just before Spock is being beamed back to the Enterprise, the Romulan Commander hears the transporter sound effect and quickly gets in proximity to him, getting beamed away with him. However, the sound effect is usually heard at the same time the transportee begins to vanish, not before.

    • There seems to be no reason for the Romulan Commander to believe Kirk is still aboard the Romulan ship with the cloaking device. For one thing, he uses the transporter to escape and that should have been detected. Even if it wasn't, why would she believe the intruder was still on the ship? Instead, she seems to assume the thief is still on the ship and wastes time searching.

    • Kirk rather handily disposes of two Romulan guards, with a single punch and later a single kick. It's hard to imagine him knocking out Spock so readily, compared to these trained warriors.

    • Given the two Romulan officers beam aboard as hostages, there seems no reason for them to instantly draw their guns. Or even come aboard armed.

    • When Tal gives them one hour to consider surrender, there's an odd reverb effect to his voice that is not present previously, and for which there is no on-screen reason.

    • It seems improbable that the Enterprise, surrounded by three Romulan vessels, would be able to make a run for it without instantly being fired upon by the surrounding enemy vessels.

    • When Spock is making his final statement, the Romulan Commander states that his 20 minutes are almost up, though he started only moments before.

    • It seems odd that the Romulans, who were once part of the Vulcan race, are unaware there's no such thing as a "Vulcan Death Grip." By many sources, they left Vulcan because their cousins were too peaceful. Odder still, Nurse Chapel does know there is no such thing as a VDG.

    • When the Romulans call Kirk to have him transport over, Kirk looks directly into one of those tri-screen displays in the briefing room. Because of the way he looked he shouldn't be able to see the Romulan, or the Romulan see him.

    • Captain Kirk lets the (enemy) Romulan commander onto the high-security classified bridge in the middle of a battle.

    • When the Enterprise was escaping at the end, the space sensor array was off.

    • Spock and the Romulan Commander travel from deck 1 (the bridge) to deck 2 (her temporary quarters), but they spend several minutes on the turbolift doing so. Deck 2 is the science level. They should have gone to deck 4.

    • The Romulan Commander believes that Spock is trying to steal the cloaking device. So she hauls him down to the room holding it, goes into the room, and looks pretty much everywhere except the spot where it was mounted - doesn't she know where the device is. Finally her sub-commander tells her that it's gone, and she turns around and sees the empty slot.

    • At the end, the Enterprise had only the left warp nacelle.

  • QUOTES (13)

    • Kirk: The design of the ship is the same. Mr. Spock? You said you had a theory on why your sensors didn't pick up the new ships until they were upon us.
      Spock: I believe the Romulans have developed a cloaking device which renders our tracking sensors useless.
      Kirk: If so, the Romulans could attack into Federation territory before we would know they were there. Before a vessel or a planet could even begin to get their defenses up.
      Scott: They caught us right enough.
      Kirk: Well that's a brilliant observation, Mr. Scott. Do you have any other helpful opinions?

    • Romulan Commander: There is no force I could use on a Vulcan that would make him speak. There are, however, methods that are completely effective against humans, and human weaknesses.
      Spock: They would prove ineffective against the Captain.
      Romulan Commander: Then they will leave him dead, or what might be worse than dead.

    • Uhura: Doctor, beam aboard the Romulan flagship immediately. There's been an injury.
      McCoy: I don't make house calls.

    • Romulan Commander: Is my attire now more appropriate, Mr. Spock?
      Spock: Commander, your attire is not only more appropriate, it should actually stimulate our conversation.

    • Romulan Commander: Mr. Spock. You do know I have a first name.
      Spock: I was beginning to wonder.
      Romulan Commander: Well, I do. Would you like to hear it? (she whispers)
      Spock: How rare and how beautiful. But so incongruous when spoken by a soldier.
      Romulan Commander: If you will give me a moment, the soldier will transform herself... into a woman.

    • McCoy: (to Spock, after Kirk is rendered unconscious) What did you do? What did you do?!?
      Spock: I was unprepared for his attack. I instinctively used the Vulcan Death Grip.
      McCoy: Well your instincts are still good, Mr. Spock. The Captain is dead!

    • Romulan Commander: You must have your own ship. I will see to that if you will stop looking on the Federation as the entire universe. It is not, you know.
      Spock: That thought has occasionally crossed my mind.

    • Romulan Commander: I have heard of Vulcan integrity and personal honor. There's a well-known saying--or is it a myth--that Vulcans are incapable of lying?
      Spock: It is no myth.
      Romulan Commander: Then tell me truthfully now, by your honor as a Vulcan, what was your mission?
      Spock: I reserve the privilege of speaking only when it will not violate my honor as a Vulcan.
      Romulan Commander: It is unworthy of a Vulcan to resort to subterfuge.
      Spock: You are being clever, Commander. That is unworthy of a Romulan.

    • Romulan Commander: I hope that one day there will be no need for you to observe
      any restrictions.
      Spock: It would be illogical to assume that all conditions remain stable.

    • Romulan Commander: Romulan women are not like Vulcan females. We are not dedicated to pure logic and the sterility of non-emotion. Our people are warriors. Often savage. But we are also many other pleasant things.
      Spock: I was not aware of that aspect of Romulan society.
      Romulan Commander: As a Vulcan, you will study it. As a human, you would find ways to appreciate it.
      Spock: Please believe me. I do... appreciate it.
      Romulan Commander: I am so glad.

    • Romulan Commander: Oh, you must be mad.
      Spock: I assure you, I am quite sane.
      Romulan Commander: Why would you do this to me? What are you that you could do this?
      Spock: First officer of the Enterprise.

    • Spock: It is regrettable that you were made an unwilling passenger. It was not intentional. All the Federation wanted was the cloaking device.
      Romulan Commander: The Federation? And what did you want?
      Spock: It was my only interest when I boarded your vessel.
      Romulan Commander: And that's exactly all you came away with.
      Spock: You underestimate yourself, Commander.
      Romulan Commander: You realize that very soon we will learn to penetrate the cloaking device you stole.
      Spock: Obviously. Military secrets are the most fleeting of all. I hope that you and I exchanged something more permanent.
      Romulan Commander: It was your choice.
      Spock: It was the only choice possible. You would not respect any other.
      Romulan Commander: It will be our secret.

    • McCoy: You're due in surgery. I'm going to bob your ears.
      Spock: Captain, please go. Somehow, they do not look aesthetically agreeable on humans.
      McCoy: Well, are you coming down or do you want to go through life looking like your first officer?
      Kirk: I'm on my way!

  • NOTES (2)

    • In the Remastered Edition of this episode, the three Romulan ships surrounding the Enterprise are two designed like the Klingon battle cruiser and a single Romulan Bird of Prey. The Klingon-style ships bear the Romulan Bird of Prey insignia on their ventral side.

    • Features the first appearance of the Klingon battle cruiser. The Romulans were using this ship so the producers could save on the cost it took to actually build the cruiser. [Editor's note: Technically, "Elaan of Troyius" (#60043-57) featured the first appearance of the Klingon battle cruiser since it was made before this episode. (#60043-59)]


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