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."