Star Trek – Balance Of Terror

★★★★ December 15, 1966 Season 1 Episode 14

If you want to see where we are…and you missed a few…HERE is a list of the episodes in my index located at the top of my blog.

This show was written by Paul Schneider and Gene Roddenberry

Star Trek: The Original Series

Before we get to the review and story…this is  Grace Lee Whitney’s last episode with Star Trek. There are two stories about why she was let go. I will cover it when I do the First Season review in a few weeks…it’s not good and should not have happened. She would not appear again until the first movie came out in 1979.

Excellent Episode! This episode starts off with an attempted marriage on the Enterprise with Kirk about to lead the ceremony. When everyone was ready… a distress call came and everyone went back to their posts. Romulans are attacking a space post and the Enterprise is going to investigate.

Star Trek

This episode is confined to the Enterprise and this is amazing because an episode just on the Enterprise could easily have been static and dull. But, because the writing was so fantastic and the main characters written and acted so well. Overall it’s very tense and exciting. For all of you die-hard Star Trek fans you will recognize Mark Lenard as the same actor who later played Spock’s father.

The Romulans and Vulcans descend from the same ancestor species…both have the same ears and some of the same traits. The writers lay down a not-so-subtle sub-text involving racial prejudice and bigotry. It’s clever that they do this by involving two alien races (Vulcans and Romulans), instead of those we are so generally used to, black and white, North and South, Semitic/anti-Semitic. It helps one to step outside the box of common stereotypes to question why one race, religion, or nationality is any better or worse than another.

Roddenberry was really well ahead of the curve on this, and he would do it again in future episodes. Rod Serling was doing the same thing through SciFi on the Twilight Zone. It looks like some of this bigotry was possibly inspired by the very vivid fear American and Russian citizens had at the time that either nation might be able to destroy the other with nuclear weapons.

Kirk takes a huge chance (a bluff) in this one…which teaches Spock about a game that he doesn’t know…poker. The acting, writing, and yes effects are all very good.

From IMDB:

Network restrictions at the time forbade the tackling of any contentious subjects such as the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement and the rise of feminism. “Star Trek”, under the guise of science fiction, boldly flouted these rules. This story, for example, openly deals with the subject of racism, as reflected through Lieutenant Stiles’ opposition to Mr Spock.

Budgetary and time constraints prevented the make-up and costuming departments from dressing up each Romulan in Vulcan ears as it was such a lengthy process applying them. So they hit on the idea of giving the lesser Romulans helmets, which were manufactured by Wah Chang. Mr. Chang was responsible for creating many iconic Star Trek hand props.

Mark Lenard plays the Romulan Commander, an apparent enemy of the Enterprise and its crew. However, later in his career, he played the famed role of Spock’s father, Sarek, and also played a Klingon in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), making him the first actor to portray the three major alien races (Vulcan, Romulan, Klingon) in the Star Trek franchise.

When Leonard Nimoy held out for a better contract after the first season, Mark Lenard and Lawrence Montaigne were the two leading candidates to replace him as Spock. Nimoy eventually got a raise from $1250 to $2500 per episode.

Two actors who played Romulans in this episode returned in later episodes as Vulcans: Mark Lenard, the Romulan Commander, played Spock’s father, Sarek, in Star Trek: Journey to Babel (1967) (and several return appearances) and Lawrence Montaigne, Decius, played Spock’s rival, Stonn, in Star Trek: Amok Time (1967).

Final TOS appearance (in airing order) of Yeoman Janice Rand, who will not appear again until Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).

Mark Lenard said, “The Romulan Commander was one of the best roles I ever had on TV”. Comparing the part with that of Sarek, Lenard elaborated, “In many ways, I did enjoy that role [Sarek], but I think the more demanding role and the better acting role was the Romulan Commander”.


The Enterprise answers a distress call from Federation Outpost #4, a monitoring station on the Federation side of the neutral zone with the Romulan Empire. The outposts were established over a century ago and no one has actually seen a Romulan. The Romulan vessel seems to have some type of high-energy explosive device as well as a cloaking device to make the ship invisible. When it appears that Romulans bear a strong resemblance to Vulcans, Kirk must deal with a rebellious crew member. He must also engage in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with a very intelligent Romulan commander.


William Shatner … Captain James Tiberius ‘Jim’ Kirk
Leonard Nimoy … Mister Spock
Mark Lenard … Romulan Commander
Paul Comi … Stiles
Lawrence Montaigne … Decius
DeForest Kelley … Doctor Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy
Grace Lee Whitney … Yeoman Janice Rand
George Takei … Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu
James Doohan … Lieutenant Commander Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott
Nichelle Nichols … Lieutenant Nyota Uhura
Stephen Mines … Tomlinson
Barbara Baldavin … Angela
Garry Walberg … Hansen
John Warburton … The Centurion
John Arndt … Ingenieur Fields (uncredited)
Bill Blackburn … Lieutenant Hadley (uncredited)
Robert Chadwick … Romulan Scanner Operator (uncredited)
Frank da Vinci … Crewman (uncredited)
Walt Davis … Romulan Crewman (uncredited)
Vince Deadrick Sr. … Romulan Crewman (uncredited)
Jeannie Malone … Yeoman (uncredited)
John Hugh McKnight … Crewman (uncredited)
Sean Morgan … Brenner (uncredited)
Eddie Paskey … Lieutenant Leslie (uncredited)
Anthony Larry Paul … Crewman (uncredited)
Ron Veto … Crewman (uncredited)


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

15 thoughts on “Star Trek – Balance Of Terror”

  1. Spock playing poker? lol….just when you think the chips are down… I’m enjoying these posts as I never really watched it when it was on TV but one of my friends did and was hardcore back in the day. It wasn’t until Trek hit the theatres and I would go and see the movies when they were coming out…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Isn’t it? If they only knew that over 50 years later people would be watching…they would have upped the budget….and made it a real 5 year mission…and not a 3

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder why they chose to have the Vulcans and the Romulans look so similar? It is kind of confusing for me, especially as I remember that guy as Spock’s dad. I really like this episode and love the strategy going on between the two commanders. I also like the clip you chose and the questions he raises about duty to war 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was a little fuzzy on this episode but do recall Mark Lenard doing a good job. I’ll watch more closely next time it comes around. Gene Roddenberry and Rod Serling were definitely ahead of their time. They were pioneers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes they were ahead of their time.
      When I saw Lenard I thought…why is Spock’s dad an enemy? Then I realized….different character.

      Liked by 1 person

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