5 Groovy Facts About BALANCE OF TERROR


Balance of Terror is widely considered one of the best episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS for short). The 14th episode of the series, Balance of Terror aired on December 15th, 1966, involving a game of cat-and-mouse between the USS Enterprise and a Romulan Bird of Prey. The episode was the first to feature a large scale battle between two Starships; all the preceding episodes involved face-to-face encounters with aliens, viruses, and not one, but two “Evil Captain Kirks” (a robot Kirk in What Are Little Girls Made Of? and a Kirk split into good and evil halves in The Enemy Within). This space battle defined the style of engagement between the Enterprise and enemy ships, influencing everything from the finale of Wrath of Khan to 2009’s Star Trek.

Balance of Terror is set to define the future of Star Trek on TV in 2017, so let’s take a look at 5 GROOVY facts from 1966!

A New Threatromulans-from-balance-of-terror-to-star-trek-2009The Romulans are a staple of the Star Trek universe, serving as the Federation’s most formidable and well-known alien race, behind only the infamous Klingons, in the 23rd Century. Balance of Terror is the 1st time the audience and the human race have ever seen a Romulan (though it may have been retconned since). During the Earth-Romulan War, a century before the events of TOS, there was no visual communication between the Federation and the Romulan Empire.

Today, even youngsters who have only seen the new films kick-started by J.J. Abrams can point out a Romulan. In 2009’s Star Trek, the Enterprise and her crew faced Nero (Eric Bana) and his crew, who both killed Kirk’s father and destroyed Spock’s home planet of Vulcan. Though their design has been updated many times since December 1966, Romulans remain a mainstay of the Star Trek universe.

Lend Me Your Ears!romulans-balanceofterrorRomulans and Vulcans share a common ancestry, so the make-up department used the same ear prosthetic to create Romulans that was applied to Leonard Nemoy to play Mr. Spock. Did you know that due to budget and time constraints, not all the actors playing Romulans were given the distinctive pointy ears? The less prominent Romulans were given helmets instead; re-purposed Roman Helmet props from the studio’s biblical movies on the 1950s. Who says you can’t just redress an old prop designed to look two centuries into one that is meant to be used 2,000 years in the future?

Good Romulans Make For Better Vulcansmark-lenard-as-romulan-and-vulcanEveryone knows actor Max Lenard went from playing the Romulan Commander in Balance of Terror to playing not just any Vulcan, but Spock’s own father Sarek in the episode Journey to Babel in 1967 (Everyone knows this)! Yet, Lenard was not the only actor from Balance of Terror to go from Romulan to Vulcan… Lawrence Montaigne also went on to play a Vulcan with a personal relation to Spock; his rival Stonn in 1967’s Amok Time. Fascinating. “Common Ancestry” indeed!

Max Lenard also had the chance to take it a step further, playing a Klingon Captain in 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture, making him the 1st actor to play all three of TOS‘s primary alien species. Vulcans and Klingons were not as fulfilling to Lenard, who said, “The Romulan Commander was one of the best roles I ever had on TV…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 Enemy Belowthe-enemy-below-1957-posterBalance of Terror is based on the plot of the 1957 film, The Enemy Below. Set during World War II, the film focuses on a  deadly game of “cat-and-mouse” (sound familiar?) between an American Destroyer and a German U-Boat. The Enterprise obviously played the role of the American Destroyer, with the U-Boat subbed out for the Romulan Bird of Prey; both enemy vessels able to avoid detection, whether it be submerging under the ocean having a cloaking device. As in The Enemy Below, both captains are evenly matched, with the hero having to overcome his opponent through his superior strategy.

A “Touchstone” for Star Trek: Discovery

the-uss-discovery-star-trek-discovery-2017
The USS Discovery from 2017’s STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

In 2017 a new series set a decade before TOS, Star Trek: Discovery (or STD… which is unfortunate), is set to air. We know little about the show besides the aforementioned time period, the fact it will be more serialized with a more connected season structure, will feature the USS Discovery, and be the 1st series told from the perspective of a female First Officer instead of the ship’s Captain.

Showrunner Bryan Fuller did Tweet this interesting piece of information back in September:

A FAVORITE TOS EPISODE “BALANCE OF TERROR” IS A TOUCHSTONE FOR THE STORY ARC

See? I told you Balance of Terror is a fan favorite!

What exactly Fuller is referring to remains a bit of a mystery. Some think this means the new show will feature the Earth-Romulan War, though this is unlikely as said conflict took place a century before the events of STD and TOS. Though Balance of Terror establishes that Romulans and Humans haven’t made contact in 100 years, my hope is the show explores events similar to the beloved episode, with the Romulans attacking Federation outposts surrounding Earth as a prelude to a planned Earth-Romulan War II that the crew of the Discovery must prevent. Just throw in some mumbo-jumbo about the Federation covering it up as to not cause panic. Retcon!romulans-star-trek-tos-balance-of-terrorOthers believe “Touchstone,” in this case, implies that Fuller and his team are simply shooting to replicate the quality of Balance of Terror. Or maybe they’ll just borrow the plot involving cat-and-mouse space warfare, this time drawn out over a season. Fuller has also said that the show will feature an event we’ve “heard referred to but have never seen.” Unless the time-period we’ve been given for STD is wrong, we won’t be seeing the Earth-Romulan War, but either way hopefully we get plenty of Romulans!

Such a strong alien opponent’s existence should not be limited to simply 1966’s Balance of Terror through 2009’s Star Trek. Romulans will hopefully be terrorizing us for decades to come!

More Reasons Why STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Is Either Gary Mitchell OR Something New (NOT KHAN!!!!!)


KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!… cannot be in STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS.

I already wrote one blog about why Benedict Cumberbatch is most likely playing Gary Mitchell. But that was before the “Announcement” teaser dropped, so now I have even more to go on.

First off, let’s dispel the rumor of a young Khan once and for all…

Khan is also Indian... Just sayin'...
Khan is also Indian… Just sayin’…

1) Khan has NO super powers. He is genetically superior to the average human, altered into a Napoleonic genius with a thirst for conquest, but he’s not psychic; he can’t cause mass destruction without a starship or army. The synopsis for INTO DARKNESS calls the villain a “one-man weapon of mass destruction.” That ain’t Khan. Some of the destruction Cumberbatch creates in the teaser is well outside the abilities of Khan.

2) Khan, at least in the original canon, was from 1999 (I believe), one of the genetic “super-humans” (again, in intellect and strength, NO actual superpowers) marooned in space after attempting to conquer Earth. That was long before Kirk or Starfleet’s time. And Cumberbatch’s character seems to want revenge against both.

THIS WOULD NOT HAVE CHANGED IN THIS NEW TIMELINE. After all, it happened long before Nero and Spock returned from the future, changing the fate of Kirk and his crew.

Looks to me to be misdirection... It's in the trailer, but why do the same scene from the first "Star Trek 2" aka "Wrath of Khan"
Looks to me to be misdirection… It’s in the trailer, but why do the same scene from the first “Star Trek 2” aka “Wrath of Khan?” That’s Spock on one side, but who says it is Kirk on the other?

3) J.J. and crew would be fools to touch Khan. It’s like redoing the Joker… but Abrams is NO Christopher Nolan. Just watch the steaming pile of SUPER 8.

Now, more reasons (in addition to the ones in my past blog), why it looks to be Mitchell…

The blond from the INTO DARKNESS trailer looks a lot like Dr. Elizabeth Dehner from "Where No Man Has Gone Before"
The blond from the INTO DARKNESS trailer looks a lot like Dr. Elizabeth Dehner from “Where No Man Has Gone Before”

1) The girl with the blond hair (Alice Eve). Look at her. Though so-far nameless, she looks an awful like Dr. Elizabeth Dehner, the only other Enterprise crew member to receive psychic powers with Mitchell during the magnetic storm encountered while trying to exit the galaxy in THE ORIGINAL SERIES (TOS) episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”

Now, Dr. Dehner was not in the IDW comic version of “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” which is officially canon with the new timeline, so she never received powers herself. But… she has a history with Mitchell… and Bones… regardless and is key to the original episode. The only reason she is not on the ship at the time of the accident in the comic is because Bones is already the Enterprise’s top physician, at the start of the comic, where in TOS she was his predecessor.

The comic also mentions the two have had a romantic past which is why she and Bones were not both assigned to the same starship.

dehnerSo what does Mitchell want with Dr. Dehner now (assuming it is Dehner)? She’s powerless. Does he love her? Do his powers allow him to somehow remember the other timeline where they were empowered together? Driving him to seek a way to transform her as well so they can be together? Or does he simply sense the minor TK (LOOPER speak for telekinesis) in her already. Either way, she’s totally in peril at some point… and is featured in the teaser more than many classic crew members.

In the uniform and THE chair!
In the uniform and THE chair!

2) Cumberbatch wears a Starfleet uniform and even is sitting in a Captain’s chair in parts of the trailer. Khan was never a part of, nor never wanted to be in Starfleet. Though he did steal the Enterprise and would destroy the rest the fleet with glee, I can’t see him dressing in uniform of his enemy. On the other hand, Mitchell is a former member of Starfleet and a personal rival of Kirk’s.

What glee it would bring Mitchell to prove he is the better Captain after all.

It's a little worrisome that Bones is only seen on the "red" planet in the teaser. After all, he's my favorite crew member...
It’s a little worrisome that Bones is only seen on the “red” planet in the teaser. After all, he’s my favorite crew member…

3) Bones said it. On a press junket for DREDD, Karl Urban aka STAR TREK’s Bones said Cumberbatch is “awesome, he’s a great addition, and I think his Gary Mitchell is going to be exemplary.”

Sure, this could be misdirection, but what are the odds he would plant it months ago only to have the trailer seemingly support his claim? That’s too intricate, even for an Abrams secret.

Loose lips sink starships, Bones McCoy!

4) Mitchell’s been in the IDW comic series that is canon. Khan has not (unless he is the focus of the new “Countdown To Darkness” mini-series, in which case my theories are fucked).

Sure, he dies, but he also has powers no one, not even Spock understands. It’s not outside STAR TREK logic to think Mitchell was already unkillable when Kirk thought he did the deed. In which case, how in the world will they defeat him this time?

Maybe it’s neither Mitchell nor Khan.

What if this is what Abrams wants? All this speculation between Khan and Mitchell when it is someone completely different?

After all, how does this quote from the Japanese teaser apply to Mitchell?

“Is there anything you would not do, for your family?”

The line could simply be Mitchell questioning Kirk’s allegiance to his “family” aka crew, though it almost sounds like an explanation for his own actions. Perhaps this character is not Mitchell and is seeking revenge for his own lost family (though that’s a lil’ similiar to Nero’s plight).

NeroI guess we’ll all know soon enough. There will be 9 minutes of INTO DARKNESS on THE HOBBIT Imax Friday, with a real trailer for the film following on the 17th.

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Synopsis Totally Confirms Villain. Why so curious?


I want to start by apologizing if this subject has already been written to death. I’m not all-too-present on the internet these days, but light research suggests very few similar articles/blogs have the same confidence and evidence that Gary Mitchell is the villain in STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS.

INTO DARKNESS Poster“When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis.

With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one-man weapon of mass destruction.

As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.”

STAR TREK ONGOING COMIC BOOK/THE ORIGINAL SERIES SPOILERS AHEAD!

People have suggested this synopsis confirms Gary Mitchell or Khan as the film’s villain, but I think the former is the only serious candidate.

GM as he appeared in TOS
GM as he appeared in TOS

Based on this synopsis, Benedict Cumberbatch (the actor playing the villain) has got to be Gary Mitchell! He’s from their own organization, the federation, and is a “one-man weapon of mass destruction” following his mutation at the edge of the galaxy. Khan matches neither characteristic (unless he is drastically changed… which is possible…).

Both possible villains do have a very personal score to settle.

In the comic series that  INTO DARKNESS writer/producer Orci is a consultant on (Orci promised the books would set up characters we would see in the film), Kirk did “kill” Gary Mitchell before he would become too powerful, as Spock feared. So what if Mitchell died in the comic? What if he was actually, already too powerful to kill?

Gary Mitchell as he appears in Orci's comic.
Gary Mitchell as he appears in Orci’s comic.

What if Mitchell returns to Earth, hailed as a first officer feared dead and given a promotion? Kirk, off “going where no man has ever gone before” can’t warn anyone as Mitchell is welcomed back, only to destroy the fleet with his even more evolved powers. The same powers Spock feared may manifest (like in TOS and the comic!).

As previously stated, Orci said the villain and other characters from the sequel would be introduced in the IDW ongoing STAR TREK comic. Gary Mitchell was the subject of issues #1 & #2, just as he was the center of the story in STAR TREK TOS’s second “1st” episode.

Nuff’ Said!

The only real doubt the synopsis suggests comes in its final line;

“…sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.”

I thought Kirk’s mother and (half?… step?) brother were still alive? She was simply “off planet” in the first film.

James T. Kirk and "brother."
James T. Kirk and “brother.”
James T. Kirks’ Pop (AND Thor!)

Will Kirk’s family play into the film, or am I simply reading into it too much?

After all, it could just be a sentimental reminder of the continuing “teamwork/family” theme of STAR TREK. And a reference to Kirk’s dad being dead in this timeline.

OR

Kirk’s family could fall victim first to Mitchell, leaving the Captain only the “real” friends of the Enterprise bridge crew (after all, “real” friends don’t kill other friend’s families and colleges, Gary!).

OR

This character could not be Gary Mitchell, and instead a different villain we’re all overlooking or have never heard of… perhaps a family member?

I suppose whatever is not revealed tomorrow in the trailer will be revealed in the STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS prelude comic from IDW.

"Star Trek Countdown to Darkness" Issue #1
“Star Trek Countdown to Darkness” Issue #1