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Recap / Star Trek S3 E2 "The Enterprise Incident"

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Spock and the Romulan Commander, engaging in what's considered in their respective cultures to be "doin' the nasty."
It's another day on the Enterprise, and Kirk's acting like he had an extra helping of bitch flakes for breakfast. This becomes especially evident when he orders the ship to fly straight into Romulan space, a direct violation of the peace treaty. Of course, they soon find themselves surrounded by Romulan ships demanding their surrender. Kirk tries to B.S. the (female) Romulan commander by saying it was all a big mistake due to equipment failure. Spock rats him out, saying it was deliberate, resulting in Kirk doing a passable impression of Achmed the Dead Terrorist. Bones comes aboard just in time to see Kirk attempt to carry out his threat, only to be thwarted by the Vulcan Death Grip (tm). "You're dead, Jim!"

...Or is he?

This episode is notable for marking the on-air debut of the Klingon D-7 Battle Cruiser... being flown by the Romulans! In-story, this is briefly explained by Spock relaying a Starfleet Intelligence report that confirms that Romulans now have Klingon ships in their fleet. Although the ship was designed and used in "Elaan of Troyius", which was the second episode produced for the third season ("The Enterprise Incident" was the fourth), "Elaan" would be the thirteenth episode aired, after the D-7 appeared again in "Day of the Dove". The 2006 remastered series would retroactively add D-7s to earlier episodes such as "Errand of Mercy" and "The Trouble with Tribbles".

Tropes for this episode include:

  • 2-D Space: The Enterprise is surrounded by three ships, which should still leave them free to go up or down. This is given a Lampshade Hanging (possibly unintentional?) in the remastered episode, when the Enterprise does exactly that.
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  • Blatant Lies: Kirk tells the Romulan commander that the Enterprise crossed the Neutral Zone because of a navigational error. She immediately calls bullshit.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Discussed. The Romulan Commander asks Spock if it's true that Vulcans are incapable of lying, and he replies that they are incapable of making statements that they know to be untrue, but are capable of selectively withholding the truth. He then proceeds to lie like a rug for the rest of the scene.
  • Captain's Log: The opening narration is a medical log read by Dr. McCoy, deviating from the norm.
  • Chair Reveal: My God, the Romulan warbird is piloted by...a beautiful woman!
  • Corpsing: Kirk breathes awful deeply for a dead man. Then again, he's not yet dead....
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    "Execution of state criminals is both painful...and unpleasant."
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  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Despite his talents, Spock is subject to his own glass ceiling in Starfleet.
  • Duel of Seduction: Oddly, it's not Kirk trying to seduce the Girl of the Week this time. It's Spock!
  • Eye Awaken: Nurse Chapel is shocked when the supposedly dead Kirk suddenly opens his eyes.
  • Face Death with Dignity: After announcing what he's really been up to, Spock calmly asks the Romulans what their preferred method of execution is.
  • Faking the Dead: Kirk. Even his own crew isn't in on it. Dr. McCoy lampshades a real danger with this kind of trick that most people don't think of, "You're lucky they didn't do an autopsy on you."
  • Fate Worse than Death: The Romulan commander hints that their interrogation methods would leave Kirk either dead or worse.
  • First-Name Basis: The Romulan commander whispers her first name to Spock. He comments on the name's beauty, but it is never revealed.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Romulan!Kirk gets past three of them. Granted, each one is more competent than the last, but still...
  • Holding the Floor: Spock stalls for time by invoking the Romulan tradition of "Right of Statement", i.e., the last words of a condemned man.
  • If I Do Not Return: Kirk leaves Scotty with orders saying that if he and Spock don't return from the Romulan flagship, the Enterprise must not be captured, even if it means self-destructing.
  • I'll Kill You!:
    Kirk (to Spock): I'll KILL YOU! KILL YOU!
  • Intertwined Fingers: For Vulcans, this is practically passionate kissing. Romulans get off on it too. Spock's parents do a more reserved variation of it in Journey to Babel.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: The Romulan Commander threatens Kirk with this, after admitting that a Vulcan like Spock would No-Sell it.
  • Jerkass: Kirk acts like one as per his Sealed Orders.
  • Just Following Orders: The Romulan commander uses this as justification to not hold the Enterprise crew responsible for Kirk's transgression.
  • Leave No Survivors: The Romulan Commander demands that everyone on the Enterprise be destroyed, including herself.
  • Lensman Arms Race: Starfleet has to steal the cloaking device to keep the Balance of Power with the Romulans. Ironically it's revealed in TNG that Starfleet gave up their right to use cloaking devices as part of a peace treaty with the Romulans - possibly because of their cloak being stolen Romulan tech, although it's never directly stated.
  • Look Behind You: Kirk pulls this on a Romulan trying to stop him from taking the cloaking device.
  • Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: McCoy calls Scotty, who's in acting command of the Enterprise, to sickbay, and refuses to explain in advance why. Justified in this case because he's being called down so he can be let into the conspiracy surrounding Kirk's fake death, which McCoy can hardly tell him over the intercom.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: The Romulan commander invites Spock to dinner in her personal quarters. She tries to get to him Through His Stomach by offering him traditional Vulcan fare.
  • No Name Given: The Romulan Commander. Not even in the script is her name revealed.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Kirk pretends to go off the deep end to explain why he ordered the ship into Romulan space. Spock gets the assist on that, as he tells the Romulan commander that Kirk has gone bonkers. McCoy verifies that as well.
  • Plug And Play Technology: The Romulan cloaking device is compatible with a Federation ship? Maybe Scotty has an adapter in his bag of tricks.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: D.C. Fontana's initial inspiration for this story and its title was the Pueblo incident which involved the capture of an American patrol boat, the USS Pueblo (AGER-2), by North Korean forces during The Vietnam War. The incident occurred on January 23, 1968, just two months before Fontana completed her first draft story outline.
    It was really based on the Pueblo Incident, in the sense that here's this ship caught spying and they have to find a justification for their being there. Kirk's sanity is put on the line in terms of why they're there. Then, of course, they have to get out safely, preferably with the information they came for. Now that's not what happened with the Pueblo, but the Pueblo Incident kicked off this line of thinking in my mind.
  • Sealed Orders: Kirk receives them from Starfleet, explaining his erratic behavior.
  • Some Kind of Force Field: The doorway of the brig on the Romulan ship is covered by a forcefield that's invisible except when Kirk tries to get through it.
  • Staged Shooting: There's no such thing as a Vulcan Death Grip! They can stun the neural system to simulate death, however.
  • Take Our Word for It: Spock's reaction to the Romulan Commander's name.
  • Taking You with Me: Scotty threatens this if the Romulans try to capture the Enterprise.
  • That's an Order!: The Romulan commander orders her Number Two to destroy the Enterprise, even though she's currently aboard.
  • Through His Stomach: The Romulan commander uses her people's cuisine as further incentive for Spock to defect.
  • Two of Your Earth Minutes: The Romulans initially give the Enterprise "one of your hours" to surrender.
  • Unfinished, Untested, Used Anyway: Scotty hooking up the cloaking device. It doesn't work immediately, but he still makes it happen.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: It helps that until halfway through the episode, there's no indication that there's a plan going on.
  • We Will Not Use Stage Make-Up in the Future: Starting a tradition that will be followed in the next generation, Kirk has himself surgically altered to look like a Romulan and ends the episode by going to have his ears bobbed.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The two Romulan guards that were beamed over in exchange for Kirk and Spock are presumably still in the brig at the end of the episode (one in his skivvies, since Kirk needed to borrow his uniform to sneak around on the Romulan ship).
  • Worthy Opponent: The Romulan Commander. She also views Kirk this way.
  • You're Insane!: The Romulan Commander says "You must be mad!" to Spock after he betrays her. He denies it.

Example of: