This is one of the best episodes of Star Trek. It is also important to the Star Trek universe as it is the introduction of the Romulans to the series.
The great strength of this episode is that the Romulans are complex. It would have been very easy to have had than as simple villains. That is not what we get though. The Romulan commander does not want a war but he is a man of duty and will fulfil his mission because of that.
We see the Commander and Kirk’s respect for each other. The Commander telling Kirk that under different circumstances they could have been friends is wonderful and very powerful.
Naturally this episode is an allegory for a battle between a submarine and a surface ship. This works well with one exception. I refer to the silent scene. Yes there is a scene where both crews are working quietly so as to not be heard – in space?
I don’t really mind this as it is a small part of the episode. It is also possible that the sensors could detect vibrations – that’s all I’ve got.
Bigotry is an important part of the episode. When Spock reveals that the Romulans look like Vulcans Stiles is immediately suspicious.
Given that Star Trek tends to say that humans are above such concepts it is an interesting addition. I did start to write a longwinded passage on this – but lets keep things simple. Bigotry is bad. Maybe not that simple. I don’t think that overcoming negative emotions is that simple.
In DS9 Captain Sisko (as a Commander) says that it is easy to be a saint in paradise. This line pretty much sums up DS9 but it is important for this episode too. Sometimes we don’t experience the dark side of our nature until we are tested.
Stiles is admonished by Kirk, and rightfully so, and told to remember that the war is over. A very important lesson. Without learning that a new war can start taking revenge on the grandchildren for what their grandparents did.
It is rather silly that the Romulan war was fought without visual communication. However it is necessary to the plot. Given the secretive nature of the Romulans it does fit it just seems unlikely. That however is coming from a 21st century perspective.
The interactions between the Romulan officers and crew is well done. The Centurion and the Commander talk about other campaigns they have fought together. I find myself wondering who they were fighting. It is never said and I doubt that it was ever worked out. My guess is the Breen. Although they weren’t invented till TNG.
The neutral zone doesn’t make a lot of sense. In fact boarders in three dimensions are problematic at best. Again for the same of the story, any story, things have to slide.
The episode ends poignant. There will be no new war but the Enterprise lost a member of the crew. Unlike other episode the death of this redshirt (he wears gold so I am being figurative) matters.
Over all this is a fantastic episode. It deals with its heavy themes well and we are left with a classic episode.
I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.