Open main menu

"The Enterprise Incident" is the second episode of the third season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek. Written by D. C. Fontana and directed by John Meredyth Lucas, it was first broadcast September 27, 1968.

"The Enterprise Incident"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no.Season 3
Episode 2
Directed byJohn Meredyth Lucas
Written byD. C. Fontana
Featured musicAlexander Courage
Cinematography byGerald Finnerman
Production code059
Original air dateSeptember 27, 1968 (1968-09-27)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Spock's Brain"
Next →
"The Paradise Syndrome"
Star Trek: The Original Series (season 3)
List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

In the episode, the crew of the Enterprise are on a secret mission to steal a Romulan cloaking device. A sub-plot is a romance of sorts between Spock and a Romulan Commander.


Captain Kirk takes the Federation starship USS Enterprise, apparently without authorization, into Romulan space. Romulan vessels intercept the Enterprise and Kirk is given an order to surrender. Kirk, along with Vulcan First Officer Spock are then invited aboard the Romulan flagship.

Once aboard the Romulan ship, Kirk and Spock are taken before a female commander who demands an explanation for their intrusion into Romulan space. Kirk claims that instrument failure caused the ship to stray off course, but Spock divulges that the Captain ordered entry into Romulan space, and asserts that he is insane. Romulan guards lead Kirk to their brig.

Alone with Spock in her quarters, the commander questions Spock about his career. She argues that humans may have shown their disregard for his talents and capabilities by not giving him command of a ship, but the Romulans, if he were willing, would not make that mistake.

In the Romulan brig, Kirk injures himself by lunging against the force field door. Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy is summoned from the Enterprise to attend to him. The commander asks McCoy to confirm Spock's characterization of the Captain as mentally incompetent and McCoy does so, whereupon the commander calls on Spock to assume command of the Enterprise. Kirk, calling Spock a traitor, attacks him, and Spock defends himself using, what he calls, the "Vulcan death grip". Kirk slumps to the floor, and McCoy declares him dead.

Back on the Enterprise, Kirk awakens from the state of suspension brought on by the so-called death grip. His apparent insanity, the unauthorized venture into Romulan space, and Spock's betrayal have all been part of a secret Federation plan to steal the Romulan cloaking device. Kirk orders McCoy to perform plastic surgery to give him Romulan features and then transports back to the Romulan vessel disguised as one of their officers.

Meanwhile, Spock and the commander dine in her quarters, and their conversation grows intimate. When the commander goes to change her attire, Spock directs Kirk, via communicator, to where the cloaking device is located. His signal is discovered and tracked, and Spock surrenders himself to the Romulan officers, but they are too late to prevent Kirk from stealing the cloaking device and returning with it to the Enterprise.

Chief Engineer Scott attempts to adapt the Romulan cloaking device to the Enterprise while Ensign Chekov succeeds in distinguishing Spock's life signs from those of the Romulans. Both Spock and the Romulan commander are beamed to the Enterprise where Kirk gives the order to return to Federation space. The pursuing Romulans are ready to fire upon them as Scott successfully activates the cloak and the Enterprise vanishes before their eyes.



D. C. Fontana based this story very loosely upon the Pueblo incident, in which a United States Navy ship and its crew were captured and held on charges of espionage for almost one year after they allegedly strayed into North Korean waters.[1]

The first draft script had Spock "raining kisses on every square inch above the shoulder" of the Romulan Commander, but this was changed, at Leonard Nimoy's insistence, to the more demure finger caresses. Fontana has pointed out in recent years that the "raining kisses" scene was actually an embellishment by Gene Roddenberry—one of the few he applied to third season scripts—and that the original script submitted had only an embrace and kiss, with most of the passion being delivered by the Romulan commander.[2]

Originally, both Kirk and McCoy were disguised as Romulans and went aboard the Romulan ship to steal the cloaking device. This was dropped not only due to cost concerns, but after Robert H. Justman pointed out that having McCoy doing plastic surgery on his own ears would have stretched believability unless another actor was hired—costing more money—to perform the surgery on both Kirk and McCoy.


The miniature ship models for the Romulan warships are actually Klingon ships, used instead of the Romulan Bird-of-Prey model seen in the episode "Balance of Terror". Although in production order the model was first used (as a Klingon ship) in "Elaan of Troyius", in transmission order it is first seen in this episode. Spock says in the episode that "intelligence reports Romulans now using Klingon design."

Non-canon mediaEdit

  • The actual name of the Romulan commander, and her ultimate fate, are not known for certain. At least three different explanations are given in Trek novels—The Price of the Phoenix, My Enemy, My Ally and Vulcan's Heart (in the early days of Trek writing, many novels tended to contradict each other, and so the commander has had many different names and fates). The latest explanation is given in the novel Vulcan's Heart, by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz, in which her name is given as Liviana Charvanek. Apparently, some time after the events of this episode, Charvanek was returned to Romulus and resumed her military career.
  • D. C. Fontana co-wrote a sequel: Star Trek: Year Four—The Enterprise Experiment, a graphic novel published by IDW Publishing in 2008.
  • This episode is referenced in the video game Star Trek: Tactical Assault. During a Federation mission the player's ship is equipped with the Romulan cloaking device stolen by Kirk and ordered to launch a sneak attack on a Klingon starbase.
  • The Romulan commander and Subcommander Tal are central characters in the two-part series conclusion to Star Trek Continues. The part of the Romulan Commander was played by Amy Rydell, the daughter of Joanne Linville, who played the role in the original episode.


In 2014, Gizmodo ranked "The Enterprise Incident" as the 48th best episode of Star Trek, out of the over 700 ones made by that time (including the late spin-off series).[3]

In 2015, WhatCulture ranked this the 17th best episode of all time in the Star Trek science fiction universe.[4] They were particularly impressed by the "outstanding" acting performance by guest actress Joanne Linville as the Romulan Commander in this episode.[4]

In 2016, The Hollywood Reporter rated "The Enterprise Incident" the 33rd best television episode of all Star Trek franchise television prior to Star Trek: Discovery, including live-action and the animated series but not counting the movies.[5] They note that this episode as the favorite of the director of the 2016 film Star Trek:Beyond, Justin Lin.[5]

In 2016, Newsweek ranked "The Enterprise Incident" as one of the best episodes of the original series.[6] They note Spock's interaction with the Romulan commander, and the Federation's desire for a science fiction technology, Star Trek's "cloaking device".[7]

In 2017, Comic Book Resources ranked Spock and the Romulan Commander the 11th best romantic relationship of the Star Trek franchise up to that time.[8] In 2017, CBR ranked the Romulan Commander the 7th "fiercest" female character of the Star Trek universe.[9]


  1. ^ Sarantakes, Nicholas Evan: Cold War Pop Culture and the Image of U.S. Foreign Policy: The Perspective of the Original Star Trek Series, in: Journal of Cold War Studies, Volume 7, Number 4, Fall 2005, pp. 97-99 (74-103).
  2. ^ Dave Eversole. "'The Enterprise Incident' Report & Analysis". Archived from the original on February 17, 2012. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
  3. ^ Anders, Charlie Jane. "The Top 100 Star Trek Episodes Of All Time!". io9. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Fisher, Matthew (April 28, 2015). "30 Best Star Trek Episodes Of All Time". Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  5. ^ a b ""The Enterprise Incident" - 'Star Trek': 100 Greatest Episodes". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
  6. ^ EST, Newsweek Special Edition On 1/2/16 at 9:09 AM (January 2, 2016). "Newsweek's top 10 episodes from the original Star Trek series". Newsweek. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  7. ^ EST, Newsweek Special Edition On 1/2/16 at 9:09 AM (January 2, 2016). "Newsweek's top 10 episodes from the original Star Trek series". Newsweek. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  8. ^ "Space Ships: The 15 Best Cases Of Star Trek Shipping". CBR. February 17, 2017. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  9. ^ "Star Trek: The 15 Foxiest Females Of The Final Frontier". CBR. October 1, 2017. Retrieved July 12, 2019.

External linksEdit