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"The Enterprise Incident" is a third season episode of the American science fiction television series, Star Trek, first broadcast September 27, 1968, and repeated December 27, 1968. It is episode #57, production #59, written by D. C. Fontana and directed by John Meredyth Lucas.

"The Enterprise Incident"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 2
Directed by John Meredyth Lucas
Written by D. C. Fontana
Featured music Alexander Courage
Cinematography by Gerald Finnerman
Production code 059
Original air date September 27, 1968 (1968-09-27)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"The Paradise Syndrome"
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.



On stardate 5027.3, Captain James T. Kirk takes the Federation starship USS Enterprise, without apparent authorization, into the Neutral Zone between Federation and Romulan space. Three Romulan vessels decloak and intercept the ship, and Kirk is given an order to surrender. Kirk responds by threatening to destroy the Enterprise if the Romulans attempt a boarding. He is then invited, along with Vulcan First Officer Spock aboard the Romulan flagship. Kirk accepts on condition that the Romulans simultaneously transport two of their officers over as an exchange.

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, claiming it to be an initiative born of insanity. The Romulan guards lead a furious Kirk, now charged with espionage and railing against the treachery of his First Officer, to the brig. The Romulan Commander orders Chief Engineer Scott to follow the Romulans back to their base but the combative Scott refuses.

In the Romulan brig, Kirk injures himself by lunging against the force field enclosing the cell door. Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy is summoned from the Enterprise to attend to him. With Spock in tow, the Romulan commander asks McCoy to confirm Spock's characterization of the Captain as being mentally incompetent and McCoy does so. Upon hearing the Doctor's corroboration, the Romulan Commander orders Spock to assume command of the Enterprise. Kirk, calling Spock a filthy traitor, lunges toward him. Spock instinctively defends himself by using the "Vulcan death grip" on Kirk, who slumps to the floor. McCoy declares him dead.

Alone with Spock in her quarters, the Romulan Commander continues her attempt to persuade him to her people's cause. She argues that humans show their prejudicial disregard of Vulcan talents and capabilities in failing to have placed him in command of a Starfleet ship but, should he switch allegiances, he will learn to enjoy the spiritual society of Romulans as her consort.

Back on the Enterprise, Kirk returns to life, emerging from a state of suspended animation brought on by Spock's "death grip." Kirk's insanity, the unauthorized venture into Romulan space, and Spock's betrayal have all been a ruse as part of a secret Federation plan to acquire the Romulan cloaking device. Kirk orders McCoy to perform the plastic surgery necessary to give him Romulan features. With his features altered, Kirk borrows the uniform of one of the Romulan hostages and has Scotty transport him back to the Romulan vessel.

While the Romulan Commander is changing into more comfortable attire, Spock directs Kirk, via communicator, to the section of the Romulan ship where the cloaking device is located. From the bridge, Romulan Subcommander Tal discovers and tracks the signal, then informs the Romulan Commander of the alien transmission. Spock presents himself to the Romulan officers and affirms Tal's report, but also that they are too late – Kirk has removed the cloaking device and returned with it to the Enterprise.

Spock takes advantage of the traditional Romulan right of making a statement before his conviction and execution to stall for time, as well as admit Kirk's and his guilt of espionage. Simultaneously, Kirk re-assumes command of the Enterprise as Scotty attempts to adapt the Romulan cloaking device technology to the Enterprise deflectors. Ensign Chekov tries to distinguish between Vulcan and Romulan life signatures so that Spock can be transported back to the Enterprise. He eventually acquires a fix on Spock and beams him back to the Enterprise. As Spock dematerializes, the Romulan Commander rushes to embrace him and she is beamed over with him. They materialize and are brought to the bridge of the Enterprise where Kirk gives the order to return to Federation space. The pursuing Romulans are ready to fire upon them as Scotty, after some technical difficulty with installation of the Romulan device, successfully activates the cloak and the Enterprise vanishes before their eyes.

Kirk orders the ship to the nearest starbase and invites the Romulan commander to accept Mr. Spock as her escort to her new quarters. Alone with Spock in the turbolift, the Romulan acknowledges defeat and expresses her disappointment at Spock's betrayal. Spock avers that, although his loyalty is to the Federation, she underestimates herself considerably if she believes he was not tempted. She also chides Spock that any advantage the Federation gains from studying the captured cloaking device will only be temporary, as the Romulans will just build a more advanced one. Spock agrees that military secrets are perhaps the briefest of all.

Later on the bridge, Spock overhears McCoy teasingly ask the Captain whether he wishes to return to sickbay for surgery, or whether he wishes to look like his First Officer for the rest of his life. Spock urges the Captain to go, since Romulan (and by implication, Vulcan) features on humans appear distasteful to him.



  • 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.[2] 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 a bit unless another actor was hired—costing more money—to perform the surgery on both Kirk and McCoy.[citation needed]


The D7 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. It was stated in the first draft of the script that the Romulans and Klingons had an exchange of technology, where Romulans received four Klingon heavy D7 battlecruisers and the Klingons were given Romulan cloaking technology.

There have been two different explanations over the years for this apparent exchange of technology. According to one account, the show's production staff had just finished new Klingon ship models and wanted to show off Matt Jeffries' work and help boost sales on the about-to-be released model kit from AMT. Another report - one considered most likely by Trek historians and somewhat confirmed by model master and sculptor Wah Chang in a 1982 National Public Radio interview - was that the original Bird-of-Prey model was destroyed after its initial use in "Balance of Terror". According to Wah in the interview, there were some issues over payment for the model - which he had designed and built - following a complaint by one of the special effects unions over Wah's non-membership. Desilu and the Star Trek production staff used his talents anyway, claiming that the props he made were already made and "bought off the shelf". However, the local guild had evidence that Wah had built the Bird-of-Prey model specifically for the show, and after some negotiation agreed to drop the grievance if Wah received no payment for the model. Desilu capitulated, and returned the model to Wah. In a fit of anger, Wah took the model into his back yard, and proceeded to bash it to bits with a sledge hammer.[citation needed]


  • 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.


  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. ^ a b Dave Eversole. ""The Enterprise Incident" Report & Analysis". Retrieved March 26, 2012. 

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