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Star Trek: Asterisk "The Corbomite Maneuver"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S01E10
Air Date: November 10, 1966
Written by: Jerry Sohl
Directed by: Joseph Sargent

Premise
The Enterprise goes where no human has gone before and finds herself tested by the First Federation in a game of poker.

Review
While Spock is in command on the bridge, Kirk is in sickbay getting a physical done. As they have literally gone beyond the point that anyone in the Federation has reached before, Spock starts to make some star charts. Suddenly, Sulu announces that they have made contact with an object traveling toward them at light speed. Clearly in danger of crashing, they try evasive maneuvers and deflectors, but nothing works. The object slows down... and then comes into view. It's a Giant Rubik's Cube of Doom.


Spock goes to red alert. And that's about the time when you would expect Kirk to report to the bridge, right? Except that Bones carefully hides the fact that they're at red alert because Kirk has been due for a physical for the past few months and it's about time he gets to finish one. Back on the bridge, some wannabe redshirt reacts emotionally to the Rubik's Cube of Doom and Spock berates him. Kirk finally makes it to the bridge and when no one can figure out what the heck the object is, Bailey says "I vote we blast it!" And who could blame him? I mean, look how menacing this thing is.
It's like a little glowing fruit snack... OF DOOM.
It takes about eighteen hours of study before the heads of departments assemble in the briefing room and decide that they still have no idea what the cube is. Spock suggests that it's either some kind of buoy or a "flypaper" meant to keep them there to die. So while Kirk prepares a strategy to navigate away from it, Bailey prepares the phasers and gets ready to fire. Then Kirk verbally smacks him upside the head and says "No! Move around it, you idiot!" (I wish.)

Well, that doesn't work. No mater where the Enterprise goes, the cube follows. And when it starts to emit radiation, Kirk orders phasers fired at it, but this time Bailey is too stricken by the object and stares at it like a little kid staring at TV screen. So Sulu steps in and saves the day. The cube is destroyed, the ship is rocked by the explosion and all because Sulu reached over another man's crotch.

Now that they're relatively safe, Spock suggests that if they head toward the object's origin, they might meet the fine folks that sent it on its way. So Kirk orders them ahead into unexplored space while he orders Bailey to supervise weapons drills. After a lengthy conversation with Bones about how crappy an officer Bailey is, Kirk decides he's being tortured by whoever assigned him an attractive female yeoman and then Sulu announces over the intercom that a ship is approaching.
Balls.
This new ship's captain introduces himself as Balok, captain of the First Federation ship, Fesarius. For the crime of blowing up his warning beacon, Balok warns that they have "TEN OF YOUR EARTH TIME PERIODS KNOWN AS MINUTES" before he destroys them. I mean, at least the guy has the common courtesy to let them pray before they die.

Calmly, Kirk tries to reason with Balok and, once that doesn't work, goes through a variety of other plans. This gets Bailey all riled up. He's not gonna go down like this! He stands up at his station and basically goes all kinds of crazy, which leads Kirk to relieve him and have Bones take him to his quarters. At around this time, Spock activates a visual from Balok's ship and finds him to be a scary kind of figure. Ya know, the same one you see at the end of the credits all the time.

Finally inspired by poker, Kirk decides to bluff Balok. He says that they have a secret weapon that no one knows about but senior personnel: a corbomite device that will take whatever weapon fired at them and fire it straight back. Balok seems to believe the captain as, when the time comes, he fails to fire on the Enterprise. Instead, he in forms them that he's about to take them to the nearest planet with a tractor beam. That's when the huge space-ball flies away and leaves in its place a tiny little tugboat.
THERE ARE FOUR BALLS!
When the tiny tugboat pulls the Enterprise away with a tractor beam, Kirk figures out a way to break free from it and drain the tugboat's power. After successfully accomplishing that, he beams over with McCoy and Bailey. Because Bailey needed to see the face of the unknown, apparently. And what was known (so they thought) was the face of Balok. But when they find that face, they find it to be a puppet. The real Balok is behind a curtain. And he's a quite cheery childlike guy. He offers the trio some tranya and reveals that this entire ordeal has really just been a test to see if the United Federation of Planets is worthy to be in contact with the First Federation. He says he's grown lonely out in space all alone and would like an ambassador from the UFP to stay with him and keep him company. So who do they choose to represent Earth? Why, the finest officer in the galaxy! The one who shrugged off fear at every chance! ...Oh, wait, no, Bailey.

Overall Thoughts
I absolutely love the character work in this episode! Really, the best thing about it had nothing to do with the plot. The little character moments, the clever quips and insights into back-stories are what really make this episode. This is an essential episode to watch. And now, I leave you with the return of possibly The Original Series' most obnoxious villain: