is mapping uncharted space while the captain gets his quarterly physical. Spock picks up an unidentified object approaching the ship at warp speed and orders the ship to red alert. McCoy notices the red alert signal but doesn’t mention it to Kirk until he completes the physical. Captain Kirk is not amused and checks in, and Spock informs him the object is a spinning cube-shaped object.
Kirk gets to the bridge but they have no further info on the object and can’t even determine how it functions. The new navigator, Lt. Bailey, suggests they blast it but Kirk isn’t impressed. They have a briefing and Spock concludes the object is a buoy warning them off. Determined not to let the situation hang, Kirk orders them to go around, although he has to override Bailey again. They try to navigate around the buoy but it pursues and starts emitting lethal levels of radiation. They’re forced to destroy it and Kirk determines they should continue on their way.
While they head through space, McCoy warns Kirk that he’s seeing a bit of himself in Bailey and putting too much pressure on the young navigator. They then get a report that a new object, many times larger, is heading for them. It turns out to be a spaceship at least a mile in diameter, and grabs the Enterprise
in a tractor beam. The new ship’s captain contacts them and identifies himself as Balok, commanding the Fesarius
on behalf of the First Federation. He declares them barbarians for having destroyed the buoy and tells them they have 10 minutes to prepare for complete annihilation. When they try to launch a recorder beacon, Balok destroys that. Spock manages to intercept a visual signal of Balok, revealing him as a hideously grotesque alien.
With time running out, Bailey panics and starts snapping at the other crew. Kirk relieves him of duties and tries to get through to Balok again, but no luck. McCoy advises the captain he plans to file an official report that Kirk pushed Bailey too hard and Kirk snaps at him, accusing him of bluffing. The captain then apologizes but then comes up with an idea: he contacts Balok and bluffs, informing him they have a substance and a device called “corbomite” that will destroy any attacking ship. As they wait, Bailey returns to the bridge and asks for permission to see the situation through. The time reaches zero… and nothing happens. After a few tense minutes, a smaller pilot vessel emerges from the Fesarius
and Balok informs them he will escort their ship to a nearby planet for interment using a tractor beam.
The mother ship leaves and Balok takes the Enterprise
under tow. Kirk has them engage the warp engines and engage in a series of shearing maneuvers to snap the beam. They succeed, damaging their ship and badly injuring the pilot vessel. Balok tries to put out a distress signal but doesn’t have enough strength to reach the mother ship. Kirk decides to take over a rescue party of himself, McCoy, and Bailey.
They arrive in the cramped quarters of the pilot vessel and find Balok… an inanimate dummy. The real Balok reveals himself as a small childlike figure who cheerily invites them to join him in a toast. They accept and Balok explains that he had to test them and couldn’t trust their computer records. The diminutive captain notes that he pilots the entire ship by himself and could use company, and Kirk suggests an eager Bailey for the position, noting he’ll get a better crewman. Balok agrees, noting that they are a lot alike and begins to give them a tour of his ship. Share this article with your friends