Star Trek (1966): S01E10 – The Corbomite Maneuver


“The Corbomite Maneuver” is the tenth episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series, Star Trek.

In the episode, the Enterprise encounters a massive and powerful alien starship and its unusual commander.

The episode features a young Clint Howard, brother of actor-turned-director Ron Howard, who plays the alien at the end (with an overdubbed, ethereal voice provided by Walker Edmiston).

This was the first regular episode produced after the two pilots and the first episode filmed in which DeForest Kelley played Dr. Leonard McCoy, Nichelle Nichols played Lt. Uhura and Grace Lee Whitney played Yeoman Rand (Because they were not aired in production order audiences saw them for the first time in “The Man Trap“).


On stardate 1512.2, the Federation starship USS Enterprise, commanded by Captain James T. Kirk, finishes a third day of star mapping when novice navigator Lt. Dave Bailey (Anthony Call) spots a large spinning multi-coloured cube floating in space. First Officer Spock orders Helmsman Sulu to sound an alert. Chief Engineer Scott cannot explain how the cube works. Bailey advocates attacking it with phasers. Kirk instead orders the ship to back away from the object. The cube comes even closer, emitting harmful radiation, and Kirk reluctantly destroys it.

As Kirk is having lunch in his quarters, Spock announces that a much larger object has been detected. A gigantic glowing sphere quickly approaches the Enterprise, filling the bridge viewscreen even at low magnification. Commander Balok identifies his ship as the Fesarius, the flagship of the “First Federation”, explaining that the destroyed cube was a border marker. Balok ignores Kirk’s greetings and announces that he will destroy the Enterprise for trespassing into First Federation territory and destroying the marker buoy. He gives the crew only ten minutes to pray to their deities. Spock obtains a visual of Balok, a grotesque, blue-skinned humanoid with a frightening face. Bailey succumbs to hysteria, and Kirk orders him off the bridge.

Asked for his opinion, Spock compares the situation to a game of chess: “When one player is outmatched, the game is over.” Kirk, inspired by an argument with McCoy, replies that the answer is not chess, but poker. He then tells Balok that the Enterprise contains “corbomite”, a protective substance that automatically destroys any attacker. Balok apparently falls for the ruse and does not destroy the ship. Instead, a small tug ship detaches from the Fesarius and tows the Enterprise deep into First Federation space where Balok states he will intern the crew and destroy the Enterprise. Kirk orders the Enterprise to gradually resist the tug ship’s tractor beam. Just as its engines are about to explode from overload, the Enterprise breaks free. This apparently disables the alien vessel, which is unable to call for help from its mother ship.

Rather than flee, Kirk, McCoy, and Bailey form a boarding party to render assistance. Scott warns them that the alien ship is cramped and beams them over. They soon discover that the “Balok” on their monitor was a dummy. The real Balok, looking like a hyper-intelligent human child, enthusiastically welcomes them aboard. He offers them his favourite drink, “tranya”, to toast their meeting; they all drink to their new friendship.

Balok explains that he was merely testing the Enterprise and its crew to discover their true intentions. As Kirk and company begin to relax, Balok expresses a desire to learn more about humans and their culture, and Kirk suggests Lt. Bailey volunteer to remain on Balok’s ship as an emissary of the Federation. Bailey happily accepts, and Balok gives them a tour of his ship.

Star Trek TV Series

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Star Trek TV Series, Films, and Documentaries

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Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Joseph Sargent.
  • Production: Desilu Productions (1966-1967) and Paramount Television (1968-1969).
  • Distributor(s): Paramount Pictures (1966-2006), CBS Paramount Television (2006-2007), and CBS Television Distribution (2007-Present).
  • Original Network: NBC.
  • Release Date: 10 November 1966.
  • Running Time: 50 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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