Stardate 1512.2. The USS Enterprise encounters a mysterious cube-like space probe. After the cube acts in an aggressive manner, Captain Kirk is forced to order the destruction of the object. Almost instantaneously, a spaceship appears and the crew of the Enterprise is dragged into a batter of wits with the seemingly hostile spacecraft.
Reaction & Thoughts:
“There’s no such thing as the unknown, only things temporarily hidden…”
Tightly filmed in a couple of locations and effectively paced, The Corbomite Maneuver is packed with genuinely tense moments. The episode’s ingenious simplicity still impresses me after so many years and repeated viewings.
Commonly known as episode #10, The Corbomite Maneuver is in fact the first official episode of the series and as such you sense that creator Gene Roddenberry was trying hard to establish the TV show’s main themes and characters. For example, Captain Kirk talks endlessly about the mission of the Enterprise, and characters’ reactions to difficult situations reveal things about their personalities.
Finely directed by Joseph Sargent (original The Taking of Pelham One Two Three), The Corbomite Maneuver recalls old-fashioned submarine movies, which often deal with the cat & mouse game between adversarial ships. I have to admit that I have a thing for war movies that revolve around submarines, so if you are a fan of films like The Enemy Below and The Hunt for Red October, you’ll enjoy the episode.
Roddenberry always tried to downplay the military aspects of the show, but it is something almost impossible to ignore. The Corbomite Maneuver is a war story in every possible way. The episode’s handling of both the stress of battle and the unpredictability of war is noteworthy. A subplot about a young helmsman cracking under pressure brings a sense of credibility to the episode.
Furthermore, the economical and highly suspenseful The Corbomite Maneuver ends on a clever note — the unexpected twist at the end is quite brilliant and very satisfying. The ending perfectly encapsulates one of the TV show’s recurring themes: preference of intellectual curiosity over fear of the unknown. Kirk and his crew demonstrate that it’s hard but not impossible to avoid succumbing to our worst instincts.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
I’m not a fan of J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek movies. Yes, these films are well-crafted and entertaining. However, I always get the feeling that Abrams has never seen an episode of the Original series. He should sit down and watch The Corbomite Maneuver: the episode best represents what the series is all about. Color, 50 minutes, Not Rated.
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