The Corbomite Maneuver

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"The Corbomite Maneuver"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Grace Lee Whitney William Shatner Corbomite Manuever Star Trek 1966.jpg
Yeoman Rand and Captain Kirk
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 10
Directed by Joseph Sargent
Written by Jerry Sohl
Featured music Fred Steiner
Cinematography by Jerry Finnerman
Production code 003
Original air date November 10, 1966 (1966-11-10)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"The Corbomite Maneuver" is a first season episode of the American science fiction television series, Star Trek, first aired November 10, 1966, and repeated May 11, 1967. It is episode No. 10, production No. 3, the first regular episode of Star Trek produced after the two pilots, although it was aired later in the season.

Written by Jerry Sohl, directed by Joseph Sargent, and created and produced by Gene Roddenberry, the storyline describes how the USS Enterprise encounters a massive and powerful alien starship and its unusual pilot.

The episode features a young Clint Howard, brother of actor-turned-director Ron Howard, who plays the alien "child" at the end (with an overdubbed, ethereal voice provided by Walker Edmiston[1]). This was also the first episode filmed in which DeForest Kelley played Dr. Leonard McCoy, Nichelle Nichols played Lt. Uhura and Grace Lee Whitney played Yeoman Rand, although viewers 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 colored cube floating in space. First Officer Spock orders Helmsman Sulu to sound an alert. Chief Engineer Scott cannot explain how the cube works. A nervous and inexperienced Bailey advocates attacking it with phasers. Kirk instead orders the ship to back away from the object. The cube comes even closer and emits harmful radiation and Kirk reluctantly destroys it.

In Kirk's quarters, Yeoman Rand brings him an unappetizing salad per Dr. McCoy's medical orders as Kirk has gained weight. Sulu interrupts a series of attack drills and calls battle stations for real. Spock says that a much larger object is rapidly approaching.

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.

Spock gets a visual of Balok, a grotesque, blue-skinned humanoid with a frightening face. 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. Bailey succumbs to his fears, rants irrationally and Kirk orders him off the bridge.

In a side conversation, McCoy says he will formally report that Kirk promoted Bailey too quickly. Kirk angrily accuses him of bluffing and cuts him off.

Spock compares the situation to a game of chess: "In chess, when one player is outmatched, the game is over." He regrets having no logical answer. Kirk, inspired by his argument with McCoy, replies that the solution is not chess, but poker. He bluffs, telling 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. A calmer Bailey returns to the bridge and Kirk lets him return to his station. Balok requests details on the Corbomite device. Continuing the bluff, Kirk deliberately pauses and then refuses.

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. Aware that it could be a trap, Kirk denies Spock's request to accompany them. Scott warns them that the alien ship is cramped and beams them over. They soon discover that the "Balok" on their monitor was just a dummy. The real Balok, looking like a hyperintelligent human child, enthusiastically welcomes them aboard. He offers them his favorite 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. He had read the Enterprise computer records but felt they could have been a deception. He created his dummy alter-ego, knowing his true appearance would never frighten anyone.

Kirk and company finally relax. Balok runs the Fesarius entirely by himself and greatly misses company and conversation. He wants to learn more about humans and their culture, and Kirk volunteers Lt. Bailey to remain on Balok's ship as an emissary of the Federation. Bailey happily accepts the assignment and Balok gives them a tour of his ship.


The episode was the first episode of the regular series to be produced, after the two pilots, "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before", which had been made in 1964 and 1965. It was shot at a different stage, in Hollywood. Sets were transferred from Desilu's Culver City location, where later in the series a new engine room set would be constructed for a following episode ("The Enemy Within" production 005). Shooting started on May 24, 1966. The episode was held back until November due to the amount of special effects scenes that were not completed, becoming the 10th episode to be broadcast. NBC preferred planet-based stories which were ready to air before "The Corbomite Maneuver" because the miniature footage was not completed or ready when the series premiered.[2]


In 2009, Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode an 'A' rating, describing it as "TOS [The Original Series] at its best—gripping, well-paced, and thematically coherent," and noted the ending's note of optimism.[3]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Van Hise, James, "Walker Edmiston: A man of many voices talks about his off-and on-screen appearances." [sic], Starlog No. 58, May 1982, O'Quinn Studios, Inc., p.21.
  2. ^ Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman (1996). Inside Star Trek: The Real Story. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-00974-5. 
  3. ^ Handlen, Zack (February 13, 2009). "What Are Little Girls Made Of?"/"Miri". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 15, 2009. 
  4. ^ Stanglin, Doug (October 30, 2010). "Stewart and Colbert rally thousands to 'restore sanity'". USA Today. Retrieved October 30, 2010. 
  5. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (October 30, 2010). "Live Blog: At the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear". The New York Times. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 

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