Stardate 1709.1: Responding to distress calls from border outposts along the Neutral Zone between the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire, Kirk and the crew receive a final message from a Federation station reporting an attack from an invisible ship. Before the station is destroyed, it sends the Enterprise a brief view of the attacking vessel - a streamlined fighter which appears for a second when it fires. Hurrying to the scene, the Enterprise engages in battle with a Romulan Bird of Prey, armed with a cloaking device and commanded by a battle-scarred and tired commander whose crew is more eager to go into combat than he is. The Romulans, to the Enterprise crew's amazement, bear a stunning resemblance to Vulcans, which arouses suspicion in some, including Lt. Styles, whose father died in a battle with the Romulans years ago. But as long as the Romulan ship can remain invisible, the Enterprise is at a disadvantage.
The marriage of Angela Martine and Robert Tomlinson is interrupted when a Romulan warbird attacks and destroys Outpost 4, which guards the Neutral Zone between Federation and Romulan space. Kirk learns that the Romulan ship has also destroyed three other outposts and is now running at full speed towards home.
The U.S.S. Enterprise pursues the warbird, hampered by the fact that the Romulans have constructed an invisibility screen which shields them from view. While the screen protects the Romulans from detection visually, it also prevents them using their weapons or visual aids. The Romulan Commander, therefore, isn't sure whether his radar is detecting a Federation ship in pursuit or a harmless space echo.
The U.S.S. Enterprise is able to pick up a visual from the Romulan bridge, which shows the previously unseen Romulans to look very much like Vulcans. This sparks an old prejudice in Lieutenant Andrew Stiles, whose family fought in the Romulan wars. He is instantly suspicious of Spock, whose physical characteristics are remarkably similar to the Romulans they are chasing.
After every attempt to lose the U.S.S. Enterprise fails, the Romulan Commander is forced to turn and fight. Both ships are damaged; when the U.S.S. Enterprise's phaser banks are damaged, they emit a poisonous gas which disables Stiles and Tomlinson, who are manning the weapons. In a tense race against time, Spock manages to fire the only remaining phaser manually, disabling the Romulan ship. The Vulcan manages to save Stiles, but Tomlinson is killed. Stiles, realizing by Spock's actions that his bigotry was misplaced, admits that he was wrong.
The Romulan Commander contacts the U.S.S. Enterprise and, in a stirring moment, tells Kirk that under other circumstances, he suspects they might be friends. Rather than let himself and his ship be taken prisoner, the Romulan self-destructs the warbird.
By ronjohn on 20 Nov 2006 23:49:43 I'm glad that I'm not the only person who was reminded a WW2 submarine movie.
'The Star Trek episode "Balance of Terror" was based on "The Enemy Below".'
By MITDGreenb on 22 Jan 2006 04:09:16 A well written episode with real tension, actual characters (not red shirts) who die, and something more important to worry about than some dangerous, individual creature. This episode is based on an earlier submarine warfare movie and retains the beauty of two great captains doing whatever they can to win... and survive. In the end, they should have been friends.
By Dark Materia on 14 Dec 2002 19:50:10 The introduction of the Romulans. This is a definite classic. A long suspense filled tactical space battle between Captain Kirk and the Romulan Commander, played by the legendary Mark Lennard. Federation outposts are destroyed, Enterprise crew members die, a very serious story.