Kirk officiates a wedding while Earth Outpost 4--one of several asteroid stations which monitor the neutral zone between Romulans and Federation--reports it is under attack. Enterprise goes to intercept but too late, they witness its destruction. They do pick up a visual on the culprit and who's aboard.Summary:
Analysis with spoilers:Romulans! Navigator, Mr. Stiles, who has had family die at their hands, clearly hates them. He speaks of potential spies and hints that Spock, a Vulcan cousin, could interpret the signals.
Strangely, the episode freezes on and extends certain moments as if to give them more import or suspense than they have. Such as the confirming visual of the outpost or Romulan ship.
Convening a ship officers' meeting, they decide on attacking Romulans with Mr. Stiles confirming his reason and his hatred.
They attack when Romulan ship heads towards comet tail where they would become visible, but Romulan captain realizes that and evades tail at the last minute. When Kirk figures out what Romulans faked them out, he fires blindly. They hit, so Romulans uncloak to fire. Enterprise enters emergency warp to escape. The Romulan fire pursues, only phasers would detonate, but they are unoperational. The fire power dissipates and hits Enterprise.
The Enterprise pursues again. The Romulans note. Romulans attempt to hide and eject debris as if their ship were destroyed, but there's not enough debris. Both ships go silent (cloaking affects both parties). Spock fixes equipment but accidentally tips the Enterprise's location but sending out signal. Spock has been doing things accidentally that may seem to confirm his possibility as a double agent.
Kirk uses this to wait for Romulans and fires. Romulans eject debris again but this time with a nuclear bomb. The bomb rocks Enterprise but not permanently, yet Kirk wants them to look like a sitting duck. The Romulan Captain's underling sees weakness and wants to attack. They are safely in the neutral zone. Their captain wants to go home but yields to underling's decision.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise is down to forward lasers, which Stiles takes over and rejects Spock's offer of "help." However, the phaser coolant leaks and knocks out the operators just as they are needed. Spock rushes back and fires the phasers in the nick of time, saving the day, the life of enemy and his reputation.
When Yeoman Rand reports that Kirk's superiors would support whatever decision he has to make, they are too late to have affected the outcome, positively or negatively. Kirk smiles ironically.
Marriage cannot continue as the bride lost her groom in the skirmish.
This could be commentary on the WWII practice of assuming all Asian-Americans were Japanese spies (internment camps) [Spock and Stiles] as well as the fear that the cold war could become a hot one as seemed perilously close to occurring with the Bay of Pigs.
- Kirk: "Why me? I look around that bridge and see the men waiting for me to make the next move, and Bones, what if I'm wrong?"
- Romulan Captain: "You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you 'friend.'
- Romulan Captain: "We are creatures of duty. I have lived my life by it. Just one more duty to perform."
- Equipment seems to fail right when it's needed.
- First encounter with Romulans.