Trektember 2016 – #08: Balance of Terror

Star Trek celebrated its fiftieth anniversary this month (yesterday, in fact). So, here on Redeeming Culture, we’re going to release a short review of every episode of Season One, one episode per day, all month long; for each episode, we’re writing a 3-sentence recap, a 3-word review, and (as much as we can) answering the questions “What fears or hopes are conquered or realized?” and “How does this point to Jesus or to the way God made us?”

For more about Trektember, read our preview post.  Please note that there are minor plot spoilers for this episode below.

Today’s episode is number 8: Balance of Terror.

Three-sentence Recap

A mysterious vessel has violated the Romulan Neutral Zone, and is destroying Earth outposts one by one.  Seeking to prevent another war with the Romulans, Kirk searches frantically for the invisible vessel.  He chases his nemesis all around space, fighting racism on his own bridge as he seeks to destroy the aggressors and maintain peace with the Romulan Star Empire.

Three-word Review

Suspenseful. World-building. Defining.

Big Sci-Fi Concepts

  • The idea of an alien empire is fleshed-out in this episode, giving Star Trek its first real recurring villain in the Romulan Star Empire.
  • We begin to see the silhouette of a great, galaxy-spanning society with many races and interactions, not just the various encampments of humans across the stars.

Fears Conquered/Hopes Realized

  • More a product of its time than any before, this episode is a dramatization of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union (though eventually the Klingons would assume the role of the Soviet threat in Star Trek).  And while the fear of impending war and the terror of an unimaginably strong adversary hiding in the distance – or even among us in plain sight – was made to address the Cold War, its characters can find new avatars in the terrorists and aggressive nations of 2016, as well.

What does this episode tell us about God or about man?

There’s an invisible power that threatens to destroy us all if we don’t get ’em first.  There’s a dark, dangerous, relentless, untoucahble villain who wants to see us dead.  But when we give in and think that the threat is another person, that villain’s cloak has successfully concealed him from us.

The Bible is clear that our fight is not “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 ESV)  Our true enemy would love for us to focus on other humans, and ignore him.  And Satan’s weapon is truly terrible; he seeks to destroy us from the inside by stirring up the evil in our hearts and turning us against one another in our sin.

We have only one recourse; for in this scenario, we are not the Enterprise.  We are the outposts that are being targeted by the villain, and our only hope is for Another to come and save us, to swoop in and destroy our villain once and for all.

• • •

Thank you for reading Redeeming Culture! Come back tomorrow for more Trektember as we look at the ninth episode of Star Trek: “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”.

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