• Hi Guest!

    The costs of running this forum are covered by Sea Lion Press. If you'd like to help support the company and the forum, visit patreon.com/sealionpress

Prequel Problems 3: The Romulan Straitjacket

M_Kresal

I am nerd, hear me bore.
Published by SLP
Location
North Alabama
Speaking as a lifelong Trek fan for whom Balance of Terror is a favorite episode, I've never thought it was as much of a straightjacket as the article suggests. There's certainly enough leeway in how Balance is written to look at it from what Enterprise features nearly forty years later and it still work. Certainly the reading I had of Balance, even before Enterprise aired, was that it was a next generation cloaking device, rather than a completely new development. Of course, it was also originally intended in the scripting of the episode for the Romulans to be in a ship that looked more like the Enterprise than the Bird of Prey that has become far more familiar/iconic.

It might also be worth mentioning the Enterprise re-launch novels, in particular the first four books running from The Good That Men Do through The Romulan War duology, which delve into the lead-up to and eventually the war itself. It's a bit of retconning and sequel/prequel making that I think quite works. And certainly does so better than Final Frontier novel (a novel which, while I enjoyed it, I was underwhelemed by when I read it) or Michael Jan Friedman's Starfleet: Year One that I read just last week.
 

Thande

Directly Elected Mayor of the Western Hemisphere
Published by SLP
Speaking as a lifelong Trek fan for whom Balance of Terror is a favorite episode, I've never thought it was as much of a straightjacket as the article suggests. There's certainly enough leeway in how Balance is written to look at it from what Enterprise features nearly forty years later and it still work. Certainly the reading I had of Balance, even before Enterprise aired, was that it was a next generation cloaking device, rather than a completely new development. Of course, it was also originally intended in the scripting of the episode for the Romulans to be in a ship that looked more like the Enterprise than the Bird of Prey that has become far more familiar/iconic.

It might also be worth mentioning the Enterprise re-launch novels, in particular the first four books running from The Good That Men Do through The Romulan War duology, which delve into the lead-up to and eventually the war itself. It's a bit of retconning and sequel/prequel making that I think quite works. And certainly does so better than Final Frontier novel (a novel which, while I enjoyed it, I was underwhelemed by when I read it) or Michael Jan Friedman's Starfleet: Year One that I read just last week.
I think you're right it's not as restrictive as the novels interpreted it as - I do mention this in the article (like the weird assumptions about the 'simple impulse' line). I think the primary restrictions are 'Romulans can't appear onscreen' and the '100 years' thing, and the latter is a much more common overused concept (it does serve a plot purpose in the original episode).

As far as cloaking devices are concerned, the dialogue in "Balance of Terror" certainly suggests that invisibility technology is a completely new and purely theoretical technology; while there might be earlier stealth technologies, they'd presumably be brought up then if they were formerly associated with the Romulans. Though to be fair the episode presents it as there being little common knowledge about the Romulans and it being considered ancient history, with Stiles only knowing things because of his family history.

Again, this is not to criticise the original episode which is excellent - the writer could not have expected it would blow up into being a recurring antagonist group. I might at some point discuss how the opposite approach was taken when they introduced the Cardassians, and that comes with its disadvantages too.

I will probably talk about Starfleet: Year One when I come to do an article about Enterprise itself.
 
Top