Star Trek: Discovery executive producer and showrunner Bryan Fuller tweeted yesterday that a favorite episode from The Original Series, “Balance of Terror,” is a “touchstone” for DSC’s story arc.
— Bryan Fuller (@BryanFuller) September 9, 2016
“Balance of Terror” is the famous TOS episode from the first season that first introduced the Romulans. In the episode, it is noted that the Earth-Romulan conflict occurred a century before 2265. The war had been waged with atomic weapons and the treaty, which was formalized over subspace radio, ending the war established the neutral zone.
Spock stated that entry into the neutral zone would be considered an act of war and that the treaty had been unbroken until that time. Kirk claimed that, after a whole century, no one would know what a Romulan ship looked like. However, Lieutenant Stiles pointed out that they are painted like a giant bird of prey.
The episode was based on classic submarine films such as The Enemy Below and Run Silent, Run Deep where Kirk and the Romulan Commander play a cat-and-mouse game that results in the Romulan ship’s destruction.
Since Fuller referred to “Balance of Terror” as a “touchstone” for DSC, it is possible that the episode will provide a standard for which the show’s story arc will follow: perhaps one of tense conflict with an adversary.
Alternatively, as “Balance of Terror” provides no reason for the Romulan Bird of Prey’s attack on Earth outposts along the neutral zone, could a covert conflict between Starfleet and the Romulan Empire have occurred in 2255? One that Starfleet officers ten years later would not be aware of as it could jeopardize the peace treaty?
Let us know what you think of Fuller’s statement in the comments. What does this portend for DSC’s story arc?