In 2266, a puppet was used by the commanding officer of the First Federation starship Fesarius, Balok, into fooling the crew of the USS Enterprise that the puppet itself was Balok. The puppet was a cat-eyed alien in an eerily lit control center that wavered and rippled on the Enterprise's viewscreen.
After Spock made several determined efforts to establish contact with the Fesarius' captain, the Balok puppet made its first appearance to the Enterprise crew members. The puppet condemned the crew as warlike because they had been forced to destroy a marker buoy. In fact, he had forced their hand, goading and threatening them with the device. Then, he advised the crew that they and their vessel, "obviously the product of a primitive and savage civilization," were to be destroyed.
A tense standoff followed, during which Captain Kirk sought vainly for a solution. Eventually, he bluffed Balok with corbomite – a ploy that apparently worked, for Balok decided not to immediately destroy the Enterprise. Instead, it would be towed to a planet of the First Federation, where the crew would be imprisoned and the Enterprise destroyed.
Kirk gambled again, as his ship was being dragged to its fate; he attempted to shear away from Balok's pilot vessel (a much smaller craft, launched from the Fesarius) and succeeded, apparently damaging Balok's ship in the process. At this point, Kirk could have attacked – certainly, he'd been provoked – or he could have fled. He chose instead to board the small vessel and offer aid. There, he learned the truth that what he thought had been Balok was merely a puppet. When he asked the real Balok about the puppet, the alien admitted, referring to the puppet as "Mr. Hyde to my Jekyll", that he'd used it to frighten Kirk and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise. (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver")
In 2373, after partaking in combat training with Jadzia Dax and winning, Quark was asked by the Trill how he felt, to which he responded, "Like a puppet." (DS9: "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places")
Calling someone a puppet could also be an insult, implying that the individual was incapable of thinking or acting for themselves. In 2286, the Klingon ambassador Kamarag said that Vulcans were "well known as the intellectual puppets of the Federation." (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
See also Edit
Background information Edit
The Balok puppet Edit
In the final draft script of "The Corbomite Maneuver" (dated 3 May 1966), the Balok puppet's voice was described as "deep, firm and full of resolve" as well as "a firm, militant voice that leaves nothing to doubt." In the second revised final draft of the script (dated 20 May 1966), the puppet's voice was characterized as "deep, a frighteningly strong voice."
In the final draft script, the Balok puppet was described thus; "He seems huge, apparently a giant of a man on a giant ship, but it is his face – a hideously twisted and grotesquely distorted face – that is frightening, for it is glaringly highlighted and formidably immobile. Its skin texture has an almost golden metallic lustre, its eyes are hidden under thick, drooping lids, and its mouth – if it is a mouth – does not move when it speaks." In the second revised final draft, this description was changed to say, "He appears huge, a giant of a being on a giant ship; his face is long and grotesquely grimacing, his eyes are hideous cat-like things." Also, the puppet's mouth was scripted to move when speaking. When this version of Balok was to be revealed as merely a puppet later in the episode, the script (both the final draft and the second revised final draft) described his "grotesque" head as looking "even larger than we thought."
The Balok puppet was created by noted sculptor Wah Chang. (Star Trek: The Original Series 365, p. 35) The prop gave Clint Howard a much clearer idea of what the puppet would be like in the final version of the episode. "The puppet was written on the page. But until you saw the puppet, you didn't quite understand what that puppet was gonna represent," he related. "That puppet was on the stage. They literally just turned the camera around and shot the puppet." ("Inside the Roddenberry Vault, Part I", Star Trek: The Original Series - The Roddenberry Vault special features)
Ted Cassidy was selected to voice the role because his deep vocalizations were deemed appropriate for the part. After the producers asked him to record the puppet's lines, Cassidy did so during post-production, during the filming of "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", in which Cassidy appeared as Ruk. (Star Trek: The Original Series 365, p. 34; These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One)
The wavering and rippling of the Balok puppet's appearance on the Enterprise viewscreen was added by the Howard Anderson Company. The same effect was also used to represent a Thasian in TOS: "Charlie X". (The Star Trek Compendium, 4th ed., p. 33)
The Balok puppet appears in the end credits of every second season episode as the last freeze frame shot, with the credit "Executive in Charge of Production: Herb Solow" superimposed over it. This was a joke by Robert Justman, who selected the still images for the credits, played on his friend, Solow. The puppet, like most other "monsters and creatures" of the show, ended up in various places in and around the Desilu offices. Gene Roddenberry even played a practical joke on Justman once, putting the puppet to the next seat to his on an airplane, when Justman went on a vacation. The pilot and crew asked them to remove it before flight commenced. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story)
Seeing the Balok puppet in "The Corbomite Maneuver" was one of Star Trek author David R. George III's earliest memories of watching Star Trek. In his adulthood, he remarked, "The eerie, long-faced simulacrum of the alien who called himself Balok fascinated my young mind."