Diplomatic missions are tricky business. An onslaught of conflicting interests and ideals tend to clash with interpersonal conflict and individual quarks. It takes a range of advanced personal skills to navigate everyone’s interests to the point where they can be mostly satisfied without completely falling out with each other. In the end, it was up to the Enterprise crew to look past a seemingly ordinary diplomatic mission to the sinister manipulation that lay beneath. Seeing the wolf among the sheep took more than ingratiating personal skills, or the ability to negotiate everyone’s best interests. This time, diplomacy called for Kirk and Spock’s unwavering dedication to duty and trust in their intuition.
In this episode, the Enterprise is sent to pick up groups of delegates for an interplanetary conference held to determine new members of the Federation. Of these delegates, the Vulcan Ambassador Sarek and his wife come aboard the Enterprise, and we find out they are Spock’s parents. As Kirk welcomes them, the delegates are debating likelihood of a new planet being allowed into the Federation. Sarek disagrees with the honesty of their mining procedures, which is an unfortunate coincidence, because shortly afterward, a delegate is found murdered via a Vulcan execution method. This doesn’t bode well for Spock’s father, but as Sarek is confronted with the details, he collapses with an apparent Vulcan ‘heart attack’.
It is clear something shady is going on, as a mysterious cloaked vessel contacts someone on the ship, but Kirk and crew are powerless to apprehend any suspects. Things are further complicated by the fact that Sarek is incapacitated and needs a blood transfusion from Spock, side-lining the ship’s first officer as well. The attacks only become more puzzling, because Spock cannot see the logic in any of the events. In the end, logic is not what wins out. It is the crew members’ conviction to duty and their embracing of emotional commitments that reveals motives for what they really are. An Andorian delegate was a spy in disguise, and only Kirk’s cunning out manoeuvred his plans.
Kirk tricks the other ship into coming closer and then zaps it with phasors at just the right moment. He plans to negotiate surrender, but it self-destructs as the Andorian spy takes poison. In the end, it is revealed that the Andorian was actually an Orion smuggler, allied with a ship constructed for a suicide mission. They wanted to control the delegates and sell weapons to both sides. Spock never gave up his pursuit of the fragmented information, and Kirk found the final part. It took intuition and quick thinking to complete the puzzle when logic alone presented only pieces.