“The Corbomite Maneuver” – TOS 1X2

In “The Corbomite Maneuver,” a bizarre alien commander, Balok, threatens the Enterprise, forcing Kirk to test his patience and wits to survive and learn about this new life.

This was the first episode filmed after the two pilots, so it’s interesting to look at the depiction of the two main female characters: Uhura and Rand.

Uhura in her gold uniform at the comms station

Uhura gets 12 lines in this episode and 7 are a version of “Hailing frequencies open, sir.” If you watch in filming order, this explains the beginning of “The Man Trap,” where Uhura complains to Spock about being sick of saying it. 

But it’s not actually a bad episode for Uhura’s first appearance – she is shown to be key to the functioning of the ship, and focused, calm and collected under pressure. 

For some background on Rand, there’s a quote in These Are The Voyages: TOS: Season 1:

[Grace Lee] Whitney remembered Roddenberry’s description of Janice Rand. She would be as Gunsmoke’s Miss Kitty was to Matt Dillon. The Marshal could always talk his problems over with his favorite saloon girl, she knew him better than anyone else. That was the relationship Roddenberry wanted Rand and Kirk to have. The Captain could confide in her, be warmed by her and secretly love her. But he would never openly admit his deeper feelings, not even to himself.

Roddenberry told her, “Because of your duty, you can never openly express your attraction toward him. There will always be an undercurrent of suppressed sexuality between you that will come out in very subtle ways. You’re to be as beautiful as you can be and as efficient as you can be, and you are to love the captain.”

Rand brings Kirk dinner as he talks to McCoy

So the first time we see Rand in “The Corbomite Maneuver,” she’s bringing the Captain dinner in his quarters. According to These Are The Voyages, in the original script, the first scene was supposed to be her waiting in Kirk’s quarters with clean clothes after he returns from his physical, but that was deleted at the request of NBC. Anyway, Kirk’s pretty rude to her, especially when he finds out she’s bringing him salad, on Doctor McCoy’s orders that he lose a few pounds.

Kirk: What the devil is this? Green leaves?

Rand: It’s dietary salad, sir. Doctor McCoy ordered your diet card changed. I thought you knew.

McCoy: Your weight was up a couple of pounds, remember?

Kirk: Will you stop hovering over me, Yeoman?

Rand: Well, I’ll change it if you don’t like it, sir.

Kirk picks at his salad and complains to McCoy

When she leaves, he complains to McCoy about having a woman yeoman (because everyone in space is straight so a male clerk would have zero chance of being awkward):

Kirk: When I find the headquarters genius that assigned me a female yeoman
McCoy: What’s the matter, Jim. Don’t you trust yourself?
Kirk: I’ve already got a female to worry about. Her name’s the Enterprise.

We certainly see the dynamic Whitney described – the focus is on Kirk’s needs and desires, not hers. It’s assumed that she will be glad to serve the Captain, even if he’s kind of rude to her sometimes for just doing her job. 

Note that Kirk doesn’t say to McCoy he’s annoyed was assigned “Janice Rand,” so presumably any “female yeoman” could be an issue. This weirdly reinforces the idea that having men and women serve beside each other could be distracting, although that’s something Roddenberry himself challenged when the networks posed that argument to him.

Janice Rand holding a futuristic mug of coffee

Rand shows up later to bring the Captain coffee on the bridge. The cool part is when she says she used a hand phaser to warm it up. It shows the potential Rand had to be more than a “Miss Kitty” – she could be both highly sensitive and a bit badass, which we’d get to see a couple more glimpses of in future episodes. 


Bechdel-Wallace Test: Fail

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