The Enemy Within is the first Star Trek episode to include a transporter malfunction. This would become a staple of the Trek universe. In this story Captain Kirk is split into two halves his good and bad sides. This story requires a hefty suspension of disbelief. It also requires Shatner to over act so he is right at home.
That might be a bit of a cheep shot but Shatner does have a well earned reputation for over acting. In this episode as evil Kirk he has to yell ‘I’m Captain Kirk.’
As well as the dilemma of Kirk being split in two there is also the problem of the landing party being stranded on the planet. Watching this now the obvious question is why not use the shuttle? There is only the out of universe explanation that they didn’t yet have a shuttle to use. Even so they could have rescued them off screen and done so without need of a new set.
I have seen this episode before but not for a long time. This time I found myself identifying with Kirk’s predicament as he sees the other him – the savage him.
I feel that way sometimes of having a part of my being that I can’t, or don’t want to, face a lot of the time. For me it is not about evil and good – rather it is happiness and sadness.
I have days when all the weight of life feels too much. I feel a sense of hopelessness. In those moments all my life goals feel far away and there seem to be no possibilities for change. Then, sometimes, I feel happy without specific stimulus. In those moments everything does seem possible – although still far far away.
So when Kirk sees this mirror of himself – this violent man. I believe I can almost understand. When I am in a state of being alright the great sadness is alien to me and I cannot imagine how it feels. It makes it hard to seek help because it is like describing a sunny day in the park to an eyeless fish in the deepest depths of the ocean.
Star Trek is well known for these types of stories. It often uses science fiction to try and explore an aspect of humanity. That aspect could be internal and emotional or external and dealing with important issues.
We have another incident of violence against woman. Evil Kirk assaults Yeoman Rand. This is made even worse considering what happened to Grace Lee Whitney in her real life. That scene made for uncomfortable viewing and Spock’s last line of the episode, where he suggests, obliquely, that Rand might have liked it is disgusting. It is stuff like this that makes me unsure of TOS as a whole. The 1960s seem so alien to me a lot of the time. We have a long way to go in treating all people with proper respect but I think we have come a long way too.
I am going to come up against heavy topics a lot in this show it seems. The past really is another world.
In conclusion though this was a good story. It explore the concepts of the two sides of humanity quite well. I do wonder if they would have been better off removing the landing party plot to focus more on the main plot. We do get a nice moment with Spock where he talks about the two sides of his being and how he has to balance them.
We are only a few episodes into TOS but I will be back with the next episode which is: Mudd’s Women – which is also fairly anti-women. I am sensing a theme here. I am so looking forward to reviewing my favourite TOS episodes. We have a little way to go yet.
I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.
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