Star Trek: The Enemy Within   Rewatch 
August 23, 2014 8:18 PM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

The Enterprise investigates planet Alpha 177 and while a crewman returns a problem with the transporter is discovered. Captain Kirk is then beamed back and subsequently split into two psyche's which the crew must recognize and ultimately resolve.
posted by Benway (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I know what my puppy is dressing as for Halloween!
posted by Literaryhero at 12:59 AM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Shatner really got a chance to go full Shatner in this one.

That last line of Spock's really ruins the episode for me though, it's been so long since I've watched the series I'd totally forgotten it. To quote the Memory Alpha page "Actress Grace Lee Whitney was very unhappy about the last scene of this episode, in which Spock asks Yeoman Rand, if "The imposter had some very interesting qualities, wouldn't you say, Yeoman?". In her autobiography, she wrote: "I can't imagine any more cruel and insensitive comment a man (or Vulcan) could make to a woman who has just been through a sexual assault! But then, some men really do think that women want to be raped. So the writer of the script (ostensibly Richard Matheson - although the line could have been added by Gene Roddenberry or an assistant scribe) gives us a leering Mr. Spock who suggests that Yeoman Rand enjoyed being raped and found the evil Kirk attractive!" (The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy, p. 95)
posted by oh yeah! at 6:41 AM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, that line was bothersome. Another one from earlier too - when Rand is being interviewed by Kirk/Spock/McCoy about what happened, she says something like "Well you're the Captain! I wouldn't have even said anything about it if it hadn't been for Fisher!" (Fisher being the guy who saw what was happening and whom Evil Kirk beat up).

On another note, is this the first occurrence of a literal "He's dead, Jim" from McCoy? Regarding Space Dog?
posted by Flunkie at 7:38 AM on August 24, 2014


The Memory Alpha page states that this is indeed the first time Bones says "He's dead, Jim", but it also says:

This was the first episode to show the Vulcan nerve pinch, as well as the first time McCoy says "He's dead, Jim." Leonard Nimoy objected to the script's directive that Spock "kayoes" the evil Kirk on the head, so he improvised the neck pinch on the spot and demonstrated it on William Shatner for director Leo Penn. (Star Trek Encyclopedia) The script's original directive survives to this day in the James Blish adaptation of this episode (in the book Star Trek 8) as Blish only had access to the scripts and not to the finished episodes.

Which is not correct. Spock uses the nerve pinch in the previous episode The Naked Time when Lt. Joe Tormolen is subdued by Spock on the bridge.

Overall, I agree that this was classic Shatner. The sub-plot with Sulu seemed unnecessary and reading memory Alpha, it appears it was not in the original script but added later.
posted by Benway at 7:59 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Naked Time was aired earlier than the Enemy Within, but the Enemy Within was made earlier than the Naked Time was. Also the Enemy Within was at an earlier stardate :)
posted by Flunkie at 8:03 AM on August 24, 2014


One thing that was very curious about the end of the episode was Kirk's responses and statements to Spock, which were completely ambiguous. Why this is curious is because Spock asks him how he's doing and also establishes a moment where Kirk can quite easily condemn the "wild" or Opposite side of him, but Kirk doesn't. He just says things like, "It was a part of me no man should ever have to face..." He never specifies if it was the gentle/kind Kirk or the wild/evil Kirk. Perhaps this is suppose to make us wonder which "Kirk" makes up the majority of our captain's ego. As Spock would say, fascinating.

As for Spock's comment, I see it as a total Vulcan thing to do. They provide Spock a short speech when Negative Kirk is tied down in the infirmary and Positive Kirk is sitting nearby, in which Spock elaborates on what a wonderful opportunity it is to study the workings of man's psyche and so on. He loves the scientific aspects of what's happening here and all the insights that might be gained. He wasn't immediately for the idea of bringing the two back together. For him, what happened to Rand wasn't a terrible event, so much as part of the data he's collecting as part of his examination of this incredible event.

Another interesting aspect of Spock's character in this episode was visible when he was arguing against McCoy for Kirk to go through the transporter and talking about how man's intelligence was capable of accepting the combination of two halves, unlike the awesome alien horned dog. He says something to the effect, "I have both a human half and an alien half." I felt that this was a slip on the writer(s) as Spock would never think of his Vulcan half as alien, it's who he is, and would have referred to it as Vulcan. The only explanation would be Spock used that term to exaggerate on purpose what the intellect can handle. If it can handle something as crazy as alien/human, it can handle Positive/Negative Kirk.

Sulu was great in this episode, despite the kind of over the top temperatures that he and the rest of the landing party were surviving with little more than phasers and what looked like a parachute for warmth.

This episode was also probably one of the first where we saw McCoy and Spock knock heads against each other on what course of action to take.

With regard to the split Kirk, some observations. The Positive Kirk was generally portrayed as someone unable to make decisions and fearful of hurting others. Yet, by the end of the episode, that same Kirk confidently stops the Negative Kirk on the bridge of the Enterprise in a confrontation that would have been impossible for him to pull off ten to fifteen minutes earlier.

The first thing our Negative Kirk did was procure alcohol to swill as he went about his way. I wonder if this was an intentional message about alcohol, as it immediately is followed by his attempt to rape Rand and attack one of his own crewman. On the Mission Log podcast, they threw out the idea that part of the craziness/wildness of the Naked Time might also be an analogy for alcohol, since it was something like water that could easily be passed around. These two episodes were created at approximately the same time. Did NBC want Star Trek to try and imbue certain messages for the younger audiences?

I also liked the lighting in this episode. You generally don't see this type of lighting anymore and I wonder if its a lasting influence of the black and white tv days? It was definitely used to highlight the "evilness" of Negative Kirk, though, am I crazy that Negative Kirk had slightly heavier eyeliner on or something?
posted by Atreides at 8:57 AM on August 24, 2014


For him, what happened to Rand wasn't a terrible event, so much as part of the data he's collecting as part of his examination of this incredible event.

I just can't buy that reading, to me this was a clear case of the prejudices of the time inserting themselves into the story. Spock's line was just too sneeringly rhetorical; if he was collecting data then he should have been asking her a question and waiting for an answer.

I also liked the lighting in this episode. You generally don't see this type of lighting anymore and I wonder if its a lasting influence of the black and white tv days? It was definitely used to highlight the "evilness" of Negative Kirk, though, am I crazy that Negative Kirk had slightly heavier eyeliner on or something?

Not crazy, they definitely went for the Eyeliner of Evil in those close-ups near the end.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:17 AM on August 24, 2014


It wasn't just near the end; he was an eyeliner fanatic from the moment he first beamed on deck. Throughout the episode, whenever someone would say something like "The imposter can be identified by scratches on his face", I would think "... and a fondness for heavy amounts of eyeliner".
posted by Flunkie at 9:46 AM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


I just can't buy that reading, to me this was a clear case of the prejudices of the time inserting themselves into the story. Spock's line was just too sneeringly rhetorical; if he was collecting data then he should have been asking her a question and waiting for an answer.

I don't think he was trying to collect data at that moment, but with reference to what happened to Rand, he didn't in any way view it as something traumatic or terrible. It was just one more data point, and he saw in Rand, not a victim, but someone who was part of the shared experience, a fellow observer.
posted by Atreides at 10:45 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


The whole episode had me wondering why Good Kirk was left in command of the ship. He obviously wasn't up to making decisions, and it felt like things could have been resolved more easily with someone else actually in charge.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:38 PM on August 25, 2014


The only explanation is Spock's growling at Kirk that the crew must have no reason to lose their faith in their captain. Apparently if Kirk appointed Spock to assume command, Kirk would no longer be fit to be captain............EVER.

It is a glaring hole and has to be by design only to allow the writer to create tension with Kirk's growing inability to captain merely as "Positive" Kirk.
posted by Atreides at 2:56 PM on August 25, 2014


I think Spock wanted to give Good Kirk a chance to either come to grips with the situation (the big pep speech that Good Kirk could use his intelligence to make up for the loss of his natural decisiveness) or else to temporarily resign on his own account.

Spock knew that he could guide Good Kirk, or in the worst case could relieve him of duty. He knew it might eventually be necessary ("Soon you will be unable to carry out your command duties" or something like that), but there was no need to do it immediately; Good Kirk didn't make any poor decisions, and with a little prodding also didn't make any significant non-decisions.

Also, Spock was ready to allow it to happen; as soon as Kirk said something like "Somebody make the decision", Spock asked if he was relinquishing command. "Yes" -> OK, Spock takes over; "No" -> OK, Spock continues guiding Good Kirk.
posted by Flunkie at 3:44 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


OK, this definitely fell into the allegorical/metaphysical column of TOS episodes. Which is not a bad thing but worth keeping in mind as one evaluates. From a hard SF point of view I don't like the idea much -- not only why would the transporter work (or "not work" as the case may be) in a fashion like this (laws of thermodynamics are already a big issue with this sort of device, a question explored thoroughly by Larry Niven in his classic essay "Exercise in Speculation: The Theory and Practice of Teleportation"), but why would it split his personality along metaphysical lines? (Maybe it could split him into the Four Humours, given Shatner's Shakespearean experience....) You just have to swallow hard and go with it as a sort of philosophical exploration.

I felt that this was a slip on the writer(s) as Spock would never think of his Vulcan half as alien, it's who he is, and would have referred to it as Vulcan.

I dunno. For one thing, in-story-wise, as a biracial being Spock would be capable of code-switching, and modulating his vocabulary for his audience. For another, production-wise, this was the 1960s and prior to the real development of the postmodern concept of consciousness (which came out of feminism). In the 1960s it was still a thing for a group member to speak of themselves in the terminology of the majority (e.g. an Italian calling himself a "wop"). The concept of rejecting these labels is more modern than TOS, which tells us something about how groundbreaking it actually was. Nor do we really know what Vulcans in the 23rd century will say about themselves!

surviving with little more than phasers and what looked like a parachute for warmth

Yeah, that's one of those things where it seems based on WWII military experiences rather than what a planned planetary science mission would come equipped for. But it did introduce the concept of the phaser heating things up, true?

I wonder if this was an intentional message about alcohol.... Did NBC want Star Trek to try and imbue certain messages for the younger audiences?

If you watch Mad Men, you wouldn't think this. Alcohol had not yet been "medicalized" to the way we think about it today as a treatable disease, but was still largely a character flaw and thus a moral issue. Our current thinking on alcohol as a social issue was largely created in the 1970s due to an NHTSA effort to reduce drunk driving (later joined by social organizations like MADD/SADD), combined with the change in attitude toward e.g. spousal abuse [cf. Tareyton ad campaign] that only really gained traction in the early 1980s. So as of 1966, if you were a drunk it was because you had failed to control your baser impulses. It wasn't that people didn't know that drinking had bad consequences, it's that society hadn't yet decided that controlling them was a social problem rather than a personal one.

This is one of those points where evaluating the show based on modern attitudes gets you into a bit of a sidetrack.

As to the "faith in the Captain" stuff, that's another weird thing I see in TV of this era. Even though we had one of the highest percentages in our history of demobilized veterans, from WWII, Korea, and service in Europe, you get these very schematic/dramatic interpretations of the military command structure that seem very anomalous in these days of a professionalized, voluntary military that operates much more by seniority and rotation philosophies than, you know, Horatio Hornblower concepts that even Roddenberry must have known were very romanticized.

(There's an example on ST:VOY, the "Year of Hell" or whatever it's called, where Kate Mulgrew plays Capt. Janeway as debilitated and wearing a messed-up uniform to express how hard things have been, when I believe a real military response would be to double down on hygiene and uniform (and ship) maintenance to keep morale focused and high. Dramatic, but comes off as wrong.)

You generally don't see this type of lighting anymore and I wonder if its a lasting influence of the black and white tv days?

The director was Leo Penn*, blacklisted from Hollywood and who had directed a lot of theater in New York as a result. This was a very theatrical type of lighting (similar stuff can be seen in e.g. The Prisoner). I don't think it's so much due to B&W as it is expressionist influence, e.g. films like The Night of the Hunter, or perhaps more contemporarily, Repulsion, used as a way of highlighting a particular emotional state. I believe in its own way this lives on in things like Vince Gilligan's work on Breaking Bad.
* Dad of Sean, Michael, and Chris.
posted by dhartung at 6:18 PM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Thank you again dhartung for the follow up post. I think part of my enjoyment in posting in these threads is your follow up break down!
posted by Atreides at 6:27 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


As an amusing aside, I was watching an episode of Kung-Fu Panda: Legend of Awesomeness. The title was "Bad Po" and the plot involved Po the Panda being split into two halves, a good Po and a bad Po, by a magical "Yin/Yang Mirror.". It was was kind of interesting in that the writer's representation of Good Po and Bad Po were not necessarily that far off from how Positive Kirk and Negative Kirk were depicted, if only a bit more exaggerated for comedic effect. In lieu of eyeliner, Bad Po glared more.
posted by Atreides at 11:53 AM on August 27, 2014


Thanks, Atreides! I just didn't realize when this started that I would need to ... explain the 1960s ... quite so much. The past is another country, etc.

I think I deleted a graf I meant to include about this being the first instance of dualism in TOS, which would prove to be an element, overt or not, in a solid fraction of its stories. I also believe it is a big part of the Spock character concept, thus a sort of running background theme.
posted by dhartung at 3:12 PM on August 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


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