June 22, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Weekend Trek “The Enemy Within”

The transporter splits Kirk into two people: one good and one hammy.

So, I know the transporter was used primarily to avoid having to land the ship on every planet.  It was a money-saving move for the network.  From a storytelling perspective, that device has provided a number of storytelling ideas as the transporter can be both a cause and a solution to various problems on various Federations starships.

But there’s a first time for everything.

On a routine mission to find samples of species on an alien planet, including the cutest alien the show ever devised in the form of the unicorn puppy, a crewman has a fall, covering himself in a strange dust that, when the crewman is transported back to the ship, causes a malfunction in the device that splits the next person to come up into two people.  That would be Captain Kirk, and the shorthand seems to be there is one “good” Kirk and one “evil” Kirk.

And as we are all aware, inside every man is a struggle between good and evil that cannot be resolved.

Now there is one thing that somewhat confused me here, and I think it has more to do with things the show hasn’t come up with yet.  Sulu and three other guys are stranded on the planet’s surface, and it will be getting very cold down there, far colder than the men could possibly hope to survive.  As the transporter was splitting everything in two, that meant that Scotty couldn’t beam them up, and anything beamed down to keep them warm doubled into two useless copies.

So, why not just send a shuttlecraft?  Did they not have those yet?  Apparently they did not.

Now, seeing as there’s an Evil Kirk running around, that means we get to see what Kirk would do if he lacked a conscience.  Evil Kirk is often called “the imposter” even though it, well, isn’t.  It’s just as much Kirk as “Good Kirk” is.  He shouts “I AM CAPTAIN KIRK!” and everything.

That is some Grade A Shatner Ham.

To be fair to Shatner, Evil Kirk may be Exhibit A for everyone who says the guy’s a big time overactor, but to his credit, Good Kirk has a distinct personality of his own, one that is every bit as distinct from Normal Kirk as Evil Kirk is.  As much as Evil Kirk shouts, attempts sexual assault of Yeoman Rand, punches out crewmen, and shouts, Good Kirk is quiet, thoughtful, and far too honest.

That for me was the most interesting concept behind this episode, namely how the show made sure we understood that the two Kirks had to be merged back together again.  Yes, Good Kirk had the intellect and human decency, but Evil Kirk had the less benevolent things Kirk needs to make decisions.  Good Kirk waffles, is far too trusting even to his own evil side, almost tells the crew too much, and has to be reminded by Spock when he needs to be authoritative.  In short, Evil Kirk got all the aggression, and in a normal human Spock suggests, the conscience and intellect would keep that in check enough to actually make decisions.  Evil Kirk may die without constant reassurance, but it doesn’t take much for him to almost fool the bridge crew that he is, well, the real Kirk.

But Good Kirk isn’t the real Kirk either.  No one seems to see it that way for some reason, not even Spock, the man who first advocates for the “good” and “evil” splitting.

So, aside from the uni-puppy, there were no casualties this time around though we did get McCoy saying, “He’s dead, Jim.” for the first time and Spock using the Vulcan neck pinch for the first time as well.

By the by, Scotty found the problem in the transporter when Evil Kirk shot a phaser at a control panel.  I’m a little fuzzy on whether or not Evil Kirk broke the transporter and Good Kirk was too embarrassed to tell him, or if that was legitimately the problem, but in the end, Sulu and the others are rescued, Kirk is reformed as himself, and Spock has what amounts to a winning argument with McCoy by siting personal experience to explain why Kirk and not the uni-puppy would survive being reformed.  All in all, it was a good episode even if all you really like is seeing a sweaty Shatner shout stuff and leer at everyone.