Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Original Series, Season 1: The Enemy WIthin

The Original Series, Season One
"The Enemy Within"
Airdate: October 6, 1966
5 of 80 aired
5 of 80 produced
Click here to watch on


A transporter accident creates a duplicate of Captain Kirk, but not merely a copy. Two halves of his personality were split: one copy contains all of Captain Kirk's most virtuous qualities and intentions, the other his darkest and most animal impulses. The evil Kirk is dangerous, but the good Kirk is left indecisive. Ultimately, they need each other to survive, but can they be put back together in time?
Shatner reacts to the news that the sets are not actually edible...


Kevin: The core idea here is very good I think. Duplication not just of the body, but of the mind is a great science fiction concept and it's well executed here. While it is one we would revisit in Next Generation (Second Chances) and Voyager (Faces), the first time is the best. One minor complaint is that they eventually over-discussed the topic. Between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, we get three speeches about human duality, and the acting was sufficient to make that point on its own.

Matthew: While the concept is a somewhat strong one sci-fi wise, the means by which it happens is unfortunate. I dislike when a piece of equipment is introduced only to have it fail all the time. It starts with the transporter here, and moves to the holodeck in later series. Come on – a smear of metal causes such a gigantic and successful error with transporter technology? Another writing issue: why, besides show budget, can’t they send a shuttlecraft to pick up the freezing strandees?

Kevin: I did think that Evil Kirk was a little overdone and I am going to blame half of that on the writing. It seems like Evil Kirk went too evil too quickly. It gave it a cartoonish quality that's more apparent set against the excellent portrayal of Good Kirk, both in script and on screen. Good Kirk takes some of his best qualities and turns them into liabilities. For regular Kirk, concern for his crewmen would spur him to take the necessary actions to save them, no matter how difficult. Here, his concern cripples him. All he can do is sit in the conference room and listen to Sulu's increasingly bleak reports. Overall, it becomes a great meditation on the qualities that make a good captain and a good man.

Matthew: Ah, our favorite rape target, Yeoman Rand. I wonder if Grace Lee Whitney got tired of this – apparently she had a troubled run on the show, and I'm sure this didn't help matters. The scene was played well, and was actually quite a visceral portrayal of such a crime (attempted, anyway) for the era.

Kevin: I think my favorite line actually goes to Spock when commenting on his apparent indifference to Kirk's plight: "It's what I am." It's a nice little riff on the episode's theme, all the more appropriate coming from a man who is the most aware of his dual nature.

Matthew: I liked the scenes with Sulu stranded on the planet. It crystallized the conflict and the peril quite well, and showed the “Good” Kirk’s compassionate indecisiveness.


Kevin: Given that most of the screen time was taken by Kirk, the episode pretty much rises and falls with it. Good Kirk is really well played. He manages to portray Kirk's personality in a way that is both recognizable and washed out. Acting gets the other 50% of the blame for Evil Kirk being over the top. I think if he hadn't immediately started twirling his mustache, it would have come off better.

Matthew: In high definition, the teeth marks on the scenery are easily visible. I’ve got to say, the Evil Kirk performance really sort of ripped me out of this episode. I like Shatner a lot – but he’s better suited to heroes than villains. The villainous role plays to all of his ham-tastic tendencies, and the director obviously didn’t rein him in.

Kevin: Spock merits a mention for acting in this episode. He displays the curiosity of a scientist in analyzing Kirk's plight and the responsibility of an XO in making sure Kirk is both capable of commanding and making sure he is perceived that way. This episode seems to go a long way to establishing the Spock we come to know and love.

Production Values

Kevin: There weren't really any special effects to speak of in this episode. The phaser heating the rocks was well done and a neat use of the idea of the phaser. The camera angles and make-up for several Evil Kirk scenes contributed to the overdoneness of the character.

Matthew: There was a pretty big continuity gaffe right at the start if this episode – Kirk materializes without an arrowhead insignia on his uniform, yet appears with one in the hallway with Scotty afterward. Apparently this was due to dry cleaning – the insignia were removed during cleaning.

Kevin: When I first saw that scene, I wondered if that was on purpose, symbolically acknowledging that neither half was fit to command, but then the insignia was back and instead of imagery, it was just a fuck up.

Oh, and the arts and crafts they glued to the dog were pretty hokey, almost distractingly so.

Matthew: There was some neat machinery in Engineering that I wish they had kept. It was the stuff Evil Kirk was crouching on, and offered nice opportunities for hiding, shadows, etc. I always felt engineering was a little sparse, and this stuff could have helped.

Kevin: In the balance, there really wasn't a lot here to praise or condemn on production values. I'm just going to use the word "adequate."

Matthew: By the way, that’s Spock’s real hair, not a piece.


Kevin: This was a pretty good episode, overall. Good Kirk and the rest of the cast turn in really great performances with a really good script, both in idea and execution. I do have one remaining problem that I haven't discussed yet, but it's more a problem with the era than the episode. After Evil Kirk's rape attempt, Rand has no reason to know that it was not the "real" Kirk, and she said wasn't going to mention it and seemed to be willing to let the incident go, and I understand that it's an artifact of the sexual politics of the time, but when she says that she really doesn't want to get him in trouble, I shrivel on the inside. If nothing else, no one in the command structure knew of the duplicate yet, so they were pretty much interviewing an alleged sexual assault victim with her perpetrator in the room, conducting the interview. It just seems like sexual politics hadn't matured in the 23rd century, as everyone seems to tacitly agree with victim blaming that even Lt. Rand is engaging in. That scene obviously hit a nerve for me, but like I said, it's not the episode per se, it's the era.

Overall, I give the episode a solid 4.

Matthew: I’m going to have to go with a 3 on this one. By our rubric, the show would have had to truly excel in one or more area to rate the 4 – and I felt like every standout aspect of this show was balanced by a not-so-great quality. It’s average for me. This makes for a total of 7 out of 10 points. Slightly above average. I think this is a fair rating for this episode. It has some standout qualities, but a few severe flaws.

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