Star Trek: TOS – S01E05, The Enemy Within

theenemywithinhd723And here’s the fifth episode, The Enemy Within, which is basically Dr. Jekill and Mr. Hyde, but Star Trek style. All in all it’s not a bad episode, but there’s a clear issue with the writing/editing, and it shows an unbelievable lack of sensitivity towards rape that feels very creepy. But let’s proceed in an orderly fashion!

An away team formed by Kirk, Sulu, and other crew members is on the surface of Alfa 177 to make some geological surveys when a technician, Fisher, injures himself in an accident. Surprisingly, he doesn’t join the list of red shirts because he survives and gets teleported aboard the USS Enterprise where he’s successfully medicated by Dr. McCoy. Immediately afterwards, Kirk also returns aboard, but he feels a little dizzy. While Scotty accompanies him to his quarters disobeying his direct order not to leave the transporter room (!), we see another Kirk materializing in the room! Only, his eyes look different and he looks kinda crazy…

So far it seems like another iteration of the “intruder on board” plot that we’ve seen already in The Man Trap and in Charlie X, but things develop differently here. “Evil” Kirk seems to have the same knowledge as “peaceful” Kirk, as if they were two parts of the same person, rather than two different creatures. And the former proves to be out of control when he tries to rape the beautiful Yeoman Rand, who resists and runs away to report the incident. And here we witness a strange misunderstanding with peaceful Kirk defending himself from the accusation of rape when it’s clear that he wasn’t the one who did it, and that the explanation lies in the teleport. In fact, Scotty soon realized that something was wrong after teleporting a weird sort of dog on board and witnessing an angry duplicate appear. And both peaceful Kirk and Spock knew about that! So it was very easy to understand that the rapist was the other Captain!

Despite the fact that there was a simple explanation, Spock needs a lot of time before concluding that, ta-dàn!, there’s an intruder on board! This is totally incomprehensible, if not by reading on Memory Alpha that two parts of the script were swapped, with the result of making Spock look like an inept. And also to prove once again that security on board of the Enterprise is really terrible!

In any case, the episode quickly gets to its main point, which is far more intelligent than it may seem until now: the teleport malfunction has divided Kirk into two parts with opposing personalities. The quiet, gentle and sensitive part has been separated from the aggressive and self-confident one, and the result is that the first version of Kirk is incapable of being a captain and making decisions, and the second is a wild out-of-control individual (great work by William Shatner, by the way!). And that’s the enemy within each of us: we all have a dark side, and we are the result of the fusion of the various positive and negative qualities we carry inside, with our intelligence mastering the whole of it and forging our true personality. So The Enemy Within is nothing but a study of the human being, a study which is anything but stupid, and in fact it didn’t surprise me too much to discover in the credits that no less than Richard Matheson wrote the story! You know him, he’s the author of, among other things, I Am Legend and Duel (that great film by Steven Spielberg)!

And then we get to the part that made me angry. At the end of the episode Spock says to Rand: “The impostor had some very interesting qualities, wouldn’t you say, yeoman?“. In other words: “You did like being raped, didn’t you?“. Such a clever writing, such an interesting episode, and then we get hit by this tactless sentence about something that even fifty years ago should not have been taken so lightly (at the beginning of the episode, Rand is in tears when recounting the rape attempt). That was terrible, and even more if you think that it’s a line spoken by Spock, who should follow logic above all!

st-enemy19
Spock saying to Yeoman Rand “So, you DID like it, right?”, and she’s not amused.

Anyway, let’s continue with this adventure to discover TOS! Ciao!

PS: the good Giuseppe in the comments of the post in Italian reminded me that in my original post I didn’t mention something I thought about but didn’t write down: this episode’s idea is similar to that of TNG’s Second Chances, sixth season, with the creation of Thomas Riker in a teleportation incident (although in that case the duplicate was in all respects identical to the original)!


Previous episode: The Naked Time

Next episode: Mudd’s Women


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