Star Trek Episode 79: Turnabout Intruder

Technical Specs

Director: Herb Wallerstein

Writer: Arthur H. Singer

Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Sandra Smith, Harry Landers, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Majel Barrett, Barbara Baldavin, David L. Ross, and John Boyer

Composer: Fred Steiner

Air Date: 6/3/1969

Stardate: 5928.5

Production #: 60043-79

 

Overview

While answering a distress call on Camus II, Captain Kirk encounters Janice Lester (Sandra Smith)—an embittered former love interest—and her caretaker, Dr. Coleman (Harry Landers). By meansstar-trek-turnabout-intruder of an alien transference machine, Lester switches her personality with that of Kirk and assumes command of the Enterprise, though not without raising an eyebrow from Spock.

The unofficial series finale, “Turnabout Intruder” provides a disappointing conclusion to the (live-action) television adventures of Kirk and company. Star Trek enthusiasts may nevertheless enjoy this effort given the inspiring manner with which Spock, McCoy, and many others react when their captain’s body is usurped by a deranged imposter.

 

Pros

star-trek-turnabout-intruderSandra Smith should be commended for exercising restraint while portraying her character, an aspect that makes credible any sequences wherein Captain Kirk remains trapped in Janice Lester’s body (the same unfortunately cannot be said of William Shatner, whose idiotic mannerisms hardly convey the subtlety one would expect of a Shakespearean performer). Exceptionally moving are Spock’s intimate exchanges with Lester/Kirk, which reinforce the transcendent quality of Star Trek’s most iconic friendship.

 

Cons

It should be noted that “Turnabout Intruder” serves the purpose of commenting on gender roles as perceived during the late 1960s; however, observant fans may question why a woman would star-trek-turnabout-intruderbe denied captaincy on the basis of her sex alone, especially when considering the egalitarian nature of Gene Roddenberry’s fictional society. If an irrational temperament had instead been specified as the primary reason for Lester’s inability to command a vessel, then this episode might never have received accusations of sexism from (perhaps overly) sensitive viewers. (Also worth mentioning, Starfleet’s discriminatory policy detailed by Lester would seem to contradict the events of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek: Voyager, both of which feature female starship captains—albeit many years following the original series’ timeframe).

 

Analysis

star-trek-turnabout-intruderIn addition to its important—if strangely executed—social commentary, “Turnabout Intruder” highlights an impenetrable bond that binds the crew together during and after Enterprise’s five-year mission. Specifically, senior officers Spock, Scotty, McCoy, and later Chekov and Sulu maintain their loyalty to Kirk even when presented with a fantastic tale regarding personality transference, thereby solidifying the family structure upon which all seven main characters base their interactions with one another.

 

Concluding Comments

“Turnabout Intruder” bids a bizarre farewell to one of the greatest and most influential science fiction series ever produced. That being said, a poignant character examination may appeal to Star Trek fans willing to overlook the politically incorrect themes underlying Arthur H. Singer’s narrative.

 

Overall Quality: 7/10

 

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