Director: Leo Penn
Writer: Richard Matheson
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Grace Lee Whitney, George Takei, James Doohan, Edward Madden, Garland Thompson, and Jim Goodwin
Composer: Sol Kaplan
Air Date: 10/6/1966
Production #: 6149-05
While returning to the Enterprise, Captain Kirk is divided into two halves—one good and the other evil—by a malfunctioning transporter. Meanwhile, Sulu and several others must remain on the surface of Alfa 177—a frigid, inhospitable planet—until Scotty can finish repairing the aforementioned transporter.
Though unintentionally amusing at times, “The Enemy Within” should be commended for its thought-provoking subject matter. Especially worth praising are the interactions between Kirk and his evil half, which indicate that every strong leader must possess a diverse range of attributes in order to excel at his or her duty.
By using his authority to stalk, harass, and intimidate members of the Enterprise crew, the malevolent version of Kirk often heightens the sense of danger felt by his subordinates—especially during his encounter with Yeoman Rand, who must physically defend herself against the so-called imposter. The good Kirk, on the other hand, demonstrates a kind, gentle manner and lacks the force of personality to make difficult decisions, thereby evoking sympathy from those of a sensitive nature—much in contrast to his doppelganger, who, by conducting himself like a wild animal, serves only to terrify the audience.
Also problematic, Spock’s final remark implies that Janice Rand may find “interesting” a man who attempted to violate her.
A retelling of the Jekyll and Hyde story, “The Enemy Within” never suggests that “bad” qualities such as anger, aggression, and selfishness should be cast aside completely, only that they should be complemented with love, generosity, and compassion if one wishes to experience the human condition as intended—a nuanced perspective that challenges the black-and-white notions of morality held by most people. (Unfortunately, Matheson’s narrative contains a tedious amount of exposition, with Spock, Kirk, and McCoy spelling out the above conclusion for viewers.)
“The Enemy Within” compensates for a dubious execution with philosophically profound implications. Star Trek fans are therefore advised to view this entry, the accidental comedy of which offers levity in a deeply disturbing situation.
Overall Quality: 8/10
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