Apr 21 2009 4:51pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Enemy Within”

“The Enemy Within”
Written by Richard Matheson
Directed by Leo Penn

Season 1, Episode 5
Production episode: 1x04
Original air date: October 6, 1966
Star date: 1672.1

Mission summary
On a routine survey mission on planet Alfa 177, geological technician Fisher injures himself and beams up to the Enterprise covered in a strange yellow ore. The transporter suffers technical difficulties while he materializes. Chief Engineer Scott is worried enough to order that the equipment be checked out, but not worried enough to ask Captain Kirk to kindly wait five minutes before beaming back. When Kirk arrives on the transporter pad, he looks a little woozy. Scotty helps him to his quarters, leaving the room unattended, and a few seconds later, the transporter activates by itself. A hunched figure appears, facing away from us. He turns and we see...it’s Captain Kirk! The extreme close-up, dramatic music, and lighting on his face—not to mention the eyeliner—tell us immediately that he’s evil.

As the first Kirk returns to his quarters to rest, his wilder doppleganger bursts into sickbay demanding Saurian brandy. Apparently, that’s where McCoy keeps the good stuff. (Note: in order to avoid referring to the characters as “Good Kirk” and “Bad Kirk,” in this review the evil twin will be referred to by Jim Kirk’s middle name, “Tiberius,” in a nod to the TNG episode “Second Chances.”) Tiberius walks through the corridors swigging brandy straight from the bottle, when he spots Yeoman Rand’s quarters. Meanwhile, Kirk and Spock discover that the transporter has duplicated an animal from Alfa 177, creating strange opposites—one gentle, the other violent (but both ridiculous-looking). Kirk realizes that the same thing may have happened to him. The situation is even more dire for Sulu and the rest of the landing party down on the planet; they can’t risk beaming back to the ship until the transporters are fixed, and temperatures are dropping rapidly as night falls. It’s only a matter of time before they freeze to death.

Yeoman Rand returns to her quarters and finds Tiberius lurking in the shadows. He makes a move on her and admits his true feelings: “You’re too beautiful. Too much woman.” She manages to fight him off, scratching his face in the process. Kirk and Spock now realize that Kirk’s his darker half is running around the ship, but he’s becoming indecisive and forgetful. Rather than risk admitting the captain’s weakness to the crew, they put everyone on alert for an “impostor” with scratches on his face, cautioning them to arm themselves with phasers on the lowest stun setting. They don’t know what might happen if the duplicate is killed, but probably nothing good.

Tiberius tricks a crewman out of his phaser and goes on the run. Kirk and Spock search for him in the bowels of the Enterprise, on the engineering deck, where Kirk faces himself for the first time. His two halves struggle with each other until Spock handily subdues Tiberius with a Vulcan neck pinch before he can shoot Kirk; but the phaser beam goes astray, striking a bulkhead and damaging the transporter circuits further. Once Tiberius is safely strapped down in sickbay, McCoy reveals that the dangerous duplicate is dying. So is the crew on the planet. Temperatures continue to approach 120 degrees below zero, and the transporter will be out of commission for at least a week.

Spock is fascinated by the opportunity to study the two sides of Kirk’s personality:

We have here an unusual opportunity to appraise the human mind, or to examine, in Earth terms, the roles of good and evil in a man. His negative side, which you call hostility, lust, violence, and his positive side, which Earth people express as compassion, love, tenderness.

He observes that Kirk’s negative aspect feeds his strength of will. As much as Kirk dislikes the idea, he sees that without his opposite, he isn’t complete:

I have to take him back inside myself. I can’t survive without him. I don’t want him back. He’s like an animal, a thoughtless, brutal animal, and yet it’s me. Me.

Fortunately, Scotty has gotten the transporter working by tying it into the impulse engines; the real miracle is that he convinces everyone this is safe. They engage in a little animal testing (don’t tell PETA), running the doubled creature through the transporter. They put Humpty back together again, but he’s dead on arrival. The fear and shock of its two halves merging seem to have killed it.

Things don’t look promising for the Kirks. Unwilling to give up his command, Kirk alone must decide whether to undergo this dangerous procedure. Spock and McCoy argue over the best course of action: McCoy wants to wait for an autopsy on the animal, but Spock believes that Kirk’s intelligence will override his fear and allow him to survive. Kirk waffles between their two recommendations, but when he receives Sulu’s last communication before losing consciousness on the cold planet below, he’s certain they have no other choice but to risk the transporter—to return himself to normal and clear the transporter to rescue his men.

Tiberius tricks Kirk into freeing him, then knocks him out and escapes sick bay. He makes one more attempt on both Yeoman Rand and commanding the Enterprise, before Spock and Kirk arrive on the bridge. Tiberius threatens to shoot Kirk, but can’t do it. He breaks down, crying out “I want to live!”Knowing that the only way he can survive is to be reunited with his other half, he gives himself up.

This time, the procedure works and two Kirks become one again. The frostbitten landing party is immediately beamed back, and after glancing at them McCoy confidently proclaims, “I think they’ll make it.” Kirk is worried that the next five years on ship with Yeoman Rand will be awkward, but all is forgiven. Now that Kirk is all man again, it’s business as usual and the Enterprise sets course for their next calamity.

I was steeling myself for this episode, remembering the premise as being rather silly, but I was pleasantly surprised at how thoughtful it was. (The poor dog in that furry costume was very silly, but I was amused that almost every cast member cradled it at some point with a straight expression.) When I saw this one was written by Richard Matheson, the high quality of the script made perfect sense. It’s a shame he never wrote for the series again.

This episode gives us the first in a long line of transporter accidents to plague the Federation. Regardless of the mechanism for splitting Kirk into his positive and negative personalities, the conflict created is a compelling one. This is essentially a variation on the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, forcing a man to confront his darker side quite literally, but what’s so interesting is that it posits that those base urges contribute to our better qualities, that when reason and intellect rule over desire, we can master them and be stronger for them.

Perhaps this isn’t that innovative a concept (it’s as old as Plato after all) but Matheson cleverly makes his point by showing us what each half would be like without the other. I thought it curious that everyone seemed to assume that the good Kirk was the real one; even his duplicate couldn’t survive without him, whether because he was too weak or too afraid. But I preferred to view neither Kirk as the “real” one. Strictly speaking, Kirk was both of them. The good Kirk may have been able to survive without reuniting with his dark double, but he wouldn’t have been fit for command, or he may have been killed off fairly quickly on a mission.

It’s no wonder that Spock is so interested in Kirk’s condition. He tries to convince Kirk and McCoy that they should try the transporter procedure:

Being split in two halves is no theory with me, Doctor. I have a human half, you see, as well as an alien half, submerged, constantly at war with each other. Personal experience, Doctor. I survive it because my intelligence wins over both, makes them live together. Your intelligence would enable you to survive as well.

Earlier in the episode, McCoy says exactly the same thing, that Kirk’s intellect will allow him to hold onto his ability to command, even without his negative side. Yet when his friend’s life is in jeopardy, McCoy is unwilling to take a chance (still ruled by emotion) and Spock...seems to want to see what’ll happen (always the logical one). He insists that those negative qualities are key to Kirk’s strength, but never takes this to the conclusion that he, too, is better because of his human emotions. One wonders whether he would want to be rejoined with his human side if it were he who were split. Incidentally, I love that Spock is entirely unapologetic about his curiosity. He tells Kirk, “If I seem insensitive to what you’re going through, Captain, understand it’s the way I am.”

This scene where they discuss whether Kirk should try the transporter again shows the dynamic between the three main characters perfectly. Kirk is usually able to balance Spock and McCoy’s opinions and make his own decisions, but cut off from his other half, he is completely indecisive. The bond between these characters is obvious and touching throughout this episode. When the two Kirks go into the transporter, only McCoy and Spock are in the room, and Spock handles the controls himself. I was amazed that even in the face of possible death, Kirk was more concerned with comforting his friends. He tells Spock, “If this doesn’t work.” Spock replies simply, “Understood, Captain.” I thought he might have been about to tell Spock the ship would be his, but I think he’s simply acknowledging their friendship in the way that’s most comfortable for the Vulcan—by not saying it outright. He then gives McCoy an encouraging little smile as he steps into the transporter, which also speaks volumes. And then, when he survives the rematerialization, he tells them to “Get those men aboard fast” without missing a beat.

Much of this episode is handled masterfully. At first I thought the over-the-top portrayal of the evil Kirk might be too much, but it’s more likely the director made a conscious effort to evoke a horror movie tone, with the dramatic lighting and the mad close-ups. The shot where the evil Kirk thrusts his bloody hand into the center of the frame is brilliant. When we first see the evil Kirk, he can barely speak, moving with exaggerated gestures like a monster from a silent movie, snarling his words, skulking in shadows, and, finally, descending to the depths of the ship to hide like all monsters do. When Rand scratched him in the cheek, I was reminded of the unmasking of the Phantom of the Opera. Spock frequently refers to the duplicate as “it” instead of him.

The episode also provides a real shock for viewers when the evil Kirk attempts to rape Yeoman Rand. I was certainly horrified, not just by the act, but because you don’t really picture Captain Kirk doing something like that—the man doesn’t need to force himself on the ladies, after all. Rand’s emotional reaction to the experience is all too heartwrenching and realistic, even when she starts to think it was somehow her fault that it happened and apologizes to the Captain for getting him in trouble.

It’s a good thing this episode also provides a fair amount of humor, particularly in the witty banter between Sulu and Kirk. I was so impressed with Sulu that he could face his lingering death with such a cheerful attitude. That subplot was also ingenious; just having Kirk split could have carried the episode, but trapping the landing party on the planet adds a “ticking clock” and a real sense of jeopardy to drive the conflict. I did wonder why they didn’t just beam down some extra coats and blankets or something, though. And I’d forgotten that the Enterprise didn’t always have shuttlecrafts, which would at least have solved one of their problems easily.

There are many nice little moments and touches in this episode. Yeoman Rand’s character is fleshed out a bit when we see the hideous paintings in her quarters; Spock makes his first Captain’s Log entry as “Second Officer”; Kirk steps into the turbolift and gives the order, “Bridge”; Sulu and his men use the phasers to heat rocks on the planet to keep warm, which I always thought was really clever. And this episode has some of William Shatner’s best and worst acting—one standout moment is the anguished expression on his face after he decides to try the transporter again.

This may also be the episode that inspired the original slash fic writers who paired Kirk and Spock romantically: Spock walks into the Captain’s quarters and asks the shirtless Kirk, “Is there something I can do for you, Captain?” Yeah...

Eugene’s Rating: Warp 4 (on a scale of 1-6)

Torie Atkinson: While this episode is clearly indebted to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, cinematically it looked and felt a lot like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to me. Kirk’s evil half was distinguishable from his good half with the exact same physical cues used to distinguish the Robot Maria from her good alter ego: eyeliner, wide eyes, smirks and sneers, dramatic lighting (intense white on face, intense darkness in background), and extreme close-ups. Both, when fresh from creation, go around irrationally fondling things (in his case a control panel, in her case, her breasts), become wild and lustful, and ultimately use the image of their dopplegangers to wreak havoc. I have no idea if this parallel was intentional, but perhaps it’s no coincidence that when we imagine a sleek, technological future, we fear becoming separated from our basest human desires, and in turn fear those desires will destroy the clean, pure images we’ve made for ourselves. Or does eyeliner just have an inherent creep factor?

I wanted to touch briefly on two things about Kirk’s personality split that interested me: the importance of decision making, and the extent of the man’s compassion. Both of these things are seen as as absolutely central to Kirk’s identity. I think that in any other show a man’s strength would lie in his courage (often against unreasonable or overwhelming odds), or his ability to strategize (military genius is a frequent trope of a great leader), or perhaps his self-control and determination, to keep on despite demoralizing setbacks. But here Kirk’s strength is in his ability to weigh the emotional with the logical, successfully leading others down the middle path. It’s so simple and yet such a demonstration of intelligent, controlled, and balanced power. I continue to be impressed by how well the show avoids those kinds of idealized, hypermasculine cliches, favoring instead a balanced, thoughtful, and caring leader.

That leadership, that strength, isn’t built on intimidation or persuasion or even sheer confidence (which can go a long way): it’s built on compassion. His men trust him because they know he cares. I found the moment when Kirk comforts his scared, evil alter ego to be incredibly touching—it is that compassion and earnestness that’s able to persuade Tiberius later, on the bridge, to trust him. McCoy tells Kirk, “He was afraid. You weren’t.” I really like the idea that to show compassion and love is to be unafraid—that it’s a demonstration of courage far beyond any wild hostility or brutal violence. It’s the courage to be vulnerable for the sake of another. When they confront each other in engineering, it is Kirk who has the courage to say: “I need you.” That courage saves them both in the end.

Torie’s Rating: Warp 5 (on a scale of 1-6)

Best Line: SULU: Do you think you might be able to find a long rope somewhere and lower us down a pot of hot coffee?

Syndication Edits: Again, lots of little things: many brief dialogue cuts and establishing shots that are not that significant. However, Sulu’s last two reports from the planet got the axe. This leads to a weird transition, as Sulu is talking to Kirk and then it cuts to a shot of the Enterprise orbiting the planet before coming back to their dialogue.

Trivia: When we first see Kirk and his double, his command insignia is missing from his uniform. This mistake occurred because the insignias had to be removed before dry cleaning the shirts, and someone forgot to sew them back on (Source: The Star Trek Compendium by Allan Asherman). Also, in the final sequence, the scratches on Kirk’s face switch sides—at first I thought this was a clever way to show that each was a mirror of the other, but it turns out it was just a blip from reversing the film. Oh well.

Other notes: I was disappointed to discover that The Star Trek Encyclopedia by Michael and Denise Okuda lists the planet in this episode as “Alfa 117.”

For another brilliant William Shatner/Richard Matheson pairing, there is always “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” (which aired three years earlier). “There’s something...on...the wing!”

Next episode: Season 1, Episode 6 - “Mudd’s Women.” US residents can watch it for free at the CBS website.

Check the Star Trek Re-Watch Index for a complete list of posts in this series.

Richard Fife
1. R.Fife
I'd just like to say I almost find the tags to be the best part: Sulu Rocks and Silly Costumes.

Anywho, I too enjoyed the way the Kirk was split, but I was a little put off by the pure jump to "Good/Evil" that Spock made. He does backpeddle some to elaborate it's baser/animal instincts verse the byproducts of higher intellect, but I just really didn't get the feel that "Good Kirk" vs "Evil Kirk" was ever a fitting description, even with it being right there in the script (well, almost). More like Emo Kirk vs Angry Kirk, which made for far more entertaining discourse on the composition of a good leader/captain.

I was wondering about the lack of shuttlecraft too, especially since there were several clear shots of the shuttlecraft bay... I would have just accepted that the weather on the planet was not SC-friendly (in fact that is what I told myself).
Eugene Myers
2. ecmyers
Excellent comparison to Metropolis, Torie. I should have caught onto that too. And good observations on the handling of Kirk's compassion; I really liked that moment in the teaser where Kirk shows concern for Fisher's injury. It's fantastic that his ability to care for others is never shown as a weakness, but one of his greatest assets. Even when they're trying to sedate the evil double of that weird dog creature (befor they kill it in the transporter), he says, "Don't hurt him."

An even better but lesser known Matheson/Shatner pairing in TZ is "Nick of Time," one of my favorite episodes of the series. Check it out if you haven't seen it yet!
Torie Atkinson
3. Torie
@ 1

I saw the dichotomy to be intellect & compassion vs. raw emotional and physical expression. The former has no strength of will; the second has no clarity of thought. I'm not convinced at all they were supposed to be "good" or "evil"--just that we're a lot more comfortable with one over the other.

I think the setup was such for two reasons: the first, to show what makes Kirk a great leader; and the second, to put the pieces in place for exploring Spock's two sides later in the series.
Kage Baker
4. kagebaker
Brigitte Helm in Metropolis created a lot of Evil Robot Maria with her eyes. Her makeup very subtly gives the impression that one of her eyes is bigger than the other. Since we base a lot of our ideas of beauty on symmetry, the effect is disturbing on several levels.

I haven't watched "The Enemy Within" in years, but that top photo sure looks as though the makeup department has narrowed Kirk's left eye...
Mitch Wagner
5. MitchWagner
"the man doesn’t need to force himself on the ladies, after all."

OK, I don't mean to be Humorless Scoldy McScoldyPants here, but rape and normal sex stem from completely different impulses. A normal man deprived of sex (a male adolescent science fiction fan growing up in the American suburbs, for example) doesn't turn to rape -- he just sets World Wanking Records (fapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfap).
Eugene Myers
6. ecmyers
BTW, Star Trek riffs on Lang's Metropolis even more directly late in the third season, with the episode "The Cloud Minders."
7. sunjah
I thought of it as Superego Kirk vs Id Kirk (the complete Kirk being Ego).
8. dcole78
Not able to watch all of these but took the time to watch this one as I remembered seeing it elsewhere and thinking it was a great one to show what was great and terrible about the old show. Great: The intellectual writing and thought provoking storylines. Awful: little budget and incredibly bad "special" effects something that I had to age to get past (still it was sooo hard for me to get past the dog..I mean my God, the actors should have been given raises for just being able to act while holding that thing).

What worries me about the new movie is that it will be all action and none of the good thought provoking plots and philosophy which is what always made trek, trek to me.
C.D. Thomas
9. cdthomas
What about the dog wearing all that makeup and costume? What about it's feelings? It had to bark, be cool and play dead.

Insensitive speciesists...
Richard Fife
10. R.Fife
Who said it played dead? This is the 60s. ;)

Oh, I'm horrible, poor cute puppy.
11. clovis
According to a documentary by Leonard Nimoy that I saw many years ago, this was the first time that the vulcan nerve pinch was filmed (though not the first time it was shown). Nimoy stated that the script called for Spock to hit Kirk which Nimoy disliked and suggested the pinch instead. He credited Shatner's reaction to it for the success of the ploy and its continued use.
12. DemetriosX
This is definitely one of the best episodes of the entire run and James Blish shamelessly stole it for what was probably the very first Star Trek novel ever. If Torie hadn't brought it up, I certainly would have cited Sulu's "pot of coffee" line as one of my favorite bits.

The quality certainly has a lot to do with the author and it is often the case that the best episodes were written by real SF authors. Given the time period and Matheson as creator, I think sunjah (@7) may be onto something with the two Kirks representing superego and id rather than good and evil.

Finally, I don't remember (can't watch the episodes since I'm outside the US), but was there some sort of technobabble as to why they couldn't beam up Sulu and his men once Scotty certified the transporter as safe but before they put Kirk back together again?
13. Jon Meltzer
If they had tried to send the blankets down by transporter, the landing party would have received one set of blankets that felt soft but provided no warmth, and another set that might keep out the cold but would try to strangle them in their sleep.
marian moore
14. mariesdaughter
I forgot that Matheson wrote this. When I saw it, I thought that they were ripping off the Talmud:

Bereishit Rabbah 9:7:

Nahman said in R. Samuel's name: BEHOLD, IT WAS VERY GOOD refers to the Good Desire; AND BEHOLD, IT WAS VERY GOOD, to the Evil Desire. Can then the Evil Desire be very good? That would be extraordinary! But for the Evil Desire, however, no man would build a house, take a wife and beget children.."
15. Mercurio Rivera
I've always wondered who'd win in a throwdown, Evil Kirk from "The Enemy Within" or Evil Kirk from "Mirror, Mirror."

This episode is a standout for me because of Shatner's melodramatic (but perfectly suited) portrayal of his evil doppelganger. ("I wanna liiiiive!") This, along with his depiction of "feminine Kirk" (when he's inhabited by a woman in a later episode) provide the most memorable, over-the-top, Shatneresque moments of the series for me.
16. bufsprite
(I liked the dog-it looked a lot like my Pom.....)
When I saw it the night it aired, I was mostly amazed that Sulu et al. survived as long as they did in the extreme cold. Maybe because I live in upstate New York.....
17. stardreamer
Leslie Fish wrote a song based on this episode, from Kirk's POV. I'd have to listen to it again to remember most of the lyrics, but the poignant final lines have stayed in my head.

"One thought remains to shake my sleep: from which of these springs love? Cold stars! -- can both of these know love?"
18. Scooter McCrae
I'm just starting to go through all of these 'rewatchings' in order and am having a great time. You're both doing a great job dissecting what makes the episodes work but aren't blind to the faults either -- in-depth analysis by the best kind of STAR TREK fan.

What makes the horrifying attempted rape scene in this episode even sadder is that Grace Lee Whitney was sexually assaulted while shooting STAR TREK by an executive (who she has never named), which she believes was one of the main reasons why she was let go from the show.

Here's an excerpt about it from her book:


On the brighter side, I'm looking forward to reading what you have to say about THE CONSCIENCE OF THE KING.

Scooter McCrae
Eugene Myers
19. ecmyers
@ 18 Scooter McCrae

I heard something about that once, though I thought it was sexual harassment. It does put a different perspective on an already disturbing scene.

I'm glad you're enjoying these reviews. Torie had a lot of interesting observations on "The Conscience of the King."
20. Bluejay Young
"This may also be the episode that inspired the original slash fic writers..."
Selections from this and a few other episodes were used to create the ultimate Star Trek razortape, "Kirk and Spock's Love Affair" or "Love Trek: The Lost Gay Episode". Enjoy.
21. Data Logan
It's always bothered me that the director Leo Penn moved the first part of the transporter room reveal scene in post production.
As originally written by Richard Matheson the attempted rape of Rand is discussed in the Sickbay before Spock and Kirk go to the transporter room and learn about the transporter issue that has split the dog.
The original order can be seen in the script, as well as in the novelization written by James Blish. And it plays out much better in the original written order.
It seems like Penn changed the order to have the reveal of the issue of people stuck on the planet revealed earlier in the episode, but it makes everyone look bad. Why would Kirk go back to his cabin and change clothes again if there was this pressing issue to deal with? And why does Spock say "we have an impostor aboard" later in the Sickbay if he aleady knows about the transporter duplicating the dog? He should have already jumped to the conclusion that the same had happen with Kirk.

If you watch the scene when Scotty tells Kirk and Spock about the duplicate dog it's clear on the faces of Kirk and Spock that they've already heard reports of Kirk's impostor and they imediately know that Kirk has been duplicated. That is what Kirk is reacting to when he says "oh, my", not just the fact that the men are stuck on the planet.

I wished the original order had been restored at some point, like when they did the Remastering.
22. feenix219
15 - I've always thought that they were the *same thing.* In the Mirror universe, to thrive, Kirk needed to indulge his baser, animal instincts, and all of those hidden, dark qualities we see on display in this episode are the qualities that have allowed Mirror Kirk to escape death and keep his command in the Empire.

I highly suggest watching the Star Trek Continues episode, Fairest of them All, with this thought in mind. Its an excellent look at Mirror Kirk, chewing scenery from start to finish. To me the episode ranks up there with the best of them.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment