Star Trek: TOS – S01E05/E06 “The Enemy Within” and “The Man Trap”

“The Enemy Within”

Season 1
Production Order #5
Airing Order #5
Directed by Leo Penn
Written by Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson is one of the biggest names in 20th century sci-fi writing 16 episodes (including the Shatner starring episodes “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Nick of Time” as well as “The Invaders”) of The Twilight Zone, a number of the Corman-Poe films, DuelThe Night Stalker/The Night Strangler, and Trilogy of Terrornot to mention the novels I Am Legend (which can be credited for playing a huge part in creating modern zombie fiction), The Shrinking Man (which he adapted to film), A Stir of EchoesWhat Dreams May Come, and innumerable short stories including “Third From the Sun”, “Steel”, and “Button, Button”. This is his only contribution to Star Trek and it introduced (to the best of my knowledge) the trope of having a person split into two different halves representing their different personalities and also seen in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “The Replacement” and The Ring for example.

William Shatner has quite the reputation for hamminess but to this point he’s been fairly restrained. “The Enemy Within” offers him the chance to let loose and boy does he ever. Kirk is split into two when he is transported back onto the ship, a good side and a bad side. The good side is an awful leader paralyzed by any decision while the bad side yells at Dr. McCoy for brandy, attempts to rape Yeoman Rand, yells about how he’s Captain Kirk, and raves at just about everything. His bad side is such a ham he can’t even pretend to be the other side. It’s a shame Spock seems to be the only person fascinated in what this split truly means (because the rest of the crew are too much of a meathead to care about anything) since there is a lot to unpack there. While the episode only seems concerned with it proving Kirk has feeling for Rand, it reads to me more as Kirk having to suppress his urge to rape her daily and that as Dark Helmet would attest “good is dumb” and at the very least incompetent.

The show actually reveals early on that there are two Kirks and I thought for sure they would play that up more. Thankfully they didn’t though and they don’t even reuse the tired hiding it from the crew plot as he reveals it almost right away that the evil Kirk can be identified by the scratches (and also the different clothes to make it super obvious to the audience). There is also a ticking clock as the world below is freezing but since there was that major transporter error, they can’t bring anyone back on board until it’s fixed. I love Sulu’s humor as he freezes with the show never making light of the situation but it does give him some development as someone who copes with a bleak situation with humor, a concept lost on most of the crew.

It’s almost turning into a trend for the show to rub against interesting ideas and deep themes and yet not capitalize on them but Evil Kirk makes this episode completely worth watching. I’d hardly call it good acting, but it is just pure unrestrained id and evil and fun to watch. While Kirk as a character is better when he reigns it in (as opposed to the below episode) I can certainly see the appeal of when he doesn’t. I just hope this is the minority since it makes it far more special. Any deeper analysis is left out in favor of more shots of good Kirk waffling but it’s at least a good opening to any discussion.

Grade: B

Stray Observations
– For once airing and production order line up so that’s nice.
– The strange animal that recurs in this episode is clearly a dog in a stupid looking suit and yet they insist on continuing to show it off.

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– At least they killed that stupid thing off that. I may not like small dogs as a rule, but in general if you are getting me to root against a dog, you done messed up.
– No humans die though again.
– Nice victim blaming of Yeoman Rand, Kirk. And you are supposed to be the good side too…
– More playing McCoy off of Spock as McCoy is reluctant even to agree with him. I think we are supposed to sympathize with McCoy but I never do.
– Once again Spock brings up his half humanness and how he clearly sees it as a weakness. I’ll get into that a bit more below but I think the show is going for a different tone (boy look how cold and serious and inhuman Spock is) than what it achieves (boy do humans suck).
– Also nice job trying to make Spock into a dick by implying that Rand found her would be rapist attractive. You have crossed into and maybe exceeded Jack Arnold territory Mr. Roddenberry.

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“The Man Trap”

Season 1
Production Order #6
Airing Order #1
Directed by Marc Daniels
Written by George Clayton Johnson

There’s something odd about that fact that 3 weeks and 6 episodes in, we are only now getting to the premiere episode of a show. While the wonders of modern technology allows us to watch the episodes in any order and in fact know the production order, at the time this was the public’s introduction to Star Trek. While not a pilot, this is the episode that had to introduce the concept, the characters, their relationships and everything else that is generally expected of a pilot. Compared to “The Cage” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before” however, it makes no such efforts. It just dives right in with Kirk, McCoy and a doomed (pre-redshirt) Darnell beam downing to the planet and leaving an offscreen Spock in charge. It’s as clear a justification as any so far to watch in production order.

On the planet, the three men meet up with McCoy’s ex-love Nancy who looks radically different to Kirk, McCoy and Darnell. Kirk sees her as she should look, McCoy sees her as he left her last and Darnell sees someone else completely. Since he was just introduced this episode, Darnell dies under mysterious circumstances, later revealed to be a sudden loss of all salt. Two more beam down, two more die and it is almost comical how little the lives seem to matter to the show and how the apathy over the loss of non-lead characters’ lives is starting to leak into the feelings of everyone but Kirk. It seems like the sort of discussion that could naturally play between the Spock-Kirk-McCoy love triangle the show seems obsessed with but they miss that chance here largely thanks to McCoy.

“Nancy” possesses the ability to change her appearance and transfix people with the latter rendering the former kind of useless but in practice it seems to be used more for when the former fails, she just gets bored, or if it’s just a different scene and the writers are getting bored. The show does not seem to have any patience for making mysteries for the audience, all but revealing Nancy’s ability and desires (salt, salt, and more salt) right off the bat and then revealing it fully not long after. This departure from the typical format for shows is not necessarily a bad thing but the dramatic irony can make certain decisions by the characters seem a bit dim and their actions seem a bit aggressively callous. The alternative method gets the audience at least on the side of the characters and gets them to forgive certain behavior since dammit, they want to know too. It also means that the episodes seem to go into autopilot at the midpoint since there is nothing much left to reveal and no new tricks up the episodes’ sleeves. The second part just defaults to Nancy murdering people on the ship and painful attempts to convince McCoy that the woman who changed appearance to him and has clearly been murdering people isn’t actually his lost love.

I may have preferred “The Cage’s” more subtle and natural introduction of everyone and this is sort of in that line (since it actually gives certain underdeveloped characters like Uhura, Sulu, and Rand slightly more to do) but it’s still clear that it was not intended to establish anything and is no better of an introduction than any random episode. Speaking of those three, Uhura is actually some characterization as another person in conflict to Spock’s lack of emotions. Unlike McCoy’s aggressively dickish behavior to him, Uhura instead goes more for appealing to the human side and seeking to have Spock embrace it. As for Rand, once again we get more of her as if her main role to be ogled by everyone (and presumably the audience) but at least she does get a nice long scene with Sulu and a bunch of his plants. Her joke about expecting the male plant to grab her is more depressing than funny and at this point I’m not sure how awful the writers think men are but they are certainly doing a great job portraying them as such.

It’s all just so very dull and I can’t see how anyone would think this is a decent introduction to the series. Maybe the lipstick like red splotches and comical crossfades made this episode easier to plop out quicker then more effects heavy one, but there’s no reason else I can think of for not putting any of the prior episodes by production order (even “The Cage”) on the air before this one. A lame villainous alien and lacking even the basic philosophical discussions or questions of the previous episodes. Heck it didn’t even have the action of them.

Grade: D+

Stray Observations
– “He’s dead, Jim”
– The alien planet is tiny and cheap looking for even Doctor Who and the basic desert set seems to be Star Trek’s version of all those quarries.
– Well there goes that pattern of no one dying
– Nice job predicting the extinction of the buffalo. That bison burger I had for New Year’s Eve dinner had to be a horse (yes I know things were looking grim for it at the time but just pick one of the generic choices like the dodo to prevent yourself from looking like an idiot in the future).
– Nancy appears to Uhura as a Swahili speaking, handsome crewman who nearly sweeps her off her feet despite even admitting he isn’t real.
– Spock may be half-human but already the writers seem to forget that as he says that his ancestors spawned from a different ocean and that his blood cells work differently. Without getting into the nonsense of interspecies reproduction, the fact that Spock seems to identify solely with his Vulcan side offers up some really interesting stories about his race and the fact that everyone is prejudiced against him. It’s as if the Vulcans are the modern (for the show) version of many issues arising for black and biracial people. I expect the show to never deal with it.
– The show continues to juxtapose McCoy and Spock. So far Spock is the far superior character in every respect and it really just makes me dislike McCoy. If they want to make their conflicting perspectives to Kirk effective, they should be doing a much better of making them similarly equal in effectiveness and relevance.
– I give McCoy a lot of shit but I do at least acknowledge that killing of condemning someone to die who looks like your lost love would be hard (at least acknowledge that though) and is pretty standard sci-fi stuff. It’s frustrating as a viewer though especially for someone who is supposed to be a doctor and theoretically one of the smarter people on board.
– Nice job killing off the last of her kind who was only trying to survive. I know this is standard sci-fi stuff but The Federation is basically the European powers at the height of the age of imperialism and I expect the show to never acknowledge this or how close it resembles The Alliance from Firefly.
– Also, HA! I did get this up early. Don’t expect that to always be the case but I’ll try.

Next Up: Star Trek: TOS returns on Friday for “The Naked Time” and “Charlie X” but not before we check in with Doctor Who on Monday for the completely missing “The Macra Terror”.