Star Trek (TV-Series): The Enemy Within (Season 1, Episode 5)

Synopsis:

Stardate 1672.1. A technical glitch in the ship’s transporter divides Captain Kirk (William Shatner) into two opposites: one gentle, one mean. The crew of the Enterprise works diligently to fix the transporter and put the Captains back together.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“I have to take him back… inside myself. I can’t survive without him.”

“It’s a unique opportunity to appraise the roles of good and evil in man,” Spock (Leonard Nimoy) coldly declares. The Enemy Within explores the duality of human nature. While some elements of the narrative don’t stand up to scrutiny, the episode is driven by an intriguing and fundamental existential idea: What makes us human?

The Enemy Within was written by none other than celebrated writer Richard Matheson (The Incredible Shrinking Man and I Am Legend). Matheson was allegedly inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Throughout his career, the author was more interested in fantasy than science, so the episode takes many liberties with science — it’s best to ignore the inconsistencies and enjoy the allegory.

An added plus is an intriguing scene regarding the near-rape of Yeoman Rand, played by Grace Lee Whitney. It’s “fascinating” to see Spock, of all people, interrogate Rand. The scene would have been written completely differently today and that’s precisely why this sequence is interesting. It demonstrates that while the TV show was ahead of the curve in many ways, the program couldn’t completely escape the time in which it was created.

As I suggested before, The Enemy Within contains a few moments that don’t ring true. For example, there is a subplot about a landing party stuck on a planet with freezing temperatures. The crisis seems totally manufactured. The subplot does give super-helmsman Sulu (George Takei) a chance to get away from the bridge.

William Shatner gets to play two versions of Captain Kirk — one timid, the other aggressive — and it looks as if the actor is having a blast (Shatner played “Two Kirks” in a handful of episodes!). Shatner, of course, overplays the “Bad Kirk.” But he is surprisingly effective as the indecisive and subdued “Good Kirk” — it’s a committed double-headed performance. There are also a few heated and very interesting philosophical debates between Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelly).

Conclusions & Final Thoughts

While not perfect, I liked The Enemy Within quite a bit. It does suffer from some of the narrative inconsistencies of the early episodes. Producer Gene Rodenberry was still trying to figure things out, so I’m trying not to be too critical of Season One’s episodes. A must-see episode for Richard Matheson fans! Color, 50 minutes, Not Rated.

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7 responses to “Star Trek (TV-Series): The Enemy Within (Season 1, Episode 5)

  1. It’s one of the most memorable episodes of the first season, despite its flaws (as you correctly pointed out)! And Shatner shines, he was amazing in this kind of episodes (Turnabout Intruder comes to mind, for instance)!

    But yes, as far as sexism goes, it’s easy to tell that this series was made more then 50 years ago…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It had been maybe thirty years since I’d watched the series on TV, and now that I’ve purchased all three seasons on Blu-ray, I’ve been watching them in broadcast order, which has been a lot of fun. I’m still on Season 1, and though there have been flaws like you mention, I’m still enjoying this series more than the other ST entries. I’d say my favorite episode so far is ‘The Corbomite Maneuver’.

    (I forgot you’ve been going through the Season 1 episodes and reviewing them…I need to get caught up!)

    Liked by 1 person

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