Today people we are going to look at a real classic. I chose to review Star Trek right now for a few reasons. 1: it’s been awhile. 2: that Picard trailer came out 3. I needed something to break up Dr Who and couldn’t find a classic movie at the moment.
Ok so this episode is indeed a classic, you have probably heard the elements of the story before “transporter accident” and “evil duplicate” well this is where those tropes started with Star Trek.
The episode’s starting sequence has the crew arrive on the planet Alpha 177 when a geology technician tumbles getting covered in a strange dust. When being beamed back it causes a reaction and the transporter is damaged but no one notices too much (EXCEPT THE MIGHTY SCOTTY!) Kirk is beamed up and immediately after he tells them to not leave the transporter room unattended, it’s left unattended and an evil duplicate of Kirk is beamed on board (you can tell he’s evil due to the music, and the way the camera focuses on his eyes and eye shadow, more proof of my evil eye shadow theory).
What follows is actually a better story than you would think and definitely a more thought provoking one. As it turns out it’s not actually a duplicate but Kirk has been split between his “good” and “evil” halves. There isn’t really much of an ooh which one is real angle or confusion as people can easily see that “evil” Kirk is the “evil” one. This means the time it takes for the characters to catch up to what we know is fairly short (which is good I always hate knowing far more than people in shows as they stumble around failing to understand what we figured out half an hour ago).
Of note this is one of the few episodes with Janice Rand a female crew member originally meant to be the romantic interest to Kirk before they booted her so he can have a different girl every episode ( I wonder did I mention yet Star Trek The Original Series was really bad to women?) And just a warning evil Kirk does attempt to rape her so just a warning going into that.
What is probably the more thought provoking element of the episode is that it shows that the “evil” side of Kirk has the will power and motivation that is shown to be lacking in “good” Kirk and that “good” Kirk is slowly becoming more ineffective as noted by Spock who though understanding that it must be reversed it provides a amazing opportunity for study (of which McCoy calls him out on, yep even in the earliest episodes they knew they hit gold with those two).
Of course the main draw on a basic level is to be able to see Shatner just over act the hell out of “evil” Kirk, it’s fun to watch except maybe that scene with Rand that can be uncomfortable.
There is a ticking clock to the episode as when they find out about the duplication process that means they can’t beam up the people on the planet that goes far below Zero C at night and Sulu is in danger. Problem is 2 things. (A) why don’t they use the shuttles ? and (B) they find this out from a dog they stuck in a stupid outfit for no reason. The reason they can’t use the shuttles is they hadn’t made them yet; in fact they would first be made as part of a toy deal to get the contract. Problem is in canon they would still have them even if they didn’t have them made yet so yeah… big plot hole there that fortunately the episodes action keeps you from asking too much.
As you can see The Enemy Within is a classic episode and being so early on you can see many of what Star Trek would become known for before it became clichéd so it’s basically a mandatory watch. What could have been a dull duplicate story wound up being a more thought provoking one thanks to it not making the “good” vs. “evil” stuff too one-sided.