Trek Review: “The Enemy Within”

Take a person, split them into two, one good and one evil, and you will see something about yourself that you probably would never want to see.  Take a hero like Kirk and do that same thing, and you have “The Enemy Within,”  the first great opportunity in the Star Trek series to watch William Shatner absolutely chew up the scenery in a classic, riveting performance.

Just to recap the rest of what was going on:  the transporter malfunctions, splits Kirk and a funny looking animal in two, and Mr. Sulu and three other crew members are trapped on a planet where the temperature drops way below zero at night, so they will freeze to death unless the transporter is repaired.  Ardent fans of the series will no doubt ask themselves, “Why don’t they just use a shuttlecraft to pick them up?”  This is an easy trap to fall in.   The concept of the shuttlecraft hadn’t been invented yet (that comes later in the season.)

I got to thinking about if, *if*, you took the men trapped on the planet out of the equation, how could you sustain the story?  Well, there is a scene in the episode in which the Evil Kirk is obviously in pain, and Good Kirk asks if his other half is dying, McCoy confirms that he is.  That simply is it.   It’s still a race against time to reassemble the Captain as a whole person.  Neither can survive without the other.  You might lose some moments, however, like the scene where Kirk is wanting someone else to make a decision on whether to go ahead and try to put him back together or not.  Honestly, the story is probably fine the way it is.  It’s a unique dilemma in retrospect, to say the least.

Now, what would me, the 1966 viewer think?  Shatner. Emmy nod?  Perhaps.  His performance drove this story home.  Without that, the story would not be believable and campy.  He makes it work.  Leonard Nimoy certainly has a great contribution here as well trying to support his Captain.   Also you have to give major props for Grace Lee Whitney as Yeoman Rand.   Depiction of attempted rape was something you didn’t see on TV during the late 1960s, and this show is bold for tackling the issue.  Her performance proves just how much supporting characters can contribute to the overall continuity of a show.

That’s all for this week.  Next week: Space Pimping!

 

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