This episode has always been kind of a hit-and-miss for me personally. It really shouldn’t be, given that it’s written by a great science fiction novelist in his own right, Robert Bloch.
How it comes across for me is that it’s a story that’s 80% there, but just missing a couple of things that could make it an all-out classic episode.
What always bothered me is having Christine Chapel in this story. She just happens to have signed onto a starship and this mission just happens to come up? Talk about convenient! If you were to go back and read some of the ideas suggested by Bloch in the earlier drafts of the story, you might find a potentially better tale, but the story is still a little problematic.
What shines in this episode is the guest starts, Michael Strong as Dr. Roger Korby and Ted Cassidy (whom you may remember as Lurch on “The Addams Family”) as Ruk, the android who doesn’t remember how old he is.
Their performances are quite stellar in this episode.
A cute moment I’ve always liked is the real Kirk planting the insult of Mr. Spock in his android duplicate’s mind…
“Mind your own business, Mr. Spock. I’m sick of your half-breed interference, do you hear?”
I’m not sure if that was suggested by Bloch or if that came in later script rewrites that Gene Roddenberry did on this episode, but nonetheless, it’s ingenious Kirk logic to set the wheels in motion to get out of the peril at hand.
If I were around in 1966, I would have felt the same as I do now after seeing this episode for the umpteenth time. It’s 80% good, but there’s still room for the story to be a little more solid.
That’s all for this week, next week… BONK BONK! BONK BONK!