Monday, January 19, 2009

The Enemy Within

There are almost no words for this episode.

But that's the point of this whole endeavor, so I'll do my best to form a few.

In this episode, a transporter malfunction creates what seems to be a duplicate Captain Kirk ... an EVIL Captain Kirk. The basic premise is enough to keep anyone away, but it's what happens BEYOND the setup that makes this episode noteworthy. Because, let's be honest, that is a really corny idea for an episode. Borderline stupid.

Thankfully, the obvious extension of that idea is executed rather quickly. We're only subjected to a quick bit of the obligatory Evil-Kirk-doing-bad-things-shtick. That quick bit, by the way, is actually pretty phenomenally hilarious. "You're too beautiful to ignore ... too much woman."

Beyond this pageantry, the story actually flirts with fairly interesting dualistic ideas. You see, it's not an "evil" Kirk, we find, but that Kirk himself has be cleft in twain. The compassionate side, and the animal. The drama of this episode comes from the realization that one cannot function without the other. Who we took to be "good-Kirk" begins to falter in his command abilities. He NEEDS that elemental side, albeit in a balanced and controlled way.

This brings to mind what we've said previously about Kirk's character. As a moral exemplar, he doesn't change. The drama of his character has to be found in other ways. Many episodes pit him against opposing elements against which he can further define himself. This episode doesn't do that exactly, either. It does, however, give us a very unique and interesting look into the makeup of his character. Even if it uses a now hackneyed plot device to achieve it.

Spock is also afforded decent insight in this episode. To help Kirk (and in turn, the audience) understand his predicament, he draws a parallel to his own existence as a half-vulcan, half-human. Leonard Nimoy seems to be feeling comfortable as Spock by this point, and the character really shines here. Miraculous, as it really is seen as a Kirk-centric installment.

Worth a watch, if only for the pomp on display in evil-Kirk, and certainly for the territory the show covers beyond that. That being said, It isn't high-philosophy. It uses very elementary terms to describe what I consider a much deeper concept.

The fact that they touch on it at all is admirable indeed.

Stay tuned tomorrow for "The Man Trap."

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