Thursday, December 1, 2016

Good Trek / Bad Trek #7 The Enemy Within

Looks like I was wrong again. I saw the title for the show and just assumed it was one about the mirror universe, but that will come later I suppose. Instead, we get a different mess of an episode. Captain Kirk gets split into two shitty versions of himself. I’ll be honest, I was starting to get into this show. I was even starting to like Kirk. Leonard Nimoy is settling into Spock. The plotting of the show is still pretty awful, but still fun to watch for the most part. I was thinking that maybe I was just wrong all along. I had just seen a couple bad episodes and the TOS really is awesome and I was just wrong for avoiding it for so long. I was just coming off The Naked Time, which was a great episode so I was looking forward to keeping that going. 

I’m not going to say I was right initially, but this was just a fucking mess of an episode. Just a goddamn mess. It’s called The Enemy Within AKA The One Where Yeoman Rand Really Gets Put Through The Wringer. Here it is. 


They’re on a planet just kinda hanging out. Sulu found a dog wearing a costume so I guess that means that there were either smart humans or really smart dogs. Nobody knows. We get some real clunky exposition to start the show. Don’t even know why. We’re on the planet and Sulu and Kirk have a conversation about how it gets to be -120 degrees at night. Okay. They bring it up like five other times throughout the show. I guess a writer just learned that other planets might get pretty cold and this just blew his mind. 
Highlight of the episode

A crewman trips and falls and scuffs up his hand and has to beam back to the ship. The transport doesn’t go all that well, but they beam up Kirk right after and he’s feeling woozy. Right after he and Scotty leave the transporter room the transporter engages again and another Kirk beams up. The orchestra and squirrelly lighting let us know that this is a bad Kirk. 

Evil. Sweaty and Evil. 

Bad Kirk runs around and generally causes ruckus after ruckus. He heads to sickbay to get some booze. Why they keep the booze in sickbay I don’t really know. Heads over to Yeoman Rand’s quarters and tries to rape her. Then beats up a crewman who tries to stop the raping. Really a lot of uncaptain-like behaviour. 
Kirk: Making space great again

Turns out the either the yellow ore they beamed up or the dog in the Halloween costume overloaded the transporters so now every time they use the transporters not only does whatever they beam up come up but also an evil version too. Or whatever it is that’s being beamed up gets split in two and one becomes weak and passive and one becomes evil and aggressive.
What these littel guys are all about would've made such a better episode

So mean Kirk is running around and being a real jerk. They put out an APB for a guy who looks exactly like Jim Kirk, but you know…evil. They find him, give him the ol’ Vulcan nerve pinch, and boom evil Kirk is done captured. They still can’t beam up the away team on account of the transporter is still making duplicates. Plus now bad yang Kirk shoots a hole in the side of the transporter, but it wasn’t really working anyhow. So whatever. The planet is getting cold which they keep on telling us. Sulu is getting pretty chilly so Scotty better hurry his ass up and get that stupid thing fixed, because they keep on reminding us every three minutes that Sulu is going to freeze to death, which nobody wants. 
Kirk: Making space great again. 

I’m skipping a bit, but they think they’ve found a fix. They try running the two pups through, but it kills it. Kirk says fuck it, let’s roll, but evil Kirk gets out. But of course they capture him and go through and boom, two become one. I assume they get Sulu before he freezes to death. Kirk teases the lady his evil part tried to rape, they take the parking brake off, get out of dodge. 

This week in slash fiction inspiration: Spock swings by to fix the space cable of a fresh out of the shower Kirk.

Does this episode suck?

This episode could easily have been about twenty minutes shorter. There are multiple scenes that don’t need to be here at all. The first twenty minutes couldn’t and should’ve been pared down to roughly three minutes. That’s how clumsy the plotting and pacing is. I’m watching it now and really think that folks watching back then would have been happier watching commercials. Had the concept B plots not been invented yet?

Holy fucking shit does this episode ever shit on physics. I mean this transporter is just creating people out of thin air and nobody really seems all that surprised by that. That’s a pretty big deal when you think about it. That’s one of the laws of the universe and the Enterprise treats it like a minor inconvenience standing in the way of beaming up their away team. People are being duplicated out of thin air. Matter is just becoming MORE MATTER! The universe is going to explode. That’s a big fucking deal. 

Fuck all the Kirks in this episode. All three are douches. His evil twin nearly rapes Yeoman Rand and at the end of the episode and he makes a joke about it. Jesus Christ. That’d be shitty enough to begin with, but he’s also her boss. It wasn’t an evil imposter. The bad Kirk was part of him that got separated from himself. I’m not saying that both of them should be held equally accountable for everything bad Kirk does, but joking about how your transporter separated physics defying duplicate damn near raped your yeoman, that’s not cool bro. The fixed Kirk at the end is just as bad as Evil kirk. 

This isn’t a foreign concept to Star Trek. Most of the other series have had episode where something happens to their body and they get duplicated or they become evil or they get an emotion chip implanted that allows them to behave all crazy like. Most of these episodes suck. I don’t know why they writers are so eager to do it either. Every one of these “I’m my own opposite now!” episodes seem like they were written at the behest of the actor just so they can really hit the ham hard. Kirk does not dissapoint in that regard. 

Lot of weird stuff about how Starfleet works. Spock yells at Kirk about telling the crew the full truth about what’s going on. Spock thinks that if the crew knows what’s what then Kirk will lose their respect and then he’ll inevitably lose the ship as well. Then later when Kirk yin and Kirk yang are about to head through the transporters to become one he makes Spock promise he’ll take command of the ship if it doesn’t work. Yeah. That’s how the chain of command works. The captain can’t command the ship then the second in command takes over. That’s why they’re called the second in command. This isn't a Klingon Bird of Prey, there are rules. 

I mean they have shuttles don’t they? If they mentioned why they couldn’t just take the trusty old Galileo down and fetch the away team I didn’t catch it. I’d rewatch it and see if I might’ve missed it, but it’s a bad episode and I don’t feel like watching it again. Is that too wrong of me? Maybe, but I don’t give a shit. If you want to know so bad then you can watch it.

Was This Good Trek?

There are a lot of problems with the transporters throughout the Trek universe. It’s a really error prone piece of technology. Maybe that’s why the folks on the Enterprise treat this particular accident so nonchalantly. Maybe folks periodically just get duplicated and have their personalities duplicated. It’s right up there with the holodeck, which should not be allowed. That should really just be put on the shelf for a while. I know it’s already the future but it needs to be saved for the future's future. At least the transporter in necessary for getting around. The holodeck is just for shits and giggles. 

VOY: Tuvix

In terms of other Trek to watch, if you’re looking for a slightly better episode about a crazy transporter malfunction I’d go with VOY’s Tuvix. This one features a bananas transporter malfunction that accidentally fuses two crew members making them become one person. I wouldn’t say it’s a great episode, but at least when the transporter makes the impossible happen, everyone reacts how’d you’d expect. It’s nuts and everyone recognises it as such. It also raises some ethical questions that The Enemy Within doesn’t even pretend to. Okay, now that the transporter has created a new person, even if it is by fusing two other people or by separating another, does that new person have any rights? Can you ethically just fix the transporter issue and destroy the new person? Plus Tim Russ’s Tuvok is one the most underrated characters on any Trek incarnation. 

TNG: Rascals 

Another crazy ass transporter malfunction leads to a crazy ass problem. Picard, Keiko O'Brien, Guinan, and Ensign Ro accidentally become children again. They have all the memories of their adult selves, but now look like they're children. In Picard’s case, he also gets a sweet adolescent boy voice. The episode is mostly comedy because the Ferengi show up and try to take over the ship, failing because of the meddling by those pesky kids and their darn targ.

TNG: Second Chances

The transporter splits someone in two again. This time it’s Commander Riker. Turns out eight years prior during a rough beam up he accidentally got split into two people. So for the better part of a space decade, his clone has been sitting on a planet’s surface just hanging out. The Enterprise stumbles on him and he has to come to terms with his lost eight years and living with a duplicate who’s gotten to live those lost years. 

TNG: Sarek

This one doesn’t have any crazy transporter malfunctions, but it’s still a damn good episode. Spock’s father Ambassador Sarek is hitching a ride on the Enterprise to carry out his final diplomatic mission for the Federation. The reason I’d throw that one in threes that Sarek is an old Vulcan who, due to his age and illness can no longer control his emotions the way Vulcans usually do. In order to complete his mission he transfers his volatile emotions to Picard. Both Patrick Stewart’s Picard and Mark Lenard’s Sarek spend time not in control of their emotions. They both treat their roles seriously and really make you feel for the characters. Shatner’s evil Kirk is just fucking dumb. I was just starting to like him, but goddamn does Shatner ever suck in this episode. 

That’s it for this week. Next week is Mudd’s Women. Which I’m sure is to be a very respectful look at sex work in the future. 


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