Episode number: 5th episode aired, 5th episode produced (whoa!!!)
Written by: genre superstar Richard Matheson, the guy who wrote the book I Am Legend
Directed by: Leo Penn, father of Sean Penn!
Captain’s Log: Kirk is poncing around with a landing party on some alien planet (to continue the theme of ‘How did we not know Sulu was gay?’ we see the navigator has found a fluffy link pink dog on the planet and is cradling it like he’s going to put it in his purse and take it to lunch in Beverly Hills). One of the crewmen takes a tumble down what looks like Mustard Mountain and cuts his hand. When he beams up the mustard dust – which is magnetic! – screws with the transporters, but Scotty doesn’t hesitate to beam the captain back. Kirk shows up weakened and everybody conveniently leaves the transporter room. Conveniently because a few seconds later the transporter turns itself back on and another, more sinisterly lit, Kirk shows up. It’s his evil self!
Evil Kirk wanders the ship; he comes to sickbay and demands Saurian brandy from McCoy. Then he stumbles on Janice Rand’s quarters and tells her that he can no longer ignore what a beautiful woman she is, and how tall her hairdo has become. He demands her Yeowoman parts – quite forcibly. He gets her down on the floor (no pinball machines being available) and is about to deliver a photon torpedo when she scratches his face and escapes.
Good Kirk gets confronted about his raping ways, and he brushes it off, showing that he has no scratch on his cheek. But pretty soon it becomes obvious what’s happened and that there’s a Dick Kirk running around the Enterprise. The other Kirk is rapidly devolving into a Pussy Kirk – he can’t make decisions and he doesn’t have any of his command abilities or instincts. When Pussy Kirk announces to the crew that there’s an evil duplicate of him running around, Dick Kirk first has the Shatnerian freak out to end all Shatnerian freak outs, and then he goes into the Captain’s make-up drawer and covers the scratch with some foundation.
I’d like to pause this recap to emphasize that Captain Kirk has make-up in his quarters. Foundation.
Meanwhile, the spacepoodle has been beamed up to the ship and everybody
sees that the little fucker has been split into two. Mr. Scott doesn’t
dare beam up the rest of the landing party, even though the temperature
on the planet’s surface is quickly falling – and will reach 120 degrees
below zero! Mr. Sulu and friends try to keep warm on the surface, but
it’s -20 and they’re wearing nothing but velour shirts.
Dick Kirk gets cornered in engineering and there’s a brief stand-off between the two Kirks. In inimitable Star Trek fashion, a stunt double, who appears to be a foot taller and 20 pounds heavier than Shatner, is used for some scenes where both Kirks are in the shot. Finally Spock takes Dick Kirk out, but not before he fires off a phaser shot that fucks up the transporter EVEN MORE! The camera zooms in on the tableau of Pussy Kirk, Spock and knocked out Dick Kirk, who appears to be a guy that doesn’t even resemble Shatner in the least. They might as well have had Sammy Davis Jr in a Starfleet uniform.
Spock and Scotty think that they have the transporter problem solved, and they try to beam the double dog through to see if it will become one whole dog. Fido, however, dies. Nobody knows what to do now; Dick Kirk is tied up in sickbay but Pussy Kirk is getting weaker. They’re going to end up dying if they don’t get put back together, plus the entire landing party is going to freeze to death. In a touching scene, Pussy Kirk holds Dick Kirk’s hand and they feel better – finally Shatner gets to act out his own immense self love. Spock, meanwhile, is just fascinated by the psychological implications of the whole thing, yapping on about how it’s Kirk’s bad side that makes him a good leader.
When Pussy Kirk decides to solve the problem by beaming together with Dick Kirk, Dick Kirk (or a nine foot tall stuntman in Shatner’s clothes) gets the drop on him, beats him up, scratches his face so they look alike, and heads to the bridge. Dick Kirk orders the ship out of orbit, essentially telling Sulu to fuck off, and then Pussy Kirk shows up with McCoy. Dick Kirk throws a tremendous hissy fit and grabs the helmsman’s head and then starts crying. Wait, which one was Pussy Kirk?
As Sulu et al are freezing to death (as evidenced by their being covered in the white spray paint they use to create fake frost in store windows at Christmas time), the two Kirks go through the transporter. There’s a moment when nobody’s sure and then… the real, solo Kirk appears. He gives the order to beam up the landing party and everybody’s okay!
Finally, in an amazing moment, Janice Rand comes up to Kirk. Earlier Dick Kirk had explained to her exactly what happened, but she calls him ‘the imposter’ anyway, and basically apologizes to Kirk over that whole ‘crying rape’ business. Then Spock comes up to her, arches his eyebrow and says: ‘The imposter had… some interesting… qualities, wouldn’t you say, Yeoman?’ YEAH LIKE THE DESIRE TO RAPE MEMBERS OF HIS CREW! That’s certainly ‘interesting,’ Mr. Spock.
Review: What an embarrassment of riches. At the heart of this episode is an interesting concept about what makes up who we are – without his lustful, brutal animal side, Kirk is a simpering loser. The key to his greatness as a Starship captain is the way he keeps that side of himself in check (interestingly, when the same shit happens to Riker in The Next Generation (did they simply remake half the Original Series episodes for that show?), the two halves are totally identical. That guy’s such a fucking twit).
While that’s an interest concept played out in science fiction terms, the astonishing hamminess of William Shatner turns every Dick Kirk scene into a camp fest. It’s bad enough that they cover him in sweat and then light him like he’s Hitler about to eat a Jew baby, but the Shat oversells the badness in the character every moment. His Pussy Kirk, meanwhile, just seems distracted.
What’s irritating, and what will take a modern viewer out of the episode, is the question of why they don’t send a shuttlecraft down for the landing party. Technically, nobody had decided the Enterprise had a shuttlecraft yet, as it wouldn’t be introduced for many episodes, but someone should have thought it out. On top of that, it seems insane that there’s only the one transporter room, especially one that’s just human scaled. It seems to make sense that considering the number of supply runs that the Enterprise does there would be some sort of freight transporter. Obviously the landing party being stranded is an integral part of the conflict for this episode, but it seems like there are too many potential workarounds to create any real tension.
Spockmarks: Spock’s growing irritation at Pussy Kirk’s inability to lead is delightful, as is his clinical detachment when discussing the Rapey Side of Kirk.
Redshirt: The only death in this episode is the weirdly cute alien dog.
Dilithium Bullshit: Wait, so magnetic dust worn during a transport will split you into a good side and a bad side? It somehow delineates between parts of your personality?
Staff of the Week: Obviously Janice Rand. Besides my well-known infatuation with Rand, she proves herself to be the best kind of Starfleet officer: the kind who will endure an attempted rape by her commanding officer and then feel bad about having to report it.
Continerdity: Not much continuity here. While the Vulcan Nerve Pinch was invented for this episode, it debuted the episode before. Kirk had also already let us know that he had the hots for Rand in the previous episode. Saurian brandy shows up again, and that little dog makes a future appearance as a stuffed trophy head in The Squire of Gothos.
Set Phasers to Quote: “I’m Captain Kirk! I’M CAPTAIN KIRK!!!!!” – Bad Kirk
Three Positive Baby Clint Howards Out of Five