Episode number: 7th episode aired, 10th episode produced
Written by: Robert Bloch, the guy who wrote the novel Psycho
Directed by: James Goldstone, who directed the second pilot
Captain’s Log: The Enterprise is headed to Exo III on what seems to be a pretty trifling mission – they’re the THIRD expedition that’s headed to this planet and looked for Dr. Roger Korby, who stopped sending messages back to home base five years ago. The Enterprise is a little bit special, though, since Nurse Chapel happens to be Korby’s long-lost fiancee. While nobody else has heard so much as a peep from this dude, the Enterprise picks him up on hailing frequencies more or less right away. He asks Captain Kirk to come on down, along with Nurse Chapel.
It seems that Korby has taken refuge inside some caverns deep within Exo III. Kirk, Chapel and two ill-fated redshirts (finally!) beam down into the planet’s famed Popcorn Caverns (seen popcorn ceiling? Imagine endless shafts of that). One of the redshirts promptly falls into a bottomless pit (with a little bit of help) and then Kirk and Chapel (redshirt #2 was left at the cave entrance to get killed later) meet Dr. Brown, Korby’s assistant. Doc Brown is behaving all sorts of weird, but they still go with him to meet Korby.
When they get to Korby the whole situation becomes odder. The good doctor has an exceptionally fucking hot broad with him. That’s Andrea, and she’s dressed in a barely concealing pair of suspenders, with plenty of skin showing otherwise. God bless the 60s! Less hot is the android Ruk, played by Lurch from The Adams Family. Dressed in a big weird gown, Ruk is like seven feet of uncomfortable.
Korby tells Kirk that he can’t communicate with the Enterprise, and Kirk is really upset because he lost touch with redshirt #2 (who has been suffocated by Ruk already) and everybody starts to scuffle. Kirk ends up phasering the shit out of Doc Brown… who has wires for guts! Holy shit, everybody is an android! Even Andrea, and as you imagine, Nurse Chapel is a little concerned that her fiancee has been down in these caves for five years with a walking, talking Real Doll (even though she was totally ready to give up her Sacred Chapel to Spock just last week). To prove that the android is no biggie, he has her make out with Kirk and then slap him in the face, beginning this episode’s weird S&M theme.
It turns out that these caves once belonged to the Old Ones, an advanced race who built all sorts of androids, including Lurch. It turns out that Lurch has some other skills; grabbing Kirk’s communicator he outdoes Kevin Pollak with a Kirk impression, checking in with the Enterprise. He even does Chapel’s voice, but this makes Korby uncomfortable (there’s a lot of weird sexual tension in these caves, and you wonder if Korby would bone Ruk if he talked dirty in the right voice), so Korby tells him to cut it the fuck out and to never contradict Chapel.
Korby’s been using the Old Ones’ machines to make androids, and he’s pretty certain that androids could be the future for mankind. Immortality in a machine! To prove that an android isn’t much different from a person, he duplicates Kirk. Pretty soon Kirk is buck naked with just a steel bar over his junk, strapped into the duplicator. On the other side of the duplicator, which is like a big wheel, is a hunk of mulch. Hot broad android Andrea and creepy android Ruk man the controls – as the wheel spins, Kirk gets duplicated.
Wait up: there’s just something undeniably filthy going on here. Strapped to a metal table, controlled by a scantily clad hottie… if this doesn’t explain the thousands of dollars I’ve spent on dungeons over the years, nothing does.
As all of this psychosexual stuff is imprinted on a generation of TV viewers, Kirk hears Korby tell Chapel that this machine will duplicate him exactly – including his memories. This gives Kirk a plan – he keeps reciting to himself “Mind your own business Mr. Spock, I’m tired of your half-breed interference, do you hear?” as the wheel spins faster and faster and noises get louder and whinier and the hot android and the creepy android keep turning Playskool looking dials on a computer. When the whiz and spin and whee is done, the wheel stops turning and we see that there are… TWO KIRKS!!!! It’s like The Enemy Within, but more naked.
Chapel gets some dinner and she’s joined by Captain Kirk. They bullshit for a little while, and then when he asks her if she would betray Korby on his orders she gets all bluh bluh bluh. She asks why he isn’t eating and then… HOLY FUCKING SHIT… he reveals that he’s android Kirk. The other Kirk – dressed in Exo III wear – shows up and sits down and has some back and forth repartee with his android. Korby sends Android Kirk to the Enterprise to get the ships tour schedule; he wants to find a good colony where he can set up an android factory to prove that humanity can become immortal in robot bodies.
While Android Kirk is away, Real Kirk makes a break for it. Ruk follows, they scuffle and suddenly Kirk is hanging over a bottomless pit. Thinking back on Chapel’s last words to him – to not hurt Kirk – Ruk pulls the Captain away from the abyss. Meanwhile, Spock chats up the Android Kirk, who suddenly calls him a half-breed before returning to Exo III with the schedule. Mr. Spock, weirded out by this, decides to head to the planet to check out what the fuck is up with Kirk.
Back on the planet, Real Kirk has a big plan – he’s going to make out with the hot android some more. That plan accomplished, he yaps it up with Lurch, who tells him that the Old Ones fucked up by making androids too well. When the Old Ones realized that the androids were replacing them, they tried shutting them down, but the android fought for survival by offing all the Old Ones. At this point all of Kirk’s schemes come to fruition: Korby has to destroy Lurch when he realizes that Lurch is about to kill him (because Kirk convinced him Korby would shut him down) and Andrea kills Android Kirk when he doesn’t want to make out with her (because she’s all fucked up from making out with Kirk. Artificial or not, bitches be bitches).
But wait! It turns out that Korby is an android himself. He realizes that his android utopia was just a sex pervert’s fantasy come true, and when Andrea won’t let him go, he kills himself and her with a phaser. Mr. Spock shows up when the whole fucking mess is done. Nice timing, guy.
Review: This is a really good episode, and it’s so sexually weird that I can’t believe it happened in the 60s. Visually it has a bunch of sci-fi S&M imagery in it, but it also has Nurse Chapel quite understandably getting mad that her fiancee has been boning an android for a half decade. While the show doesn’t make this explicit, watching it with adult eyes I couldn’t take it any other way. But there’s still a bunch of power exchange stuff on display, and Kirk’s relationship with Andrea the android is way hotter than Korby’s. Kirk’s all about that artificial poontang.
There’s a lot of interesting sci-fi stuff here, as well. There’s all the surface stuff with the androids (I really dig the simple and bizarre android wheel of duplication), but then there are unanswered questions: what’s the deal with Korby? Is an android with his memories really him? Would you still be you in an android’s body? The episode seems to say no, since Android Kirk subtly differs from Real Kirk.
And then there are the supporting actors and the sets. Sherry Jackson is smoking hot as Andrea (she ended up in Playboy), while The Addams Family‘s Ted Cassidy (who also does the voice over on the opening credits of The Incredible Hulk TV show!) is an indelible Star Trek character. His look, his voice, his strength – all of these make Ruk one of the coolest characters to grace the series. And the Old Ones’ underground complex, while cheap, has such a specific Trek-y look that it feels like an ultimate Trek set. Add to that the fun, pulpy conventions like bottomless pits and the endless Kirkosity on display and you get a truly classic episode. Except for the serious lack of secondary Enterprise characters, this feels like a definitive episode of the show.
Kirkin’ Out: I hate to use the same gag so soon after The Enemy Within, but what the hell is Kirk holding here?
Kirk pretty much owns this episode, even when that hot android hotty is smacking him in the face after making out. You know he likes that rough shit. A man with all the responsibility of a starship captain likes to let loose by putting the power in someone else’s hands once in a while.
Spockmarks: Spock really gets left out of this episode. I did like the mild umbrage he took when Kirk called him a ‘half-breed,’ though.
Redshirt: Two! Two! Two redshirts this week! One redshirt gets pushed off a cliff by Lurch, while the other gets suffocated. Now we’re on the right track.
Dilithium Bullshit: Put a naked dude on one side of a merry-go-round and a lump of clay on the other, spin it enough, and you’ll have a full android when all is said and done.
Support Staff of the Week: Nurse Chapel gets one of her few focus episodes. She wins by default, and because Korby, her fiancee, later become a regular on Archie Bunker’s Place. .
Continerdity: Nurse Chapel gets pretty much her only bit of backstory filled in here. Like so many other backstories, it never again comes into play. Kirk’s safe combination would come into focus in the famous Saturday Night Live ‘Get a life’ skit when one of the convention goers asks Shatner what his combo was. For those without lives, it’s different in this episode than it was in future episodes. This is one of many episodes of the original show about perfect human androids, and yet Data still looks like a mime in The Next Generation.
Set Phasers to Quote: “How do you do, Miss Chapel? I am now programmed to please you also.” – Andrea
Four Positive Baby Clint Howards Out of Five
Star Trekkin’ – Introduction
Star Trekkin’ Day 1 – Where No Man Has Gone Before
Star Trekkin’ Day 2 – The Man Trap
Star Trekkin’ Day 3 – Charlie X
Star Trekkin’ Day 4 – The Naked Time
Star Trekkin’ Day 5 – The Enemy Within
Star Trekkin’ Day 6 – Mudd’s Women