Friday, February 3, 2017

Let's Stop Pretending: Star Trek episode 4, "The Enemy Within"

Tonight's episode:




It's a classic installment, one that has a great deal to recommend; but I'd be a liar if I said it's ever been a personal favorite.  In trying to figure out why that is, I've come up against a bit of a wall.  Here's a peek behind the curtain for you: it is currently 3:57 AM.  Earlier tonight -- when it was still yesterday -- I spent several hours laboring over five or six paragraphs for this post.  The intent was to express a simple idea: I've never been a big fan of this episode, even as a child, and _________ is the reason why.

Thing is, I didn't actually know why.  I kind of thought I did, but as I wrote it out, it made less sense to me every sentence further in I got.  Writing these posts is almost always an enjoyable process for me.  Duh!  Why else would I do it?  The latinum?!?  "Fuck" and "no," my friends, "fuck" and "no."  No, it's for the enjoyment of the thing, and that enjoyment is almost always present when I go looking for it.

It was utterly absent earlier tonight while I sat here and agonized over the words I was typing.  I was doing a poor job of convincing myself, and it showed.  I decided to take a break for a while, so I went and did some housework, and came back to it.  The result: delete, delete, delete.  All that shit had to go, and go it went.

When I find myself in a pickle of this nature, what I often do is steer into it.  Driving on an icy road and your car begins to swerve?  Steer into it.  Blogging about a favorite subject and your thesis abandons you?  Steer into it.
 

The bottom line is: I don't know why this episode fails to rank as highly with me as it does with many Trekkies.  Maybe I'll figure it out during the course of writing this; but then again, maybe I won't, and either way, I'm good with it.  It's an episode that invites psychological thinking, and so it'd be natural for me to persist, and get to the bottom of my inner conflict with the episode; but it also seems natural to allow that inner conflict to continue to hold the upper hand over me, and call it a temporary loss which will be rectified at some point in the future.

With that in mind, I think that the best way to proceed is to simply take a one-by-one approach to some of the topics that stood out enough to me to make an appearance in my notes.   Will this yield anything of interest?  No way to know until we get there.

I'll begin with perhaps the tritest imaginable issue: the fact that if anyone had bothered to use a fucking shuttlecraft, Sulu and company could have been rescued from the planet's surface in about half an hour.  I bet I'm the 14,872,693rd person to point that out online.  And here's the thing: it's true.  But here's the other thing: the series did not, at this time, have shuttlecraft as an established part of the storytelling.  It's unknown to me whether Roddenberry and the other creatives on the series had even thought of them yet.  Either way, this was the fourth episode to be produced (fifth if you count "The Cage"), and the first shuttle would not appear until the fourteenth-produced episode, "The Galileo Seven."

What I'm saying is, it's just not fair to hold the lack of rescue-by-shuttle against this episode because in this episodes, shuttlecraft DO NOT EXIST.  Later episodes reverse course in that regard, and that is the fault of those episodes, not this one.

If that way of looking at it doesn't work for you, you might respond more positively to an in-universe retcon.  Hey, I just so happen to have one of those laying around!  In fact, I've got two of them.  Let's check 'em out:

Scenario #1: it was not, at this point in time, Starfleet policy to use shuttlecraft on Constitution-class vessels.  Therefore, the Enterprise had none.  However, between episodes, Kirk -- as a result of the events of this episode -- raised such a stink with the admiralty that they decided to change their policies.  Scotty oversaw a quick retrofit that transformed a large aft recreation deck into a shuttle bay.

Scenario #2: due to the near-disaster resulting from the drained lithium crystals in "Mudd's Women," the shuttlecraft were still without power due to their own individual crystals having been pressed into emergency use so as to keep the Enterprise from doom.  The miners were willing to sell Kirk enough crystals to get the ship's main power up and running, but refused -- thanks to the general feelings of ill will -- to sell him enough to replenish the shuttlecraft.  So after they remanded Harry Mudd into Starfleet custody (probably via a nearby ship rather than a visit to a starbase), the Enterprise sailed off to the next closest planet where lithium could be obtained.  This, as it turns out, was the planet featured in "The Enemy Within."  However, since no mining operations had yet been established there, Kirk sent down a team -- headed by Sulu -- to attempt to extract and process the needed minerals themselves.  It is unclear whether the mission was successful.

There you go!  I could honestly live with the second one; the first one is transparent horseshit, but in a pinch, it'd do, at least for me.

The really-for-real answer is, of course, that the production simply did not include shuttlecraft as of this episode's making.  Personally, I'm past the point of needing to make every little piece fit into a grand chronology.  I'd prefer if it did, and I still get grumpy when I perceive there to have been an inadequate attempt to do so in the modern era; but I don't need it to work that way, and I especially don't need that right here at the dawn of the series, when people had not even quite managed to figure out what the show was, much less how to make it all flow together seamlessly.  For sixties television, it's an unrealistic expectation to look back upon it in that manner.  So if you can't roll with that, and you're unwilling to accept one of my retcon attempts, then fella, I can't help you none.

Moving on, my notes next offer up the issue of what to call the two Kirks so as to distinguish between them.  My natural inclination is to call one Good Kirk and the other Evil Kirk, but not only is that lame, it's somewhat inaccurate.  Only somewhat, though, as Spock does verbally refer to them as the good and evil sides of Kirk.  For some reason, however, I balk at following him down that road.  It's not a particularly logical way for Spock to look at the issue, and it really doesn't work for me, even though most of the episode lends credence to the designations.

What I came up with is Emo-Kirk and Aggro-Kirk.  I think I might have stolen "Aggro-Kirk" from someone else; whoever you are, please consider yourself quasi-credited.

One of the problems I have with the episode is that Aggro-Kirk seems more aggressive than Emo-Kirk does hesitant.  This is certainly true at the outset of the episode.  In many ways, Emo-Kirk seems mostly like ... well, like Kirk.  Not fully; he's clearly a bit off from the moment he steps down from that transporter pad during the episode's cold-open.  But in no way is he as pitifully weak in Emo-Kirk's first few scenes as he would have to be to equal this:








Much less some of what comes fairly soon thereafter.  It's another element that probably can be explained away by using story logic, if one is intent upon doing so.  I'm not.  I just see this as screenwriting deficiency.  It's not a deal-breaker for me, but it does persist throughout the episode.  Emo-Kirk remains capable of giving the occasional order, for example, even though he really ought to not be able to do so.  Similarly, Aggro-Kirk is able to reign himself in in certain moments; and, again, he really ought to not be able to.  But if Matheson and Roddenberry and friends had gone the route of making Aggro-Kirk into a sort of growling Neanderthal and Emo-Kirk into a simpering ball of mush, then that's a different story altogether, isn't it?  Perhaps a more consistent one, too; but not, I would say, necessarily a better one.

No, I'd say that what Matheson and company did here was focus on making emotional sense rather than logical sense.  And while it resulted in an episode that still, decades later, has never managed to fully work for me ... I cannot deny that it's a widely-beloved enough episode that one really must come to the conclusion that it was a wise and effective decision.  I received a phone call from a friend earlier tonight while laboring away at the aborted first draft of this post; I told him what I was working on -- "the episode where Kirk gets split into good and evil twins" -- and he said, "Oh, shit yeah, that's a great one!"

And so it is!  Just ... not as much for me as for Trekkies in general, you know?

We've now reached the point in the post where we have to talk about the sexual-assault scene.  But honestly, what can I say about it that isn't self-evident by watching it?  Probably not a whole heck of a lot, unless I want to use it as a springboard to get into talking about more generalized issues about rape, objectification, and so forth.  I've got plenty of thoughts on all of that, but is this the right venue in which to discuss them?  For some bloggers, that's probably a yes; but for me, I find it's a no.  I found it mostly to be a no when I wrote about "Mudd's Women," and it's even more the case here. 
  
This surprises me, as I had sort of been assuming that it would be a primary focus of the post.

Here we are, though, and I'm either crying off due to inadequacy or I'm deferring the topic to others.  Take your pick.  I'll extend an offer: I'll be happy to get into those issues to whatever degree you see fit, provided it's in the comments.

Let's briefly sidestep the assault scene and talk about a hypothesis I developed while watching this episode: namely, that a few scenes had been reordered during the editing process.  My assumption is that this was done specifically so as to impact the attempted-rape scene.

Here is the order in which several scenes in the episode progress:

  • Aggro-Kirk walks into Yeoman Rand's quarters
  • Spock pays Emo-Kirk (who he thinks is Kirk) a visit to check on him 
  • Emo-Kirk and Spock, seemingly having been summoned to the transporter room, are told by Scotty about the alien dog having been duplicated by the transporter; the scene ends on Emo-Kirk looking shocked by Scotty's suggestion that the same thing could happen to a man who was transported
  • Aggro-Kirk assaults Rand
  • Spock confronts Emo-Kirk in his quarters over the assault charges made by Rand
  • Aggro-Kirk goes to Kirk's quarters
  • Emo-Kirk, Spock, and McCoy confer with Rand in sickbay; the scene ends with Spock asserting that there must be an impostor aboard (bringing the first act to a close and sending the show to commercial break)
  • Emo-Kirk and Spock are, as the second act begins, once again in the transporter room with Scotty, Emo-Kirk holding the meek alien dog and having a conversation with Spock about the fact that he himself has a double onboard

There are three things here that make me think some scenes were shifted around.  First, the fact that when Spock first confronts Emo-Kirk with the assault charges, Emo-Kirk says he's been in his cabin since Spock left him earlier.  This is not true; he's been to the transporter room, at minimum.  Second, given that Spock has by now been told by Scotty about the transporter duplication of the alien dog, doesn't it seem likely that he would have logically deduced that there must be a violent duplicate of Kirk aboard?

Finally, the fact that the second act begins in the transporter room suggests to me that the first act was originally designed to end there, as well.  I suspect the original order was this:

  • Aggro-Kirk walks into Yeoman Rand's quarters
  • Spock pays Emo-Kirk (who he thinks is Kirk) a visit to check on him 
  • Aggro-Kirk assaults Rand
  • Spock confronts Emo-Kirk in his quarters over the assault charges made by Rand
  • Aggro-Kirk goes to Kirk's quarters
  • Emo-Kirk, Spock, and McCoy confer with Rand in sickbay; the scene ends with Spock asserting that there must be an impostor aboard.
  • Emo-Kirk and Spock, seemingly having been summoned to the transporter room, are told by Scotty about the alien dog having been duplicated by the transporter; the scene ends on Emo-Kirk looking shocked by Scotty's suggestion that the same thing could happen to a man who was transported; the first act likely would have ended on Kirk's wordless recognition that this must have happened to him when he beamed up from the planet's surface
  • Kirk and Spock continue the scene in the transporter room with Scotty, Emo-Kirk holding the meek alien dog and having a conversation with Spock about the fact that he himself has a double onboard

This is all speculation, of course, but it seems logical to me.  My guess is that the producers simply wanted to end the first act on a stronger note, so they chose to end on Spock's point-blank assertion of the presence of an impostor.  That would have had serious implications for the runtime of both the first and second acts, however, so scenes had to be shifted to accommodate going out on that moment.  Or perhaps there was some other reason altogether.  OR, perhaps the episode always ran that way.

It is likely that the James Blish adaptation will be able to shed some light on this, since it was written from the screenplay.  Something for us to look forward to!

Many people have pointed out that for 1966 American television, the assault scene is shocking stuff.  Having not seen a majority of '60s television, I can't swear that that is actually true; for all I know, there was a rape scene on every third episode of both Gunsmoke and Bonanza.  It certainly seems true, though. 
  
For my part, I'm troubled less by the scene itself than by the way the fallout from it is handled elsewhere in the episode.  The scene itself is uncomfortable, but that's okay: it should be uncomfortable, shouldn't it?  That makes it a fundamentally honest scene, and I think that makes it a good scene.  But some of the adjacent scenes strike me as less honest by a considerable margin.

Let's start with this:





This moment is the button on the end of the episode.  Rand has just brought a report to Kirk, and the two of them have shared a short moment which indicates that they will be able to go on working together professionally.  Spock says to Rand, "The, uh ... the impostor had some interesting qualities, wouldn't you say, Yeoman?"  Rand gives Spock a withering look and then walks off, leaving Spock smirking in self-satisfaction.

Let's leave aside the degree to which the emotion displayed by Spock is uncharacteristic.  After all, they were still figuring the character out, so much so that Nimoy gets rather emotional during one scene in this episode when Spock is talking about how his two halves are constantly at war.  In that moment, it seems like the human half is winning, which is fine, except he's talking about how the Vulcan half is winning.  But so be it; I can live with that, and even enjoy it, given how good Nimoy is in the scene.

In no way can I forgive Spock making a joke to Rand that is clearly designed to elicit an emotional response from her.  If I absofuckinglutely HAD to, I could retcon it into being a moment in which Spock is experimenting with what he perceives to be human humor.  But fuck that; no he isn't, he's just being plain old cruel.  Can't buy it, don't buy it, won't buy it.  I'll buy all the Syboks in the quadrant before I buy this horseshit.

Sadly, I can (despite being -8 years of non-age at the time the episode aired) put myself in 1966 just capably enough to see what they were going for.  The idea here (as I see it) is that Spock has probably witnessed evidence of the mutual attraction Kirk and Rand have for one another, and believes that secretly, Rand must have wanted Kirk to "take" her.  Perhaps he feels that in obliquely pointing that out to her, she will engage in some self-reflection and find that Kirk is really not to blame in any way.

In other words, Spock is sort of taking Aggro-Kirk's side.  He may as well say to her, "After all, Yeoman, you were asking for it by wearing those miniskirts."

And the thing is, in 1966, that's the sort of thing you could actually get away with!  I don't say that as a positive.  It's am embarrassing moment, possibly one of the all-time worst in any incarnation of Trek.  But I think we have GOT to remember that it would not have played that way in 1966.
  
Does that excuse it?  Absolutely not.  Still, we have to face a fact that sometimes eludes the average Trekkie: in some less-than-savory ways, Star Trek was -- and (in its TOS guise) is -- a product of the less-than-great time in which it was produced.  Trek aspired -- aspires -- to take us to a time when we are beyond all that, and it has helped inspire a great many people to move in that direction.  I should know, because I am one of them.  But in some ways, its feet are trapped in clay; in some ways, it is a Neanderthal screaming about how badly he wants to be a man.  TOS deserves credit for trying to be more than it had the ability to actually be, but going hand in hand with that is the fact that it must occasionally be reproached for failing to follow its own lead.

One such moment: Spock smirking at Rand because he knows that she really wants it.

A more subtly problematic moment comes during the scene in sickbay in which Rand is confronted by Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.  Is "confronted" the right word?  Would "questioned" or "interviewed" work better?




Nah, I'm stickin' with "confronted."

I've never been in a room with a woman shortly after she was sexually assaulted.  I hope I never will be.  I'll tell you one thing: if and when that time comes, I'm going to make it a point to be at eye-level with her.  I'm certainly NOT going to loom over her, with my hands behind my back.  I'm not going to make her feel as if it's more important for me to find out what happened than it is to find out if she's okay.  Granted, if I need to find out if there is somebody impersonating the captain of a starship in the vicinity, I guess I might have to ask her a few questions just as a safety issue; but still, there's a better way to do it than this.

Whitney is great in this scene.  It's arguably the best acting she does on Star Trek; and, for the record, I've been a Yeoman Rand fan my whole life.  Always loved her; always wished she had been in more episodes.  One of these days, we'll talk about why she wasn't; gonna be a few episodes, but we will get to it, believe you me.

The quality of the acting set aside, there's something in this scene that stood out to me on this rewatch and bothers me greatly.  Two things, actually.

The first is Rand talking about how she wouldn't even have mentioned the whole thing, not wanting to get the Captain in trouble.  Oh, my...  Once again we find ourselves with our feet firmly trapped in clay.  Janice might think she speaking from the 23rd century, but uh-uh, nope: she's speaking to us from 1966.  No, the hell with that; she's speaking to us from 1956.  Rand should want to get the Captain in trouble.  It's not even a question of that; he's gotten himself in trouble.  She would simply be ensuring that he pays the penalty for doing so. 
  
This is a problem that is still hanging around in 2017; maybe by the 23rd century it really will be gone, but if "The Enemy Within" is any indication, it won't be.  And so we are in the position of making that rare hope: that Trek gets this one wrong.

The second thing that bothers me here is something else Rand says.  She is recapping some of the things "Kirk" told her, and reports that he said something about how he was the Captain, and "could order her."  She doesn't finish the sentence; she doesn't have to.
  
Thing is, Aggro-Kirk says nothing of the sort.  What he says is this: "You're too beautiful to ignore; too much woman.  We've both been pretending too long.  Stop pretending.  Let's stop pretending.  Come here, Janice; don't fight me.  Don't fight me, Janice."

Why, then, does Rand mention him threatening to "order her" to do what he wants?  The best possible explanation is that there were originally lines of that nature in the screenplay, and they got cut either before they were filmed or during the editing process.  Here again, perhaps James Blish will be able to help us later.

Another possible explanation is that the screenplay is purposefully having Rand get her facts wrong.  If so, then this could be taken as a hint that women sometimes say incorrect things after having been sexually assaulted.  Did Richard Matheson imply that intentionally?  I wouldn't think it would matter much either way.  Intentional or not, I think that's what the moment implies, and it's reprehensible.  Somebody get my feet out of this fucking clay!

This is all turning into a bummer, so let's briefly turn our attentions to something that is bound to lift the spirits: the performance of William Shatner.




Shatner is sometimes criticized for being hammy or over the top (or both) on occasion.  "The Enemy Within" is one of the performances frequently cited as proof of this.

Here's my thing: I don't agree, but I also don't have much to say about that.  Dog Star Omnibus already said it all.  (You should also check out McMolo's post devoted to "The Enemy Within."  It's terrific.)

All I can do is echo that blog a bit and render my own verdict: that Shatner is a force of nature in this episode.  Bad acting?  Get the fuck outta here.  His Aggro-Kirk is terrifying, and if Shatner is over the top in a few of those scenes, it's because Aggro-Kirk himself is over the top.  That's kind of the point.  We're going to ding Shatner for doing an inspired version of the very thing the screenplay called for him to do?!?  Not in this dojo.

Shatner is just as good as Emo-Kirk.  He's just as pathetic as his other half is terrifying, and is really quite understated in those scenes.  In a way, it's almost as if it's not just warring Kirks we are seeing, but warring Shatners.  There's a clear winner among the Kirks, but with the Shatners, I declare both sides to be victorious.

Each viewer will make up his or her own mind about the performance, of course.  The only additional thing I will say to try to sway you is to point out that even if you find Shatner to be guilty of overacting in this episode, I'd ask you to consider the specifics of how he is doing it.  Take it on a moment-by-moment basis; examine what is going on.  If you end up still thinking it's a hammy performance, then I guess that's fair enough.

For my money, though, this is genius-level acting.

Before we move on from Shatner, I'd like to replicate a comment I left on one of those Dog Star Omnibus posts to which I linked earlier:

I saw Shatner speak on campus at the University of Alabama [in 2000] and attended with a small group of friends. I'm a little shocked we got in; the place was, as you might imagine, packed. He was terrific; just absolutely terrific. He did not sound as if he was telling stories he'd told a million times before (although he probably was); he sounded like a man who'd been put on Earth to stand on a stage telling stories.

The Q&A session was almost entirely devoid of the type of face-palming questions you expect to hear at such events (and almost always DO hear)...except, of course, for the very first guy in line. With all the nerd-style lisping you'd get in a parody of such a scene, this guy asked a variant on the question of whether Shatner felt like Kirk or Picard had the superior approach to captaining.

Shatner fixed the guy with a steely gaze for several seconds, and there was nervous chuckling from the audience. Shatner then asked, in a low, serious, tone of voice: "What do you REALLY want to know?" The place erupted in applause, and the dork returned to his seat, defeated.

It was a great moment.

As you pointed out, one can say what one wishes about Shatner, but the bottom line is this: he's been an instantly-recognizable star -- a superstar, one might even argue -- for six solid decades now. There won't be two actors in 100,000 who can make a claim like that. It's an astonishing legacy.

I stand by every word of that.  I might refrain now from calling the dork a dork.  Or maybe not: he really was a dork.

[Sidebar: this lecture by Shatner also lives in infamy among my circle of friends by virtue of it being the place and time where a great anecdote was told by Andy Duncan (who is himself a noted sci-fi writer).  He was talking about Doctor Who, and related to us a tale of watching an episode one day when he was a child.  His father, who was a salt-of-the-Earth sort of fellow, strolled into the house and asked young Andy who that person on the television was.  "He's a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey," Andy answered, honestly.  His father paused for a beat, and then said, "He's a piece of shit, is what he is."  This clarification caused Andy's father to erupt in gales of laughter; the telling of the anecdote caused ALL of us to erupt in gales of laughter, Andy included.  To this day, I cannot think of the good Doctor without that anecdote springing to mind.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.]

A few more random thoughts before we turn to the behind-the-scenes stuff:

  • Quite a few firsts for this episode: the first appearance of Kirk's green shirt; the first "He's dead, Jim!" from Bones; the first visit to Engineering; and the first Vulcan neck-pinch.
  • Speaking of that green shirt of Kirk's, what's the deal with that thing?  Is it an off-duty shirt?  Also, is that an actual kind of shirt that exists in the real world?  It appears as if you put your arms in first, like a button-up, but then somehow wrap it closed.  Weird.  I never have understood that shirt, man.  I'm not quite invested enough to research it, but just invested enough to carp about it here.
  • Does it seem as if Aggro-Kirk knows almost immediately that he owes his existence to a transporter malfunction?  He gives a lot of odd attention to the transporter console during his first scene, and I can't make that work in my head unless he knows -- or suspects -- what has happened.
 


  • The scene in which Aggro-Kirk is in Rand's quarters, silently observing her before she knows he's there, is mirrored by an earlier scene in which Emo-Kirk walks into his own quarters and find Rand sitting there waiting to give him a set of reports.  Here, too, he sees her before she sees him.  It almost appears as if Rand wants to begin a conversation, but Emo-Kirk shuts it down before it begins, and she leaves, somewhat meekly.  The later scene with Rand and Aggro-Kirk, obviously, has a very different outcome.  The two scenes are almost inverses of each other.  Interesting!
  • I apologize for pointing this out, but the stand on which Rand's painting sits appears to have two golden, tumescent penises sprouting from it.



  • I'm the 7,894,656th person to ask this question, but: why does Kirk have skin-tone makeup in his quarters?
  • One of my favorite moments is when Aggro-Kirk spots Wilson walking down the corridor and asks him for his phaser.  Wilson, who seems to sense that something might be up, reluctantly hands it over.  Aggro-Kirk asks, unconvincingly, "How've you been?"  Now, why does he do that?  In my mind, it's because he's got just enough composure to try to pass for normal by doing the things he thinks he's supposed to do.  What do you do when you begin an awkward conversation?  Ask how the other person is.  Wilson replies suspiciously, "Fine, sir."  Aggro-Kirk can tell from Wilson's tone that his ruse has failed to work, so he judo-chops him into submission.  This delights me to no end.




  • The score by Sol Kaplan is great throughout, and is perhaps at its best during the scene when the Kirks first encounter one another.

Let's turn our attention now to:




What do we learn from Marc Cushman this time around?

  • Richard Matheson: "I had just looked at Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and immediately saw the potential of using that transporter device for separating the two sides of a person's character.  Having an accident with that offered a good way to study the alternative personality.  And it was part of my original concept that he [Kirk] needed that negative element in his personality in order to be a good captain.  I think, probably, we're all mixtures of good and bad.  If any one of us was all good, we'd be boring.  And leaders have to have that drive and that ambition."
  • Roddenberry worried via memo, "Wonder if the NBC censors will allow an attempted rape scene?"  [I myself worried that I'd find out in this book that the rape scene had been Roddenberry's idea.  But, no: it was Matheson all the way.]
  • Roddenberry added the "ticking-clock" story element of the crew members stranded on the planet surface.  Matheson later expressed some dissatisfaction with the amount of runtime devoted to that subplot, feeling the time would have been better spent on the Kirks.
  • Roddenberry, in a letter to Matheson: "Let's keep in mind that even this negative side of Kirk would have our Captain's intelligence and thus even the most evil things would be done with considerable cleverness."  Roddenberry also suggested that "we should begin to suggest that the real Kirk has been changed by all this too.  Deprived of the negative side... he must begin to lose some of the strength that positive-negative gives a man.  Decisiveness would be one of the first things he'd have trouble with."
  • The episode's director, Leo Penn, was Sean Penn's father.
  • For the sickbay scene in which Yeoman Rand accuses Kirk, Whitney's performance was aided by Shatner smacking her across the face for real.  This shocked her so much that she got the scene done in a single take.  It was so impressive that the cast and crew applauded her.
  • The screenplay called for Spock to subdue Aggro-Kirk by punching him.  Nimoy had a better idea, and -- with director Leo Penn's approval -- invented the Vulcan neck-pinch.
  • The filming of the attempted rape took the better part of a day, partially because Whitney's beehive wig didn't respond well to all the exertions.  Whitney reported that Shatner's grip on her arms was so strong that she had finger-shaped bruises on her arms for days.
  • Whitney in 1986: "I love 'The Enemy Within' because it gave me a chance to really react and act with Bill Shatner.  I love it!  I loved the whole concept of him breaking into two characters because that really was what Kirk and Rand were about.  There were two sides of Kirk and two sides of Rand.  Rand was there to be of service to him but she was also in love with him.  But she knew she mustn't over-go the boundaries." 

 


Not much here that is specific to "The Enemy Within," but there is a mini-biography of Kirk that is well worth duplicating:

Every ship must have a man at the helm.  STAR TREK's man is James T. Kirk, serial number SC 937-0176 CEC.  He holds the service rank of Captain, his official position is Starship Commander, and his current assignment is the U.S.S. Enterprise.
     The normal mission of a starship places the vessel out of communication with Earth and Star Fleet Base for long periods of time.  A starship captain therefore has unusually broad power over both the lives and welfare of his crew, as well as extensive jurisdiction over people and activities encountered during the course of the vessel's mission.  He also functions as an Earth ambassador both [sic] to known alien societies in his sector of the galaxy.  The loneliness and the enormous responsibilities of this position place an extreme burden on the man who holds it.  Only an extraordinary man can rise to this position.
     Captain Kirk is such a man.  He appears to be about thirty-four years old and was born in a small town in the State of Iowa.  He entered the Space Academy as a midshipman at the age of seventeen, the minimum age allowed.  He attended the Academy and finished in the top five percent.  Kirk rose very rapidly through the ranks and received his first command (the equivalent of a destroyer-class spaceship) while still quite young.
     Kirk has been in command of the Enterprise for more than four years and was the youngest Academy graduate ever to have been assigned as a Starship Command Captain.
     Although Kirk has never been married, he does have relatives back on Earth.  His father is dead, but his mother is still living, as is a nephew.  Kirk's only brother, Sam, and Sam's wife were killed in a planetary disaster.
     James T. Kirk is an idealist, rather sensitive, with a strong, complex personality.  Constantly on trial within himself, he feels acutely the responsibility of his position and is therefore fully capable of letting the worry and the frustration lead him into error.  Ignoring the fact that he is also capable of fatigue, Kirk is often inclined to push himself beyond human limits.  When he must give in to fatigue, he then condemns himself because he is not superhuman.  The crew respect him, some almost to the point of adoration.  High regard for their Captain notwithstanding, no senior officer aboard is fearful of using his own intelligence in questioning Kirk's orders, and will be strongly articulate up to the point that Kirk signifies his decision has been made.  The young Captain is definitely a man of decision and decisive action.

This book was first published in September 1968, around the time the show's third season was getting ready to air.  Interesting, then, that Whitfield and Roddenberry specify that Kirk has been in command of the Enterprise for four years.
 
Another bit I wanted to share involves not Kirk, but William Shatner, who, Whitfield tells, "reacts rather badly when hearing the two words 'fruit salad.' "
 
     Shatner isn't really peculiar.  It's just that the very mention of fruit salad takes him back several years when he was a fledgling actor with the Repertory Theater.  In order to have a roof over his head and clean clothes to wear, Shatner had to economize somewhere.  He did it in his selection of food.
     He says, "Daily, and sometimes twice a day, I shelled out twenty-seven cents for a plate of fruit salad at Kresge's lunch counter in Ottawa.  It helped make my budget work, but to this day I not only can't bear the sight of the stuff --  I react somewhat violently at its very mention."
 
Can't say I blame him.
 
Speaking of Shatner:
 
 
 
 
I'm going to keep adding books into the mix until I feel like I'm reading too much about Star Trek, so expect a steady influx of new books.
 
Nothing about "The Enemy Within" in my reading from Star Trek Memories this time, but there's a lovely passage about young Gene Roddenberry that is well worth excerpting:
 
The real story of Star Trek doesn't start at a television network, or in a film studio.  In fact, it doesn't even start in Hollywood.  It starts in a box.  An ordinary cardboard box, 24" X 36" X 36".  At one point a soap carton, this large corrugated rectangle, ragged and dusty, now sits in the sun-baked dirt backyard of a modest home, in the middle of El Paso, Texas, in the middle of the nineteen twenties.  There is nothing at all special about the box itself; in fact, it's a rather beaten-up grocery store castoff.  However, if you were to look inside this box, you would find something rather unexpected . . . a small, sickly, rather handicapped little boy.
     The kid's got all kinds of problems.  He has trouble breathing, and suffers frequent unexplained seizures.  He squints because his eyes can't adjust properly to sunlight.  His legs are weak, spindly, uncoordinated and unsteady.  As a result, and as you might expect, he is extremely self-conscious, embarrassed about his physical stature and withdrawn.
     Here, however, within the comfortable confines of his own backyard, he can escape the limitations of a less than perfect body by diving into his beloved collection of books, becoming a part of the dream world they hold captive within their pages.  It is a world far preferable to the one that lurks ominously outside the picket fence, a world in which he can, with the turn of a page, perform any task imaginable, and become any great character he wants to be.
     With a book in his hand, he can instantly become a Zane Grey cowboy, or Robinson Crusoe, D'Artagnan, Hawkeye, Ishmael, Huck Finn, literally anyone he can imagine.  Astounding Stories, a science fiction magazine of the era, is an absolute favorite and a revered complement to his stacks of more formal literature.  Its pulp pages are filled each week with fascinating and exciting stories of incredible, impossible stuff such as space travel, visits to the moon and the like.  The cheap nickel magazine holds tremendous value for this particular kid, and that brings us back to the box.
     This box, you see, is not just a box.  It's a spaceship, at least as far as this boy is concerned.  Its flimsy paperboard walls suggest the frame of a great and powerful vessel, and its tiny interior houses an entire crew of imaginary intergalactic heroes.  At the helm, a bold and strong captain travels fearlessly about the universe discovering new worlds, societies and life forms, as well as routinely saving the cosmos from the ravaging advances of unfriendly space-traveling bad guys.  The box, by now misshapen and rather tattered, serves an incredibly important purpose, in that it provides, on a regular basis, an outlet wherein this one sick child can completely forget about his physical shortcomings, his illnesses and the frightening impositions and realities of the real world.  Inside the box, he's healthy, he's happy, he's safe.
 
It's interesting, and kind of sweet, the Shatner -- who is sometimes portrayed as an egomaniac -- begins his first memoir by painting a word picture of Gene Roddenberry as a small child.  Star Trek Memories was released in 1993, by which point Roddenberry was no longer alive.  But in those opening paragraph's of Shatner's, he feels very much alive to me, and I find it to be a moving evocation of a man whose work has had a tremendous impact on me.  It's myth-making, of course; and there are those who insist that Gene Roddenberry is not worthy of such efforts.
 
Be that as it may, there is simply no doubt that Roddenberry has become a somewhat legendary and/or mythical figure.  If it happens to be that the man himself was somewhat lesser than the legend...?  Well, it's hardly the first time that's ever happened, and it certainly will not be the last.
 
Shatner's depiction of young Gene probably says more about Shatner himself than it does about Roddenberry, of course.  It's compelling to consider that Gene might have imagined himself to be a spaceship commander while "flying" that box; and it's compelling to imagine that Roddenberry held on to that idea for decades, until he finally created a character to televisually represent those flights of fancy.  If so, it's not hard to imagine that in writing this evocation, Shatner has imagined that he -- in the form of Captain Kirk -- represents a very advanced version of Roddenberry's fantasy about he himself being a spaceship commander.  Shatner must feel a sense of responsibility toward that young man, who has long since become an old man and passed away.
 
If so, I think he's done right by the young boy in the cardboard box, who could hardly have asked for a better representative.
 
Shatner's words also put me in mind of my own version of being the boy in the box.  I was not sickly as a child, so I didn't have to deal with that sort of thing, thankfully.  However, I do remember -- and vividly -- pretending to be the captain of a starship.  When we would visit my grandparents, the room my brother and I stayed in was at the back of the house, and it had a desk with a typewriter on it.  It was an old typewriter that had not, so far as I knew, been used in what might have been decades.  The keys still clicked and clacked, though, and I enjoyed sitting at the typewriter and pretending it was the console of a starship.  Not just any old starship, either: the U.S.S. Enterprise.  So I'd sit there and look out the window at the nearby houses and down the streets and I'd pretend to be Captain Kirk giving orders to Sulu and Chekov, and then I'd pretend to be Sulu and/or Chekov, and I'd follow the orders
 
That typewriter was a prop in these little plays I'd enact for myself, during which I got to be out among the stars, fighting the bad guys and seeing what there was to see.
 
I'd stay with my grandparents for a week or so on occasion (during summer breaks, for example).  One memorable time, I stayed with them between Christmas and New Year's while my parents took a trip.  (My brother wasn't there; he was taking another trip with a friend and his friend's family.)  It was memorable for me because I did only one thing the entire time: I wrote a Star Trek novel.  I made up my own crew and everything.  And I wrote that hundred pages or so right there in that room; not on the typewriter -- I wrote in longhand on lined yellow notebook paper -- but with it always present as a sort of silent champion.
 
It's a nice memory, and the fact that reading this evocation of Gene Roddenberry via William Shatner put me in mind of it makes me smile.
 
 
 
 
We now turn to our friend James Blish, whose adaptation of "The Enemy Within" appeared in 1972's Star Trek 8.
 
Before we go any further...
  
If you recall what I said earlier about suspecting some scenes had been edited into a different order than originally intended, I have what seems to be a semi-definitive answer: yes indeed, they surely were.  Blish presents them in exactly the order I speculated they were originally intended to be in.  Cool!
 
Other things worth noting:
 
  • Blish consistently refers to the "evil" Kirk by using the pronoun "it."  He never uses "he" or "him" or "his," but always a version of "it."  This reinforces me feeling that Aggro-Kirk is taking the place of a monster in a monster-story format; but it weakens the notion that this aspect of Kirk is just as fundamentally human as Emo-Kirk is.  And in the end, I think this is one of my major roadblocks to being able to fully embrace the episode.  I'm just not sure the intent of the episode matches the reality of the episode.  There are certainly some mixed signals in Blish's adaptation.  (By the way, regarding this pronoun issue: in the finished episode, Spock refers to the double as "it," but McCoy uses "him" and "he."  In Blish's adaptation -- which means also in the screenplay -- they both use exclusively "it," and it only Emo-Kirk who feels his twin deserves the more human pronouns.)
  • There are a number of scenes and moments present here that are not present in the final episode, including: Emo-Kirk encountering McCoy in the corridor just after beaming back onboard; McCoy reporting the wild-man actions of "Kirk"; Spock receives Fisher's call for help, and runs to Rand's quarters, where he finds Fisher bleeding on the floor and Janice sitting in a chair, stunned; and, finally, Blish makes it clear that the "makeup" in Kirk's quarters is actually a healing compound.
  • Blish's version does not have "the double" grabbing McCoy by the neck when it he demands brandy.  This suggests to me that that bit was probably Shatner's invention on the day.  Whoever is responsible deserves kudos.
  • Blish's version also does not have the brief bit in which Emo-Kirk finds Rand in his quarters when he gets there.  I wonder when that was added for the episode, and who added it?
  • Blish's version of the assault scene does not go as far as the episode's.  For example, Rand does not end up on the floor with Kirk pinning her until she scratches her way free.  Janice instead scratches him after he kisses her in an "openly brutal" manner.  However, Blish once again is of use in clearing something up: we find that here, Aggro-Kirk DOES mention the possibility of ordering Rand to do as he wants her to do.  "Shall I make that an order, Yeoman Rand?" he says.  Gross.  Speaking of which, he responds to her query of whether she can do anything for him by saying, "You bet you can."  As presented here, some aspects are more explicit, but it seems as if the director and the actors jettisoned some of the verbal intensity in favor of making the physicality of the scene more brutal.  Very interesting.
  • Blish takes us inside Rand's mind to let us know exactly what she is thinking during the assault scene.  He draws on ideas about how Rand actually is in love with Kirk, and before things get out of control, she's sort of glad that it's happening.
  • The double does not ask Wilson how he's been shortly before judo-chopping him.  I will now formally begin assuming that this was a delightful addition Shatner made during filming.
  • In the episode, Kirk in the final scene tells Spock "Thank you, from both of us."  Here, Kirk instead tells Spock, "You know, of course, I could never have made it without you."  There is the same gross line from Spock to Rand, but here, Rand answers him: "Yes, Mr. Spock.  The impostor had some exceedingly interesting qualities."  So however bad we feel the moment to be in the episode, here it is twice as bad.
 
And now, Blish-enhanced screencaps:
 
 

"The planet's desert terrain had yielded an interesting roundup of mineral and animal specimens, and Kirk was busy checking the containers for beam-up to the Enterprise when a gust of icy wind blew a spray of sand in his face.  Beside him, Sulu, holding a meek doglike creature on a leash, shivered."

"He blinked the sand out of his eyes, stooped to pat Sulu's animal -- and wheeled at the sound of a shot."

"The engineer looked anxiously toward the platform.  In its dazzle Kirk stood on it, dazed-looking, unusually pale.  As he stepped from it, his legs almost buckled."

"The door closed behind them.  More sparkle appeared on the platform.  A figure took shape on it.  When it had gathered solidity, it could be seen as a perfect double of Kirk.

Except for its eyes.

They were those of a rabid animal just released from a cage.

It looked around it, tense, as though expecting attack.



Wilson opened the door.  Immediately sensing that tension, 'Captain,' he said, 'are you all right?'  His reply was a hoarse growl.

The double glanced around it again seeking some means of escape."

"Out in the corridor Kirk was saying, 'I can manage now.  You'd better get back to the Transporter Room, Scotty.' "



"The double whirled, crouched for a leap, its fists clenching.  Instinctively McCoy recoiled from the coming blow.  Then he recovered himself.  'All right, I'll give you the brandy.  Sit down!'

But he didn't give the brandy.  As he unlocked the cabinet door, he was shouldered aside -- and the double, seizing a bottle of liquor, made for the door.

'Drink it in your quarters, Jim!  I'll see you there in a . . .'  The door slammed shut."

"The wild man, rampaging down the corridor, suddenly had a mind to private drinking.


A sign over a door declared it to be the entrance to the quarters of Yeoman Janice Rand.

The double touched it, conceiving unmentionable notions -- and slipped through the door.

Inside, it uncorked the bottle.  Tipping it up, it gulped down the brandy in deep swallows.  Then it grunted in pure, voluptuous pleasure.  the bite of the brandy down its throat was too seductive to resist the impulse to swallow some more.  Eyes half-shut in sensual delight, its face was the face of a Kirk released from all repressions, all self-discipline and moral order."


"Alone in his quarters, he had his shirt off, and was flexing his neck and shoulder muscles to rid his head of the whirling inside it."

"If Spock hadn't silently joined him, he wondered if he'd have found the courage to respond to Scott's call.  Had he, too, heard the interesting details of his Captain's recent activities?  But Scott's total concern seemed to be the still defective Transporter."

"A fierce growl greeted them.  Scott cautiously lifted the lid.

The beast inside bared its teeth, its lips flecked with the foam of its fury."


" 'Oh, my God . . .'  The whisper was wrenched from Kirk by the force of sudden revelation.  It was no impostor who was loose on the Enterprise.  What was loose on it was his own counterpart -- the dark, brutish aspect of human nature which every mortal carries within him from birth to the grave.  His Cain was roaming the Enterprise in a mindless, murderous search for a vengeance that would appease the bitterness of years of denial -- the years it had spent as a prisoner of conscience, of duty, of responsibility."

"It watched her enter.

When she had placed her tricorder on a table, it stepped forward into her full sight.





It was not Kirk's custom to visit the bedrooms of attractive female members of his crew.

Janice was shaken by his appearance in hers.  She decided to smile.  'This is an unexpected pleasure, sir,' she said gamely.

The smile faltered at the suggestive leer she received.

'Is there something I can--?'

Then she tensed.

The double had come so close to her she could smell the brandy on its breath.  She flushed at such male nearness, fought back an uprush of embarrassed apprehension and said, 'Is there -- can I do something for you, Captain?'

'You bet you can,' the double grinned.  'But Jim will do here, Janice.'

Neither the words nor the tone fitted the image of Kirk that existed in the mind of Janice Rand.  She had never seen him anything but coolly courteous toward women members of his crew.  Since the day she had joined it, she had thought of him as the unobtainable but most desirable man she'd ever met.  However, that was her own secret.  It just wasn't possible that he was obtainable, not Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise.  And by a twenty-year-old, obscure yeoman named Janice Rand.  He'd been drinking, of course; and when men drank . . .  Nevertheless, of all the women on the ship, this handsomeest man in the world had sought her ought; and by some miraculous quirk of circumstance seemed to be finding her worthy of his sexual interest.  She suddenly felt that she, along with her uniform, had gone transparent.  'I -- Captain, this isn't--' she stammered.

'You're too much woman not to know,' the double said.  'I've been mad for you since the day you joined the ship.  We both know what's been inside us all this time.  We can't say no to it -- not any more, not when we're finally alone, just you and me.  Just try to deny it -- after this . . . '  It swept her into its arms, kissing her hard on the lips.  For a moment she was immobilized by the shock.  Then she pulled back.  'Please, Captain.  You -- we . . .'  The handsome face tightened with anger.  She was kissed again harshly; and with a little moan, she tried to pull free.  She was jerked closer.  Now the kisses pressed against her throat, her neck.  'You're -- hurting me,' she whispered.

'Then don't fight me.  You know you don't want to.'

She stared into what she thought were Kirk's eyes.  In some shameful way it was true.  She didn't want to fight the Captain's kisses.  Only how dare he presume to know it?"


"The whirling in Kirk's head had come back.  He shut his eyes against its wheeling stars.  Then he rose."



"The elevator doors closed behind them--

and the double, a darker shadow in the shadows of a cross passage, slipped quietly out into the corridor.


Panting, it pried at the door of Kirk's quarters.  It got it open.  Inside, the lock on the panel of the sleeping compartment caught its eye.  It depressed the unlocking button.  It relocked the panel behind it and fell across the bed, sighing with exhaustion.  then it buried the replica of Kirk's face in a pillow to shut out the sights and sounds of a world that hated it."

"Her eyes were on her cold hands, safer to look at than Kirk's face.

She had addressed her words to Spock."

"He went over to her, pretending not to notice how she shrank from his approach."



"Kirk reached out a compassionate hand to her shoulder -- but she shied away from his touch as though it might burn her."



"Kirk looked at the Transporter platform.  What was the secret it refused to divulge?  He'd emerged from it whole, unsplit, a thousand times.  Why not this last time?  What had happened?  When and how had he been divided in two halves like a one-celled organism reproducing itself?  The whirling in his head was back once more.  And the platform looked back at him, empty, its secret still withheld."


"The Vulcan had taken the lamb-gentle animal into his arms.  Something in the way he held it stilled the turmoil in Kirk's soul."



" 'I'm Kirk!' it shouted at Kirk's image on the intercom viewing screen.  A gust of fury shook it.

It seized a metal box from the dresser and hurled it at the screen.

The sound of crashing glass frightened it.




'I'm Kirk,' it whimpered to its reflection in the mirror.  The scratches showed red, unhealed.  To examine them more closely, it pushed aside a jar of medicated cream.

The lossened lid fell off.  the double dug its fingers into the cream, looked once more at the scratches and began to rub the cream into them.  It made them feel better.  It also hid the weals."

"It was hard to say, 'Kirk out.'  He might better have said, 'Kirk down and out.'  That was the truth."


"The lower level of the Engineering deck held the vast complex that powered the Enterprise.  It was a cavern of shadows, broken by glints of gleaming machinery, its passageways narrowing, widening, narrowing again to crisscross other passages.  The droning hum of its huge nuclear energizers reverberated against its metal walls."


"Kirk stopped dead.  As he recognized his own face in the Other's face, a chill passed over him.

This nameless Thing belonged to him more utterly than any name his parents had given him.

The two Kirks stared at each other in a kind of trance."

"Leaping, the momentum of his leap lending force to his clenched fist, Spock lunged from behind the generator to land it, hammerlike, on the double's chin."

" 'Vituperation, Doctor?' "

"The consciousness that had come back to the double was a thing of howling panic.  It was thrusting madly against the net of cords that held it, the force of its screams swelling the veins of its neck.  As he watched the writhing body on the bed, it seemed to Kirk that he could taste the acid of its frenzy in his mouth.  How he knew what he knew he didn't know; but he knew that the double was feeling some ultimate terror it had met in the black labyrinth of its Cain fate."

" 'Jim, don't take this so hard,' McCoy said.  'We are all part wolf and part lamb.  We need both parts.  Compassion is reconciliation between them.  It is human to be both lamb and wolf.' "

"So that was the answer -- hope that amendment in the Transporter would somehow rejoin the two halves of the animal as it had somehow cut them apart.  It was hoped that his dying men could be beamed home to the Enterprise without risk of the fatal division.  Hope.  Well, without it, you couldn't live."


" 'I must remind you, Doctor, that I am half human,' Spock said.  'I am more aware than you of what it means to live with a divided spirit -- of the suffering involved in possession of two separate selves.  I survive it daily.' "


" 'Let's call it a clarification, then,' the double said.  'I trust your discretion.  There was no impostor, not really.  The Transporter malfunctioned.  It seems to have created a duplicate of me.  It's hard to understand because we haven't yet determined what went wrong.  But what we do know I'll explain to you later.  You're entitled to that.  All right?' "

" 'Prepare to leave orbit, Mr. Farrell!'  If the order had commanded activation of the Destruct unit, its impact could not have been more devastating.  Farrell stared in stark unbelief."

" 'You want me dead, don't you?  You want this ship all to yourself!  But it's mine!' "

" 'I am Captain Kirk, you ship of pigs!  All right, let the liar destroy you all!  He's already killed four of you!  I run this ship!  I own it.  I own you -- all of you!' "

"The pallor of Kirk's face suddenly struck him.  'How do you feel, Jim?'  There was a new sadness in Kirk's smile.  'What's that old expression?  "Sadder but wiser."  I feel sadder, Bones, but much less wise.'  'Join the human race, Jim,' McCoy said."

"Kirk returned to his command chair.

The girl watched him go.  Spock watched the girl."
  
 
Before we go, two other things I want to bring up.  One is trifling, the other decidedly not.  We'll begin with the trifling, in the form of three additional screencaps:
 
 


 
 
These are all from the end credits, of course.  All three are images from "The Cage," which nobody watching Star Trek would see until "The Menagerie" aired.  In other words, for those first however-many episodes, these images would have been tantalizing mysteries to all who saw them.  I find that to be kind of cool.
 
Something I definitely do not find to be cool: the fact that Grace Lee Whitney was herself sexually assaulted during the time she spent on Star Trek.
 
I'd initially planned to talk about that at length during this post, but ultimately have opted to defer the topic to a later post.  The assault happened after a Friday-night party around the time "Miri" was being filmed, so it will probably end up in that post.  I wanted to mention it here, though, if only so that anyone reading this who already knew about it didn't get the idea that I was unwilling to broach the subject.  I'm not; no indeed.  I have a number of rather strong feelings on the subject, in fact.
 
And we will get to them, in time.
 
Not next time, though: that will be "The Man Trap."

8 comments:

  1. (1) I actually like your Scenario #1, there, for the shuttlecraft, but Scenario #2 is definitely the one to go with.

    (2) The grand-chronology guys amuse me. I've gone through many phases on these kinds of points, so I'm forgiving. Or try to be. Not too long ago someone I only know via facebook posted something about the Borg and asked me if they existed in TOS time. I said that without getting too into it, both yes and no. Hoo boy - the "corrections" that came pouring in were something else. An earlier version of myself would have enjoyed setting the record "straight," but for God's sake, folks, there IS no "record." There is only the chronological production and what was agreed on by the most people afterward, and of the two, only the first is empirical. And proves nothing! So give it a rest! But: I understand and support the fun/need to do these things. These are my people, even if I sometimes hate them. But yeah, I mean, if your analysis of any sort of situation like that does not include the realities of TV production, I consider it superficial. It'd be like evaluating a painting without evaluating the materials the artist had to use, or not positioning him or her into the art-patron-context of his or her era. Anyway.

    (3) Emo-Kirk and Aggro-Kirk work pretty well! Without looking, I think I chose Id-Kirk and Ego-Kirk or something like that, to emphasize my own particular slant on this ep.

    (4) "I'll buy all the Syboks in the quadrant before I buy this horseshit." Exactly. It's such a jarring anti-Spock moment. Actually, maybe that's the fucking easter egg - Spock himself was split into Aggro-Spock and Emo-Spock and who we see on the bridge is Aggro-Spock! (A foreshadowing of the book SPOCK MUST DIE!) This neatly covers any inconsistencies right up through "Spock's Brain." (Whereupon the excuse becomes "Oh, Spock's just shrugging off the brain transplant.") And THAT last all the way to Star Trek 3. Phwew.

    (5) But yeah, it's just such a horrible moment. When you see stuff like that in old shows or books (or other examples of equivalent atrociousness) it helps put in perspective how far we've come. That this could be presented so matter-of-factly without a controversy until decades later speaks to it.

    (6) The post-Red Hour scene in "Archons" where Tula comes home, traumatized after the Landru-induced night of wild abandon, all the men kind of surround her and then Bones prescribes that most Victorian of medicinal remedies - he "gives her a shot." Once though I was watching the episode with a ladyfriend who called out how inappropriate it all was that a woman would be "comforted" after sexual trauma by these men in this manner. I forget when this was, but probably the late 90s / early 00s. i.e. I probably should have had this thought occur to me by that time in my life. But, it hadn't. Ever since, though, I'm much more conscious of what you describe here, with Rand in Sick Bay. Again TV production comes into play somewhat (for blocking or set construction, maximizing dramatic impact over psychological sensitivity or realism, etc.) but whatever the reason, it's obvious from all the other aspects of the episode that such sensitivity was just more than Roddenberry et al. (at least here) could muster. A pity.

    (7) That green shirt has always freaked me out.

    (8) "He gives a lot of odd attention to the transporter console during his first scene, and I can't make that work in my head unless he knows -- or suspects -- what has happened." That way lies madness. Trust me on this.

    (9) Sean Penn's Dad! How did I never hear that before. Wonders never cease.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. (1) I was very pleased with my retcon-fu skills after I came up with that second one. Not quite Alan-Moore-taking-over-Swamp-Thing levels of ability, but enough that it made me puff up a bit.

      (2) We're on exactly the same page here. I'm always appreciative of successful attempts to make a chronology like that work, but the unsuccessful attempts are more numerous by far, and they stick out quite badly. One of my bucket-list items is to be in a conversation with a Trekkie who is expounding on the subject of the Borg coming from the planet where V'Ger came of age. In that moment, I will deliver a Batman-to-robin slap and then know I will die happy.

      (3) Yours are more succinct and are therefore superior. Also because they are more accurate!

      (4) Oooh...! Now THERE'S some retcon-fu!

      (5) Many people, of course, would likely say that we haven't actually come all that far. They're full of crap, of course; we definitely have, in this and many other areas. But is there room for improvement? Laws yes!

      (6) Fiction should always be judged against the era in which it was produced, but only a tiny percentage of people who consume it are willing and/or able to do so. Even folks like us fail to do so on occasion. And that's natural, I guess. Trek was a show from 1966-1969, but it's been showing ever since, and will for some time to come; and as such, it's also a product of every year since 1969, in a way. It mostly withstands that; but then are the moments which really, really don't...

      (7) RIGHT?!?

      (8) More retcon-fu: if we take the TNG episode "Realm of Fear" into consideration, we can say that while you are transporting, you retain consciousness and are aware of time that passes. So maybe Aggro-Kirk was aware of the time that passed while he was delayed in materializing. If so, maybe he figures he avoided oblivion only by the transporter managing to work. Sure, why not?

      Delete
  2. (10) That fruit salad anecdote is great. I imagine the Wiggles song would make his brain explode. Let's pray he never hears it.

    (11) Shatner's Movie and TV Memories are good reading for sure. I love that childhood memory! Especially the bit about writing a Trek novel on yellow notebook paper. I never actually tried to write any Trek, which seems odd to me now, but in the summer between my 7th and 8th grade year I wrote "Jaws 5: Demon of the Deep" on a big yellow legal pad. It'd be fun to get your Trek book and this Jaws book - I presume like mine yours has been lost to the ages - into a Museum of Trek Blogging of some kind. I hope whatever time travel agency arranges these things for the future is notified of this by my putting the words here. (I mean, I'm sure they're closely monitoring us!)

    (12) Every shot in TOS from behind those partitions is so awesome. (I refer to the "When she had placed her tricorder on the table, it stepped forward into her full sight" screencap. I think I have a folder that has every single last one of them somewhere, not because I set out to do so only by virtue of never being able to pass one by without screencapping it. Come to think of it, that'd be a fun cover photo project.

    (13) As uncomfortable as the whole damn thing is, Shatner's "too much women" and "STOP PRETENDING JANICE!" are essential items in any would-be Trekkie's Shatner impersonation arsenal. I can't think of them without thinking of my buddy Klum belting them out. This is the weird crossroads of my Trek fandom - serious and provocative topics mixed with a boy in my head yelling Shatner-isms. (Or a 20-something getting drunk with Klum and yelling with him at the TV.)

    (14) I really love that all the principal cast members hold that ridiculous dog at some point.

    (15) Good lord that "the sound of crashing glass frightened it" sequence of caps is just so goddamn awesome.

    (16) "I WANNA LIVE!!"

    (17) Grace Lee Whitney was a beautiful young woman. I recently saw the documentary "In A Town This Size" and got to thinking again about statute of limitation laws and how offensive they are. When I think about this kind of crap, it breaks my heart. All you can do is live in the present and work towards what you can, but Jesus: someone had to know who did it and helped him get away with it. But it's like Who Raped Corey Haim? No one wants to really solve that because too many scumbag producers have too many skeletons in too many closets. Never mind the human wreckage in the wake. Just awful.

    (18) Great job, Bryant! Thanks for the shout-out to my own humble efforts as always. I clicked over to that "Song of Shatner" post and got a little sad about absent friends. But the Shatner screencaps aforementioned were a pretty dramatic course correction back to awesomeness.

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    1. (10) He should do a cover version on his next album!

      (11) I want to read "Jaws 5: Demon of the Deep" pretty bad now. If you ever find it, send it my way. As for my solitary bit of Trek fanfic, no, it's not lost. I don't think it is, at least. Every once in a while, I consider dragging it out and reading it just to see how bad it is. I'm betting it's stupendously awful, but hopefully in a charming manner. If I ever do, I might post it all here, just to embarrass myself; surely that would earn me some good karma of some sort.

      (12) Those partitions combined with Jerry Finnerman's cinematography is gold. No doubt about it.

      (13) It's an uncomfortable scene, but Shatner is just tremendous in it. I'd always accepted the conventional wisdom that he was a hammy actor until I rewatched the series in the early to mid '00s, at which point I realized that no, he's hammy on occasion, but on the whole he is not merely good but GREAT. This scene is one of the GREAT ones. The whole episode, really, as far as he's concerned. The episode isn't a favorite, but in no way is that a reflection of what Bill is doing. By the way, I have to ask even though I suspect I already know the answer: did Klum ever demand that you give him the brandy?

      (14) The dog looks like it's too embarrassed to live. I don't blame it.

      (15) I'm biased, but I thought the James Blish section of this was highly worth my while this time. Glad you enjoyed it, too!

      (16) I like how the final time he says it, he doesn't even quite get the entire word out: it's more of an "I WANNA LI" that disappears into his throat. Man, what a performance.

      (17) I have so much that I'd like to say on this topic, but in the end, it's going to boil down to me just throwing my hands in the air. What can I do? My only real choice is to take it out on the system as a whole, and not only is that bound to be lame and ineffective, it's also unfair to the many, many people who have NOT committed such crimes. Even with a guy like Bill Cosby, would it be fair to Robert Culp if I could no longer bring myself to watch "I, Spy"?

      But in the case of Grace Lee Whitney, who is no longer alive to be indifferent to it, I feel some strange sense of personal obligation to stand up for her in some obscure way of my own. I don't know why that is. Maybe it's because -- as I hinted in the post -- I've always loved Janice Rand. When I was a kid and figured out that she was only in a few episodes, I really did wonder why, and kind of lamented it. There's some sort of weird instinct in me to wrap an arm around her memory and try to comfort it. I don't entirely understand it, but when I get to "Miri," maybe I can work it out.

      (18) Always worth consulting the wisdom of Bones McCoy: "He's not really dead, as long as we remember him." So those absent friends -- keep on remembering them!

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    2. (13) You likely suspect correctly. He did indeed. Literally and figuratively.

      (16) I wonder if that was (insanely) intentional? Only because Emo-Kirk seems to lose syllables and words as he goes along, too. (Most especially in his Captain's Logs.) It would be an odd choice for the director/ Shatner and almost certainly is not the case, but it's kind of funny. While we're here, the halting... missing conjunctions... bullet-point manner of Emo-Kirk's Captains Logs always gets in my head around Christmas time whenever I hear "Let It Snow." I always end up narrating the song and mixing in "Enemy Within" in the same manner in my head all December long. ("Fire... slowly dying... Crew... still goodbyeing.") I don't know what the hell to do with these kind of #TrekConfessions so I'll just leave them as comments at Where No Blog Has Gone Before....

      (17) It's a good point re: Culp/ fairness-to-others. Should the actions of one asshole tar an entire project? I say no, they should not, only those who helped the asshole. The truth can sometimes unravel everything and people shouldn't pursue it recklessly. But pursue it they / we should.

      (18) So say we all.

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    3. (16) Hmm...! That's a great point, regarding Emo-Kirk's growing verbal issues. That "Let It Snow" reading cracks me up. Why isn't there a William Shatner Christmas album?!?

      (17) By the way, I don't think I knew there was a similar thing for Corey Haim. Or maybe I did and just repressed it. Ugh.

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    4. It certainly seems to me that way too much rape (particularly underage rape) goes on in Hollywood.

      The world in general - I mean, any is too much - but yeah.

      I guess Corey Haim (sometime after "Lost Boys," I think) was assaulted by some producer and went through the whole "you don't want to hurt your career..." "who'd believe this party boy" thing and it led him deeper and deeper down the self-medication path. It really is sick how many former child actors have a story like this. WTF.

      Anyway, not to Haim-jack Whitney's tragedy with that, just while we're here.

      (Probably undermines any point I'm making when I create words like "Haimjack" for this topic. But undermining my credibility is a hobby of mine, perhaps even an unofficial job.)

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    5. "Haimjacking" is both great and awful; especially so if his name were pronounced the Jewish way, with a long "i" instead of a long "a." So, yeah, my credibility is shot, too.

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