Star Trek: The Original Series

"The Enemy Within"


Air date: 10/6/1966
Written by Richard Matheson
Directed by Leo Penn

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Unbeknownst to the Enterprise crew, a transporter malfunction creates a duplicate of Captain Kirk, which somehow receives all of the real Kirk's darker, "negative" qualities. The story documents Kirk and Spock's attempts to track the faux Kirk through the ship as the impostor runs around causing trouble—particularly in one episode where he has a rather nasty encounter with Yeoman Rand.

"The Enemy Within" epitomizes why TOS could be so much fun. We have mood and attitude injected into the anti-Kirk scenes, thanks to a wonderfully bombastic score by Sol Kaplan. We have William Shatner chewing scenery like there's no tomorrow ("I said give me the brandy!" "I'M CAPTAIN KIRK!" "I want to live!") in delightfully entertaining scenes.

And we have an effective balance of good dialog utilizing Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Keeping the story grounded in the intelligent is the idea of the real Kirk's slow demise of will and his eventual inability to function as captain because he has been drained of the aggression that his counterpart possesses. It's an effective revisit to Jekyll and Hyde lore, and even though it can be campy at times, it's quite engaging along the way.

Previous episode: The Naked Time
Next episode: Mudd's Women

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12 comments on this review

Fri, Jun 1, 2012, 8:09am (UTC -5)
This is one thing I loved about this show--the men were all masculine. It did seem to struggle with the whole idea of women, but the men were strong, tough, and had that edge of masculine control and aggression--even Spock, who could take command, throw a punch, or take a risk with the best of them. Give me manly men any day!
Sat, May 25, 2013, 8:23am (UTC -5)
So you want to be fisted by manly men? If you say so, sailor. ;)
Nathan G
Sun, Aug 11, 2013, 10:30am (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 11, 2013, 9:58pm (UTC -5)
Blah blah... Some problem in the atmosphere... Not enough, I dunno, ohms or something.
Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 4:06am (UTC -5)
As a Kirk-fan, this is one of my favorite episodes from the first season. Also, this episode highlights why I have come to love Star Trek - it's at its best when it raises interesting philosophical questions.
Wed, Apr 2, 2014, 8:29am (UTC -5)
One of the best. Like how the "good half" could not function without the "bad half" sometimes we need that.
Mon, Sep 8, 2014, 8:37pm (UTC -5)
I don't like the premise of the episode -- that a transporter malfunction could make a duplicate, one good and one evil.

HOWEVER, once I get past that, it's one of TOS' better efforts for reasons already discussed, especially for something early on in the show's run. (Maybe too early if you ask me).

Overall, a quite a good episode.
Tue, Oct 7, 2014, 10:37pm (UTC -5)
Yeah, the premise is a bit goofy (and the notion that Sulu and the other guys on the surface could survive at such LOW temps, AS IF, even with the best blankets and phasering all those rocks), but this is one of the better TOS episodes, for fun, and for philosophical value.

I laughed SO HARD when "Evil Kirk" was introduced in shadow, with an evil grimace. X-D All the scenes with Evil Kirk are so much fun to watch. This is what Shatnerian acting is made for.

But all the scenes with "Good Kirk" were well done as well. The notion that we "good" people all need our "evil" sides is a little hokey. (What they should really be saying is that we need our animal instincts, our ID, and we also need our prefrontal cortex, our reasoning, cooperation, compassion, our EGO and SUPEREGO - and that neither the ancient parts of our brain nor the more recently evolved parts are good or evil, they just are).

Oh well, it all makes for good drama. Except for the stuffed dog, I just LOL'd at how dumb it looks.
Tue, Oct 7, 2014, 10:38pm (UTC -5)
I should add that I really wanted to slap Spock for being so insensitive to Yeoman Rand. I mean, she was nearly raped by Evil Kirk! But oh the '60s - who needs counselling for attempted rape, right?
Wed, Oct 29, 2014, 2:07am (UTC -5)
Huh, I was underwhelmed by this episode. (My kids and I are going through and watching, in order, all the episodes Jammer has given three or more stars to; many of them I saw years ago in syndication but I don't recall seeing this one.)

Some of it may be just that certain elements are off because they are still working out the kinks: no acknowledgment that there are shuttles; strange, convoluted terminology to talk about the simple act of setting phasers to stun; the fact that Nimoy seems to be taking longer to settle into his character's groove than the other two of the main trio.

But that sort of points to part of the problem: we are only in the fifth episode, yet this is our second consecutive episode involving people being made to act differently from normal and run amok. And in fact, it is the fourth of the first five episodes in which at least one of the main actors deviates from the typical way they would play their character: either because someone or something was causing them to act nutty, or because they were playing an imposter. Shouldn't they have spent longer establishing their characters' normal behavior patterns first?

It was cool to hear that first "he's dead, Jim" though.
Jeff Bedard
Thu, May 14, 2015, 5:24pm (UTC -5)
@Nathan G: the behind the scenes reason for no shuttlecraft is that this early in the series the idea of the Enterprise having shuttlecrafts hadn't been created yet. So for the original audience of this episode it wouldn't have been a concern. But all these years later anyone viewing this episode will have a difficult time letting this in-universe gaffe slide.

I enjoy this episode, especially Spock's explanation of what is happening to Kirk and comparing his own inner battle with his Vulcan and human sides. I do wish the "evil" Kirk could have been more talkative. I understand that he is meant to personify Kirk's anger and rage, but EK still has intelligence and reasoning as well.

A few filming gaffes (some of the EK scenes are clearly reversed from how it was actually filmed) tend to annoy me a bit, but I like how even for 1966 and just a few episodes in TOS was tackling some wonderful philosophical and ethical issues. And William Shatner (for all the acting bashing he gets) does a superb job (in my opinion) of embodying two diametrically opposed versions of himself.
Wed, Mar 2, 2016, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
- I think this is the first aired episode with Spock and McCoy arguing on either side of Kirk. Fun to watch the Trek cliches snap into place. Bonus points for McCoy saying, "He's dead, Jim" about the space dog.
- Shatner's overacting in this episode is delightful.
- A good Star Trek twist on the idea of split personalities. So good they did it with Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

- This always bugs me on Star Trek, but particularly in this episode it seems ridiculous that they can beam people up from a planet but can't track somebody on their own ship. No security cameras in the future, I guess.
- Spock's last line is way out of line and way out of character.
- The pacing drags a little, as per usual. Shows now are much more exacting in how much they reveal to the audience over the episode. I've noticed with this early going in Trek that the audience knows everything all the time, often long before the crew does.

While I like Shatner's hamminess, I could do without his screams.

Three stars of four.

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