A transporter malfunction splits Kirk into two. One half is rather like his old self (albeit increasingly indecisive and vague) whilst the other is a rampaging monster ….
Everybody loves a doppelganger story and on that score The Enemy Within works pretty well, although it’s surprising that (as we’ll call him) evil Kirk was rumbled so soon. Nobody seems to believe, even for a moment, that the Captain’s simply gone loopy, which is a shame – surely there would have been decent dramatic mileage in eeking out this part of the story a little more.
Shatner looks like he’s having fun as sweaty evil Kirk. It’s certainly a story which places the Captain front and centre.
Although at one point Kirk calls his double an imposter, that’s really not the case. As the episode title suggests, evil Kirk is an integral part of him (it’s just now all of his negative impulses have been distilled into a single entity).
Our Jim can normally keep the beast within him under control, but now he’s been split into two it’s the worst of both worlds – his evil side rampages through the Enterprise, drinking and mauling pretty Yeomen at will, whilst the “normal” Kirk descends into a period of extreme indecision.
The only female in the story – Janice Rand – is nothing more than a helpless victim, ravished by the “evil” Kirk. It’s not much of a part, but then the original series does have issues in this area (which we’ve discussed before, and I’m sure we will again).
Indeed, Janice’s only other major role (in Charlie X) also saw her objectified by a lustful male. Do you sense a pattern emerging here? Given the reason for Grace Lee Witney’s hasty departure from the series, this is bitterly ironic.
The B plot (Sulu and a handful of others trapped on the planet’s surface) never really amounts to much, although some entertainment can be derived from George Takei’s heroic attempts to convince us that it’s very, very cold down there.
The Kirk versus Kirk face off on the bridge is nicely done and concludes an episode which has a few little niggles but always tends to hit the spot for me.