Does it take having a little evil in you to be a great commander? The very thought is scandalous and against everything science fiction had ever offered. After all, commanders were Mr. Robinson, Flash Gordon, and Captain Proton! The hero of the story cannot have a dark side, it’s just unthinkable!
It’s this very idea that brings an extra dimension to “The Enemy Within” as what appears on the surface to be a gimmicky twin episode turns into an exploration of the human psyche.
Personally, though, I wish they would have explained why being evil makes you sweaty. Then again, why didn’t they just beam Sulu and his team up if it was a life or death situation? Sure, they would have split into good and evil halves, but you could always stun them and cure them later.
Eh, but I’m nitpicking…
With the ticking clock of the crew down below and the psychological journey of a neutered captain, “The Enemy Within” is a blast, pure and simple. It’s one of my favorites of the series.
Interesting Fact: The original script called for Spock to “karate” chop the evil Kirk at one point. Leonard Nimoy felt the action was too violent for a pacifist character, and so developed the famous “Vulcan Nerve Pinch” instead. This episode is also notable as the first time that Bones utters the phrase, “He’s dead, Jim.”
“You’re the captain of this ship. You haven’t the right to be vulnerable in the eyes of the crew. You can’t afford the luxury of being anything less than perfect. If you do, they lose faith and you lose command.”