Monday, February 25, 2013

Star Trek: Dagger of the Mind

It's the Christmas Episode of Star Trek

There's no Santa, decorations or baby Jesus, but with a character named Dr. Noel and not one, but two references to the shipboard Science Lab Christmas party, this is as close as any episode comes to being a Christmas episode.

The Enterprise makes a stop at a penal colony on Tantalus V to beam down some medical supplies ("infra-sensory" drugs) and beams up some cargo that has a hidden stowaway, an escaped "extremely violent" inmate from the rehabilitation colony on the planet.

The crew learns that they have a stowaway and goes to "Security Alert, condition three" which leads to a common problem aboard the Enterprise. No one in security knows how to guard or protect anything. Ever.

This guard, who will soon be easily overpowered, is supposedly guarding the bridge. In this pose he should be able to keep someone from leaving the bridge via the turbo lift, but, with his back to the door, how is he supposed to keep a crazy, dangerous escapee from gaining entrance to the bridge?

Still, because Kirk and Spock are awesome the crazed madman is overpowered & taken to sick bay. The ship heads back to Tantalus V where Kirk and Dr. Helen Noel beam down to meet Dr. Adams, the director of the rehabilitation colony.
Kirk and Dr. Noel had a past meeting at the Science Lab Christmas party.
We soon learn that the madman is none other than Dr. Simon van Gelder. He wasn't at the colony for rehab, he worked there. 

This episode featured the first time a Vulcan Mind Meld was shown. Nimoy and Morgan Woodward (playing van Gelder) did an excellent job as van Gelder goes from raving madman to peaceful informant.

By the way, Woodward will return to Trek later in the series to play Captain Ron Tracey in The Omega Glory. He's certainly given much more to work with here.

Kirk and Dr. Noel visit with Dr. Adams who proposes this over-the-top toast:
"To all mankind. May we never find space so vast, planets so cold, hearts and minds so empty that, that we cannot fill them with love and warmth."
It's over-the-top for the audience, especially as we zero in on his former patient-turned-therapist Lethe as he says "minds so empty." Moments before she blankly said: "I love my work."

The tour of the facility includes a visit to the treatment room, where van Gelder had his accident.
Dr. Adams says that the experimental neural neutralizer doesn't work. After their tour Kirk wants his own demonstration of the beam and it seems that it really does work.

Naturally, they are caught. Adams gives Kirk a demonstration implanting the idea in his mind that he is madly in love with Helen Noel. 
Adams makes Kirk give up his phaser & communicator.  I'm not thinking that Dr. Adams has thought this all the way through. What could go wrong when he starts messing with the mind of a starship captain? Is there any way not for him to eventually get caught?

After his session Kirk and Noel are back in his room.
Kirk confesses his love and, when it looks like he is going to make a pass at her we seen that he is instead going for the largest, lowest placed system of air ducts in the Federation. His idea, send Helen through the air duct to find the colony's power grid. Turn it off so that the defensive shield will be lowered and Spock can beam down to save the day.

It produces this great exchange:
Kirk: "Air conditioning. It has to connect with other ducts and tunnels. You can get through this. It might lead to the power supply. Short-circuited, it would cut off the security force field. Have you had any training in hyper-power circuits?"
Dr. Noel: "No."
Kirk: "Megavoltage. Touch the wrong line, and you're dead."
No problem at all. Helen gets through the vents and finds the megavoltage, hyper-power circuit. She gets a very real demonstration of what happens if you touch the wrong line as a member of the Tantalus Colony does so and lights up the place.
Helen has to be more careful then most when shutting down hyper-power circuits.
The power goes off while Kirk is in the treatment room again. He beats up Adams and leaves.

Helen and Kirk both meet up in the room and Kirk kisses her when Spock rushes into the room assuming that they needed to be rescued.
The power has been turned back on and Kirk realizes that Dr. Adams is still in the treatment room under the neutral neutralizer. They rush in, but he is dead.

Aboard ship, McCoy says that it's hard to believe that a man could die of loneliness.

Kirk's answer: "Not when you've sat in that room."

It gives a sense of what Kirk went through, but the whole issue of imprinting his love for Helen is dropped like a hot potato. It isn't mentioned at all after Spock catches them in a kiss. In spite of that, it is still an enjoyable episode. You can watch it online here

Merry Christmas!

No music was composed for this episode, it is all tracked form other episodes.

Next up, Miri. God help us.

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