-Leonard Nimoy on the creation of the Vulcan Neck Pinch and selling the idea with William Shatner to director Leo Penn, Star Trek Memories, p.132-
The always entertaining William Shatner unleashing the actor within. A wonderful image that captures the enthusiastic performance by Shatner in this still fascinating installment.
"I remember very vividly the day we came up with the Vulcan nerve-pinch. It was a Jeckyll-and-Hyde type of story. ... the good Kirk is about to shoot the evil Kirk, it was written that Spock slips up behind the evil Kirk and knocks him out with the butt of his phaser. And I rebelled against that - I said that's a hangover from westerns. In the 22nd century, you don't have to slip up behind people - Vulcans don't have to slip up behind people and hit them over the head with butts of guns. We should find some other way of doing this. And the director, Leo Penn, said, 'What would you suggest?' And I said, 'Well, I happen to know that Vulcans have this power to render people unconscious through their knowledge of the human anatomy plus a particular Vulcan vibration. And this is the way it's done.' I told Bill (Shatner) what I planned to do, and Bill understood immediately, and I reached up behind him and did that - and Bill just kind of froze up and went unconscious. And that's the way that was born. Roddenberry saw it the next day in the dailies, and loved it. He started including it in future scripts. So that's the way that things were developing. Each day was a very creative day for that reason. Bill was finding his things, De Kelley was finding his things, I was finding mine, and it was a very fertile time. There were a lot of good things happening." -Leonard Nimoy on the Vulcan Neck-pinch, The World Of Trek, David Gerrold [p.47]-
Captain's Log Stardate 1672.1: Specimen Gathering Mission on Planet Alpha 177.
"I will love him and squeeze him and call him George. Can I please Captain?"
More terrific sets. More terrific colors. Plus a costumed horndog. In the transporter room things are problematic for Chief Engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott regarding the transporting equipment. A geological technician barely made it home. Scotty is suspicious. Captain James T. Kirk is ready to return from the planet below. As Scotty locks on to Kirk he experiences similar problems bringing the Captain home. Upon his arrival on the Enterprise, Kirk appears a little light-headed as a result of the transport, but okay. As Kirk exits the transporter room with Scotty, the room empties. Moments later, the transporter room activates once again this time materializing a kind of Bizarro version of Kirk. It would seem Kirk has been split into two separate beings- an almost Freudian-like schism of the Id, Ego and Superego into two distinct people. There is both an indecisive, gentle Kirk versus an aggressive, highly motivated version of himself. This is good, old-fashioned science fiction to be sure and the kind of good time Star Trek: The Original Series provided in nearly every episode. Most series could only hope for the kind of dud efforts Star Trek: TOS provided. Acclaimed writer Richard Matheson definitely plays it fast, loose and fun with the possibilities on this one as it should be. Like just about everything with Star Trek, this kind of material was clearly ahead of its time for television.
Kirk's ambitious alter ego is on the loose. Gentle Kirk returns to his quarters to lay down. Aggressive Kirk is angry requesting brandy from Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy. As he drinks and makes his way down the corridor what better opportunity for Star Trek's Captain Kirk to womanize than an unbalanced, angry Kirk. He passes by the quarters of Yeoman Janice Rand. Baby! The confusion begins with Star Trek: TOS, Season One, Episode 5, The Enemy Within. Are two William Shatners really better than one?
One of the darker moments on television in 1965.
Spock pays a visit to the good and kindly Kirk following Bones' request for Spock to check on him. Of course, they have the wrong Kirk. Spock informs him he was told he was acting like a "wild man." Kirk and Spock chalk it up to one of Bones' little put-ons.
Meanwhile, in the transporter room, Scotty has a sweet dog in a fluffy costume in one arm and a similar dog in appearance that is more vicious and more aggressively "animal" in a cage. It really had me smiling to see those dogs in their little costumes again. Scotty indicates shortly after receiving the first dog through the transporter they received a duplicate, ferocious, "opposite" dog. All parties are on hold for further transportation including Sulu who must remain on the planet below. The pieces are coming together.
Upon arrival to her quarters, Rand finds "Jim" in her room and she's a might uncomfortable given Kirk's uncharacteristic behavior. While his advances toward her might normally be welcomed all is not right with her dear Captain and she knows it. He essentially mauls her in a near rape sequence. It's a fairly intense, disturbing event for 1960s television. I know I was uncomfortable watching it myself. She scratches his face to get away. The door opens and Rand pleads for Spock's help. A man runs for assistance, but is knocked out by this dark, unconscionable version of Kirk.
Spock and Kirk-lite attempt to make sense of what is going on. So the triumvirate, Kirk, Spock and Bones, visit Rand in sick bay. She indicates she scratched Kirk's face and the kind and gentle Kirk clearly has none. She's understandably a bit of a wreck following the incident, which was tantamount to a rape. The crewman who was knocked out confirms it was definitely Kirk who attacked him. Spock notes logically that there is an "impostor" aboard the Enterprise.
Scotty posits that perhaps the magnetic ore brought back aboard by the geological technician may have caused the transporter to go ka-phlooey, well in more technical terms that is. With the inability to take another transporter risk the four men on the planet below must remain there including Lt. Hikaru Sulu. Unfortunately, the planetary temps dip below 120 below zero at night [you'll recall The Sci-Fi Fanatic's own The Great Ice Planet Adventure, but honest I had no idea as Kirk & Bones were clearly the principals in harm's way]. Kirk and Spock know evil or "wild man" Kirk must be captured, not killed, so they can solve this transporter splicing issue.
Cuddly Kirk is clearly in need of his testosterone-driven alter ego and vice versa. They must become one again and soon.
Raging or constipated?
Soft Kirk places the crew on alert for the impostor. Phasers must be set for stun. It's interesting to see Shatner take the angry Kirk to almost angry new levels. Being the carnal part of Kirk's being he's obviously not the brightest bulb on the ship to be sure. Still, he is smart enough to cover the scratches on his face with make-up to create deception. This is definitely both one of Shatner's finest moments and arguably cringe-worthy. It's amazing how he could be both terrific and sometimes preposterous all at once, but the man is brilliant as Kirk.
On the planet below, it's getting colder than the proverbial witch's tit [an expression I had to explain to my son for the first time], at 20 below zero, for Sulu and company. Granted, there doesn't appear to be any frosty breath just a lot of quivering. Kirk and Spock are informed the impostor has attacked another crew member and has taken the man's phaser. Spock plans a game of cat and mouse by making an effort to out guess, out maneuver and generally out think the evil, less intelligent Kirk. Spock and Kirk go to the engineering room. I'm not sure why vicious Kirk would go there, but he's there. Spock suggests they call for back up. Kirk indicates he needs to toughen up and act like the captain. Kirk and Kirk come face to face. "You can't hurt me, you can't kill me. I'm part of you. You need me. I need you." As evil Kirk is clearly ready to shoot good and kind Kirk, Spock comes up behind him and gives him the old Vulcan neck pinch. That's never good. You're no match for the neck pinch. You can pack it up and call it if you get wacked by Spock.
Could we have applied that neck pinch a little sooner? That was a close one Spock.
Spock is informed by Kirk, while in sick bay with his alter ego, that he is rapidly losing the power of decision. This represents the best of Star Trek's scriptwriting. These are the moments we love.
Spock indicates his insensitivity is the result of being "the way I am." The irony, of course, is that Kirk isn't exactly himself. Like Spock, Kirk is desperate to become who he really is. His life depends on it. It's a beautiful illustration of who we all are and what makes us complete. These elements of our unique selves makes us whole and who we are. There is a good deal of philosophy in play within The Enemy Within concerning matters of existence and the question of what makes us innately who and what we are.
It's getting cold on that planet below as Sulu and friends have taken cover requesting "coffee" or "rice wine." Scotty now has his hands full attempting to repair that transporter, which by his estimation will take one week to fix. That's not good news for Sulu. He gets wise and creative and uses his phaser to heat some rocks for warmth to stay alive. "Any possibility of getting us back aboard before the skiing season opens down here." Spock clinically provides survival procedures to Sulu.
In sick bay, evil Kirk is dying. Gentle Kirk holds evil Kirk's hand and brings him back into focus for a time. This is kind of funny, but deliciously classic Kirk.
An authentic horndog!
The timely whistle of bridge communications is always there to break us from some of the greatest scripting moments. It's almost like the period on a great sentence. Bones indicates gentle Kirk has all of the intelligence and does not fear like his alter ego. Spock summons Kirk to the transporter room. They have a plan. They want to test it on the horndogs first. The two spaniels, er, I mean intriguing, alien, space creatures, are placed on the transporter. They disappear and the attempt to fuse the two creatures as one begins.
Funny enough, when the animal returns we learn it is a male because we get the famous Bones determination "He's dead Jim." I never knew it was over a dog that I would first hear those fateful words, but the infamous catchphrase is indeed over a dead horndog. Well, kind Kirk is less than pleased to hear the news and so is the landing party who are in dire straits and nearing critical condition.
Love those violins. Ah the struggle for survival. Sulu reports in and it is 70 below and somehow he is still alive. Yeah, I'd say that's a minor miracle considering he has nothing covering his face to protect himself from the blistering cold.
A struggle ensues. Kirk versus Kirk. Evil Kirk puts on a green captain shirt. He returns to the bridge. He tells his crew he plans to leave orbit. Moments later, Bones arrives with the real Kirk also in green. Everyone is confused and uncertain who is who. Both men have scratches as the impostor did his best to throw off his pursuers and the audience. The aggressive, feral Kirk is nearly reactive like a cornered, caged animal. "Can half a man live?" says the weakened Kirk. At this point I really considered how these men were very much integral to the real Kirk. These versions of Kirk truly represented the man and I enjoyed what Matheson was attempting in his sole stint at writing for Star Trek: TOS. We were first led to believe our full support was intended for the backing of the gentle Kirk, while we rallied against the evil Kirk. As the show plays out, we realize the creators had us rooting against our dear captain, the key protagonist to our entry. In the end, we realize, both men are essential to the existence of Kirk and who he is. One Kirk cannot live without the other. Cheering for one over the other was like cheering against ourselves. It was like scorning a part of who we are that is absolutely essential to what makes us decisive or strong. These elements are essential to our survival and this installment allows us to consider such clever concepts within an entertaining construct. It is a sharp commentary on human behavior.
They always say you should love yourself first.
It all gives new meaning to the idea of male bonding to be sure. Spock implements the plan and Kirk merges with Kirk returning whole. "Get those men aboard fast!" Kirk is back! How could we want it any other way? This is indeed one of the finest examples within Star Trek for adherence to the Chinese philosophy of Yin Yang and the need for balance. What better illustration than the consequences resulting from an imbalanced James T. Kirk? Does it get any better? Oddly, without realizing it, but for a time, Matheson had us working against our very nature rooting against a part of what we love about Captain James T. Kirk. Author David Gerrold and Robert J. Sawyer commented as editors of Boarding The Enterprise quite succinctly regarding what would become a strong tradition of sf writing on ST:TOS. "Star Trek's episodes were as individualistic as the men and women who authored them, and many of the best were by people who had already established serious reputations in the world of print science fiction." This statement is an important fact in the development of a series that would be heralded as classic and the singular science fiction influence on film and television for years to come. Author Richard Matheson is a perfect example of this sentiment and his tale, The Enemy Within, is another exceptionally well-penned ST:TOS chapter for the ages.
The Enemy Within: B
Writer: Richard Matheson
Director: Leo Penn
Dead Crewman: 0
Dead Crewman To Date: 8
Babe Alert: 0
Babe Alert Total To Date: 5
Writer Footnote: Richard Matheson [1926-present]. Author and writer best known for some wonderful works including I Am Legend, Stir Of Echoes, What Dreams May Come and Bid Time Return. I Am Legend was adapted three times to film for The Last Man On Earth , the Charlton Heston classic The Omega Man , and the Will Smith-helmed, I Am Legend . What Dreams May Come was beautifully directed by Vincent Ward and starred Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Annabella Sciorra. Somewhere In Time  [originally Bid Time Return] starred the late Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. The underrated Stir Of Echoes  starred Kevin Bacon. All of Matheson's film adaptations have been artistically successful on the whole. His story Duel was also adapted by Stephen Spielberg, his first big film, starring Dennis Weaver. Matheson also penned 13 episodes of The Twilight Zone and The Martian Chronicles  mini-series, which also starred Barry Morse [Space:1999]. So Matheson's impressive resume adds one more unique moment in time, the scripting of Star Trek: The Original Series, Season One, Episode 5, The Enemy Within.
Director footnote: Leo Penn [1921-1998]. The father of Sean, Chris and Michael Penn. He also directed Lost In Space, Season One, Episode 4, There Were Giants In The Earth. A prolific television director and an actor originally blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee.