Kirk Your Enthusiasm (9)
By: Enrique Ramirez | Categories: Read-outs

Ninth in a series of posts, each one analyzing a single Captain Kirk scene from the Star Trek canon.


Good Kirk vs. Evil Kirk | “The Enemy Within” | Star Trek: The Original Series | Season 1, Episode 5 | October 1966

Technology reveals our all-too-fragile humanity — sometimes literally, as Kirk discovers in “The Enemy Within.” As the episode opens, Kirk and Sulu are on the rocky surface of Alfa 177, holding a strange pink single-horned canine, when geological technician Fisher injures himself and is transported to the Enterprise. Scotty, et al., have seen their share of transporter malfunctions, but nothing compared to what is about to go down.

Fisher’s fall has left him covered in a strange yellow ore that causes the transporter to go haywire. Back aboard the ship, Kirk appears dizzy. Scotty takes him to sickbay, ignoring Kirk’s order: “Don’t leave the transporter room unattended.” The unattended transporter energizes and we see someone who looks like Kirk. His back is turned, but it’s definitely him (note the cut of the Starfleet tunic). As if sensing the dramatic and surprising musical cue, the figure turns around — it is Kirk, but he’s lit from underneath, his face all shadowy and sinister; and he’s wearing more eyeliner than Jean Simmons in Black Narcissus or Natalie Portman in Black Swan. The malfunctioning transporter has created two Kirks!

Horny, bad-ass Evil Kirk unleashes his id on the Enterprise and its crew — especially targeting the pretty Yeoman Janice Rand and Good Kirk, who’s about to learn what it truly means to be James Tiberius Kirk. It all comes to a head in the final showdown between Good Kirk and Evil Kirk. Is the latter an impostor, or what Scotty calls “a strange, ferocious opposite”? He’s neither; he’s Captain Kirk’s libidinal energy made incarnate. In a previous scene, Good and Evil Kirk realize they are both aspects of one person: Kirk’s essential “Kirkness” is at stake. Good Kirk is ineffective, indecisive; as Spock tells him, “You can’t afford the luxury of being anything less than perfect. If you do, they lose faith, and you lose command.” Spock is proven right when Evil Kirk takes control of the Enterprise’s bridge, ordering the Enterprise to leave Alfa 177’s orbit, thus leaving Sulu stranded.

Good Kirk arrives, causing Evil Kirk to yell, “I’m the captain! This is my ship! My ship! It’s mine!” Good Kirk’s meek reply — “Can half a man live?” — leads to a scene where Good and Evil are reunited in the transporter room. In the end, Kirk is mended, intact, and ready to command. But this is only the first season, and there are plenty of adventures, near-death experiences, and conquests (explicit and implicit) yet to occur in the upcoming episodes and motion pictures to come. The Kirk that emerges at the end of “The Enemy Within” is familiar — confident, poised, and even mischievous. To get to this point, Kirk had to confront more than just the death of his mind and body. It was not just his life that was threatened; the future of the character we will henceforth know as “Kirk” hung in the balance.


POSTS IN THIS SERIES: Justice or vengeance? by DAFNA PLEBAN | Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss by MARK KINGWELL | “KHAAAAAN!” by NICK ABADZIS | “No kill I” by STEPHEN BURT | Kirk browbeats NOMAD by GREG ROWLAND | Kirk’s eulogy for Spock by ZACK HANDLEN | The joke is on Kirk by PEGGY NELSON | Kirk vs. Decker by KEVIN CHURCH | Good Kirk vs. Evil Kirk by ENRIQUE RAMIREZ | Captain Camelot by ADAM MCGOVERN | Koon-ut-kal-if-fee by FLOURISH KLINK | Federation exceptionalism by DAVID SMAY | Wizard fight by AMANDA LAPERGOLA | A million things you can’t have by STEVE SCHNEIDER | Debating in a vacuum by JOSHUA GLENN | Klingon diplomacy by KELLY JEAN FITZSIMMONS | “We… the PEOPLE” by TRAV S.D. | Brinksmanship on the brink by MATTHEW BATTLES | Captain Smirk by ANNIE NOCENTI | Sisko meets Kirk by IAN W. HILL | Noninterference policy by GABBY NICASIO | Kirk’s countdown by PETER BEBERGAL | Kirk’s ghost by MATT GLASER | Watching Kirk vs. Gorn by JOE ALTERIO | How Spock wins by ANNALEE NEWITZ

SCIENCE FICTION ON HILOBROW Peggy Nelson on William Shatner as HiLo Hero | Greg Rowland on Leonard Nimoy as HiLo Hero | Peggy Nelson on William Shatner in Incubus | Matthew Battles on enlarging the Trek fanfic canon | Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague, serialized | Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail, serialized | Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt, serialized | H. Rider Haggard’s When the World Shook, serialized | Edward Shanks’ The People of the Ruins, serialized | William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land, serialized | Radium Age Supermen | Radium Age Robots | Radium Age Apocalypses | Radium Age Telepaths | Radium Age Eco-Catastrophes | Radium Age Cover Art (1) | SF’s Best Year Ever: 1912 | Radium Age Science Fiction Poetry | Enter Highbrowism | Bathybius! Primordial ooze in Radium Age sf | War and Peace Games (H.G. Wells’s training manuals for supermen) | J.D. Beresford | Algernon Blackwood | Edgar Rice Burroughs | Karel Čapek | Buster Crabbe | August Derleth | Arthur Conan Doyle | Charlotte Perkins Gilman | Cicely Hamilton | Hermann Hesse | William Hope Hodgson | Aldous Huxley | Inez Haynes Irwin | Alfred Jarry | Jack Kirby (Radium Age sf’s influence on) | Murray Leinster | Gustave Le Rouge | Gaston Leroux | David Lindsay | Jack London | H.P. Lovecraft | A. Merritt | Maureen O’Sullivan | Sax Rohmer | Paul Scheerbart | Upton Sinclair | Clark Ashton Smith | E.E. “Doc” Smith | Olaf Stapledon | John Taine | H.G. Wells | Jack Williamson | Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz | S. Fowler Wright | Philip Gordon Wylie | Yevgeny Zamyatin | AND LOTS MORE

CHECK OUT HILOBOOKS: In 2012-13, HiLobrow is serializing ten overlooked works of science fiction from the genre’s (1904-33) Radium Age; and HiLoBooks is publishing them in paperback! Here are the first six titles: Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague (in May, Introduction by Matthew Battles; PURCHASE NOW), Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail and “As Easy as A.B.C.” (in June, Introduction by Matthew De Abaitua and Afterword by Bruce Sterling; PURCHASE NOW), Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt (in August, Introduction by Joshua Glenn and Afterword by Gordon Dahlquist; PURCHASE NOW), H. Rider Haggard’s When the World Shook (in October, Introduction by James Parker; PURCHASE NOW), Edward Shanks’ The People of the Ruins (in November, Introduction by Tom Hodgkinson; PURCHASE NOW), and William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land (in April 2013, Afterword by Erik Davis; PURCHASE NOW).



Enrique Ramirez (twitter: @enriqueramirez) is an architecture critic, historian, and doctoral candidate at Princeton University. His work can be found online at