Ah, the transporter accident. Transporters were one of the great plot devices that Star Trek gave to television. This episode begins with one of the myriad possible forms of transporter failure, and a particularly odd one. Rather than simply killing Kirk or scattering his component molecules to all corners of the galaxy, it splits him into two halves – a “good” half and and “evil” half.
Evil Kirk immediately goes for the hard liquor… and then to Yeoman Janice Rand’s quarters. As it later turns out, this is not so much an evil version of Kirk, but rather the primal, instinctive part of him, ripped asunder from the logical, compassionate part. The resolution of the story requires the two parts to be recombined to make Kirk whole again. But the bad half without the controlling hand of the gentle half gets to indulge all his fantasies and vices freely. So we see again (as in “Charlie X”) that inside Kirk really does lust after Rand, he just doesn’t do anything about it because he’s the captain, damnit!
Besides the basic plot, there are some other fun observations to be made with this episode. We see Sulu holding a bizarre dog-like creature (an actual dog with a prosthetic horn) – perhaps his interest in botany has changed to zoology? Whatever the reason, poor Sulu gets stranded on the planet Alfa 177 after the transporter accident that separates Kirk like an egg into his fluffy white meringue and dark yolky depravity. They dare not risk splitting Sulu or the three anonymous crew members who are with him, but rather decide that they are better off freezing to death in -120°F temperatures. Perhaps that’s fair enough, and they do at least try to beam down some inanimate heating units to help them cope – but alas they duplicate and end up nonfunctional. I guess it never occurred to anyone to beam down a few blankets – if they duplicated it would only be extra good for warding off the cold! Also, they never consider sending down a shuttlecraft to pick up Sulu and company. I guess they don’t realise they even have shuttlecraft until the episode “The Galileo Seven” later on.
Technician Fisher – the one who instigated the transporter malfunction by beaming up before Kirk with some weird space ore on his uniform – escapes with only a scratch. He is treated by McCoy with a pair of plastic spraypak gizmos that look they would be more at home in someone’s garden to treat aphids than in a starship sickbay treating people with space fever.
We’re treated to a cool creepy hand shot when we see the “evil” Kirk appear in a corridor.
Spock gets several interesting scenes. He shows off the Vulcan nerve pinch for the second time in the series (the first was in “Where No Man Has Gone Before”). At one point he records a log entry in lieu of the captain, and he calls himself “Second Officer Spock”, not first officer as he is referred to later on. This implies that someone else is the first officer, or second-in-command, at this time. (Or that the terminology was applied sloppily during the early episodes.) Finally, Spock actively displays an astonishing sense of humour at the end of the episode, when he makes an incredibly suggestive remark to Janice Rand about Captain Kirk and his behaviour towards her. I could scarcely believe my ears when I heard it!
We see the first really good example of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy as the prototypical power trio. The “good” Kirk finds himself indecisive, having lost his conviction to the “evil” version. Spock and McCoy step into the breach, offering advice on what Kirk should do. Naturally, Spock supplies the logical argument, while McCoy completely contradicts him, giving an emotional argument and the exact opposite answer. Kirk, despite being in no real condition to make the decision, makes one anyway. This is a pattern we will see repeated in many episodes to come.
A couple of other quick observations: the “good” Kirk conveniently changes his shirt right after the duplication accident, for no apparent reasons other than to show off his bare chest and to provide the viewer with an easy way to tell the duplicates apart. The scratches Rand inflicts on “evil” Kirk’s face magically switch sides during a close-up shot in the final fight scene. And of course the procedure to recombine the two Kirks into the one body is highly dangerous and unproven, but of course Kirk goes through with it (and it succeeds).
Body count: No humans, but one rubber forehead dog creature.
Tropes: Teleporter Accident, Evil Twin, Literal Split Personality, Shadow Archetype, Evil Is Hammy, Shirtless Scene, Enemy Without, Mirror Match, Power Trio, Number Two.
(Image © 1966 Paramount Studios, used under Fair Use.)