I should probably begin this discussion of Star Trek The Original Series 1×05 with a bit of a trigger warning: the episode in question has a depiction of an assault and it’s something that I really wanted to discuss (ok, rant about) here.
Well friends, here’s the thing: if you ever find yourself the captain of a spaceship and one of your crew members makes an accusation of assault, the fifth episode of Star Trek The Original Series is a prime example of how not to investigate.
In “The Enemy Within”, there is a transporter malfunction that splits Kirk into two people: one “good” but indecisive, the other violent and impulsive. As the bad Kirk makes his way around the ship, he demands brandy from McCoy and assaults Rand. What really bugs me about “The Enemy Within” is the response to Rand’s report of the assault. If someone reports an assault and names a specific individual as their assailant, the person who allegedly committed the assault should not be the one to question the victim about what happened. They shouldn’t even be in the same room together. It doesn’t matter that “good” Kirk is innocent. What matters is that someone who looks exactly like Captain Kirk – and presented himself as Captain Kirk – assaulted Rand. “Good” Kirk should’ve sent someone else – Spock, McCoy, anyone he trusted – to question Rand and stay away from her until the matter was resolved. Spock’s line at the end of the episode about bad Kirk having interesting qualities was gross.
“The Enemy Within” is supposed to be about how everyone has a good side and a bad side and how one side can’t exist without the other. Kirk can’t be an effective captain – or even live – unless both halves work together. This is something that has been explored in other media, so this is nothing new. And really, it doesn’t bother me to see these themes play out again and again. What bothered me was how Rand’s assault was dealt with.
And frankly, if I were a dude, I’d be offended by the implication that men are essentially rapists at their core.
The solution to the episode is to send both Kirks back through the transponder in order to smush them back together. And then everything goes back to the way things were, with Kirk at the helm and Rand still at her post.
I suppose this hasn’t really been a blow by blow recap of what happened in “The Enemy Within” so much as a rant about how it handled Rand’s assault. At this point, all I can really say is “WTF, 1960s?” Also, I really don’t want to watch this particular episode ever again.