Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, September 30, 2013

Season 1, Episode 11 "Dagger of the Mind"

"Dagger of the Mind"
Production Number: 11
Air Order: 9
Stardate: 2715.1
Original Air Date: November 3, 1966



"You know, it's amazing how many super-villains have advanced degrees. Graduate schools should probably do a better job at screening those people out."
- Sheldon Lee Cooper, who also has a PhD, incidentally


We open in the transporter room, where the crew is beaming stuff down to a penal colony. The red shirt doing the job is having trouble, and Kirk reminds him that he needs clearance from the colony before anything gets beamed anywhere, as they have a force field around it for safety. So the guy gets his clearance, and they get a box in return for their drop-off. Kirk leaves and the red shirt turns his back while evil music plays. An older guy with Andy Warhol hair climbs out of the box and of course knocks out the red shirt before escaping into the corridor. And I'm left to wonder whatever happened to those other two guys who were working in the transporter room before the red-shirt was left alone with the box...




Captain's Log: 2715.1 The Enterprise has exchanged cargo with the Tantalus Penal Colony, but no one went ashore.
Kirk is on the bridge talking with Bones about how penal colonies have changed for the better since they started following the theories of Dr Adams. I smell another man-crush, you guys. I know that an episode fell between "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" and this one, but don't you think that Kirk would have figured out that when he admires someone, that person is going to end up being the villain of the story?
Kirk and Bones are interrupted by a hail from Tantalus, who lets the Enterprise know that they are short one dangerous inmate. Uhura puts the ship on alert as the inmate takes down a dude in red scrubs and steals his uniform. It's short-lived however, as another crewman calls to him, "Hey you from engineering," and instead of calmly pretending to play the part, the inmate turns and runs.

I don't quite get these scrubs uniforms. Are these supposed to separate the worker drones from the officers?

The crewman reports a stranger in engineering uniform on deck 14. Uhura broadcasts this info and the red shirts go running to secure each deck. Kirk calls Tantalus back to report that the Enterprise has their man, and Dr Adams answers the space phone. Kirk appears to be fangirling inside while he talks to Adams.
Spock remarks to Bones that it's interesting that humans would glorify group violence for 40 centuries but imprison those who privatize it. Bones gets all defensive, and Spock points out that lack of emotion on the part of the Vulcan race has lead to a lack of motivation for violence. You know, I like the fact that the writers can use Spock to point out the weird flaws and hypocrisies of humans. I have to wonder here how much they're advocating for a zen lifestyle. The idea has merit. I mean, how many Tibetan monks have you heard of pulling down armed bank robberies while yelling "Get down, muthafuckas!" like Samuel L Jackson?


The philosophical debate is cut short when the inmate bursts onto the bridge and demands the captain. He is looking for asylum from Tantalus. Kirk tells him that he's not getting shit at gun-point, then he kicks the weapon out of the guy's hand and Spock takes him out Vulcan-style. The unconscious inmate is taken to sick bay and the Enterprise flips a bitch back to the penal colony.
In sick bay, Bones is perplexed. He can't figure out what's wrong with the inmate who, while babbling nonsense, also seems to say things that sound true. He says he is Dr Simon Van Gelder, director of Tantalus. This information seems to be painful to recall, as he thrashes around. Spock later confirms that Dr Van Gelder was assigned to Tantalus six months earlier.


Kirk calls Adams, who says they were working on people who were having trouble being rehabilitated, and that Dr Van Gelder insisted on experimenting on himself before trying it on another person. What, was there a shortage of white mice on this planet? Bones quietly calls BS on this story and they turn off the comm to argue. Kirk fangirls over Adams again, and Bones declares that something smells off in Copenhagen, while Spock suggests that they asks Adams if he wants Van Gelder back. Well duh, Spock. What else is he gonna say? "No, I don't want that dangerous patient back. You can keep him. Put him to work on your ship. He can shovel coal into the warp engines."



Actually, when Kirk opens the channel again, Adams asks if they might drop Van Gelder at a better facility. I'm sorry, what? Bones says that it's suspect, and he's calling bullshit in his medical logs, which means that Kirk has to do an investigation. When Kirk requests it of Tantalus, Adams sounds almost excited, but then asks that Kirk beam down with a minimal complement. The captain agrees because he's got a massive man-crush on Adams. Okay, seriously? This is the same episode as last week, you guys. I bet Van Gelder is a short-circuited android. Kirk asks Bones to hook him up with a blue shirt who has rehabilitative medicine experience.

"Doesn't Dr Adams have the dreamiest voice?"

Captain's Log 2715.2: Kirk is super-hot to meet Adams.
Kirk talks to Bones in sick bay, who says that Van Gelder is still nuts and requests that the patient stay onboard until the investigation is over.
Kirk and Spock go to the transporter room to meet Bones' blue shirt, who is a fox named Dr Helen Noel. Kirk looks mildly pissed, and she reminds him that they met at the Science Lab Christmas party. I pause the DVD to laugh long and hard at that shit. OMG, Kirk. Didn't anybody ever tell you not to recharge your phaser in the ship's outlets? Kirk seems hella pissed at Bones, who hooked him up with an old hook-up. "Tell Bones she better be fucking awesome," Kirk growls to Spock. The Vulcan gives them a raised eyebrow and they beam down.


Hey look, you guys! It's the lithium mining station from the first episode! Ah, good times there.


Kirk and Helen get into an elevator on the surface, and it's pretty freaking fast, so Kirk grabs Helen like a scared little girl. They get off and Dr Adams greets them jovially. Kirk offers to surrender his phaser, but Adams tells him to keep it. Then he offers them a drink, stating that anytime they have visitors is a cause for celebration. "A toast! Let's drink to my addled assistant, who escaped from my mental health facility and ran amok through your ship with a stolen weapon and uniform! Cheers!"


A woman comes in and is introduced as Lethe, a former patient-turn-therapist. "I love my work," she flat-lines. Kirk and Helen look weirded out and Kirk asks Lethe what crime she committed. Lethe replies that it doesn't matter, as that person no longer exists. Adams says part of the treatment is to bury the past. Helen confirms that "a shifting of memory patterns is basic to psychotherapy." (Okay: that sounds weird to me. Anybody up on psychotherapy know if this is true?)

Lethe is super-creepy, you guys.

They take a tour of the facility and all of the patients seem a bit blissed-out. Kirk asks to see one room in particular, and Adams laughs that what's in there was a failure of his. We cut back to the Enterprise sick bay, where Van Gelder is describing a "neural neutralizer". It's a room with a dentist's chair and a device on the ceiling with flashing lights.

Last week we learned what little girls were made of. This week we will learn what the hypno-toad is made of.

Then we cut back to the colony, where Adams has taken Kirk and Helen into the control room. The beam from the device on the ceiling neutralizes brain waves. The dude running the machine is kind of an automaton. Adams admits that even though he considers it to be a failure that he still uses it in the hope that it might work on the more hopeless cases, and that Van Gelder made the mistake of trying it on himself alone on the highest setting. Even though this sounds like utter crap, as it clearly requires someone else to run it, Kirk and Helen both seem to buy it. When they all walk away, we see the machine in use. The automaton turns it on so that the lights flash and his voice projects over the speakers, telling the patient that when and if he thinks of certain memories, it will cause pain. (A funny oops moment: the guy in the chair was seen strolling through the corridor 30 seconds earlier.)

This guy was convicted of the crime of dressing like a teenage girl.

Kirk checks in with Bones, who is concerned about the machine. Helen disagrees, saying it's fine. She seems to be fangirling more than Kirk at this point. Kirk says they'll spend the night and, overhearing this, Van Gelder flips his shit, suggesting that Kirk and Helen will be strapped into the machine, completely revealing a plot that the audience has already guessed.

First Officer's Log, Acting Captain:  Spock is going to mind-meld with Van Gelder.
He's weirded out about doing a Vulcan cultural thing on a human, but McCoy insists that he try so they can get to the bottom of this. Van Gelder insists too and Spock puts his hands on the dude's face like he's going to suck the salt from his system.


Kirk calls on Helen in her quarters that night. She thinks it's a booty call, but he's sufficiently skeeved out by the patients at this point to ask her to come run the machine for him. 


Back at the mind-meld, Van Gelder reveals that Adams uses the machine to erase memories and add his own in their place. Van Gelder says he struggled at first against it, but then when his mind was blank he welcomed the thoughts that Adams offered.
Down on the surface, Kirk gets into the dentist chair and Helen says she will try it for a second or two, then turn it off. He agrees, and after they have done it, he can't recall it having happened.

This neural neutralizer brought to you by The Silence. "The Silence: They're everywhere you don't want to be."

They try a second time, and this time she suggests that Kirk is hungry, which he admits to afterward. They try another. This time, she says that they danced and talked at the Christmas party, but Helen implants a different memory, one where Kirk carries her back to her quarters. We see this new suggested memory as a scene with fuzzy edges. Fake-Memory Helen wonders aloud what kind of reputation she might get if she continues to play with Kirk. This is a valid concern, as Kirk has a reputation for being a he-whore. They make out anyway, and the new memory fades. Kirk is shown in the chair with a shit-eating grin on his face.


But now the evil music plays as the automaton grabs Helen from behind and Adams steps up to the controls. He cranks up the machine to 50 (not to 50!) and tells Kirk that he (Kirk) is madly in love with Helen, that she's left, and that he needs to ditch his communicator. Disobeying or thinking otherwise will lead to pain. Oh, yay. Operant conditioning in action. Kirk drops the phaser but tries to fight back by calling the Enterprise. It doesn't work because the force field is up. He ends up laughing maniacally.



Back in his quarters, Helen wakes up Kirk and tries to convince him that he's not actually in love with her. Kirk sees her in Girl-O-Vision and the Pretty Girl music pays. He seems to sort of buy her explanation fairly quickly and sees an air conditioning duct on the wall that is coincidentally large enough for Helen to crawl through. He tells her to crawl through it until she finds the main power supply for the facility, and then shut it off, even though she has zero experience with those kinds of systems. Whatever, dude. You just want to see up her obscenely short uniform as she crawls away. A pair of automatons comes to collect Kirk for another session.
 Incidentally, how did Helen get into Kirk's quarters? Were they assigned the same quarters? Or does she have her own? If the former, why is she allowed to roam the facilities? She got caught messing with Dr Adams' secret experiment-thingy, so you think she'd be under lock and key. If she snuck out of her own quarters, how did she get into Kirk's quarters? Surely there would have been guards at both doors.
Back the neural neutralizer, Adams is giving Kirk the old "I am your master" crappola when Lethe comes in and says that Helen is missing. The bad doctor cranks up the power and demands that Kirk reveal where she is and what she's doing. He struggles to force out that he doesn't know and then passes out on the floor.


Helen, meanwhile, has found where the power shut-off is without a map of the facility or any signs directing her there. She shuts off the power, but a uniformed goon arrives, knocks her out and restores the power again.
It seems Kirk was just playing opossum and he knocks out both the doctor and the automaton.
Helen wakes up and kicks the goon into the power grid, frying him. With the force field down and Kirk failing to check in, Spock beams into the power room. He smells old-fashioned down-home fried goon, but does not see Helen, as she has scooted back into the A/C ducts again. He restores the power just as Adams wakes up on the floor. The neural neutralizer is still set for brain-washing and he gets a faceful.


Kirk and Helen both end up back in his quarters at the same time and he starts making out with her. Spock bursts in like a third wheel with a phaser, and Helen tells Kirk that he doesn't love her, that Adams implanted that. Kirk's all, "Oh, damn! I left the neural neutralizer on!" like it's a freaking stove or something. They all bolt to Adams' rescue, but it's too late. He's dead, Jim. The machine didn't really kill him, but it emptied his thoughts and he was alone without anybody to supplant more.
Back on the E, a report from Van Gelder says that the machine has been dismantled. Wow, he recovered fast. Bones remarks that it's weird that a man can die of loneliness, but Kirk disagrees, and they get the hell out of dodge.



RIP Roll-Call


Just this dude, who died of "loneliness", which sounds weird, but how many non-weird deaths have we had on this show so far? Nobody seems to die of old age or heart disease. No, it's shit like "disintegration" and "god-like powers gone wrong".

Adams was kind of a lame super-villain. I suppose we can think of him like Dr Korby from last week, where he's making mindless people from criminals, but for what? At least Korby had a reason: he was an android and wanted everyone to be as well. He had a list of things that he thought might be beneficial to the human race if android technology were introduced, but Adams doesn't seem to really give a shit one way or the other. Is he power-hungry? Dunno. Does he want to build an army of former criminals-turned-brainless goons? Dunno. We never even find out why he erased Van Gelder's mind. I would assume it was because Van Gelder objected to his experiment or his methods and was going to turn him in to the authorities, but we don't get an explanation. Maybe he was just a guinea pig. I guess we'll never know.

*******

Vulcan Kitty update: surgeries went well, and while they look a bit funny, they're back to bouncing off the walls. I doubt anyone I know could bounce back from surgery as quickly as they did. This means one of two things: cats are badasses, or humans are wussy. Think I'll go with both.









Uhura and Spock look funny because they had to have their faces shaved in order for the optometrist to gain better access to their mouths and eyelids, but Kirk looks the same because he only had to have some eyelashes frozen off.

*******

This week's tea is an Asian Jasmine White Tea from The Republic of Tea. It's light. There's not much more to say about it. Tastes like tea. Anyway, if you're not looking for something heavy, but you want something lightly fragrant, this is a good one to reach for. http://www.republicoftea.com/asian-jasmine-100%25-white-tea------------/p/V00738/


I also drank a Sweet Tea from McDonald's. Shut up, I'm allowed to drink cheap tea if I want to. You could have tiramisu every day, but you know you buy Twinkies sometimes. So there. :p

2 comments:

  1. I dunno, Adams seemed a realistic villain to me. He got too into his experiments and lost his moral compass in the pursuit of knowledge and results. There are people in real life who do that all the time.

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