(airdate: June 3, 1969)
[The original scheduled airdate of March 28, 1969 was preempted by coverage of the death of former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower.]
Story: Gene Roddenberry Teleplay: Arthur H. Singer
Director: Herb Wallerstein
Dr. Janice Lester: Sandra Smith
Lt. Lisa: Barbara Baldavin
Dr. Arthur Coleman: Harry Landers
Lt. Galloway: David L. Ross
Captain's Log: The Enterprise responds to a distress call from the planet Camus II, where an expedition led by a former lover of Kirk's, Dr. Janice Lester, is stationed. Lester forces Kirk into a strange machine that causes the life entity inside her and Kirk to be swapped: thus Kirk is now in Lester's body, and Lester in Kirk's. Lester wants command of the Enterprise and so attempts to ensure that Kirk-in-Lester isn't in a position to explain things or accuse Lester-in-Kirk of a body swap. However, "Kirk"'s increasingly unusual behavior raises suspicions among the Enterprise senior officers, and when Spock questions "Lester" he discovers the truth about the body swap. "Kirk" attempts to deflect by accusing Spock of mutiny and convening a court martial, but when an execution is ordered for Spock, McCoy, and Scott, the rest of the command crew refuses to follow "Kirk"'s orders. Fortunately, at this point the life entity transfer wears off, returning Kirk and Lester to their own bodies. Lester is thus taken away to be cared for.
Whoops!: At approximately 14 minutes in there's a stock shot of the bridge that inadvertently replaces Chekov at navigation with a different navigation officer. Lt. Galloway's name is misspelled in the credits as "Galoway". And there's a point: Galloway is back after having been vaporized in "The Omega Glory".
So we realize the captain's logs are more for the audience than in-universe, but... is it really a good idea for "Kirk" to record a captain's log sounding like there's uncertainty as to whether "Kirk" should be the captain? It's not very confident-sounding, is it? In fact, it sounds a little worrying, if the crew is already concerned about the captain's well-being. (We can excuse the first of Janice-as-Kirk's logs, where it's really clear that "Kirk" is Janice Lester, because it's not actually labeled as a captain's log; it does mean we're privy to "Kirk"'s inner monologue for some reason, though.)
We try to fill in Janice's plan as best we can down in the Library Computer section, but what actually was the plan here? Janice talks about studying the operation of the Enterprise for years, as if she'd planning this for a while; does that mean they discovered this body swap machine a long time ago, and Janice has been carefully planning since then, strategically killing off expedition members as needed? Or was this a more recent decision, spurred by the discovery of the machine? If so, what was her original plan, before she found the machine? Or was she just studying starship operations for fun?
The other big question: what causes Kirk and Janice to switch back to their original bodies? It kind of looks like it's when "Kirk" is undergoing extreme emotional stress - the first time is after Sulu and Chekov refuse to obey orders, after all - but if that's the case, why doesn't it happen in the courtroom, after "Kirk" starts to lose it by the end, yelling that Spock has committed mutiny? Or is it possible that the transference was never meant to be permanent, and it's finally wearing off?
Classic Lines: "This crew has been to many places in the galaxy. They've been witness to many strange events. They are trained to know that what seems to be impossible often is possible, given the scientific analysis of the phenomenon."
Don't Wear a Red Shirt: Lester-in-Kirk's body strikes Kirk-in-Lester's body, knocking "Lester" to the ground. "Kirk" also tries to murder "Lester" via strangulation but is interrupted by the return of the landing party before any progress is made.
Spock takes out two security guards with Vulcan nerve pinches in his unsuccessful attempt to free "Lester".
Janice and Coleman kill the rest of their expedition (off-screen) by ordering them to areas where celebium shielding was weak.
Alien Love: Kirk and Janice Lester were in a relationship when they were both at Starfleet [Academy], but Kirk ended up leaving Lester. ("We'd have killed each other," Kirk says when Lester suggests they could have lived their lives together.) Janice, to put it mildly, didn't take this well, and so a large portion of the plot is fallout from her feelings of rejection.
Dr. Coleman has also fallen in love with Lester, although it doesn't appear that she reciprocates those feelings - but she is willing to use Coleman to get what she wants.
Library Computer: Camus II is an Earth-like planet [piss yellow with a ring in the remastered version for some reason], which was once home to an advanced civilization that's now dead. The building we see has a fairly spacious room, with square blocks engraved with symbols in relief on various walls and columns.
In the main room that we see is a large stone wall covered with this symbols. This stone wall was in fact a highly advanced machine, capable of complete life-entity transfer between two individuals - in other words, swapping the minds of the two individuals between their physical forms. The symbols on the stone wall lit up when the machine was activated, while the machine was operated by two controls on the side. It also had a portable control that could start up the machine and prepare a person for transfer. According to Spock, this was the first known instance of complete life-entity transfer completed with a mechanical device that had achieved complete success anywhere in the galaxy. [Though of course we see that it wasn't (necessarily) permanent.]
The ruins of Camus II were being explored by a team of scientists, led by a Dr. Janice Lester. Lester was a Caucasian woman, approximately 30 years old, with auburn hair and blue eyes. Lester was a former lover of Kirk's, and stated that the year they spent together "at Starfleet is the only time in my life I was alive." However, according to Lester, "your world of starship captains doesn't admit women", and so, much to Lester's dismay, their relationship ended when Kirk left her after she had, in his words, "punished and tortured me because of it". [The intent at the time of writing was probably that women couldn't captain starships, but that seems to be contradicted by subsequent episodes - notably, Capt. Erika Hernandez, the captain of the second NX-class ship (Columbia), beginning in the Enterprise episode "Home" (which is, of course, set prior to "Turnabout Intruder"). We can probably retcon this as a manifestation of Lester's persecution complex, though; note that Kirk-in-Lester's argument against putting Lester in command is due to her problematic temperament and lack of training, rather than because she's a woman. Therefore, it may be that either Starfleet frowns upon married captains (which would also fit with the dialogue), or that Kirk was unwilling to devote himself to both a ship and Lester. (Or that he was using that as an excuse to leave her.)]
Lester became embittered at being denied the opportunity to command a starship and by Kirk's leaving her, and she spent years studying the operation of the Enterprise. Presumably after discovering the body swap machine, Lester devised a plan to lure Kirk and the Enterprise to Camus II, so that she could replace Kirk as captain and thus gain command of a starship, and then to subsequently murder Kirk-in-Lester's body, both for revenge and to ensure the transfer couldn't be reversed. [This is, of course, somewhat speculative, since we're not given any of the specifics of her plan.] Working with Dr. Arthur Coleman, Lester ordered the members of her expedition to areas of Camus II where they were exposed to high levels of celebium, a harmful substance that isn't treated the same way as radiation poisoning. [McCoy makes a distinction between celebium and radiation poisoning, thus implying celebium isn't a radioactive substance.] This created the emergency that Lester needed to bring Kirk to Camus II, although it meant all the members of her expedition, except for Dr. Coleman, died. [Possibly Lester also did this because the expedition members also knew about the body swap machine, so she wanted to ensure they wouldn't tell the Enterprise personnel about it and thus expose her plan.] Lester then carried out her plan, exchanging her life-entity with Kirk's. However, Janice Lester appeared to be emotionally unstable, and her time in Kirk's body led to increasing paranoia, as the rest of the crew found discrepancies between Kirk's normal behavior and Lester-in-Kirk's behavior. This ultimately led to a court-martial of Spock, McCoy, and Scott, with "Kirk" declaring them guilty and sentencing them to death. However, the life-energy transfer failed shortly before the sentence could be carried out, leading to Kirk and Lester switching back to their own bodies. Lester hated being a woman. [Perhaps due to sexism? It's also been suggested that Lester may have in fact been transgender, although this wasn't the intent of the production team.]
Dr. Arthur Coleman was an older Caucasian male with black, greying hair and brown eyes. He was the surgeon on Dr. Lester's expedition on Camus II. He'd been the chief medical officer aboard a ship, but he was removed by Starfleet Command due to administrative incompetence and "flagrant medical blunders". Coleman was in love with Lester and so was willing to aid Lester in her mad plan to lure Kirk to Camus II in order to swap bodies with him, even though it meant killing the rest of the expedition. Coleman had been part of Lester's expedition for the past two years.
After its mission to Camus II, the Enterprise was scheduled to rendezvous with the starship Potemkin at Beta Aurigae and to make a gravitational study of the binary [star] system there.
Starfleet regulations state that the surgeon of a starship "will require full examination of any crew member that he has doubts about". This includes the captain of the ship.
The Benecia Colony ("The Conscience of the King") is about 48 hours away from Camus II at warp 2. Its medical facilities are very primitive, according to Spock.
Starbase 2 is 72 hours away from Camus II at warp 2, between Camus II and Beta Aurigae. It has better medical facilities than the Benecia colony.
Aboard the Enterprise, Officers Quarters 6F-24 through 6G-38 are located down the corridor from Briefing Room 2.
Starfleet expressly forbids the death penalty except for General Order 4. [Violation of General Order 7 was said in "The Menagerie" to be the only offense worthy of the death penalty. Have the General Orders been renumbered? Has General Order 7 been rescinded but something else put in its place? Or did Chekov just misspeak?]
According to Dr. McCoy, neither Starfleet Headquarters nor the Surgeon General's office make politically motivated promotions or demotions.
The Robbiani dermal-optic test is a test designed to measure the basic emotional structure of an individual, by measuring dermal-optic reactions to specific color wavelengths. It involves flashing a light with changing colors at an individual. Lester in Kirk's body is able to pass this test.
Kirk is physically in excellent health.
Scott has seen Kirk feverish, sick, drunk, delirious, terrified, overjoyed, and boiling mad. He hasn't seen him red-faced with hysteria.
Starfleet Command is to be informed when a starship makes a change in its travel plans that affects other ships.
"Lester" mentions the Vians ("The Empath") and the Tholians ("The Tholian Web") to Spock.
Final Analysis: "No, sir. I shall not withdraw a single charge that I have made. You are not Captain Kirk. You have ruthlessly appropriated his body, but the life entity within you is not that of Captain Kirk." The final episode of the Original Series is somewhat better than its low reputation would suggest. (This assumes you can excuse away the main plot of how it's terrible being female of course, which understandably not everyone will be able to do.) The script is actually written rather well, with lots of subtle touches (such as Lester-in-Kirk constantly answering communications as "Captain Kirk", rather than the more familiar "Kirk"), and Sandra Smith does an excellent job as Kirk-in-Lester's body. Appreciation of Shatner's performance as Lester-in-Kirk probably depends more on how indulgent you're feeling, but if you're willing to ignore some of the problematic aspects of this story there's some camp fun to be had here. By no means is this a standout, and it's a pretty poor send-off for the show (not that it was intended to be a finale), with a really weak resolution to the story, but nevertheless, more enjoyable than you might otherwise expect.
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Page originally created: July 26, 2019
Page last updated: July 26, 2019