Sunday, May 12, 2013

Dagger of the Mind: TOS Season 1 Episode 9

Plot Synopsis

Right at the start there is a bit of tension between Bones and Kirk as they have different opinions about prison in general. Kirk says he has been very impressed with the new type of prisons "they're more like resort colonies now". Bones responds that "A cage is a cage". Kirk says that Bones is behind the times, but he was having none of it. A little bit later on in the episode Spock has an amusing comment "Interesting, your people glorified organized violence for 40 centuries, but you imprison those who employ it privately". Anyway, they had to beam down some supplies to the penal colony and they brought back some mysterious classified box of stuff that they weren't supposed to look at. But it turned out that a prisoner (Gelder) had snuck aboard in the box and he soon he knocked out the transporter operator and stole his clothing.

Dr. Adams (the guy in charge of the penal colony) tells them that Gelder was very intelligent and dangerous. Which set up an expectation for me that they would have a lot of trouble catching him, but he pretty much went right to Kirk and requested asylum. They knocked him out and took him to sickbay, and intended to return him to the penal colony but Bones thought that something was up and insisted that he keep Gelder aboard to study him. He quickly discovered that Gelder seemed to have fragments of memories, but there was a lot of missing information. He also discovered that Gelder had been a doctor. Something is definitely amiss! When they arrived back at the penal colony Bones remained on board to continue studying Gelder, so he sent Dr. Noel along with Kirk to go down to the planet to check things out. Hilariously, Kirk had previously hit on Dr. Noel at a Christmas party and was annoyed that Bones had sent her. He said she had better be the best choice for the job

When they get down to the planet they meet Dr. Adams and a number of other people who seem to be working for him. Everyone except for Dr. Adams has a blank look on their faces, it seems very strange indeed. Dr. Noel for some reason is very invested in Dr. Adams, because she seems blind to all of the strange stuff that they are seeing. Kirk is asking a lot of questions, and focuses on a strange looking machine which includes a prisoner sitting in a chair getting his mind manipulated. Kirk thinks Adams is being evasive, so he comes back later to investigate with Dr. Noel. He sits in the chair and she uses the machine to implant memories into his mind. She starts making him feel hungry, and then tries something a bit more difficult, she makes him remember that Christmas party with him taking her back to his quarters.

Adams catches them and takes over the controls. We see his real methods as he turns the intensity of the machine up and tells him that if he remembers what really happened here he would be consumed with great pain. Luckily, Dr. Noel was able to get away. In the meantime Spock does a mind meld (the first ever!) with Gelder to find out the horrible things that Adams has been doing. Being afraid of what is happening on the planet with the captain, he prepares to beam down but can't get through while the shields are up. Luckily, on the planet Dr. Noel is turning off the power. In addition to allowing Spock a chance to get down to the planet, it saves Kirk from the chair. Kirk then kicks Adam's ass and he winds up in the room by himself. When the power comes back on Adams is hit with the full force of the machine. His mind is emptied, but there is no one there to fill the void. This kills him. We get another very nice "he's dead captain" from Bones.

Bones says that it is hard to believe that he would be killed from this machine, Kirk responds "not when you've sat in that room"


Spock: We learn about the mind meld. It's pretty cool to see the first instance of something that wound up being so iconic. As the writing in these seems to be pretty "seat of their pants", I imagine it was just thrown in without much thought for the convenience of this episode and it just became a mainstay later.

Kirk: The scene where Kirk first realizes that Dr. Noel was going to accompany him was pretty amusing. He seems like a ladies man as he has clearly at least flirted with her in the past, but he is also somewhat embarrassed by her being there.

Bones: Dr. McCoy was the first to think that something was up with Dr. Adams, and he stuck to his guns even when everyone else seemed to think he was wrong. It was really great to see him stand up to the challenge.

First time

In addition to the mind meld which I mentioned above, they mentioned that they can not beam through shields. It makes me wonder if the very idea of beaming produces some clear writing problems and they decided to make the rule that they can't beam through shields to set limits to transporting.


Obviously the big theme of this episode was prison. Bones was against the very idea of prison, no matter how nice things are. Kirk was more focused on the fact that the prisons are very nice and not the cages the we all imagine as a typical prison. I think Kirk was more focused on the practical implications (we need to do something with criminals) while Bones was being more idealistic.



Very enjoyable, and I love that I got to see the first instance of a few things that became prominent later in the Star Trek universe.

Intense Debate Comments

I've decided to remove intense debate and go back to the default blogger comments. Of course, ID holds your comment threads hostage so you will stay with it, but luckily I don't have too many. I have taken screenshots and edited them into the bottom of their posts so they won't be lost.

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