TOS: S3E24: “Turnabout Intruder”

In which a body swap takes place, I propose new Starfleet regulations, and I’m done with the Original Series. 

This is it, folks. All of TOS. I’m a little sad, but mostly relieved. It’s been a wild ride. Next up is the movies, and if I need some filler maybe I’ll do some Animated Series just because. I invite you to tell me what your favorite episode was, and also which your favorite post was.

"I'd like to see your medical license before I let you examine me, 'Doctor' Kirk."

“I’d like to see your medical license before I let you examine me, ‘Doctor’ Kirk.”

In orbit around a ruin covered planet full of dead and dying scientists, the Enterprise is… trapped by my sentence structure. Kirk and McCoy beam down to cure Dr. Janice Lester with seduction. Apparently Kirk and Janice are old flames – yet another woman that Kirk left because he was married to the job.

Also, he couldn’t take her with him because women aren’t allowed to be starship captains, apparently. Umm, what now? This is the last episode and the first we’ve heard of this. I want to be absolutely clear about this: Dr. Janice Lester says, and I quote: “Your world of starship captains doesn’t admit women. It isn’t fair. ” So there’s that. To be fair, less than a generation later, Captain Rachel Garret commands the Enterprise-C and sacrifices her ship nobly to bring about peace between the Klingons and the Federation. So it’s really just one more thing I’m not going to miss about TOS.

Luckily, nobody can act like Kirk effectively.

Luckily, nobody can act like Kirk effectively.

It appears from the rest of that conversation that Janice Lester was especially crazy, though. He does not seem upset at all about not having spent his life with her, unlike, for example, the lawyer in “Court Martial.” And now we see why, since Dr. Lester hits him with a stun ray and trades pinky-purply-souly-ghosts with him using some of the alien ruins.

If there was ever a time for Overly Attached Girlfriend meme, this is it.

So this will make, what the third or fourth time someone has tried to use Kirk’s image to take over the ship? Mirror Kirk tried, for all of thirty seconds before going berserk. Split Personality Kirk tried kind of, although mostly he went around trying to bone anything with a skirt. Garth of Izar tried but couldn’t even beam up. And now Doctor Janice Lester is going to strangle her own body while wearking Kirk’s. I am going to keep referring to the consciousness driving the body because saying shit like Janice/Kirk will be a pain in the ass. Until further notice, Janice is wearing Kirk’s body and vice verca.

Janice does a little monologue about how awful it is to be a woman. Hopefully this is just another one of Roddenberry’s ham-handed attempts to be socially progressive that didn’t even remotely survive the era it was written for. I’m sorry, Gene, but you know it’s true.

Janice is about to murder Kirk, but McCoy and the planetside doctor come back in time to force her to act the role of Kirk more or less perfectly. Apparently they dated long enough for her to emulate him fairly well. Kirk is still unconscious and thrashing around, and Janice and the planetside doctor, Coleman, are arguing about who’s going to be the one to kill Kirk. Coleman is in in it, you see, and they all murdered the rest of the scientific staff. Kirk wakes up and sees his body standing over the bed, with Coleman, McCoy, and nurse Chapel all standing over. He just can’t manage to say anything in time.

And Janice is committing to Kirk’s log that she’s an impostor. She’s studied starship operations, so she’s not likely to be caught out that way, except that she’s not up on Kirk’s relationship with Spock. He orders Warp Two and a course change, and there’s a three-minute argument about how best to save the body currently dying of Radiation Poisoning in Sick Bay, because Janice doesn’t want it to be saved. And McCoy, having been taken of the case in order to give Kirk the worst chance for survival, has extreme suspicious. Granted, his suspicions are that Kirk has been emotionally compromised, not that Janice is living in his body.

To be fair to Janice, there wasn't really a good way out of that one.

To be fair to Janice, there wasn’t really a good way out of that one.

Kirk wakes up and tries to convince Chapel that he’s really Kirk, and gets shut down by Coleman, who explains it away as an developed paranoia due to the ordeal on the planet. Kirk is, however, smart enough to abandon this tactic the next time he wakes up he tries cooperating long enough to get a glass left with him that he  can shatter and loose his bonds. Unfortunately, when he bursts into the room with McCoy and Spock, who he probably could’ve convinced, Janice is there too and gives him the patented Kirk Neck Chop. Which is exactly what the real Kirk would do never.

New Starfleet regulation #1: All ships are to have Doppleganger Passwords for all senior staff. Crew one rank below a given officer shall be aware of the Doppleganger Password and its proper countersign. Any time erratic behavior is suspected, the Doppleganger Password challenge shall be issued. If it cannot be answered, that crewmember can be safely presumed to be an impostor or otherwise compromised beyond fitness for duty, and shall be temporarily relieved of their post and subject to a full medical and psych evaluation at the earliest possible opportunity.

Spock manages to con his way into the brig to see Kirk. The guard is willing to interpret Janices order of ‘nobody sees [Kirk] without my authorization’ to mean ‘Spock can go in as long as a guard is present.’ I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad, but it’s helpful to the existing situation that Kirk doesn’t expect his crew to operate by the book at the expense of their common sense. In the past, he’s apparently trusted his senior staff to be exceptions to orders like that, so Janices failure to explicitly include them in that order works against her.

McCoy gives Janice a Voight-Kampff test while Kirk explains the situation to Spock. He is properly skeptical, although Kirk could pretty easily substantiate his claim by reciting details from previous missions. He does so, but none of the classified details. However, there’s also the fact that Spock is capable of a mind meld. That doesn’t constitute proof, but it does mean that Kirk now has an ally at large on the ship. Unfortunately, the security guard doesn’t fall for the Spock ‘companionable pat on the shoulder turned neck pinch’ and shouts out quickly enough to turn what should have been a quiet revolution into a full-blown mutiny charge against Janice.

Social combat at its finest.

Social combat at its finest.

Spock is, of course, eminently reasonable in his demand that Kirk be the real witness, and get cross-examined directly by the senior staff (and Sulu and Chekov). Thus commences what could be a great scene, where the two people who know what’s going on face off. in a controlled environment. One capstone in Janice’s argument is that the body of Janice Lester could not possibly overpower the body of Kirk. Janice is, however, not acting like Kirk would be if he wasn’t an impostor. Of course, the main point of bringing Kirk into the room was so that the others could ask questions as well, that only Kirk could possibly know the answers to.

This doesn’t go unnoticed by the crew. Scotty and McCoy discuss their votes before going on. Scotty trusts Spock’s logic. McCoy’s tests show no trace of objective evidence, but he’s convinced too. Unfortunately, Janice had the corridor bugged and orders Scotty, McCoy, and Spock to be executed for mutiny. Despite the fact that General Order 4: the qarantine of the planet Talos, is the only death penalty left in the Federation. Janice is not making many friends here.

The crew refuse to obey Janice’s orders and she goes into an apoplectic fit, and for a moment the transfer flickers, somehow. Which doesn’t make any sense if their consciousnesses were actually swapped. It should either be permanent until reversed by the machine it was first done with, or it should be an ongoing effect which, once disrupted, doesn’t just reestablish itself. I would actually have liked to see that. Kirk spends the whole episode getting back into his body, and once there it’s already too late because he’s convinced everyone that he’s actually in Janices body. Hijinx ensue. Alas, it is not to be.

Instead, we just get the Deus Ex Machina where one of the two gets angry and excited enough that the transfer breaks, and Janice, now back in her own body, just collapses in despair, because she’s an insane person. And the tragic part of the whole mess is that Coleman apparently loved her, and if she hadn’t been obsessed with having the full set of rights that a man has, and just known her place, she could have been happy. Womp Womp.

Only 25 seasons and 12 movies to go! I’m glad I made it this far. May the Great Bird of the Galaxy preserve me and my liver.

Did we miss something awesome?