Or, The One Where One of Kirk’s Eleventy-Billion One Night Stands Comes Back to Haunt Him.
I wonder if we’ve collectively become more sociopathic since 1966, when this episode first aired. Or if we’re like that back then and were just more polite about it.
In “Dagger of the Mind”, Kirk & Friends investigate a penal colony where the director, Dr. Adams, is using an experimental brainwashing treatment on the inmates. It was not readily apparent to me why he was so threatened by Kirk’s visit. The doctor’s behavior didn’t make sense.
Eventually, though, it came to me:
Because what he’s doing to the inmates is wrong.
“Dagger of the Mind” is remarkable because it didn’t even make it a question. The treatment was flat out wrong. Period. I don’t know that this episode could be done today without also having a discussion about what prisoners do and don’t deserve. Maybe because so many of us grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, which seemed like a boom time for serial killers. Maybe because of the war on terrorism. I don’t know. But, I don’t like it.
Spock had something profound to say about the human race and this topic:
The other notable thing about “Dagger of the Mind” is that Kirk suffers the uncomfortable consequences of pooping where he eats. Here’s Dr. Noel, the medical professional accompanying Kirk to the penal colony:
OF COURSE Kirk hooked up with her at the science lab Christmas party!!! I looooove how visibly uncomfortable Kirk is with this situation.
Spock has no sympathy at all for Kirk.
The Kirk-Noel-Spock dynamic is fantastic. Not so much the Kirk-Noel part as Spock’s Sassy Face reaction to all of it. For instance, in this scene, Spock is mounting a lightning strike rescue op! He rushes into save Kirk and Noel and walks in on this:
There’s only one appropriate reaction:
While Spock gave some wonderful Sassy Face moments in this ep, Kirk had the opportunity to lots of Drama Face:
Dramatic and tortured as it is, it doesn’t top his finest Drama Face work to date (“The Enemy Within“):