Turnabout Intruder - episode #79

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Turnabout Intruder - episode #79 Empty Turnabout Intruder - episode #79

Post  BoG on Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:41 pm


TURNABOUT INTRUDER (3rd season; episode #79)  Like a Star @ heaven  Air Date: 06/03/69
Director:Herb Wallerstein  @  Writers: Arthur H. Singer (teleplay); Gene Roddenberry (story)

TURNABOUT INTRUDER @CBS.COM
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This episode has its share of  detractors, for reasons we'll get into, but what they seem to overlook are several scenes of nearly rapturous, quasi-Shakespearean melodrama implanted in a science fiction plot line, all tinged with the theme of madness. Some of these scenes are unforgettable: (1) Kirk physically attacking Janice Lester (now actually inhabited by Kirk's mind) as McCoy and Spock look on, shocked, fearing the worst; (2) that tense, somber moment when Spock must decide whether to believe that Kirk is trapped in Lester's body; (3) the entire hearing sequence, where Kirk (actually Janice Lester's mind) steadily implodes into rampaging hysteria; (4) the scene in the hallway directly afterward, where Scott & McCoy plot their mutiny; (5) Sulu & Chekov, nervously realizing how wrong things really are. These are incredible to watch, whether for the 1st or the 10th time.
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But, the episode's strengths go beyond just these riveting examples listed above; this isn't some half-baked attempt at role reversal. After Kirk's body is appropriated by Janice Lester (a psychotic ex-girlfriend), the subtleties kick in: note how Shatner now says "Captain Kirk to Enterprise" instead of his usual shorthand "Kirk to Enterprise" when he/she uses his communicator, and how he/she jerks back slightly when a voice is heard out of the electronic ether. And, it's these subtle changes in his behavior that prove to be Lester's undoing, not the later screaming fits, when Lester knows she is losing her bid to retain control of the ship indefinitely. When Lester, in Kirk's body, first walks onto the bridge and starts issuing orders, we learn that the job of a starship captain is made up of many little details and any even minor deviation will start causing problems...and raised eyebrows (by, guess which Vulcan?). It's all pretty well thought out.
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Note also how, in logical order, Kirk's senior officers go over to his side, despite surface appearances of the usual routine: first Spock, of course, followed by Scotty & McCoy, then Sulu & Chekov; too bad Uhura is missing from this episode (off duty?). In discussing Shatner's memorable interpretation of a female mind, we often forget actress Sandra Smith's performance as Kirk; the actress must have studied some of Shatner's past performances and it shows.
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Shatner, known for overacting in a few episodes - especially in the final season - gets to indulge himself here and it suits this particular episode very well. The viewer should remember that the female character, Lester, is an unbalanced woman, probably even deranged. She is not representative of the typical female of the 23rd century. This episode is not telling us that females, as a rule, are not suited to command positions. It's politically correct to buy into that, but I believe it's simply telling us that Lester is unsuited for command. Very few people are suited for command, in reality.
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When Lester, in the beginning, makes her comment about how Starfleet doesn't allow female starship captains, it seems to me as more of an attack, by Gene Roddenberry, on the social mores of the sixties, a commentary on inequality (between males & females, in this case) of that decade. We really don't know what Starfleet's approach is here, even though Kirk seems to agree with Lester on this point - perhaps he was humoring her - it's, again, more of a message to policymakers of the sixties. One could argue, tongue in cheek, that after this incident, Starfleet began an aggressive promotion program geared towards females, to avoid further such protests. We see the results on the TNG and Voyager shows. But, the next new Trek episode would be in animated form, in 1973. This was the final aired episode of TOS. BoG's Score: 7.5 out of 10
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Extra Trek Trivia: this episode was preempted when it was originally to be aired in late March, resulting in a delay of a couple of months before finally airing; it was the final episode of TOS to air; the inspiration for this episode was the 1931 novel by Thorne Smith, named "Turnabout" and the 1940 film of the same name, in which the minds of a married couple are switched. Shatner was sick during this episode; he later wrote that it must have been the psychological impact of knowing that this was the end of the show. Here's Shatner on the Mike Douglas Show in 1969, explaining his process as an actor in this episode:  SHATNER ON MIKE DOUGLAS;
and click here, for the key scene of Spock mind-melding with Lester to determine whether she is actually Kirk.


Last edited by BoG on Sun May 03, 2015 3:29 pm; edited 4 times in total
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Post  BoG on Fri Apr 02, 2010 10:38 pm

CLASSIC TREK QUOTES:
Spock: "No, sir, I will not withdraw a single charge 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. You do not belong in charge of the Enterprise. And I shall do everything in my power against you."

Janice as Kirk: "You have heard the statement you put into the record. Do you understand the nature of it?"

Spock: "I do... and I stand by it."



Janice as Kirk (screws up face in rage): "It is mutiny!" (pounds table) "Deliberate, vindictive, insane at its base! But mutiny is charged... and encouragement to mutiny. Dr. McCoy, Mr. Scott, you heard it! On the basis of these statements, I call for an immediate vote... by the authority granted to me as captain of the Enterprise. A recess... is declared... to be followed by a vote!" (begins to walk away; Spock follows)

Spock: "Yes. An immediate vote before our chief witness can be left to die on some obscure planet with the truth locked away inside of her."

Janice as Kirk (whirls, raises fist): "Silence! You will be silent!"

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