Monday, May 11, 2009

Star Trek--"Dagger of the Mind"

Would you look at that--two episodes in a row with a mad scientist running a criminal plot without the slightest hint of his motivations who decides to use Kirk to further his plan, whatever that may be. Dr. Tristan Adams, the head of a penal colony named after the Greek mythological king Tantalus, who spent eternity in terrible agony, has developed a device to condition the minds of prisoners. He plans to use it for his own evil ends by…well, I do not know. He has not thought that far ahead. I guess the guy is just nuttier than squirrel poop.

If there was a purpose behind “Dagger of the Mind” other than to make allusions to literature and mythology, I have no idea what it might be. Perhaps the senseless nature of Adams’ actions was meant to frighten the audience with nihilistic horror, but it did not work for me if so. There were too many dumb elements, apparently meant to be clever, for the episode to be effective.

For example, Kirk beams down to the penal colony with a woman he met at a Christmas party. Her name happens to be Noel, the French word for Christmas. It is the second in very few mentions of of Christianity in trek. We will not see the Christmas holiday again until Star Trek: Generations in 1994. It is interesting to get a hint Christianity is still practiced in the 23rd century, but was having acharacter named Noel from a Christmas party really necessary? It sounds like a too contrived effort to be cute.

Theepisode is pivotal in that we see Spock perform a Vulcan mind meld on Van Gelder, a colleague whom Adams experimented on to the point of madness. The mind altering device worked on him splendidly. Kirk, not so much. He loves the Enterprise so deeply, the device has no effect on him. All righty. Yes, this one was pretty bad.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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