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Old July 17 2013, 11:41 PM   #62
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Location: Chillin' on Ligon II...
Re: Joel Revisits TOS....

Dagger of the Mind

Story: The Enterprise is transporting items to the mental facility known as the 'Tantalus Colony,' but one of the patients Simon Van Gelder has snuck abroad the ship. His escape heightens curiosity as he is held in sickbay and questioned by Spock and McCoy, while Kirk and Dr. Helen Noel beam down to the facility and gain interest in a device called the Neural Neutralizer that may or may not have had an affect on Van Gelder.

Plot Holes/Plot Issues: I couldn't find any plot holes, but it's not clear what Dr. Adams' overall plan was aside from using the Tantalus Devi er, the Neural Neutralizer to get people to do his bidding.

Ideologies/Themes: Who watches those individuals in charge of institutions that help those who are elderly, disabled or homeless? Granted, some 'clients' in these institutions do need a stronger approach, but some of these people in charge have issues themselves, a sort of 'power trip' that may hinder rather than help those in their care.

Miscellaneous Thoughts: Dr. Tristan Adams is another mad scientist, like the previous Roger Korby, who sees his experiments as more important than anything else. The Tantalus Colony is his own domain where he uses his Neural Neutralizer to create commands to people he wants to control. It is established he took control from the previous director, Dr. Simon Van Gelder, who became a madman due to the Neural Neutralizer (which is sounding like a Men in Black machine the more I type it)and gets fits of pain whenever he tries to explain the situation that led to his madness. As aforementioned, it is not explained what Dr. Adams plans to do once he has converted all those who are in his way or oppose him. It seems that there are people on his side who have not been affected by the Neural Neutralizer the guards so there have must have been people who were on his side from the beginning. So, does he - Dr. Adams - plan on just ruling the Tantalus Colony? Or, does he plan on taking over a starship to expand his influence, or...? Of course, this goes against the Roddenberry utopia idea that has Starfleet personnel conducting 'neural' experiments on their own comrades or the mentally sick. Later we would see Admirals and renegad starships captains going against that 'Roddenberry ideal.' (A special nod to James Gregory who portrays Dr. Tristan Adams, and who tends to play good villains you love to hate e.g. Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Manchurian Candidate).

The uniform insignia for the Tantalus Colony is a contrast to the overall situation. It is an enlarged hand raised to a sun, with a white bird in the sky; the bird seemingly in the grasp of the hand. A seemingly benign picture that can almost be read as the hand trapping the bird, or the benign human tricking the bird to come down so he or she can trap it....such as the seemingly benign Dr. Adams tricks the Enterprise crew, and makes a show that he is helping and carrying out progressive experiments.

On another note, we find in this episode that the Enterprise security guards not very perceptive. Dr. Van Gelder seems to take out each security guard he comes across. Now, looking at security guards in our own time, some are trained in simple hand-to-hand tactics, and some are more physical than others. So, we could probably chalk it up to Van Gelder getting over on those young or 'green' recruits...but that is pure speculation since these security officers are on a 'military' vessel and they are considered the first line of protection against any life form that may harm the crew.

Speaking of crew, the main 'starring' crew is minimal. Scotty and Sulu are absent, although Uhura makes an appearance. Extras are at the helm and navigation areas, but their presence is more for show rather than affecting the plot. This is more focused on the 'big three' of this original series timeline (e.g. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy). However, a fourth major character, Dr. Helen Noel, affects the plot in this particular episode. The very attractive, dimpled, scientist is assigned to go down to the Tantalus Colony with Kirk whom she just happened to have had a previous relationship with; that relationship is exaggerated after Kirk is affect by the Neural Neutralizer and he becomes more 'horny' while Noel wants to focus on the job. Interestingly, Noel's skirt seems to be as short as Uhura's (possibly shorter) but she is still able to handle herself in a conversation with Dr. Adams and Kirk, as well as handle herself in brawl with one of Adams' guards. She is physically sexy as well as professional and formidable.

William Shatner continues to be low-key, until he is affected by the Neural Neutralizer. Arguably, Morgan Woodward plays his 'madness' better. Shatner, as he did in previous episodes, tend to get a bit campy Woodward almost does himself, but is a bit more believable as his character balances trying to explain his dilemma through the physical pain that is felt.

Lastly, I initially thought the Neural Neutralizer was a MacGuffin, but it isn't. A MacGuffin is something the characters, not the audience, cares about; something that drives the plot. However, as part of the audience, I cared about this Neural Neutralizer as did the characters...and I wanted to find out how Kirk and Noel (and Spock and McCoy) were going to uncover this plot that involved this particular device. As aforementioned, I also wanted to know what was the overall plan involving this Neural Neutralizer aside from just 'turning' people. Alas, I or 'we' wouldn't find out.

Score: I have to give a 3.4 out of 5. Dr. Adams' plan is not entirely clear, but James Gregory is a pretty good villain, and Marianna Hill plays a sexy and independent woman, I think. Even though this is an improvement over the last episode, this doesn't come close to 'Balance of Terror' level.

Star Trek returns in
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