Star Trek

Season 1 Episode 9

Dagger of the Mind

Aired Unknown Nov 03, 1966 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (9)

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  • Not when you've sat in that room.

    "Dagger of the Mind" has definitely got to be a favourite of mines for numerous reasons but I'd say it probably has a lot to do with the show's very distinct 'casual' feel. Beginning with Kirk lecturing on how to transport cargo, to the very humerous transporter scene involving Kirk and what seems to be a victim of Kirk's natural flirtatious nature. Helen is her name, and indeed she plays quite a major role in this episode.

    Nevertheless the episode isn't all fun and games, and indeed a lot of moral play is on display here. Perhaps another reason why I adore this episode is the intelligent conversations the trio have between each other. These range from Spock's speech on the treatment of personal violence versus organised violence, and Kirk's adoration and respect for the prisons –or more appropriately hospitals- that treat the 'sick mind' of a criminal.

    Indeed, it is this latter theme that runs throughout the entire episode: the treatment of the criminally sick, or socially unacceptable. I cannot help but draw comparison to the novel 'A Clockwork Orange' written by Anthony Burgess, which also deals with such issues on the treatment and psychological reformation of criminals. As such, 'Dagger of the Mind' takes a similar stance, showing that unless the problem is treated at the root, the rug under which the problem has been hidden, can and probably will unravel. We see this unravelling first hand in some well performed and entertaining scenes with Dr. Simon Van Gelder, a seemingly insane and dangerous man who has fallen victim to Dr. Tristan Adams' memory erasing machine that 'fixes' the offenders. Morgan Woodward does a great job bringing Van Gelder to life and I'll probably never forget his over-the-top scenery-chewing that really helps inject life into the episode.

    This character also lends hand to a brilliantly performed set of scenes involving Spock and Van Gelder in the first seen Vulcan Mind-Meld which -although not as poignant as others from the series- brings the reality of the situation to McCoy and Spock in an original and dramatic way, naturally engaging on screen.

    Aside from this brilliant piece of writing, Wincelberg (a favourite writer of mines from TOS) also manages to create an episode that throughout, has a well balanced pace, that comes to climax in the last 15 or so minutes with a good mix of drama, action, intelligence and what I like to call 'scifiness' (which of course refers to something that is reeking of science-fiction). Amongst these scenes is the brilliantly performed sequence with Kirk in the treatment room where he is brain washed into believing he loved Helen. Shatner does a great job here, delivering a performance rather typical of his better episodes that I love and will always remember.

    In the end, Dr. Adams falls victim to his own machine and ends up 'erasing' his own mind and dying from loneliness. It may sound cheesy, but it works and I loved it (remember 'scifiness'?, well here it is in all its glory). Specifically well done is the closing scene where McCoy brings up the unbelievable nature of Adams' death of loneliness, where Kirk simply replies that you would believe in it if you had sat in that room. The treatment room? I don't think so.