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The Enemy Within - A Topical Metaphor

Friday, February 24, 2017

In the 5th episode of the 1st season, entitled "The Enemy Within", a transporter malfunction splits Captain Kirk into two people – one good and one evil, and neither capable of functioning well separately. Because of a transporter malfunction, two Kirks materialize, minutes apart, unbeknownst to one another or to the crew. For TV viewers, they differ in hairstyle and uniform color, before long.

The first that materialized embodies all of Kirk's positive qualities - kindness, patience and compassion for others. I call him Good Kirk. Moments later, after everyone has left, Kirk's evil twin materializes.Evil Kirk embodies aggression, forcefulness, lust (we have Yeoman Rand, remember?) but also the fortitude necessary for effective command. Good Kirk, by comparison, lacks the confidence for effective command. Of course, at the end of the episode the split is reversed because Spock figures out what has happened and Scotty fixes the transporter before its too late.

As a 10 year old watching this for the first time, I accepted the story merely for what it was to me: a window on an exciting and cool future. Now I think back on it differently; it was an allegory. We as a nation have become those two Kirks, easily identifiable from one another by most everything we think, say and do - as well as the colors of our uniforms - red vs. blue.

Think about it.
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