Basically, Kirk gets duplicated. Again.
We open with a shot of the Enterprise going into orbit around a light blue planet, which we later learn is called Exo-III. On the bridge, Kirk approaches Nurse Chapel and tells her that “[i]t won’t be much longer.” Kirk goes over to his chair, continuing his conversation with Chapel. Through said conversation, we learn that Chapel had given up a career in bio-research to serve aboard the Enterprise. Chapel then says that she knows “he’s alive down there.”
Kirk points out to her that they haven’t heard from “him” in five years. Chapel responds that someone named Roger is “a very determined man.” Uhura reports that they’re sending signals to the planet’s surface Kirk orders her to put the signals on all frequencies, and goes to talk to Spock, who tells him that the ship’s records aren’t telling them a lot about the planet that they don’t already know: gravity’s a bit higher than earth, and the atmosphere is within safety limits. Kirk responds that the surface temperature of the planet, however, is 100 degrees below 0. Spock adds that this is because the planet’s sun has slowly been going out.
Spock then gives some more information on the aforementioned Robert, aka Dr Korby, who turns out to be Chapel’s fiance. He states that Korby’s field is archaeological medicine, and that he was able to translate something from some Orion ruins that changed how they vaccinate. Kirk fanboys a bit, saying that he’s read about him at the Academy and that he’s always wanted to meet him. He then asks Spock if he thinks Korby’s still alive. Spock looks doubtful as Uhura reports that they’re not getting a return signal from the planet. Kirk tells her to keep trying.
Kirk moves back to his chair, as Chapel explains that Korby’s last transmission stated that he’d found some underground caverns, to which Kirk responds that the last two expeditions to the planet found no trace of him. Uhura interjects that she’s run the frequencies a second time, and is about to tell them there was no response when a voice comes in through the transmitter. It is, in fact, the elusive Dr. Korby.
We then get a captain’s log explaining that Korby’s team survived by moving into a series of underground caverns that they’d found. On the bridge, Kirk tells Korby that they have his landing coordinates, and that they’re beaming down a landing party. Korby, however, requests that the captain come alone. He goes on to say that they’ve found some things that may “require and extraordinary decision” from Kirk.
Spock tells the captain that Korby’s request is unusual, implying that it’s also probably a bad idea. Kirk seems willing to go along with this since “[the] man making it is Dr. Roger Korby.” Spock, who doesn’t quite buy this argument, asks Chapel if she’s sure he recognizes his voice. Chapel playfully asks Spock if he’s ever been engaged, and that it’s definitely him. Kirk lets Korby know that there will be two people in the party, and Chapel says hello. Korby seems happy to hear from her and says he had no idea she was on board and asks her how she is. Kirk then lets the doctor know that they’re on their way down, and will be there momentarily.
Kirk and Chapel beam down into a room with a transparent wall, overlooking the barren planet. There’s no one else there, and Chapel worriedly states that Korby was supposed to be waiting for them. Kirk thinks they may have his the wrong entry point, and requests that Spock beam down two security guards. Spock asks if there’s a problem and Kirk responds that Korby seems to have been delayed. He says that it’s probably nothing before cutting the channel.
As the two start heading down a corridor, Kirk reassures Chapel that it’s likely Korby had misjudged how long it would take to get to the meeting point. Chapel thanks him, and the requested security guards beam down. Kirk tells one of the men (Rayburn) to stay in the chamber, and has the second (Matthews) join him and Chapel in their search for Korby. And since they’re both redshirts and not part of the main cast, it’s unlikely they’ll survive to the end of the episode.
They move along the corridors for a while, until they come across a very deep hole. Chapel almost falls in, but Kirk catches her. They eventually come across a bright spotlight, and a man steps out. He turns the light off, and Chapel explains that it’s his assistant, Dr. Brown, before asking him where Korby is.
They’re interrupted by the sound of a man screaming, and they rush over to the hole where they’d left Matthews. He fell into the pit, so basically one redshirt down, one to go. Brown tells them to be careful, and Kirk asks if there’s a path down into the pit. Brown says’ that the pit’s basically bottomless, and that there really isn’t anyway down into it. We then cut to a guy who looks like Lurch from The Addams Family sneaking away.
Kirk asks if there’s any kind of ledge or something to break his fall. Brown give his condolences, and explains that there isn’t, so Matthews is basically dead. He explains that Korby was detained, and that he came as soon as he could. Kirk bitterly tells him that it wasn’t soon enough.
Chapel, who’s noticed something a bit off about Brown’s behavior, asks if he recognizes her. He does, and says that she looks well before introducing himself to Kirk. He reiterates that Matthews is dead, and asks them to follow him to Korby before turning around and leaving. Kirk turns to Chapel and asks if she knows Brown well. Chapel says that he’s an old friend. She that says, “I suppose living here for five years…” before trailing off.
Kirk calls Rayburn, who asks if there’s any problems. Kirk reports that they’ve lost Matthews, and has him tell the ship to have a security detail on standby. He acknowledges the order as Lurch sneaks up on him. Kirk says that they should report in to the ship and with each other every hour, and if either of them fails to respond, Spock should beam down the security detail. And then Lurch attacks Rayburn.
The scene shifts to Brown leading Kirk and Chapel through the tunnels, explaining that the planet’s previous inhabitants had moved underground when their sun started going out. He goes on about how Korby found that they discovered that “When they moved from light to darkness, they replaced freedom with a mechanistic culture,” which Korby has uncovered remnants of. At any rate, they make their way to a fairly well-furnished lab when a young woman in a skimpier version of Brown’s outfit shows up, much to Chapel’s displeasure.
Wasting no time, she introduces herself to Chapel as Andrea, talking about how pretty she thinks Chapel’s first name (Christine) is. Is…is she hitting on her? Because it kind of seems like she’s hitting on her. Anyway, she turns to Kirk and thanks him for bringing Chapel to the planet.
Chapel, tight-lipped, says that Korby’s never mentioned her before, and Andrea responds that Chapel’s exactly as Korby described her, and it’s no wonder he misses her so much. . Korby then walks in, saying how he’s been looking forward to seeing them, trailing off when he sees Chapel is there. He moves towards her and they kiss rather passionately.
Korby then remembers that Kirk’s there, apologizes, and introduces himself, shaking the captain’s hand. Kirk says that there’s no need for apologies or introductions. Brown tells Korby that Kirk lost a crewman in the caverns. Korby sincerely offers his condolences, and says that if he’d been there it wouldn’t have happened, since he knows the area well. Kirk says that it wasn’t Korby’s fault, and tries calling Raybur. He explains that he’s making a security check, and tells him that he can call up to the ship for anything he needs. Korby responds that he’d rather wait until he and the captain have had a chance to speak privately.
Kirk says that he has to reach out to the ship, since Rayburn isn’t answering. Brown objects to this and points a phaser at him. Chapel is shocked, but Korby assures her that they won’t be harmed, and that “there could be things here unknown to you, so terribly important.” Kirk, however, counters with the fact that one of his crew is dead and another is missing. Korby calls to Andrea, and tells her to take his phaser. Kirk ain’t having this, and grabs her, using her as a shield. He takes the phaser from her hand and backs away, He then ditches her, does this really goofy-looking roll, and ducks behind a table.
He tells Brown to drop the phaser, and shoots him when Brown doesn’t comply. At this point, Lurch comes barrelling through the door, grabs Kirk, and slams him against the wall. We the cut to Brown as Chapel screams, and, yup, he’s a robot.
On the Enterprise, Uhura patches Kirk through to Spock. Kirk explains that they’ve established contact with Korby, and Spock says that they’ve been concerned, since his check-in is overdue. Kirk asks Spock to bear with him for a moment.
Back on the planet we see they’re actually talking to Lurch, who reports in Kirk’s voice that they’ll be back soon but the doctor’s specimens will need special packing.Spock asks the captain if he’s all right, as he sounds tired. Korby warns the captain that if he interferes, Lurch (whose name is actually Ruk) might hurt him. Kirk doesn’t look happy with the whole situation.
Spock asks again if everything’s all right. Ruk (still using Kirk’s voice) responds that 1) he’s fine, 2) Korby’s made some really interesting discoveries, and 3) it’s all under control. He tells Spock to standby and cuts the connection.
Korby tells Kirk to trust him, citing his reputation. Kirk responds that, knowing his reputation, the crap that Korby’s pulling doesn’t make sense. Korby says that Kirk has a lot to learn before passing judgement, and to demonstrate he has Ruk imitate Andrea. He asks Kirk if he sees. I don’t think he does. I certainly don’t. Anyway, Ruk follows this up by imitating Chapel, which Korby doesn’t appreciate, and he orders Ruk not to mock or harm her. Kirk adds that he’s not to disobey an order from Chapel. After a moment, Korby adds this to Ruk’s list of orders, and asks Kirk if he’s satisfied with this.
Korby asks Kirk to give him 24 hours to convince him of something, and Kirk asks if he really needs to be a prisoner for that to happen. Korby points out that Kirk’s first duty upon returning to the ship would be to report what he’s seen, which would most likely lead to the loss of what he’s discovered through ignorance or “a layman’s inability to comprehend.”
Kirk gets up, and asks Korby if Rayburn’s dead. Korby explains that Ruk, who was programmed to protect Korby, thought that Matthews and Rayburn were a threat, so he killed them. Against Korby’s wishes, but still. Kirk looks Ruk over and asks if he’s an android. Wait, I thought this was already established.
Ruk explains that he’s more complex than Brown, since he was made by “the old ones.” So, he’s either referring to the planet’s previous inhabitants, or Cthulu. Korby explains that they found him in the tunnels, and it’s been so long that Ruk doesn’t even know how long he’s been there.
Korby explains that with Ruk and the records he was able to find, he built Brown. Kirk tells him that Korby’s managed to convince him he’s dangerous before trying to run out the door. Ruk picks him up and throws him across the room. He’s about to finish the job when Korby stops him.
We then cut to Andrea walking into Chapel’s room. She says that she doesn’t understand why Chapel’s unhappy, since she’s been reunited with Korby. Chapel, who is really not happy to see her, curtly asks where Kirk is. Andrea asks if she’s concerned about him, which she clearly is. Andrea wonders how Chapel can love Korby if she doesn’t trust him. Well, they’ve been apart for a few years, and he’s clearly a couple beers shy of a six pack. Just throwing that out there.
Andrea asks Chapel, who’s trying to ignore her, why it bothers her when she calls Korby Roger. Korby, along with Kirk and Ruk (who has a deathgrip on Kirk’s shoulder), enters the scene and tells Andrea that the only important part is that it does bother her. He then tells her only to refer to him as Dr. Korby from now on, before apologizing to Chapel for evesdropping on her. He points out that Kirk is unharmed, but he just needs a little more time for a demonstration. He decides to start with Andrea, to Chapel’s scorn.
Andrea moves to wher Ruk and Kirk are standing, and says that she’s an android as well. Kirk and Chapel seem surprised by this news, which I really think they should’ve figured out by now.
Korby goes on about how lifelike she is: basically she has a pulse, can feel physical sensations, and is warm. Chapel, not impressed, responds, “How convenient.” Korby tries to reassure her that Andrea is basically a computer, that does only what she’s programmed to. This doesn’t really work, since Chapel basically knows that building a “mechanical geisha” would be within his capabilities. I…don’t think Chapel understands what geisha actually do.
Korby asks her if he thinks he could love a machine; Chapel fires back with “Did you?” Korby says that Andrea’s not capable of that, and that she only obeys orders. Yeah, you don’t need love to have sex, and building a robo-vagina doesn’t seem like it would be that hard.
Anyway, to demonstrate that he has no attachment to her, he has her kiss Kirk, and then slap him, saying that she was just obeying his orders and there is no emotional response. Kirk asks if that’s the case, why did Brown try to kill him and Ruk attack him? Korby responds that he’ll answer their questions now.
The scene transitions to Ruk carrying what looks like a paper mache dummy, which he sets on a platform before locking a restraining bar in place over it. Korby and Chapel walk in past Andrea, and Korby explains that this is how an android is made. Andrea twists a dial on some kind of console, which goes boop. The camera then pans over the table with the dummy on one side and Kirk on the other, and of course he’s naked.
Andrea turns another dial, which rotates the table, which starts spinning. Korby reassures Chapel that Kirk won’t be harmed, but Chapel isn’t convinced and asks what happened to him, saying that life was once sacred to him. She goes on that life was once sacred to him. Korby defends himself by saying that if he’d beamed back up with the androids, he’d “have given them objects of curiosity, beginnings of wild stories, foolish theories.”
The table keeps spinning as Andrea and Ruk fiddle with more knobs, and that sounded a lot less dirty in my head. Korby calls out to Ruk, who twists a lever, and tells Chapel to watch. Another shot of the table, spinning faster this time, and now we have two Kirks.
Korby nods towards Andrea, who deactivates the machine. Korby asks Chapel which is the real captain; she admits that she can’t tell the difference. Korby states that they just need to synchronize the android with Kirk’s autonomic system, after which he will be indistinguishable from the captain.
Andrea starts the process, which causes Kirk to mumble about Spock and his “half-breed interference.” Remember this bit, as it’s important for later. Robokirk is then activated, and Korby tells Chapel that the process is complete. She asks Kirk if he’s all right, and Kirk responds, “As far as I know.” Korby then introduces Robokirk to Chapel, and the table spins around. Robokirk smiles at her and says, “How do you do, Miss Chapel?” Chapel is quite clearly weirded out by the whole thing, for which I do not blame her.
We then cut to what looks like a dining room, with Andrea setting plates of food on a table. Chapel walks in, and Andrea guides her to a seat, telling her that she’s “programmed to please” Chapel, making me think there’s going to be some hot android-on-nurse action in a moment
Of course, since this is 1960s broadcast TV, that doesn’t happen. Instead, she asks Chapel if the food’s good. Chapel replies that it is, and thanks her as Kirk walks into the room. Andrea leads him to a chair, and tells him that Korby suggested he get something to eat as they have quite a bit to talk about.
Chapel starts trying to tell him something, but he says that he understands, and that he’d “hate to be torn between commander and fiance.” Chapel responds that she’s not torn; she’s mostly confused and worried. Kirk asks her if he’s confided anything to her. Chapel tells him that he hasn’t, saying that what Korby’s doing seems wrong, but he must have a good reason for it. Kirk brings up the point that he may have lost his mind, but Chapel says that she knows him and that he’s as sane as ever. Sure, Christine. Let’s go with that.
He asks what she would do if he ordered her to betray Korby. Chapel begs him not to force her to make that choice, saying she’d rather die. Having lost her appetite, she pushes her plate away, saying that Kirk should go ahead and eat. Kirk pushes his plate away, telling Chapel that androids don’t eat. Yup, it’s actually Robokirk.
At this point, Korby, Ruk, and the real Kirk walk in, with Kirk wearing one of those pajama outfits. Korby points out that the android has Kirk’s sense of humor. Kirk sits down, and says, “Well, there’s one difference between us. I’m hungry.” Robokirk retorts that’s Kirk’s weakness. The two have a brief back-and-forth about food, with Kirk pointing out that eating’s a pleasure that Robokirk won’t ever have, and Robokirk pointing out that he can’t starve.
Kirk asks Korby if Robokirk is an exact duplicate; Korby responds “[i]n every detail.” Korby responds that he is, “[i]n every detail.” Kirk then decides to test the android’s memory by asking about his brother, Sam. Robokirk give the details about Sam and his family, and Kirk talks about how Sam told him he was being transferred to Earth Colony 2. Robokirk corrects him by saying that Sam told him he wanted to continue his research on Earth Colony 2.
Korby tells Kirk that he “might as well try to outthink a calculating machine.” Kirk responds that this is obvious, but they do have some interesting differences. Korby says that those differences are trivial before dismissing Robokirk.
After Robokirk leaves, Korby asks Kirk and Chapel if they hadn’t “guessed the rest.” He explains that by continuing the process, he could have transferred Kirk’s consciousness into Robokirk. He goes on about how this could offer mankind immortality and all that, but Kirk isn’t terribly impressed by this. He points out that this is all programming, and compares Korby’s ideals to Genghis Khan and Hitler. Korby pushes forth his argument, stating that humans-as-androids could be programmed to be better, basically erasing things like jealousy and hate. Yup, he sounds totally sane.
Kirk relies that this could also erase things like love and sentiment, “the other side of the coin.” Korby’s pushes the immortality angle, saying that death disease, and deformity would be wiped out by this discovery. Of course, all he would need is the captain’s help. The captain, while removing a cord from a chair leg, points out that Korby said earlier that he only wanted Kirk’s understanding. Korby ignores this and outlines what he needs: transportation to a colony with the materials that he needs to continue.
Korby says that he’ll start slowly, and wait until the androids are fully integrated before their existence is revealed. Kirk then asks what I’d been thinking throughout this exchange: since he has Robokirk, why does he need real Kirk? Korby says that Robokirk was just to impress him, not replace him. Kirk responds that he’s impressed, “but not in the way you think” before jumping up and wrapping the cord from earlier around Korby’s throat and backing away.
Ruk goes after him, but Kirk says that he’ll kill Korby if Ruk comes any closer, which stops him short. Kirk throws Korby off and runs upon reaching the exit, and Korby orders Ruk to go after him. Chapel checks on Korby before running after Ruk, shouting at him to stop and reminding him that Korby said to obey her.
The captain hides just before Ruk catches up to him. He rather easily breaks of a stalactite to use as a weapon, which alerts Ruk to his presence through noise. Ruk imitates Chapel’s voice to trick him out of hiding. Kirk doesn’t leave his hiding place, asking if it really is Chapel. Ruk is thus able to pinpoint his location, and moves towards Kirk’s hiding place. Kirk attacks, and Ruk grabs the stalactite with ease. And I am distracted by the fact that the stalactite looks like a giant dildo.
Anyway, Ruk pushes the captain, who falls into the pit that Matthews had died in, breaking the fall by grabbing onto the ledge. Ruk moves in and stands there for a moment, looking conflicted, before pulling him back up.
Back on the Enterprise, we see Robokirk getting out of a lift. He walks past Spock, who calls after him and follows him to Kirk’s quarters. Spock reports that they finished something ahead of schedule, and Robokirk says that Korby has a lot of cargo and he’ll have to consult with him on his schedule. Spock asks if Kirk’s going back down, and Kirk snaps at him that he’s “sick of [his] half-breed interference.” Spock is taken aback, but says very well. Robokirk, confused, says that Spock looks upset and asks if everything’s going all right. Spock responds that it is. Robokirk says that he’ll be back with Korby soon and leave. Spock, now very suspicious, arranges to have a security detail meet him in the transporter room shortly after the “captain” beams down.
We then go back to Korby’s study, where Robokirk is making his report. He says that he’s looked over the options, and that Midas 5 would be an excellent choice. Korby says that it’s a small colony with a lot of raw materials, and that Robokirk’s made a good start. Robokirk thanks him for the compliment, and says that he feels at home on the Enterprise.
We cut to a room with Kirk lying face down on a bed. Andrea walks in and goes to remove a tray from a table. Kirk grabs her wrist to stop her, before sitting up on the bed. He tells her to kiss him, which she does before raising her arm to slap him again. He stops her and pulls her closer, and then they start making out.
Andrea pulls away, saying she’s not programmed for him. Kirk moves over to her again and asks her if she’s confused. While looking very confused, she says no, pulls away again, and leaves.
Kirk attempts to follow her, but is pushed back into the room by a rather angry-looking Ruk. Kirk responds to this with, “Emotion, Ruk?” and asks if he disapproves of Chapel’s orders. Ruk says that him working to save the captain was illogical. He turns to leave, but Kirk asks why he thinks it’s illogical. Ruk turns to leave again, but Kirk stops him and asks what happened to the planet’s previous inhabitants. He’s reluctant to answer that question, but Kirk keeps pushing. Ruk eventually reveals that the “old ones” became afraid of them and started deactivating them.
Kirk tries to goad Ruk into going against Korby by pointing out that he’ll bring about the same end, but Ruk says that he was programmed by Korby and can’t harm him. Kirk points out that they were programmed not to harm the old ones, but ended up destroying them. Ruk has an epiphany and grabs Kirk roughly, saying that the need for survival cancels out programming. Kirk convinces him that Korby’s trying to destroy him. And then Korby walks into the room.
Ruk advances on him, talking about how Korby brought “the inferior ones” to the planet. Korby tells Ruk to stop, which obviously doesn’t work as Ruk keeps going towards him. Korby then pulls out a phaser and vaporizes him.
He walks over to Kirk, saying he had no choice, and marches him out at phaser point.
They go down the corridor, with Kirk asking Korby how he would explain how Korby’s changed. They enter Korby’s study and Kirk starts scuffling with him, trapping his arm in the door. Korby throws him off and pulls his arm free, tearing off some of his skin and revealing circuitry.
Chapel, unlike the audience, is shocked by this revelation, and Korby tries to convince her that it’s still him. He’d performed the consciousness transfer he was talking about earlier on himself because he was dying. He points out the flap of skin on his hand, saying that it can be repaired, and that he’s still the same as he was before, possibly even better. Chapel responds with, “Are you, Roger?”
An alarm interrupts the conversation, and Korby goes to an intercom to page Andrea. He tells her that there’s an intruder, and Kirk says that Spock must have gotten his message and beamed down to the planet. The episode’s not very clear on what the message was, but I’m guessing it has to do with the line about “half-breed interference” that’s popped up a couple of times.
Andrea tells Korby that she’ll find Ruk, but Korby tells her that Ruk has been “shut off,” which I guess is one way of putting it. We cut to the android room as Korby tells her to deal with the intruder. She grabs a phaser from the top of one of the consoles and heads out. Just outside of the room, she runs into Robokirk. Andrea tells him that she’ll kiss him, and he says no because it’s illogical. Andrea responds to this by vaporizing Robokirk.
Andrea then walks into the Korby’s study and tells him that Kirk had escaped and she killed him, but is quite surprised to find that Kirk is there. She tells Korby that she’s “not programmed for alarms,” so she followed his instructions, but “they were misstated.”
Kirk then rips into Korby:
She killed the android, Korby, the same way you killed Ruk. Is this your perfect world, your flawless beings killing off one another? Aren’t you doing exactly what you hate most in humans, killing with no more concern than when you turn off a light?
Korby responds that he’s not a computer, and tells Kirk to test him. He seems to start breaking down a bit, and turns back to Chapel. He tells her to let him prove himself to her, waving the hand with the circuitry showing and asking her if that makes so much of a difference.
Chapel thinks that it does, and says “Everything you’ve done has proved it isn’t you.” Korby yells out that he is Roger Korby, and Kirk tells him to prove it by handing over the phaser. Korby says that Kirk still doesn’t understand, that he had “constructed a perfect being, tested it, proved it…” He repeats the words “proved it” a couple more times, looking more confused each time. Kirk holds out his hand for the phaser, and Korby gives it to him.
Kirk turns to Andrea and tells her to turn over her weapon; she responds by pointing it at him and saying , “No, protect.” She then turns to Korby and basically tells him that she loves him. Korby says that she can’t love him, because she’s a machine. She repeats the part about loving him and moves in to kiss him. Korby pulls the trigger on the phaser in her hand, destroying them both.
Chapel, understandably, is quite distraught. As Kirk goes into to comfort her, he hears Spock from outside the corridor. He calls out to Spock that they’re in the study, and goes back to Chapel. Spock and two security officers rush in, and Spock asks the two if they’re all right. He then asks where Korby is, and Kirk says that he was never really there.
We cut to the Enterprise pulling away from the planet, and then the bridge. Spock walks over to the captain’s chair, where Chapel is thanking Kirk for making a decision on her own. Kirk tells Spock that Chapel’s decided to stay on board the Enterprise. Spock looks troubled, and Kirk asks him if he’s bothered by something. Spock says that he’s dismayed about the captain’s use of the term “half-breed” earlier, and Kirk responds that he’ll remember that the next time he finds himself in that situation. Kirk tells the helmsman to proceed, and the episode ends.
This episode didn’t piss me off the way the previous two did, mostly because the misogyny wasn’t quite as blatant. I mean, it’s obviously not perfect on that front, but it lacks the rape apologia of “Enemy Within” and the casual emotional and physical abuse in “Mudd’s Women.” The way Andrea is treated kind of bothers me, though, particularly because she’s a literal object. The way that she’s dressed doesn’t make sense, either. Korby keeps insisting that she’s not a sexbot, but her outfit is basically pure male gaze.
On a lighter note, remember how I kept calling Ruk Lurch earlier in the post? Well, while I was writing it, I found out that he was played by Ted Cassidy…who was best known for playing Lurch in the Addams Family TV series. Which gave me a bit of a chuckle.
Next up is “Miri.”