Recap / Star Trek S1 E9 "Dagger of the Mind"

Spock and Van Gelder share the very first Mind Meld.

The Enterprise is delivering some huge ass bottles of drugs to the Tantalus Penal Colony. (Wonder where they got big enough cotton balls?) They also pick up a box marked "Do Not Open" and addressed to "Bureau of Penology, Stockholm, Eurasia-NE". Not sure what it was supposed to be holding, but it is soon revealed to be holding a crazy old man who knows karate!

The crazy old man is at first believed to be an escaped inmate from Tantalus, but to everyone's shock, he's actually Simon Van Gelder, one of the doctors! Dr. Adams tells Kirk that Dr. Van Gelder pulled a Professor Guinea Pig while working on a device called the Neural Neutralizer, losing his mind in the process. And would he kindly return him? Bones tells Kirk he smells a rat. Kirk gives Adams some B.S. about how they can't due to some red tape. Adams good naturedly accepts this and cordially invites Kirk down for a visit. Kirk takes him up on this. Bones suggests Kirk take a psychological expert with him. He recommends Dr. Noel. It seems Kirk and Dr. Helen Noel have met before. Apparently, even in the future office Christmas parties can get out of hand....

This episode is also known as "The One That Got Parodied Off By South Park".

Tropes for this episode include:

  • Above the Influence: Dr. Helen Noel flirts with Kirk, but he refuses to reciprocate. Later on, Kirk is Brainwashed into thinking he's in love with her and she desperately tries to explain what happened, in fact seeming rather creeped out.
  • Affably Evil: Adams seems so charming and polite at first. He makes a toast to "love and warmth", but it's only a Mask of Sanity.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: How Dr. Noel makes her escape to find the big ass (eveything in this ep is big ass!) circuit breaker that will turn off the neuralizer.
  • Arc Symbol: The logo on Dr. Adam's boiler suit and that of his "helpers" is a hand freeing (or crushing?) a dove under a stylized sun. Or is that "sun" actually the round, flashy light of the Neural Neutralizer?
  • Big Damn Kiss: Kirk plants one on Noel. She reluctantly tells him that he was only hypnotized to think he was in love with her.
  • Big "NO!": When Dr. Van Gelder tries to warn Kirk against staying on Tantalus.
  • Bridal Carry: Noel induces an Imagine Spot for Kirk suggesting that he carried her into his quarters this way. It was to remind Kirk of their one night stand after a prior Christmas Party.
  • Broken Ace: Van Gelder. Perhaps Adams to a degree.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: Spock finds it interesting that "Your Earth people glorify organized violence for forty centuries, but you imprison those who employ it privately." Even Bones has no come back for that.
  • Creepy Monotone: Lethe. "I love my work."
  • Emotions vs. Stoicism: Spock says "Where there is no emotion, there is no motive for violence."
  • Expy: The Neural Neutralizer works a lot like the Ludovico Treatment from A Clockwork Orange.
  • Freak Out: Dr. Van Gelder has the mother of them all! Screaming, raving, crazy eyes, violent outbursts. He shouts "I am not a criminal!" (Yeah, Simon, there was this guy called Richard Nixon who made the same claim.) Incidentally, the actor needed a four day reprieve after this emotionally taxing role.
  • Gilded Cage: Kirk points out to Bones that modern mental institutions may as well be vacation resorts. Bones replies "A cage is a cage, Jim."
  • Girl of the Week: Dr. Helen Noel.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: The fate of Dr. Adams. The complete lack of any mental stimulation at all made his brain shut completely down.
  • Heroic Willpower: Kirk apparently has this or something similar, judging by Adams' comment about the strength used on him without effect having broken down Van Gelder.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard/Karmic Death: Adams dies by having his mind completely wiped by the same machine that he used on Van Gelder and Kirk.
  • Literary Allusion Title: From Macbeth: "Or art thou but A dagger of the mind, a false creation Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?"
  • Mad Doctor: Dr. Tristan Adams went a little too happy with his machine for rehabilitating mental patients.
  • Meaningful Name: Lethe is the name of the river of forgetfulness in Greek myth. Tantalus was sent to Tartarus for murdering his son and punished by being never allowed to eat or drink. And isn't it funny that the girl Kirk met at a Christmas party was named "Noel"?
  • Mental Fusion: Spock Mind Melds Van Gelder to pick info from his troubled mind.
  • Mind-Control Device: A "hospital" basically zombifies people with a hypno-spinny-thingy. Trying to remember what happened to you, let alone tell others, causes increasing pain and eventually death.
  • More Hypnotizable Than He Thinks: Had Kirk try out the Neural Neutralizer, complete with him not realizing he blanked out for a second when it was turned on.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Dr. Van Gelder knocks out a Red Shirt and steals his jumpsuit in attempt to fit in. It only works for awhile.
  • Plot Hole: Dr. Helen Noel is one of the Enteprise's psychiatrists. So, why Bones isn't assisted by any of them for the puzzling case of Van Gelder?
  • Pressure Point: Dr. Van Gelder is felled by Spock applying the Vulcan neck pinch.
  • Psycho Psychologist: Dr. Tristan Adams
  • Red Shirts: They get off easy in this ep. Two get karate chopped, one gets put in a chokehold until he passes out. It's possible that Dr. Van Gelder wasn't far gone enough to murder and just knocked them out for awhile.
  • Teleport Interdiction: The Tantalus penal colony has a security force field which must be deactivated to allow beaming up or down. The Red Shirt gets teased for forgetting that.
  • The X of Y: The "Dagger of the Mind".