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Star Trek TOS - Season 3 - Episode 24

Star Trek TOS - 3x24 - Turnabout Intruder

Originally Aired: 1969-6-3

Synopsis:
A woman from Kirk's past exchanges bodies with him and takes control of the ship. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 5.11

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 26 6 3 7 11 6 14 20 19 13 8

Problems
None

Factoids
- The 2260s seemed to be a period of sexism. See comments.
- Uhura is remarkably absent from this episode.

Remarkable Scenes
- Lester: "Your world of starship captains doesn't admit women."
- Kirk and Lester swapping bodies.
- Lester-as-Kirk: "Now you'll know the indignity of being a woman."
- Lester-as-Kirk: "Believe me, it's better to be dead than alone in the body of a woman."
- Kirk-as-Lester waking up and realizing who he is.
- Kirk-as-Lester trying to use his knowledge as the captain of the Enterprise to convince Spock that he is who he says he is.
- Spock Vulcan neck pinching the redshirt.
- Kirk and Lester arguing over who's who.
- Lester-as-Kirk freaking out.
- Lester losing Kirk's body.

My Review
A nice episode, even if an unsuitable end to the series. Granted, it's one of the most blatant displays of sexism in Star Trek I've ever seen. It makes canonical that the 2260s was a (most likely brief) period of sexism in the Star Trek universe. This is isn't necessarily impossible; societies can revert to earlier sentiments, although it is unlikely. Despite likelihood, it's a part of the Star Trek universe and we must accept this. Moving on, this is the first of many "personality swapped" episodes we'll see in Star Trek. This one does it well. Kirk and Lester play each other's parts very nicely, making this episode thrilling. Most fun to watch. The best part is how well Lester has planned her move against Kirk. Personally, if I were Kirk stuck in Lester's body, I'm not sure I would have taken it so well!

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 5:40pm:
    ... also watch the way especially Shatner acts trying to impersonate a woman (at one point he is sitting at his desk talking to Spock while doing his nails). Very campy, slightly sexist, but for once not too much over the top, which is an achievement for William Shatner.
  • From Strider on 2012-07-06 at 1:25am:
    I don't think it's necessarily true that the "no women starship captains" rule is canonical--it depends whether you feel Janice Lester is a trustworthy source. She was "unsuited by training and temperament" for a command, and we know she's nuts, so she might have just been using that as her excuse to herself why she didn't get that position. We can see she didn't fare that well in a man's body even when she finally had what she wanted.

    I thought Sandra Smith was great in this, when she wasn't being "crazy Janice." When she was Kirk, she played with intensity and strength. I liked watching her.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-10-07 at 1:42pm:
    "Turnabout Intruder"

    I would add the following to "remarkable scenes":

    Apparent Kirk knocking down apparent Lester. Again a simple karate chop to the shoulder brings a person down. It doesn't even look like he's hitting her hard.

    Apparent Kirk announcing to the entire crew that Spock is charged with mutiny. Here Lester's mind is descending into total wacko-land with a sharp increase in speed.

    These two lines of Spock's powerful steadfast defiance:

    SPOCK: No, sir. I shall not withdraw a single charge that I have made. You are not Captain Kirk. You have ruthlessly appropriated his body, but the life entity within you is not that of Captain Kirk. You do not belong in charge of the Enterprise and I shall do everything in my power against you.
    [...]
    SPOCK: Yes, sir. An immediate vote before our chief witness can be left to die on some obscure planet with the truth locked away inside of her.

    The entire episode is so jam-packed with remarkable scenes that it's hard to narrow the field!

    >----o----<

    General Comments

    Re "life-entity transfer" in "Turnabout Intruder":

    [Apparent Lester's room]

    SPOCK: Complete life-entity transfer with the aid of a mechanical device?
    LESTER (with KIRK's mind): Yes, that's what it must've been.
    SPOCK: To my knowledge, such total transfer has never been accomplished with complete success anywhere in the galaxy.

    Did this not happen in "Return to Tomorrow", "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", "Wolf in the Fold", and "Metamorphosis"? Even if you limit this to the use of a mechanical device, the second in the list still qualifies, albeit to an android. This is one thing apparently written into the story just to make it harder for transferred Kirk to prove his case. On the other hand, things could hinge on just what Mr. Spock meant by "complete success". Still, what happened in these episodes is enough to make a case of "complete success" quite credible.

    I don't see how Kirk/Lester could have passed the Robbiana[sp?] dermal optic test. How could there have been no measurable psychological changes between such vastly different personalities? This is another thing apparently written just to make it harder for transferred Kirk to prove his case, while at the same time causing some anxiety for Apparent Kirk (Lester).

    The scene with Spock and (apparent) Lester trying to leave her room and Spock giving the guards neck/shoulder pinches somehow comes across as a little awkward. Spock takes apparent Lester's wrist.

    It's incredible and fun to see Shatner acting as lunatic Lester.

    Notice that Lester in Kirk's body is able to duplicate his famous cadence. Impressive! This makes for yet another thing to make it harder for Kirk in Lester's body to make his case. Correspondingly, it would have been fun if Smith as Kirk had imitated this same cadence! I guess cadence doesn't get transferred along with "the life entity". You'd think it would, no? (Perhaps Shatner couldn't help but do his trademark cadence and Smith simply couldn't do it well enough.)

    Also, at times, Smith doesn't come across as very Kirk-like when playing Kirk.

    One thing I like about this story is the fact that each side gets more and more frustrated as the story unfolds. Lester (apparent Kirk) is continually frustrated that there is an endless stream of obstacles placed in her path while at the same time Spock and Bones (and later, others) are continually frustrated that those same obstacles don't thwart Lester's takeover plans while getting themselves in more and more trouble. Fascinating.

    All in all, a fun episode, but not to be taken too seriously.

    >----o----<

    Re Strider's remark on Lester's excuse for not making Captain:

    LESTER: Your world of starship captains doesn't admit women. It isn't fair.
    KIRK: No, it isn't. And you punished and tortured me because of it.

    Evidently, Kirk agrees with lunatic Lester.

    AEF
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-12-14 at 9:11am:
    ‘7’ A much better episode than I remembered. Shades of Mirror, Mirror with the internal conflict in the crew. The power and authority of the captain are really driven home in this episode. (Like The Cloud Minders, it’s good to see that starship captains have some weight to throw around in the Federation). Also, the plot had more of an ensemble cast feel to it; a nice change from the Kirk and Spock show. Uhura’s unexplained absence from the episode yet again makes me wonder if the producers might have been fishing for ratings with with younger eye candy in the communications seat.

    McCoy’s testing of Kirk obviously would have included basic memory recall that the imposter would have immediately failed, and then he would have had adequate grounds to relieve him. Scotty’s intention to vote for Spock in the court marshal was in character, but his private incitement to mutiny was not. It is also not clear that Kirk would have the authority to prevent McCoy from treating Lester or examining her as part of his investigation of Kirk’s capacity to command.

    Still, not at all bad. I like the last line about ‘what if’ or ‘only if’ or whatever. Perhaps aimed as much at this being the last show as at the episode itself. What if indeed.
    My numbers for the whole series are

    1st Season 5.48 rating. (Best: 2x‘10’ episodes, 1x‘9’, 3x‘8’. Worst were 1x‘1’, 3x‘2’, 3x‘3’)

    2nd Season 5.59 rating (Best: 2x‘10’, 2x‘9’, 3x‘8’. Worst: 1x’1’, 1x’2’, 4x‘3’)

    3rd Season – 4.38 rating. (Best: 4x’8’. Worst: 2x‘0’, 3x‘1’, 3x‘2’, 2x‘3’)

    The Third Season had serious problems with subpar scripting (only 46% of episodes rated ‘5’ or above, in comparison with 69% for the first two season). It also had no ‘magnificent’ episodes of score 9 or 10. It also had the only two of my zero rated episodes of the whole series (The Empath and Plato's Stepchildren), a rating I reserved for rejecting that the episode was even Star Trek.

    But the final 10 episodes of the 3rd Season showed a considerable improvement in quality relative to the first batch of 10, (47 points vs. 42). So I see no reason why the 4th Season could have been better than the 3rd.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-10-05 at 10:56am:
    Replying to Glenn239:

    He writes, "Uhura’s unexplained absence from the episode yet again makes me wonder if the producers might have been fishing for ratings with with younger eye candy in the communications seat."

    She was on vacation. Hey, even working for Star Fleet, evidently one gets some vacation time. And probably sick time and personal days, too.

    On rhea's comments about Kirk acting ladylike:

    Note how he places his hand on his hair after beaming up from the planet when mentioning his previous romantic involvement with Janet. Kirk wouldn't do that.

    AEF, aka betaneptune
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-13 at 2:26pm:
    I give it a 6/10. A few rather serious problems, but they're just barely overcome by the amusing and sometimes impressive acting, as well as the general rise in tension throughout the episode.

    I agree that there is a strong sexist overtone to this entire story; the funny thing is that there didn't really have to be. With a few thoughtful lines of dialogue, it could have been established that either: (1) Lester clearly had a persecution complex that she saw focused solely on her gender rather than a lack of requisite skills, or (2) that the Federation had no such sexist rule against women as captains. The screenwriters didn't do either one, and the tale suffers for it.

    Also, you mean to tell me that not ONE person thought to simply start asking questions to Kirk and Lester about things that only Kirk would know? Any one of Spock, McCoy, Scotty, or the other longer-term crew members certainly had certain intimate moments with Kirk which they could draw from. As Scotty says in his line, "I've seen James Kirk afraid, drunk..." etc. All it would have taken to convince them, even the all-of-a-sudden logically-minded Bones, is to ask about one of these private moments ("Hey Jim, what was the name of that purple alien chick you banged back on Rigel 7?"). The very moment that the false Kirk couldn't and the real Kirk could answer a few of them, end of story.

    It was still a compelling enough episode, though, just to gain the satisfaction of seeing Kirk regain his body from a raving loony. I especially liked the passive resistance of Sulu and Chekhov. Understated, but very effective.
  • From Alex on 2020-06-26 at 12:19am:
    Despite how I like "All Our Yesterdays" way, way more (it's one of my favourite episodes!), and despite how the series was cancelled prematurely instead of being wrapped up in a more prepared manner, I'd say "Turnabout Intruder" kind of *is* a decent final episode.

    On the character side of things it boils down to "what makes Kirk - Kirk" and how the crew comes to believe it and trust him enough (and Spock and others). I'll even say it has some advantqages over "AOY" in the way how it feels more structured, how it better progresses - "AOY" may feel less cohesive with itself, because it tracks its character lines more separately (still, I like it so much, like I said).

    I think "Turnabout..." had some pretty good dialogue and character moments. It has quite a few good laughs from the growing hysterical overacting (of the character, not actor), it has a few bad/omg laughs, it has tension. Also Lester-as-Kirk finds time at one point, to file "his" nails! Lol.

    I always like it when TOS manages to remember its continuity and call back to previous episodes. Still, there was totally way more times when stuff wasn't recorded and could've served as proof, right? Well, maybe it all fit into the single mind-meld, I suppose. Without having to be said out loud.

    I thought the resolution was a bit anti-climactic, I'd expect them to backtrack to the planet and the ancient equipment, but it just happened on its own, the reverse body switch. Oh well.

    I'll give it... yeah, I'll give it a 7 too.

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