Also, I have to mention Helen Noel. Trek tended to plaster attractive women all over the place, often seemingly more as decoration than anything, but Noel stands up to Kirk, gets in on the action at the colony, and ultimately kills a bad guy and saves the day. Excellent stuff for a one-off character!
Another first - Dr Noel is the first woman in Star Trek to kill somebody.
In the original story idea it was Rand who accompanied Kirk down to the planet. The writers changed it to a guest character so as to avoid showing romantic attachment between Kirk and Rand.
The episode title is from Macbeth. "Or art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?"
Morgan Woodward put such physical and emotional energy into the part of Van Gelder that afterwards he went home and rested for four days to recover.
Marianna Hill, who plays Helen Noel, was born Marianna Schwarzkopf and is a cousin to the well known American General "Stormin" Norman Schwarzkopf who commanded the allied forces in the first Gulf War.
Kirk beams down with Doctor Helen Noel, a psychiatrist. He's rather embarrassed to be in her company as the two shared a little private time at the Christmas party, but continues regardless. Beaming down the pair meet Adams, who tells them than Van Gelder injured his mind during the testing of an experimental therapy device called the neural neuralizer.
On the ship McCoy tries to care for Van Gelder, but the man is raving. Whenever he tries to discuss the situation on Tantalus he acts as though he is deeply traumatised and in extreme pain. Spock suggests that he may be able to help by performing an ancient Vulcan procedure called a "Mind Meld", a form of touch telepathy that may allow him to probe Van Gelder's mind despite the resistance and learn what has happened to him. Although McCoy is a little dubious they proceed. Spock is able to contact Van Gelder, effectively merging their minds for a period. He learns that Adams has been carrying out experiments on the inmates of Tantalus, altering their thoughts.
Back on the surface Kirk and Noel wait for a quiet time and slip in to take a look at the neuralizer. Kirk sits in the treatment chair and Noel turns it on. The effect is startling - Kirk's face and mind go completely blank whilst the machine is on, leaving him with no idea that any time has passed. They try again, and this time she suggests that he is hungry. When the machine is turned off, Kirk comes to and instantly starts talking about how hungry he is. When Kirk suggests she try a more unusual suggestion, Noel paints a somewhat more romantic picture of their Christmas party meeting in his mind. However, Doctor Adams arrives and takes over. He turns the machine to a higher setting, causing Kirk considerable pain, and tells him that he is madly in love with Noel. The two are locked in together in a room. When Kirk recovers he is instantly in love with Noel, much to her discomfort. She manages to talk him around a little and they decide to make an escape attempt. They open up one of the ventilation ducts and Noel crawls down it, trying to find the shield controls.
Adams arrives to take Kirk for more "treatment". Meanwhile Noel reaches the shield system. She is attacked by a man but fight him off successfully, and ultimately shoves him into a high voltage circuit panel, electrocuting him. With the shield down Spock and a security team are able to beam down to the facility. In the struggle Adams is accidentally left on the neuralizer chair with it set to high. He is not found for some time, by which prolonged exposure to the machine with no orders to be implanted has resulted in his mind being all but wiped clean away. Van Gelder, cured of his own condition, takes over the running of the colony. He reports that he has dismantled and destroyed the machine.
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