(written from a Production point of view)
A routine visit to the Tantalus Penal Colony proves dangerous for Kirk and an Enterprise psychiatrist.
Security is alerted to search for Dr. Van Gelder, but he surprises one of the guards looking for him, overpowers him, and takes his phaser. He then heads to the bridge where he easily dispatches the bridge guard and then demands asylum. After he's captured and restrained, Spock determines that Van Gelder is a former associate of Tantalus administrator Doctor Tristan Adams, assigned to the colony only six months prior.
Required by regulations as quoted by McCoy to investigate Van Gelder's injury, Kirk decides to visit the penal colony with someone who has psychiatric experience.
Kirk beams down to Tantalus V with Doctor Helen Noel, a psychiatrist with whom he's been previously acquainted. In the transporter room, she tries to remind Kirk about their previous encounter, but he cuts her off. After Kirk and Noel take a very fast turbolift down to the colony, Adams meets with the two and informs them Van Gelder injured his mind by testing an experimental therapy device on himself, the neural neutralizer. Adams shows the device in operation on a patient, but says that it is of limited therapeutic value.
Spock decides to employ an ancient technique, the Vulcan mind meld, to learn the truth that Van Gelder cannot speak aloud. Although Spock had never previously performed a mind meld on a human, the procedure meets with some success. He learns that Adams has been experimenting on various individuals, including Van Gelder, using the neural neutralizer.
At the colony, Kirk and Noel investigate the neural neutralizer privately. Kirk wants first-hand experience with the device. After Noel provides assurance that an experiment can be done safely, Kirk sits in the treatment chair. Using a very low setting, she suggests to Kirk that he is hungry. A few seconds later, unaware of the suggestion, Kirk does in fact suggest they find a kitchen to raid. Then, at Kirk's request, Noel begins with a more elaborate suggestion; that Kirk and Noel went back to Kirk's quarters for a romantic evening after a meeting at the previous year's science labs Christmas party, which didn't really occur. Suddenky Adams surprises them, immobilizes Noel, and begins using the device to condition Kirk, including the suggestion that he is desperately in love with Noel, and using very high settings that are obviously causing Kirk great distress.
Fighting off the suggestions placed in his mind by Adams, Kirk dispatches Noel through the air conditioning ducts, in the hope she can find the power controls and deactivate the security force field. That field protects the facility, and prevents transporters from operating in it. Noel manages to take care of the guard in the power control room and deactivate the field long enough for Kirk to escape the torture, and Spock and a security force to beam down and secure the colony.
In an ironic twist, Dr. Adams dies of exposure to the neural neutralizer. Dr. Van Gelder is cured, and resumes his responsibilities at the colony. He also dismantles and destroys the neural neutralizer equipment. The Enterprise then heads away from Tantalus V at warp factor 1.
Log entries Edit
- "Captain's log, stardate 2715.1. Exchanged cargo with penal colony on Tantalus 5, have departed without going ashore."
- "Captain's log, stardate 2715.2. Standard orbit... planet: Tantalus 5... mission: routine investigation and report as per ship's surgeon medical log. As for my last entry, it seems that I will get to meet Dr. Adams at last, however I would prefer other circumstances."
- "Enterprise log, first officer Spock acting captain. I must now use an ancient Vulcan technique to probe into Van Gelder's tortured mind."
Memorable quotes Edit
"A cage is a cage, Jim."
- - McCoy, on penal colonies
"Interesting. Your Earth people glorify organized violence for forty centuries, but you imprison those who employ it privately."
- - Spock, to McCoy
"Where there is no emotion, there is no motive for violence."
- - Spock, to McCoy
"It appears we may have an inmate of yours aboard the ship."
"Transporter crewman found unconscious, captain. Cargo case open and empty."
"Make that definite, doctor. He's aboard."
- - Kirk and Uhura confirm that Van Gelder is on board the Enterprise to Adams
"I want asylum."
- - Van Gelder and Kirk, as Van Gelder storms into the bridge
"You smart, button-pushing brass hat! Wash your hands of it! Is that your system?"
- - Van Gelder to Kirk, in sickbay
"May we never find space so vast, planets so cold, heart and mind so empty that, that we cannot fill them with love and warmth."
- - Adams, toasting with Kirk and Noel
"One of the advantages of being a captain, doctor, is being able to ask for advice without necessarily having to take it."
- - Kirk, to Noel
"You begin to feel a strange euphoria. Your body floats."
- - Spock, performing his first mind-meld on a Human
"It's hard to believe that a man could die of loneliness."
"Not when you've sat in that room."
- - McCoy and Kirk, on the death of Doctor Adams
Background information Edit
- The first draft for this episode's script was turned in on 6 July 1966. The final draft was turned in 30 July, and the revised final draft turned in 5 August, with further revised pages dated 6 and 8 August.
- Writer S. Bar-David is a pen name for Shimon Wincelberg. He incorporated several references to Jewish parables into the screenplay.
- The part of Helen Noel was originally written for Grace Lee Whitney's character Janice Rand; however, producers wanted to avoid showing Kirk becoming involved with her, and Whitney was already on the verge of leaving the show due to personal problems on the set. (The Star Trek Compendium) In any event, from a dramatic point of view, it made more sense for a trained psychotherapist, rather than a yeoman, to accompany Kirk to the Tantalus rehabilitation colony.
- The title of this episode is taken from a line of Shakespeare's play, Macbeth. Macbeth is preparing to murder Duncan, the King of Scotland, and sees a dagger that he attempts to grasp, only to discover it is a figment of his imagination. The relevant passage from the soliloquy reads:
- Is this a dagger which I see before me
- The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
- I have thee not, and yet I see thee still
- Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
- To feeling as to sight? Or art thou but
- A dagger of the mind, a false creation
- Proceeding from the heat-oppressèd brain?
- The name "Lethe" is a reference to the River of Forgetfulness in Greek mythology. (The Star Trek Compendium)
- The shot of the Enterprise miniature heading back to Tantalus at the beginning of Act Two does not appear in any other episode. The ship shifts slightly before veering out of frame; when this shot is used in other episodes, the model merely veers off.
- This was the final episode (except for "Assignment: Earth") solely produced by Gene Roddenberry.
- The producers still hadn't settled on background sound effects for the bridge when this episode was produced. Both the older bridge sound effect (first heard in "The Cage") and the familiar whirring sound that eventually would became standard were used in this episode.
- After finishing this episode, Morgan Woodward (playing the emotionally and physically intense role of Van Gelder) reportedly went home and took a rest for four days. 
- James Doohan (Scotty) and George Takei (Sulu) do not appear in this episode.
- Scotty appeared in the original script, operating the transporter in the first scene, when Van Gelder is beamed aboard. His appearance was nixed by Bob Justman, who saw this as a way of saving costs by eliminating Doohan – who would have been paid $890 for the episode – and replacing him with a random performer (Larry Anthony, playing Lieutenant Berkeley), hired for a much lower salary. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One)
Sets and propsEdit
- The wall behind the transporter console has been replaced with a panel from engineering in this episode. This was done tortheansporter operator can could be distracted by checking the instruments as Van Gelder emerges from his crate on the transporter pad.
- When Fields calls the bridge to report sighting Van Gelder in the corridor, the sign on the wall next to him says "Personnel Director." Another sign in the corridor can be seen to say "Science Library" while one with an arrow points to "Briefing Room."
- The chair used in the neural neutralizer room was later re-used by Garth in "Whom Gods Destroy".
- Albert Whitlock's matte painting for "Where No Man Has Gone Before" is recycled here, with the towers on the fuel bins painted out and a different doorway added to match with the live-action footage filmed of Kirk and Noel entering the surface shaft. This was made as a compromise between Gene Roddenberry and Bob Justman. Roddenberry wanted Kirk and Noel to arrive on the surface, then go underground via the elevator, while Justman urged him to eliminate this scene, and let them beam down directly into Dr. Adams' office (thus saving the costs of creating a matte painting and some extra sets). Roddenberry kept the surface scene in, but reused the old matte painting created for the second pilot. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One)
- Some of the colony interiors are reused (and redressed) sets left over from the previous episode, "What Are Little Girls Made Of?". (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One)
- The treatment smocks worn by Adams and Eli have the same insignia as Dr. Cory in "Whom Gods Destroy".
- However, when Van Gelder beams aboard, his smock does not bear the insignia.
When Berkeley leaves the transporter room to secure a vaults assignment, he simply walks offscreen and does not exit the door into the corridor thereby leaving the transporter technician alone without explanation. Presumably, Berkeley departed for an unseen area of the transporter room.
- This episode is mentioned as taking place after a Christmas party in the science labs. This is one of the few times a religious holiday is mentioned in the Star Trek future, and Christmas in particular was never mentioned again until Star Trek Generations. Additionally, the surname of the character who mentions this Christmas party to Kirk is (Helen) "Noel," which means "Christmas" in French.
- This episode marks the first appearance of the Vulcan mind meld. The final shooting draft of this script had Spock placing his hands on Van Gelder's abdomen while performing the mind meld. According to The Making of Star Trek, the mind meld was developed as an alternative to the scripts use of hypnosis to stabilize Van Gelder. They did not want to inaccurately depict hypnosis as a medical technique. Nor did they want to shoehorn into the script a pretext that Spock was qualified to act as a hypnotist in a medical capacity. Lastly, they did not want to risk accidentally hypnotizing viewers at home.
- The box beamed up from Tantalus in which Van Gelder is hiding is labeled "Bureau of Penology, Stockholm, Eurasia-NE." This may indicate that in the 23rd century, independent nations will no longer exist on Earth.
- A shipping label produced for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine shows that a (now elderly) Dr. Van Gelder is still in charge of the Tantalus Penal Colony in the 2370s.
- The flashback scenes of "last year's Christmas party" indicate that the mid-2260s Starfleet uniforms were issued by the end of 2265.
Production timeline Edit
- Story outline by Shimon Wincelberg: mid-March 1966
- Revised story outline: 30 March 1966
- Second revised story outline: 25 April 1966
- Third revised story outline: 2 May 1966
- Fourth revised story outline: 9 May 1966
- First draft teleplay: early-June 1966
- Second draft teleplay: 23 June 1966
- Revised second draft teleplay: 27 June 1966
- Revised teleplay by John D.F. Black: 6 July 1966
- Revised teleplay by Gene Roddenberry: 22 July 1966
- Additional revisions: 30 July 1966
- Final draft teleplay by Roddenberry: 31 July 1966
- Additional revisions: 2 August 1966
- Revised final draft teleplay: 5 August 1966
- Additional revisions: 6 August 1966, 8 August 1966, 9 August 1966
- Filmed: 9 August 1966 – 17 August 1966
- Extra pickup shots filmed: 6 October 1966
- Original airdate: 3 November 1966
- First UK airdate: 11 October 1969
Video and DVD releases Edit
- Original US Betamax release: 1985
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 6, catalog number VHR 2253, release date unknown
- US VHS release: 15 April 1994
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 1.4, 5 August 1996
- Original US DVD release (single-disc): Volume 5, 23 November 1999
- As part of the TOS Season 1 DVD collection
- As part of the TOS Season 1 HD DVD collection
- As part of the TOS Season 1 Blu-ray collection
Links and referencesEdit
Also starring Edit
Guest star Edit
- Nichelle Nichols as Uhura
- Susanne Wasson as Lethe
- John Arndt as the first crewman
- Larry Anthony as the transportation man
- Ed McCready as an inmate
- Eli Behar as a therapist
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- Walt Davis as a Tantalus therapist
- Frank da Vinci as Vinci
- Lou Elias as an electrocuted Inmate Guard
- Jeannie Malone as a Tantalus inmate
- Eddie Paskey as Leslie
- Unknown actors as
Stunt double Edit
- William Blackburn as the stand-in for DeForest Kelley
- Frank da Vinci as the stand-in for Leonard Nimoy
- Jeannie Malone as the stand-in for Marianna Hill
- Eddie Paskey as the stand-in for William Shatner
2nd millennium BC; 2220s; 2246; 2265; 2266; acting captain; air conditioning; asylum; beam neutralizing; "Bones"; briefing room; Central Bureau of Penology; Chamber of Horrors; Christmas; colony; criminal; Devil's Island; director; Earth; Emergency Channel D; euphoria; Eurasia; force field; general quarters; general quarters 3; hospital; hyper-power circuit; identification tape; infra-sensory drugs; hyperpower circuitry; kitchen; library; medical log; medikit; neural neutralizer; neuro-synapse; over-changer; penal colony; penology; Personnel Director; present; psychiatry; psychotherapy; rehabilitative therapy; science lab; Science Library; schizophrenia; security alert; security screen; sedative; ship's surgeon; speaker; sponge; standard orbit; Stockholm; study; Tantalus V; Tantalus colony; technical aide; therapist; tissue; toast; treatment room; Vulcan; Vulcan mind meld; Vulcan neck pinch
- "Dagger of the Mind" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Dagger of the Mind" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Dagger of the Mind" at Wikipedia
- "Dagger of the Mind" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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