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Dagger of the Mind (episode)

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
"Dagger of the Mind"
TOS, Episode 1x10
Production number: 6149-11
First aired: 3 November 1966
Remastered version aired: 13 October 2007
11th of 80 produced in TOS
9th of 80 released in TOS
45th of 80 released in TOS Remastered
9th of 728 released in all
Kirk Adams Chair 2266
Written By
S. Bar-David

Directed By
Vincent McEveety
2715.1 (2266)
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A routine visit to the Tantalus Penal Colony proves dangerous for Kirk and an Enterprise psychiatrist.

Summary Edit


While on a routine cargo drop to the Tantalus Penal Colony, the Enterprise takes on a stowaway, the violently insane Simon Van Gelder.

Act OneEdit

After eluding security, Van Gelder storms the bridge and 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 to investigate Van Gelder's injury, Kirk decides to visit the penal colony with someone who has psychiatric experience.

Act TwoEdit

Tantalus V surface remastered

The entry to the penal colony.

Kirk beams down with Doctor Helen Noel, a psychiatrist. Adams tells them Van Gelder injured his mind by testing an experimental therapy device on himself, the neural neutralizer.

On board the Enterprise, Spock and McCoy continue to investigate Van Gelder, whose ravings are difficult to decipher. However, at one point, Van Gelder claims Dr. Adams will destroy "like death".

Act ThreeEdit

Vulcan mind meld

Spock performs a mind meld on Dr. Simon Van Gelder

Spock is forced to employ an ancient technique, the Vulcan mind meld, to learn the truth that Van Gelder cannot speak aloud. He learns that Adams has been experimenting on various individuals, including Van Gelder.

At the colony, Kirk and Noel investigate the neural neutralizer privately. Kirk wants first-hand experience with the device. With Kirk in the treatment chair, Noel implants some simple suggestions. Including that Kirk and Noel went back to Kirk's quarters for a romantic evening after a meeting at the science labs Christmas party, which didn't really occur. They learn the device is far more effective than Adams had led them to believe, but this knowledge comes too late: Adams surprises them, immobilizes Noel, and begins using the device to condition Kirk.

Act FourEdit

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 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.

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

"I want asylum."
"At gunpoint?"

- 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-oppressed 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, model merely veers off.
  • This was the final episode 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.[1]


Sets and PropsEdit

  • The wall behind the transporter console has been replaced with a panel from engineering in this episode. This is so the transporter operator can be distracted by checking the instruments as Van Gelder emerges from the box that's on the 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".
  • The 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.



  • 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.
  • 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

Video and DVD Releases Edit

Links and References Edit

Starring Edit

Also Starring Edit

Guest Star Edit

Co-Starring Edit


Featuring Edit

Uncredited Co-Stars Edit

Stunt Double Edit


References Edit

2nd millennium BC; 2220s; 2246; 2265; 2266; "Bones"; Briefing room; Central Bureau of Penology; Earth; euphoria; general quarters; general quarters 3; infra-sensory drugs; hyperpower circuitry; neural neutralizer; over-changer; penal colony; penology; Personnel Director; psychiatry; schizophrenia; Stockholm; Science Library; Tantalus V; Tantalus colony; Vulcan; Vulcan mind meld; Vulcan neck pinch

External link Edit

Previous episode produced:
"What Are Little Girls Made Of?"
Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 1
Next episode produced:
Previous episode aired:
Next episode aired:
"The Corbomite Maneuver"
Previous remastered episode aired:
"What Are Little Girls Made Of?"
TOS Remastered Next remastered episode aired:
"The Gamesters of Triskelion"

de:Der Zentralnervensystemmanipulator es:Dagger of the Mind fr:Dagger of the Mind it:Trasmissione di pensiero (episodio) ja:TOS:悪魔島から来た狂人 nl:Dagger of the Mind pl:Dagger of the Mind pt:Dagger of the Mind sv:Dagger of the Mind ru:Кинжал разума (эпизод)

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