Turnabout Intruder


"Turnabout Intruder"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no.Season 3
Episode 24
Directed byHerb Wallerstein
Story byGene Roddenberry
Teleplay byArthur H. Singer
Featured musicFred Steiner
Cinematography byAl Francis
Editing byDonald R. Rode
Production code079
Original air dateJune 3, 1969 (1969-06-03)
Guest appearances
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"Turnabout Intruder" is the twenty-fourth and final episode of the third season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek. Written by Arthur H. Singer (based on a story by Gene Roddenberry) and directed by Herb Wallerstein, it was first broadcast on June 3, 1969.

In the episode, a woman switches bodies with Captain Kirk and then tries to take over command of the Enterprise.

Originally scheduled to air at 10pm on Friday, March 28, 1969, NBC pre-empted it with a special report on former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had died earlier that day.[1] On June 3, 1969, after an absence of two months, Star Trek was brought back on a new night and time: Tuesdays at 7:30pm. "Turnabout Intruder" was the only first-run episode to be shown in this new time slot.

This was the last original episode of Star Trek to air on NBC, and was the only episode of the series produced even partly in 1969. The last material filmed for Star Trek was the story's opening sequence, committed to 35mm film on January 3, 1969.[citation needed]


The Federation starship Enterprise answers a distress call from the planet Camus II, the site of an archaeological expedition. Among the survivors are Dr. Janice Lester, with whom Captain Kirk was once intimately involved, and the expedition's physician, Dr. Arthur Coleman. Coleman claims that Lester is suffering from radiation exposure.

Dr. Coleman, Science Officer Spock and Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy leave to tend to the other survivors, leaving Lester and Kirk alone. Kirk explores the room, and as he examines an alien machine, she activates it, paralyzing him. She then joins Kirk in the machine and activates it again. From each of their bodies a ghostly image emerges and then disappears into the other's body. The person appearing to be Kirk then declares that Janice Lester has taken the place of Captain Kirk, and begins to strangle the person appearing to be Lester.

Spock and McCoy return before “Kirk” can finish the job, and he orders the landing party and the remaining survivors back to the Enterprise. Once there, he gives Dr. Coleman full authority for treatment of “Janice Lester”, over McCoy's protests.

Alone, Coleman and “Kirk” discuss the situation. It is revealed that the two conspired to kill the expedition's personnel. Lester has now achieved her lifelong goal of commanding a starship.

Spock becomes suspicious when “Kirk” orders a course change to the Benecia Colony to drop off “Lester” for medical attention, despite the fact that Benecia's medical facilities are comparatively primitive, and that it would unnecessarily interfere with their current mission. McCoy invokes his authority to order a medical examination of the captain, including a personality test.[2]

“Lester” regains consciousness and seeks help from Spock and McCoy. “Kirk” slaps her back into unconsciousness, and orders her to be put in isolation. Spock interviews “Lester” and is somewhat skeptical of her story. “Lester” suggests that he use his telepathic abilities to learn the truth, and he is convinced.

Spock tries to free “Lester” but is stopped by a security team led by the impostor Kirk, who accuses Spock of mutiny and orders a court-martial. Once on trial, Spock argues that Captain Kirk is really in the body of Dr. Lester. “Kirk” suggests that Spock's real goal is to take command himself and offers to drop charges if Spock will desist. Spock refuses, and “Kirk” flies into a hysterical rage.

Shocked by Kirk's behavior, McCoy and Chief Engineer Scott confer secretly in the corridor. Scott believes that if Spock is acquitted, the "captain" won't let the decision stand, making it necessary to mutiny. “Kirk”, having monitored their conversation, declares McCoy, Scott, Spock, and “Lester” guilty of mutiny and condemned to death.

On the bridge, Chekov and Sulu, having witnessed the trial, determine to resist the “captain”, and refuse to obey his orders. Loudly accusing them of mutiny, “Kirk” falls into his chair, and an image of Lester emerges from his body, only to return again. “Kirk” runs to Coleman, who tells him that the transfer is reversing itself, and that Kirk, in Lester's body, must die in order to prevent it. The two head to the brig intending to inject “Lester” with a toxic substance. “Lester” resists, and the reversal now completes itself. Realizing she has lost her triple attempt to kill Kirk, destroy her female gender and the ability to command a starship, she suffers a complete mental breakdown; the hysterical Lester begs Coleman to kill Kirk. Coleman then pleads with Kirk to allow him to care for her. Coleman and Lester are escorted to Sickbay. Kirk, Spock, and Scotty proceed to the Bridge and the Enterprise proceeds on its mission.

Production and reception

The episode drew Nielsen ratings of only 8.8, in contrast to rival shows Lancer on CBS and The Mod Squad on ABC, which gained ratings of 14.7 and 15.2 respectively, a drop of over fifty percent since the show premiered.[3]

Cultural theorist Cassandra Amesley states that this episode is "agreed to be one of the worst Star Trek episodes ever shown" by Star Trek fans.[4]

David Greven has a more positive view of the episode, even referring to it as "moving." He calls it the "infamous last episode" of the original series, in part because of the "campiness" of Shatner's performance when portraying himself as a female in a male's body, but also because of the sexist premise that "female desire for power was a clear sign of insanity."[5]

In 2016, CNET ranked this episode as the 4th worst episode of all Star Trek, based on rankings between an audience and discussion hosts at a 50th anniversary Star Trek convention in Las Vegas.[6]

In 2017, this episode was rated the 4th worst episode of the Star Trek franchise including later spin-off series, by ScreenRant.[7] A ranking of every episode of the original series by Hollywood, placed this episode as worst.[8] In 2017, Den of Geek ranked this episode as the 7th worst Star Trek episode of the original series.[9]


  1. ^ Greenberger, Robert (November 8, 2012). Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History. Voyageur Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-0760343593.
  2. ^ "The Star Trek Transcripts - Turnabout Intruder".
  3. ^ Herbert Solow, Robert Justman (1997). Inside Star Trek The Real Story. June: Simon & Schuster. pp. 414–415. ISBN 0-671-00974-5.
  4. ^ Amesley, Cassandra (October 1989). "How to Watch Star Trek". Cultural Studies. 3 (3): 323–339. doi:10.1080/09502388900490221.
  5. ^ David Greven, Gender and Sexuality in Star Trek: Allegories of Desire in the Television Series and Films, McFarland, 2009, pp.30-33.
  6. ^ Kooser, Amanda. "10 worst Star Trek episodes, according to the fans". CNET. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  7. ^ "15 Worst Star Trek Episodes Of All Time". ScreenRant. May 22, 2017. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  8. ^ Blauvelt, Christian (May 18, 2013). "Ranking All 79 'Star Trek: The Original Series' Episodes from Worst to Best". Hollywood.com. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  9. ^ The 15 Best Worst Episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series

External links

  • "Turnabout Intruder" at StarTrek.com
  • "Turnabout Intruder" at IMDb
  • "Turnabout Intruder" at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
  • "Turnabout Intruder" Story outline dated May 8, 1968; Report and analysis by Dave Eversole