*** (3 stars out of 5)
"Dagger of the Mind", from Parker Brothers! Worst board game EVER.
Welcome to the CGI-enhanced penal rehabilitation colony on Tantalus V. While the Enterprise is delivering Keith-Richards-Size drums of Infra-Sensory drugs to the planet, a crazy man sneaks aboard in a giant box marked 'classified documents'. That's a lot of paperwork for a computerized society, but I guess you can't expect him to sneak out in an iPad.
Not for the first time, and not for the last, a violent whack-a-doo gets the better of the guy not really paying attention in the transporter room. Perhaps ironically, the guy fleeing the asylum demands asylum.
Kirk opts to put the nut (revealed to be Dr. Simon Van Gelder) back in the nuthatch, since the administrator Dr. Tristan Adams is famous for 20 years of prison and mental hospital reform dwarfing all previous human achievement in these areas. McCoy doesn't trust Adams, but Kirk accepts his invitation to tour the facility and be sure it's all on the up-and-up.
After Exo III, I'd be a lot more wary of famous geniuses who insist on minimum landing parties.
'Oh, I'm conducting VERY sensitive research, you understand. Do me the courtesy of coming down virtually alone, won't you?... And, I'm awfully swamped here, would you mind strapping yourself to this gurney?'
Disgruntled, McCoy assigns psychiatrist Dr. Helen Noel to assist Kirk, partly because McCoy knows Noel and Kirk had some... history at the Science Lab Christmas party. No one ever says, but what sort of antics did they get up to? Fax scans of their butts to the Vulcan Ambassador? Whatever it was, Noel throws herself at the Captain in the super-speedy turboelevator that takes them to Dr. Adams' ominous antechamber.
What is WITH 23rd Century medics? Adams breaks out the booze during the first minute. They have the very latest techniques here: a neural neutralizer beam that "buries the past" and "empties the mind". Uh... riiight. That sounds healthy.
Lethe, former inmate graduated to staff, delivers the least convincing "I love my work." in the history of emotionless mind-wiped lady drones.
Not to be deterred, Helen Noel declares "I assure you, Dr. Adams has not created a chamber of horrors here!" Her expert opinion, delivered two seconds after a cursory glance around the chamber of horrors that broke Dr. Van Gelder.
They tried to make Van Gelder go to rehab, but he said no, no, no. At least that's what Spock and McCoy discovered. Spock has an ancient Vulcan technique, you see. A hidden, private part of their personal lives. Vulcans can open their minds to others and share their thoughts. Since Simon is so incoherent, Spock uses this Mind Meld. It's Spock's first time with a human. So to speak.
Speaking of ill-advised brain games, Helen & Kirk are proving how safe the Neural Neutralizer is by having her implant suggestions in him. She chooses to invent a steamy fan fiction about a Christmas Make-Out Session. Adams, inevitably, walks in and begins messing up the Captain's head. Jerk.
Dr. Noel gets to take action, crawling through air ducts, kicking a goon's butt, and taking out the defensive screen so Mr. Spock can beam in for a rescue.
Adams accidentally winds up alone under the machine, 'without even a tormentor for company', his mind emptied until he dies of loneliness.
Being horribly, horribly lonely is a common theme in these episodes- and no doubt it helps win over many a young alienated fan.
That and Dr. Noel's oft-visible blue underpants. Yowza!