The Enterprise arrives at Camus II in response to a distress call from a research team led by Dr. Janice Lester. Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down and find Lester and the expedition’s doctor, Arthur Coleman. Lester is suffering from what appears to be radiation exposure. Kirk knows her from their time together at Starfleet Academy, and offers to stay with her to calm her down while the others go to examine the other members of the team. Once they’re gone, Lester seemingly recovers consciousness and talks about how she felt betrayed by him, and that there was no place for women among starship captains. Unwilling to get into their old differences, Kirk goes over to a nearby wall with alien mechanisms, and Lester triggers a remote paralyzing him. She then gets up and stands next to him and activates the alien device. A glow of energy surrounds them and each one’s mental essence is transferred into the others’ body.
Lester-Kirk picks up the now-unconscious Kirk-Janice and puts her on the bed while boasting about how she’s been waiting years for the opportunity and now she plans to assume her rightful place as a ship’s captain. She takes a scarf and prepares to strange Kirk-Janice to ensure the transfer can’t reverse, but the others return, interrupting her. Coleman is aware of Lester’s plan and knows she’s made the switch. McCoy believes that the expedition was exposed to celebium but Coleman asserts it’s radiation poisoning. Lester-Kirk defers to him and orders everyone to return to the ship. On board Kirk-Janie is taken to Sickbay while Lester-Kirk tells McCoy a somewhat prejudiced version of her relationship with “Janice.” The doctor promises to do everything he can for her.
Lester-Kirk goes to Sickbay and tells Coleman to make sure that Kirk-Janice never recovers consciousness. Coleman bemoans the fact that Lester-Kirk deliberately sent the expedition to where the celebium shielding was weak, but Lester-Kirk warns that he’s in it just as deep as she is. McCoy arrives, still disagreeing about Coleman’s diagnosis. Lester-Kirk overrides him again and turns the treatment over to Coleman as the on-site physician. McCoy objects, noting that the captain has no such power, but Lester-Kirk insists.
Lester-Kirk then goes to the bridge and orders the Enterprise to reverse course and go to the Benecia colonies to provide Kirk-Janice with the quickest medical treatment. Spock points out that while Benecia is relatively closer, Starbase 2 along their original route is only a little further away and has advanced medical facilities. Benecia has primitive equipment at best. Lester-Kirk insists that they continue until the bridge crew notices. When Spock notes that Starfleet has to be notified, Lester-Kirk says he should have done it but the Vulcan notes it’s the captain’s responsibility. Lester-Kirk hastily leaves to notify Starfleet from “her” cabin. McCoy is there and brings up Coleman’s reputation as an incompetent. Lester-Kirk refuses to relieve Coleman of medical duty and McCoy then informs the captain he has the authority as chief medical officer to administer physical and mental testing to determine the captain’s fitness to command. Lester-Kirk accuses him of trying to get revenge for being superseded but is force to give in.
Kirk-Janice wakes up in Sickbay, weak and confused. Coleman claims for the benefit of Nurse Chapel that Kirk-Janice is suffering from mental stability brought on by the radiation. Kirk-Janice finally realizes that she’s switched bodies but realizes what Lester-Kirk is up to. She asks for a glass of juice and once Chapel is gone, breaks it and cuts her bonds. She runs to Sickbay where McCoy and Spock are discussing the captain’s erratic behavior. Lester-Kirk arrives and stuns her before she can say anything useful. Kirk-Janice is taken to the brig where Spock, suspecting something is up, goes to see her. As a guard watches them, Kirk-Janice tries to convince Spock “she” is who she says she is. Spock is skeptical until he performs a Vulcan mind meld. Satisfied, Spock stuns the guards but not before they send out an alert. McCoy is completing his exam of the captain when they get the alert. Kirk, McCoy, and a security team arrive to take Spock and Kirk-Janice into custody and the captain calls for an immediate court martial of the first officer.
Scotty handles the initial examination of the witness, and Spock notes that he has no corroborative physical evidence at this time. The Vulcan sardonically suggests to Lester-Kirk that she has nothing to fear from one sick woman and so should allow her to testify. Mousetrapped, Lester-Kirk has Kirk-Janice brought in and examines her personally. Lester-Kirk mocks the claims of life-transfer but both Spock and Kirk-Janice stand by their story. Spock suggests they leave it up to the crew and their experience with strange experiences, but Lester-Kirk responds by noting that if she is relieved of command, it will be Spock that assumes the captaincy. Spock insists he will do everything in his power to stop Lester-Kirk, who states that his statement constitutes a declaration of mutiny. Lester-Kirk calls for an immediate vote of the senior officers with no discussion allowed.
Scotty and McCoy discuss the situation in the hall. Scotty is convinced by Spock’s claims and notes that if they both vote against, the captain will oppose them. They return to the trial room only to find that Lester-Kirk has taped their conversation and now indicts them as co-mutineers. He orders their immediate execution over the objections of Chekov and Sulu.
Lester-Kirk goes to the bridge only to find that the crew refuses to follow “his” orders. She starts to object but then staggers to the command chair as the transfer starts to reverse. Kirk-Janice suffers the same symptoms and waits for another opportunity. Lester-Kirk goes to see Coleman and asks him to execute Kirk-Janice. Coleman, clearly in love with Janice, is reluctant to do so but Lester-Kirk says that once her original body is dead, she’ll be in Kirk’s body for good. Coleman agrees and they go to the brig to supposedly separate the prisoners. Kirk-Janice is taken out first and Coleman tries to inject her with poison. They struggle and the transfer reverses itself again. This time it’s for good and a sobbing Lester collapses into Coleman’s arms. The doctor asks for the chance to treat her and Kirk agrees. As she’s escorted away, Kirk can only wonder at what might have happened if she had accepted herself.
Written by Gadfly on Sep 20, 2015