The plot of this episode is a variant of the “mad scientist theme.” The Enterprise is transferring supplies and receiving freight from a penal colony Tantalus V. An escapee hides in a crate and is loose in the Enterprise. When he is captured it is discovered that he is part of the staff named Dr. van Gelder. The director of the penal colony, Dr. Adams, claims that van Gelding was driven mad through exposure to a device called the neural neutralizer that is used for therapy on the mentally ill.
But McCoy has suspicions and recommends that Kirk go to the planet and investigate the real reason for van Gelding’s madness. McCoy selects a young woman named Lt. Helen Noel to accompany Kirk down to the surface. Noel and Kirk had a romantic episode during the “Christmas Party” the previous year.
While investigating the neural neutralizer, Noel plants a suggestion in Kirk’s head that their little encounter was really a serious romance. But immediately after this, Dr Adams has Noel restrained and uses the machine to convince Kirk that he was madly in love with Helen Noel. After the session, Noel and Kirk are returned to his room and once Helen convinces him that his romantic impulse is a false memory produced by Dr. Adams through the neural neutralizer, he helps her into the HVAC duct with the intention of turning off the force field to allow communication with the Enterprise.
While she approaches the power plant Kirk is brought back by Dr. Adams for a more painful treatment meant to make Kirk a compliant victim of Adams’ plans. Finally, Noel shuts down the power and Kirk overpowers Adams. Spock comes to the rescue with a security theme but when the power is restarted Dr. Adams overdoses on the neutralizer that suffuses his unconscious body and dies.
Parts of the episode were interesting, parts were ridiculous. I enjoyed the silly banter and embarrassment between Kirk and Helen Noel. It was slightly clever. The fact that they mention a Christmas Party instead of the politically correct term Holiday Party was refreshing. The plot was fairly predictable but not terrible. The actress playing Helen is definitely a babe. As a regular story it would earn a 6. As for the mockability index, there are several notable moments. Whenever van Gelding tries to tell McCoy and Spock about things that the neutralizer compels him not to talk about, he writhes in agony and makes the goofiest faces imaginable. And in this episode Spock performs his first “Vulcan Mind Meld.” Melding with van Gelding he becomes practically weepy which is truly embarrassing to view. So, I would give the overall score as 6//5.