3. "Turnabout Intruder" - Star Trek: The Original Series (season 3, episode 24)
"Turnabout Intruder," the final episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, is often regarded with a mix of disappointment and disbelief, like the last slice of pizza that somehow tastes like cardboard. The episode's central plot, involving a body swap between Captain Kirk and Dr. Janice Lester, seemed more like a sci-fi soap opera twist than a fitting finale to a groundbreaking series.
Lester, driven by a mix of envy and unrequited love, hijacks Kirk's body to fulfill her own command ambitions, a plot that could have been intriguing if not for its clumsy execution. The episode is infamous for its less-than-stellar handling of gender politics. Dr. Lester's motivation, rooted in a kind of gender envy, comes across as a misfired commentary on women in power, making the episode feel like a missed opportunity in an otherwise progressive show.
Also, "Turnabout Intruder" suffers from a case of plot clumsiness. The body-swap trope, while a staple in sci-fi, felt undercooked and served with a side of completely over-the-top, cringey acting. Shatner's portrayal of Lester-in-Kirk's body sways back and forth between exaggerated and downright cringe-worthy, like watching your uncle trying to act "hip" at a family reunion.
The episode's conclusion, resolving the body-swap with a convenient return to the status quo, leaves viewers with a sense of narrative blue balls. It's an anticlimactic end to the pioneering series, like expecting a grand fireworks display but getting a sparkler instead. This episode is often cited as a weak link in the Star Trek chain, remembered not for its daring exploration of new worlds, but as a stumble right at the finish line - unfortunate.